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manchu

Smart home brainstorming

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I've been thinking about making my home a bit smarter so am trying to understand options, limitations etc so I start on the right foot.         

 

House is 4br + lounge, living/kitchen, rumpus.     Family is me, mrs + 3 boys (5,3,1 yo)     Existing stuff includes lots of apple gear (macbook, ipad, iphones,  appleTV3, airport express on each of the 3 hifi system),  dumb TV's,  xiaomi mi box (android TV), FetchTV,  Harmony 650 remote for main area.   Xiaomi robot vacuum.

 

Wish list of things I'd like to do . .  eventually: 

 

 - Lighting:   smart/dimmable in most of the house.     Kitchen, Living, Lounge, Rumpus, 3-4 bedrooms.  outside floodlights .   Mostly standard globes.   (one chandelier with 8 x E14 candle  globes, and another weird halogen thing int the kitchen which can probably be changed eventually)

 - Power:  smart plugs to switch off a few things.   eg.  Stereos,  TV,  coffee machine.    one all weather for existing garden lights

 - Multi Room Audio:    Currently use Airplay2 for this.   Source is usually itunes or spotify from phone to Airport Express/Hifi  in Lounge, Living and Rumpus.     I'd also like to pipe analogue sources (CD/turntables in lounge and rumpus) through to all zones 

 - Heater:  Add new controller to old gas ducted heater so I can program easily and switch on remotely. 

 - Ceiling Fan/s:  have one that needs replacing anyway so may as well make it smart.    

 - Blinds/curtains:   Add actuators to existing window furnishings  so I can program opening and closing of blinds to suit seasons/time of day.   eg.  auto close east facing  in the morning during summer.    Mix of big roller blinds (~2m wide),  normal curtains and venetians.

 - Garden/Indoor plants:   maybe a new controller for the irrigation system outside (not currently used).   Maybe smart monitors for indoor plant watering.    

 - TV Control:     I guess this is a thing so why not.   

 

Also some non-hardware related life management stuff:         

 - Shopping lists:   I recently started a shared iOS grocery list so mrs and I can bark grocery list items at Siri as we think of them.      I like it so need that functionality,  but don't care if it's Siri, Alexa, Google.        In the future I might even consider auto online shopping (eg. via amazon) for some stuff.  

 - Calendar:       Want to set up a shared calendar for family to keep track of activities etc.       

 - Timers, reminders and alarms:  Current use siri to set timers for various things  (cooking,  kids TV/ipad time).  Also general reminders  

 - TV/Internet access for kids:   Sooner or later I reckon I'll want to restrict access to certain times etc.     

 

One specific concern I have is the flaky power at our house and whether momentary power interruptions will wreak havoc with the smarts.       

 

I guess the first thing to decide is which 'system' to buy into.  ie.  Apple homekit,  Google home,  Amazon, other???.        e're somewhat immersed in apple stuff at the moment but not so much that we couldn't change if it made sense in the long run.       I'm probably leaning towards google.

 

Anyway,   that's all just a bit of a brain fart at this stage.    I'm not really sure what input I want from others but feel free to add any comments that may help my general understanding/direction or selection of specific components etc.       

 

Thanks in advance for any input

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

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Hi manchu

 

I recently bought some smart switches from Ctec www.ctec.com.au they work great and the products themselves are in highest quality I have ever seen. So far I have achieved:

  • smart lighting - voice control, app control, timer, scene, 2 way switching, push notification sent from the switch (if someone turns lights on/off) , dimming(single gang only) by voice control and app control
  • smart fan control - 3 speeds AC fan but not able to control the light on the fan

Going to do next:

  • Get Ctec smart curtain/roller shutter switch to control my roller shutters, maybe garage door also.

 

Thanks

 

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On 25/07/2019 at 10:17 AM, TSmith said:

I recently bought some smart switches

cheers for the info.   

 

so who are you talking to?    Alexa,  Siri,  Google???  

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My wife and I started down this path so that she could turn on the living room system! Now even my mother in law can walk into the living room and say "Alexa, turn on the TV..." and it all springs to life.

 

We started with a Harmony wireless remote + hub, then added an Alexa Echo dot and smart sockets. We also added a smart doorbell.

 

Recently when neighbours got robbed, we were able to hand over video footage of a dodgy person coming to our door, who was obviously figuring out which house would be his next target.

 

Smart smoke detectors can notify you if your house is burning down when you're at work.

 

Smart sockets are great for those things you accidentally leave on ... like a heater or that compressor in the workshop that cycles on after you've gone to bed.

 

We went with Amazon Echo Dot over Google as apparently it has more support for more devices.

 

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Another system to consider is Samsung SmartThings 

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17 hours ago, shailesh said:

Another system to consider is Samsung SmartThings

great...more options!   the last thing I need.  hahaha

 

cheers

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My whole home (front gate, heaters, tvs, lights etc) are all on Control4 and I love it. Controlling everything from phone is just the best.

Edited by candyflip

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Hi, this is a nice list which combines all the necessary items. There are other items present which use AI, so you can go for the lightning which is important like lights can be changed with a click for your living room and take more effort into ceiling fans also. As you can finally use AI-controlled fans with maxim output. The other thing which you can choose is a wall clock for your home, I think this is missing from your list of items. Go for a modern wall clock that will complement your smart home appliances. 

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Posted (edited)

Dipped  toe in and bought a smart plug to control some outdoor lights.  The old timer died and a smart plug was the cheapest option to replace it.  

 

I got a power meter one so it’s even more useful.  Bargain for <$20 I reckon.  

 

https://www.bunnings.com.au/arlec-grid-connect-smart-plug-in-socket-with-energy-meter_p0135442

 

All set up using the Arlec app and then Google home easy enough, plus the shortcut to Siri in my phone.  
 

Voice control is a bit clunky saying Hey Siri”  followed by “ok google.  Turn on the garden lights”  , but good enough for now.  
 

I hoped to set up the plug to automatically switch lights on for 2-3 hrs from dusk, but cant work out how to do it easily.   
 

 

edit:   
Played around a bit more last night.  
 

I’ve worked out that I can setup a shortcuts in siri to activate pretty much whatever routine I want from google assistant so i don’t need to say the ‘ok google’ part.   Works well, but it introduces a little delay vs direct to google assistant. (No big deal).  


ive also linked some xiaomi devices via mi-home app to google home,  including a robot vac and a smart pedestal fan.  
 

I get pretty much full control I need of the vac (start/stop/dock), but only on/off  for the fan.  Via the mi-home app i can set speed 1/2/3/4 and oscillation on/off/degrees so I’ve set up inividual shortcuts for all the fan actions in Siri (without google in the middle), so I’m talking to Siri directly for everything and it’s either activating google assistant of mi-home .   
 

That works well for me because we’ve been using Siri for shopping lists, reminders, timers, playing music (via airplay to 3 airport expresses on hifi systems around the house.    
 

I had thought I’d get a google nest mini but if Siri can work for most things I won’t bother.  

 

Edited by manchu

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Couldn’t resist.  
 

 

8C6A8CB7-7B4A-4547-A455-AE640E27BD7C.jpeg

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Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, manchu said:

Couldn’t resist.  
 

 

8C6A8CB7-7B4A-4547-A455-AE640E27BD7C.jpeg

 

How'd you get that discount? 

 

Just checked JB and seen the buy both for $59

Edited by DSD_Fan

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On 08/05/2019 at 12:54 PM, manchu said:

 - Lighting:   smart/dimmable in most of the house.     Kitchen, Living, Lounge, Rumpus, 3-4 bedrooms.  outside floodlights .   Mostly standard globes.   (one chandelier with 8 x E14 candle  globes, and another weird halogen thing int the kitchen which can probably be changed eventually)

Ctec if you want them on/off with any fixture - will integrate into other smart home apps and can be controlled out of house

Hue/Lifex if you want to change the globes - will integrate into other smart home apps and are dimmable and can be controlled out of house

Clipsal has a BTLE implementation that will run to your phone when in the house and can be dimmable, but no bridge to control out of house

 

You pick your poisons from the above

 

On 08/05/2019 at 12:54 PM, manchu said:

 - Power:  smart plugs to switch off a few things.   eg.  Stereos,  TV,  coffee machine.    one all weather for existing garden lights

Clipsal's same BTLE implementation, though if you want to 'do it right' get an ethernet relay, run that into a contactor per circuit and depending on the relay you'll have remove and out-of-home control. Denkovi makes some nice boxes that are very reasonably priced, can drive a lot of relays and I/O. I've a few customers with these onto a sub board with contactors only and the pick up what they want to switch remotely from there. Very robust. Hard CAT5e/6 line into the Ethernet relay and it never falls over.

 

On 08/05/2019 at 12:54 PM, manchu said:

 - Multi Room Audio:    Currently use Airplay2 for this.   Source is usually itunes or spotify from phone to Airport Express/Hifi  in Lounge, Living and Rumpus.     I'd also like to pipe analogue sources (CD/turntables in lounge and rumpus) through to all zones 

You can either go something like Lithe Audio's BT or WiFi speakers, or a multi-room solution - Balena.io is pretty good once setup. 

 

On 08/05/2019 at 12:54 PM, manchu said:

 - Heater:  Add new controller to old gas ducted heater so I can program easily and switch on remotely. 

Many solutions available, most out of the US.

 

On 08/05/2019 at 12:54 PM, manchu said:

 - Ceiling Fan/s:  have one that needs replacing anyway so may as well make it smart.    

Same Denkovi solution - you could even program temp or oxygen sensor inputs and let it run automatically, using a local switch as a 'turn it off' override. 

 

On 08/05/2019 at 12:54 PM, manchu said:

 - Blinds/curtains:   Add actuators to existing window furnishings  so I can program opening and closing of blinds to suit seasons/time of day.   eg.  auto close east facing  in the morning during summer.    Mix of big roller blinds (~2m wide),  normal curtains and venetians.

So far as the internal stuff there are CBUS/KNX solutions that are 'rich house' intended but pricey. There are aftermarket wireless things that work but are expensive - think up to $500 per control - they basically pack a lot of torque into a small space and batteries. There are halfway solutions if you're prepared to wire. 

 

The roller blinds you should be able to source motor drives for that aren't expensive and they go into standard switches. You can drive these with a solution like the Denkovi, and even program it to sunrise/sunset, shut when all are out of the house (there are ways you can tag this from a programmable router), etc. 

 

On 08/05/2019 at 12:54 PM, manchu said:

 - Garden/Indoor plants:   maybe a new controller for the irrigation system outside (not currently used).   Maybe smart monitors for indoor plant watering.    

Hunter Pro-FC the best off the shelf solution in Australia unless you want to go it ghetto and program an OpenSprinkler, but the costs are about the same and you'd really have to want a science experiment to justify the latter. 

 

On 08/05/2019 at 12:54 PM, manchu said:

 - TV Control:     I guess this is a thing so why not.   

Plenty of solutions but you'll be hiding an IR blaster somewhere unless your TV is compliant with commands through RS232 or HDMI, and even then you'll need some sort of computer etc to drive it.

 

On 08/05/2019 at 12:54 PM, manchu said:

 - Shopping lists:   I recently started a shared iOS grocery list so mrs and I can bark grocery list items at Siri as we think of them.      I like it so need that functionality,  but don't care if it's Siri, Alexa, Google.        In the future I might even consider auto online shopping (eg. via amazon) for some stuff.  

Sounds like you have a path here

 

On 08/05/2019 at 12:54 PM, manchu said:

 - Calendar:       Want to set up a shared calendar for family to keep track of activities etc.        

- Timers, reminders and alarms:  Current use siri to set timers for various things  (cooking,  kids TV/ipad time).  Also general reminders  

Google has you covered, Apple also

 

On 08/05/2019 at 12:54 PM, manchu said:

 - TV/Internet access for kids:   Sooner or later I reckon I'll want to restrict access to certain times etc.   

Denkovi and similar can be programmed or externally controlled to limit power.

 

Internet access you need a programmable router - I use Mikrotik and others use other things, so I can only speak to what I use. The kids get internet at certain times, they get it through a certain firewall and feature set, and they cannot bypass what I've setup. Visitors also have other rules and I've set it to contact me immediately and do a few other things whenever my mother in law is within range of the house (your mileage may vary). 

 

On 08/05/2019 at 12:54 PM, manchu said:

One specific concern I have is the flaky power at our house and whether momentary power interruptions will wreak havoc with the smarts.     

A smart UPS that can tell you that you've had an outage, that can be programmed to do things when its reserves are very low to bring the house to a failsafe is what you need. A good sparky can bring the UPS input to your switchboard as a dedicated circuit, will tag UPS power points visibly as such and will designate your switchboard as multi-input accordingly. The UPS is always online and connected to the internet, and the internet accordingly gets a cellular backup (so losing mains doesn't affect the ability to do things unless there's also a cellular outage). Eventually power can run out though you can take this very far if you like - have one customer running a 12kVA diesel genset on his property that's set to autostart based on a number of parameters on power outage, timing, etc... so his UPS holds the house short-term, then the SGP takes over. The owner can override changeover manually. There is a short loss of power as the changeover takes place but the UPS holds critical circuits. There's a IoT station on his SGP that gives him the data he needs to maintain it (fuel levels, oil changes etc). The UPS is line-interactive and always kicks in so in short, the smarts don't go down unless you manually override the SGP and shut down the UPS. Even his wireless access points (it's a multi-acre property) are UPS-backed. The customer did not build this out in one go, it was a gradual thing - all depends how far you want to take it, just plan ahead.

 

On 08/05/2019 at 12:54 PM, manchu said:

I guess the first thing to decide is which 'system' to buy into.  ie.  Apple homekit,  Google home,  Amazon, other???.        e're somewhat immersed in apple stuff at the moment but not so much that we couldn't change if it made sense in the long run.       I'm probably leaning towards google.

Asides from calendars and smart speakers it doesn't affect much - there's no sole convergence in the market enough to assume 'you must do things one way' from a home control point of view, it's more around 'I will not have anything but an iPhone' etc. Alexa is big in the US though it had nearly a year to market on Google's home smart speaker range (let alone Apple) and Amazon in the US is a very different experience - we don't have that here so it's pretty much even.

 

On 08/05/2019 at 12:54 PM, manchu said:

Anyway,   that's all just a bit of a brain fart at this stage.    I'm not really sure what input I want from others but feel free to add any comments that may help my general understanding/direction or selection of specific components etc.       

 

Thanks in advance for any input

Planning ahead is best :)

 

Hope it helps.

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I now I'm  trying to work out the best way  to smarten up  various the types of lighting I have.    

 

 - Outdoor fixed floodlights x 5   par38 globes.   

 - Indoor fixed Lights x 10 .   Mostly Bayonet globes in a range of fittings (oyster, batten holder,  downlight),   plus one chandelier with 7 x E14  globes

 

For the fixed lights I think  the general plan will be to leave the existing globes and change the switches to smart ones.       

For lights where I want extra features such as dimmable or colour change I'll replace the globes or the entire light fitting on a case by case basis.   

 

 - Indoor lamps x 5.     Mix of screw & bayonet globes.      replace globes only I guess

 

 

 

2 hours ago, rmpfyf said:

Hope it helps.

 

Im sure it will.   cheers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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50 minutes ago, manchu said:

I now I'm  trying to work out the best way  to smarten up  various the types of lighting I have.    

 

 - Outdoor fixed floodlights x 5   par38 globes.   

 - Indoor fixed Lights x 10 .   Mostly Bayonet globes in a range of fittings (oyster, batten holder,  downlight),   plus one chandelier with 7 x E14  globes

 

For the fixed lights I think  the general plan will be to leave the existing globes and change the switches to smart ones.       

For lights where I want extra features such as dimmable or colour change I'll replace the globes or the entire light fitting on a case by case basis.   

 

 - Indoor lamps x 5.     Mix of screw & bayonet globes.      replace globes only I guess

 

Aforementioned Ctec switches are not a bad option. Visually they're hard to match to anything else though, and some people just won't like the capacitive touch. 

 

You could bite the bullet and go CBUS. Will give you everything you need on lights and blinds... and will integrate with Google Home. No special globes needed.

 

It's just not 'cheap'.

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41 minutes ago, rmpfyf said:

 

Aforementioned Ctec switches are not a bad option. Visually they're hard to match to anything else though, and some people just won't like the capacitive touch. 

 

You could bite the bullet and go CBUS. Will give you everything you need on lights and blinds... and will integrate with Google Home. No special globes needed.

 

It's just not 'cheap'.

 

any thoughts about these  Deta grid connect switches?      much much cheaper than Ctec and I actually prefer the look of them  

 

https://www.bunnings.com.au/deta-grid-connect-smart-quad-gang-touch-light-switch_p0161015

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27 minutes ago, manchu said:

 

any thoughts about these  Deta grid connect switches?      much much cheaper than Ctec and I actually prefer the look of them  

 

https://www.bunnings.com.au/deta-grid-connect-smart-quad-gang-touch-light-switch_p0161015

 

I think real sparkies don't use Deta :D 

 

All jokes asides I've never used them - a key issue you'll have is believing that the software is going to exist/be supported/etc for the life of the switch. Which, frankly, is a hard ask for any of the WiFi switches going. That's before you get into relay/contactor life, etc. 

 

Reasons like this are why I just went Hue at this current stage. I'm not completely happy with them but it's a nice lighting system backed by a very large company. In 20 years or so when they start going pop I'll need to replace them with something equally smart, but that's a problem for then. A few friends/clients went Ctec for one-off lights in outhouses etc but were reluctant to do it for whole of home for the above reasons.

 

If Clipsal ends up selling a BTLE-to-WiFi or Ethernet bridge to make their smart stuff legitimately smart home, then that'd be endgame in the market as Clipsal is backed by an even larger company, trusted by sparkies etc. It'd likely eat their CBUS sales though. 

 

Till a few months ago you could get Ctec for around $65/switch. No idea what's happened since. Hopefully as production comes back online they'll settle down a bit with prices.

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4 minutes ago, rmpfyf said:

I think real sparkies don't use Deta

lucky I'm not a sparky!      ;)     ( I know what you mean though.   I've always opted for the more expensive HPM stuff over Deta,   for no reason really because  I've got no  experience with Deta.

7 minutes ago, rmpfyf said:

a key issue you'll have is believing that the software is going to exist/be supported/etc for the life of the switch

 

I figured that grid connect would be a reasonably safe bet considering thats what the ARLEC stuff is,  and they've been around for ages.   

 

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9 minutes ago, manchu said:

I figured that grid connect would be a reasonably safe bet considering thats what the ARLEC stuff is,  and they've been around for ages.   

I'd sooner bet on Clipsal but there's no bridge for their kit, and if you want CBUS it's like $300 for a four-gang wallplate. 

 

It's an early space, risks for everyone.

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Mrs asked me to grab some milk on the way home so I picked up one of these too

 

https://www.woolworths.com.au/shop/productdetails/807785/mirabella-genio-led-bc-ww-800lm

 

Easy setup and I could use the same

grid Connect app which saved installing another.    Dimming etc works through google fine 

 

At $10 each I’m tempted to grab a bunch. 
 

 

 

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32 minutes ago, manchu said:

Mrs asked me to grab some milk on the way home so I picked up one of these too

 

https://www.woolworths.com.au/shop/productdetails/807785/mirabella-genio-led-bc-ww-800lm

 

Easy setup and I could use the same

grid Connect app which saved installing another.    Dimming etc works through google fine 

 

At $10 each I’m tempted to grab a bunch. 
 

 

 

$10 ea is bvgger all for this game. Go your hardest.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, rmpfyf said:

Go your hardest.

I think I just might, but thats taken me down a rabbit hole. 
see. . . 
 

49B73AF8-C684-4801-B4A2-3CBA6B82458B.jpeg

Edited by manchu

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9 hours ago, manchu said:

I think I just might, but thats taken me down a rabbit hole. 
see. . . 
 

49B73AF8-C684-4801-B4A2-3CBA6B82458B.jpeg

Welcome to it - that's a low spend for the game too :)

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1 hour ago, rmpfyf said:

that's a low spend for the game too


I can’t imagine it being much cheaper, and there’s a few unnecessary luxuries in there.  I reckon I can get it down to $500 for the bare essentials.  Excluding sparky, but I’ve got mate whole do that cheap.  
 

These smart things really should come in plain packaging with addiction warnings like smokes.   

 

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