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The Smart Home and Home Automation Thread

Jr Mouse

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Thought we should have a thread to discuss the home automation and technology that's starting to become big. Do you have an Amazon Echo or Google Home? How about a Nest Smart Thermostat or Phillips Hue smart lighting system? This is the thread to discuss them, your implementations, successes and failures.
 

Jr Mouse

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I'll start things out. My apartment complex recently upgraded all their units with Nest Smart Thermostats. This was my first time dipping my toes into home automation and I wasn't sure what to expect. It's been about a month and a half now and I can't say it really has lowered by power bill by much. What it has done is make the living space much more comfortable. The Nest regulates the temperature in a far better fashion than my old thermostat. My appartment no longer swings from feeling too warm to being on the chilly side which often seemed to be the case with my old thermostat. The system has learned from my habbits enough to keep me comfortable when I come home from a long day without having to fiddle with it too much.

I also like being able to adjust the temperature from my phone and being able to look at reports of how it's being used.

Is it worth $250? I don't know. Mine was free so I am sure that shades my opinion on the device, but I do like it. I'm most curious if it will start saving me on my electrical bill over time once I learn to program and train it better. If so, then I could easily see myself recommending one to others without hesitation.

I purchased an Echo Dot on sale for $40 last week and next step is to connect the devices and see how that goes. The Dot itself seems nice enough and I feel like it's value will prove itself easily worth what I spent.
 

otc

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Automate anything else?

I bought all of the parts to build my own web-connected controller for my robot vacuum (arduino-style board, IR circuit parts, etc.) but haven't actually set it up or written the code. Since my girlfriend lives with me now and is home all day, it is much easier to just text her and say "start the vacuum" than it is to set up a whole system just so I can text my vacuum.

My real dream is motorized shades. Have them open up in the bedroom in the morning along with my alarm. Have them all close when I am gone to cut the cooling costs and protect stuff from sun damage, but be open to the views out the window when I get home.

Heating and cooling I care less about...I wish for a better thermostat setup in my apartment, but a regular old programmable one would be fine...
 

Piobaire

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We bought several smart outlets over TG weekend. Don't ask me what brand, Mrs. Piob bought them off Amazon is all I can tell you, and they work with the VeSync app. Big fan. Put our exterior Xmas lights on one, interior Xmas decorations on another, several area lights around the house, and it's excellent. They will also sync with Alexa (we're avoiding the Borg on that one so far) so if you're into that they'll work.
 

otc

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I would try an Alexa, but last I checked they didn't let you pick your own trigger words (only a few alternatives like "echo")...

My GF's name is too close to Alexa, so I am forbidden from buying one.

Does seem to be the best pick right now though... I'm pretty tied to the Google ecosystem, but the Google home isn't as useful.
 

jcman311

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I have some smart light switches and outlets. Plus a couple honeywell wifi thermostats. I like the settings on lights switches where I can control them, but mostly to change when the lights go on and off around dusk/dawn. I use the outlets for xmas lights as well. The outlets and switches are Belkin brand, not the greatest but they get the job done.
 

jcman311

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This thread inspired me to install the old wemo switches at my new place. Forgive the ivory switches. Couldn't swap them out because I'd have to shut down a kids room circuit and they're currently sleeping.

IMG_3688.jpg

IMG_3689.jpg
 

Jr Mouse

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Didn’t realize this thread got a boost of life!

Gotta admit, I’m really enjoying the Echo Dot. I use it as a backup alarm clock since my iPhone has failed me here a few times. It’s nice being able to wake up and ask for news/traffic/weather updates while I get ready. Stuff like controlling the Nest is just the icing on the cake. I’m happy for what I paid.

Having said that I think I’d prefer Google Home. The ability to ask questions using a more natural conversation tone appeals to me. As does controlling my Chromecast devices.

Nest has been solid for me. Still don’t know if it’s saving me much cash but I’m happy with it. Google support is top notch too. Had the WiFi go out on mine and they sent me a replacement within three working days. No hassle.

I’m interested in a smart outlet or even smart bulb system for my apartment. Anyone have recommended brands? Seems like for smart bulbs Philips makes a decent product?
 

Lionel Hutz

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I've got an echo and a few dots. Got some smart plugs I don't use.

My parents have sonsos speakers in their ceilings a few places and a bunch of Haiku fans which I have integrated with Alexa, and it is pretty cool but honestly I never think to use mine other than as a hands free kitchen timer and as an alarm clock
 

Piobaire

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I find the Sonos app is all I need to run my Sonos system. I also don't plan to have an Alexa product out in my yard too, so at some point, the app would be needed.

Speaking of Sonos, that second gen Play:5 is really nice. We bought one before Xmas and I had several guests comment on its sound.
 

SirWilliam

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Home Automation + AV Distribution: Savant Pro
Shades + Lights: Lutron Homeworks QS (controlled through Savant)
HVAC: Ecobee
Security: Amcrest NVR + 6 IP cameras
Smoke Detectors: Nest Protect
Other: Smart Things moisture and temperature sensors

I use Savant Pro; it integrates very well with Lutron Homework QS such that I can control all of my shades, lighting, AV distribution throughout the house. I used to have it control my HVACs but that was crap so now I use Ecobee which I think is better than Nest if you need dual zones.

When it comes to home automation the simpler the better. Traditional home automation like Savant, AMX, Crestron is tedious and a serious investment. Using products like Nest and Ecobee are such a breath of fresh air but they are still very limited compared to something like Savant Pro.

If you want to go through the expense and you are able to completely wire your whole house (either building a new house or remodel) then I definitely recommend Savant Pro. I used to use AMX and Crestron before that and Savant feels much more streamlined. When you buy a system like this though there are serious drawbacks. I have all 4K tvs and when I did the system 5 years ago Savant didn't have 4k cards so I don't have 4K. They have them now and the 4k cards (input and output)are about $6k and then I have to pay the integrator to install them as well as upgrade the switchers at each of the TVs. Also, if you didn't future proof your wiring you would be SOL.

I also have a music server and streamer that works with Savant. The interface between the server and Savant is mediocre from a UX perspective but it works. I can listen to my lossless files off of the server's hard drive and listen to my Tidal, Spotify accounts, Sirius XM, etc., etc....

I use Nest Protect for smoke detectors and I like those. I had an Amazon Echo but I gave it away because it I don't need any extra devices to spy one me.

I also use Smart Things moisture sensors to detect leaks and I think they work very well.

I use Amcrest for my camera system. I used to use Dropcams (now Nest) and the Amcrest is so much more reliable (more work to set up though), the cameras turn and pivot and I am not paying $10 a month per camera to record the footage.
 

jcman311

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I want to dive into the home surveillance area, but the various cameras/setups and reviews has me a little put off. Does anyone use any cameras or have suggestions for a setup. Looking for monitoring of common areas and possibly a driveway. Nothing crazy, just reliable.
 

Piobaire

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