I’m curious what got everyone into smarthome. We all started somewhere and for various reasons.
I started with Hue bulbs. I have young kids and wanted them to stay in bed past 6am. (They are very early risers.) I saw a blog that said you could turn the lights red at 4am to 1%. From there it turns green at whatever time I want them to wakeup. Kids can tell colors but not time. This at least bought me and the wife a few more minutes of precious sleep.
Keeping this PG-13 of course per @eric_inovelli.
What got you started?
For me I wanted to test the waters without spending much. Wink partnered with GE to make the link hub and bulb combo. I was basically hooked once I got it setup and could turn lights off without getting out of bed. The wife didn’t see the point until we integrated Alexa.
For me, it was a Nest thermostat, followed by a Revolv smart hub. That thing had so much promise and worked so well, until it was killed off by Google. After that, I went back to the drawing board and looked at two solutions that I had originally looked at, noted that they were still there and supported. Tried Vera, first. Couldn’t get the unit to power on and start stably, so I returned it and went to HomeSeer. Have been with them ever since. Might not be the flashiest option, but it’s stable and works well for my purposes.
X10. Several years ago (pre Z-Wave) it was what there was if you didn’t want to spend a fortune rewiring and a bigger fortune installing a proprietary big name system. They had an early automation system called ActiveHome which had a serial port interface and some Windows software. It was basic (timers and whatnot) but had some basic if-then support for scenes.
Problem of course was the underlying X10 tech worked pretty good, most of the time. It was based on powerline communication at the zero crossing so it often wouldn’t cross from one phase to the other, and sometimes whether it would or not was a function of whether you had any 2-phase devices (AC, dryer, etc) running or not. So you needed a mess of boosters and extenders and whatnot to make it work halfway reliably.
From there I went to Vera Lite and Z-Wave. I picked Z-Wave over ZigBee because even though ZigBee seemed more open, it was actually more proprietary since every manufacturer was running their own protocol over the Z-Wave bus (and thus devices wouldn’t talk to each other across manufacturers). Z-Wave was far from perfect, but it was fully compatible, and it worked. Vera’s UI5 interface was excellent with a ton of extra plugins for pretty much everything you could imagine.
Then Vera moved to their newer UI7 interface which, while a visual upgrade, is a functional downgrade. And as part of that ‘upgrade’, now the only way to put any sort of password on your Vera was to restrict it to cloud access only. No thanks.
So now I’m running HomeSeer. It’s not the cheapest (especially with the paid plugins), but it works with more or less everything, and doesn’t require plugins or device handlers for standards-compliant Z-Wave devices. And I can run it 100% cloud free. All my old first-gen Z-Wave stuff still works, I’ve got a mix of Zooz and HomeSeer smart switches, and a box of Inovelli switches that are getting added one of these days
I’ve also found that, in general, intuitive (things that simplify remove manual actions) is better than functional (giving you a lot of control easily). Best automation so far was the motion sensor light in the laundry room- cheap motion sensor and a $30 Costco plug in light strand on the ceiling. So now neither me nor my partner ever have to turn the laundry light on or off.
I did the laundry room too. It’s right where the door from the garage is. Any motion turns that light on and it’s one of my wife’s favorite items. I’m also not allowed to touch that one.
I started with Iris then upgraded to Wink then Smartthings and now I’m on Hubitat
it’s one of my wife’s favorite items. I’m also not allowed to touch that one.
Same here. I think that’s really the best goal for automation- the ‘tap the living room light switch 4x to turn on the christmas tree lights’ stuff is fun to play with, but IMHO the best goal is to make the house adapted enough to its occupants that what they will want to happen either happens without command or has already happened.
I’d say my second most successful automation is the thermostat timer. Even though this is boring stuff that’s been around since like 1982, there’s nothing worse than waking up in a freezing cold bedroom and having to trudge over to a freezing cold bathroom.
Hello Everyone, I’m rather new here but I figured I’d chip in. My first home automation device was actually far from what we would consider “smart”, It’s actually a Leviton in-wall timer that is smart enough to calculate sundown and sunup based on lat/long and the clock. It’s really nice having the outdoor lights come on automatically so you never come home to a dark driveway. The switch is self contained and doesn’t speak to the outside world. It’s currently still in place but will likely be replaced with a LZW30-SN shortly.
From there, I started purchasing Insteon devices. They’re like x10 on steroids and they work across powerline and also wireless. I have a door sensor paired to the lightswitch for the master bedroom closet, and every time you open the closet door the light comes on. This automation is high on the wife approval scale.
Insteon is cool because you can build manual scenes, it’s tedious but possible. The 8 button Insteon keypads are some of my favourite devices and I have 3 in the master bedroom. My wife and I can control all the lights from our night stands. I was originally going to get an ISY994i to talk to the Insteon stuff but the price was prohibitive at the time. Then ISY gained support for Z-wave which opened my eyes to a new world of automation devices. I never ended up getting the ISY, instead I ended up with the Insteon Hub v2 because the price was right (free with purchase of two dimmers). It’s pretty great, and I can connect to it locally without needing the cloud.
My home automation is now powered by Home Assistant, the Insteon Hub to interface with Insteon, and a RPi 3b+ with an Aeotec stick to let Home Asssistant speak Z-wave. also I have a radio thermostat CT50 with the wifi module speaking to Home Assistant over the LAN. Most of my switches are still Insteon but I’ve started adding a Z-wave deadbolt and some new Inovelli switches. It’s been really neat seeing how Eric and Eric are so active on the various community channels for the various home automation platforms. My father’s house is mostly Leviton Z-wave but going forward I think our family will only be ordering Inovelli!
Hue bulbs (and Bridge) for me too! At that time they didn’t have any accessories, so the app was really the only way to control them. I ended up not liking that and tried a couple ideas for automations before settling on SmartThings a few months later, where I bought even more devices in a quest to continue automating more. When I got tired of cloud dependencies (and cloud problems), I moved to Home Assistant and then to Hubitat, and my automation device purchases have continued to spiral out of control.
I started with a TRS-80 Model 1 with a X10 Controller from Radio Shack. I used it to schedule the Christmas Tree lights.
Played with PLC’s and robotics as a teenager, eventually ended up in construction management and saw the potential of commercial building management systems. Bought some insteon kit but software was terrible… When we found this home to renovate and extend I was ‘allowed’ to experiment a bit more. As wife is the electrician it helps that she likes the simpler wiring for multi way Inovelli switches!
I’d really like to try a fully low voltage system as every light we have is LED, needs a driver to step down and big expensive (!) switches. Given USB or POE can support most devices outside of a kitchen the potential is huge.
I started in the 80s with X-10 stuff (Think I have a box of the old useless switches packed away somewhere. I then went with homeseer and insteon in my old house (first time I had dimmers that had adjustable ramp rates). After I moved it had been a while since I got back to home automation, I tried some wemo, hue and ip based switches (Leviton) with alexa. I am now back with homeseer, and going primarily z-wave (switches, bulbs, thermostat, and locks) integrating through alexa for voice, and I have ring doorbell and spotlight cams. Got some of the inovelli red switches and ilumin bulbs recently, I like the powe management capabilities - still working on the system to make things smoother operating as I change things out form some of the non Z-wave technologies. Presently struggling with trying to get the red dimmer to work with illumin bulbs by disabling the relay (having problems with associations in homeseer.
I’m relatively new to Home automation. However I have been casually watching home automation since X10. My first devices were a couple of WEMO switches and wall plugs, purchased 3-5 years ago. I quickly became aware of how much internet performance impacted these devices, but was never that annoyed since most of the light switches controlled external lights. The plugs were used to control things like lamps, Christmas lights etc.
About a year ago, I made the next leap in smart home devices by purchasing my HE hub and a few dimmers. I Then quickly became aware of the WAF and just how vocal some could become when you start messing with the lights. It’s been downhill since.
I started with a Vera Edge and some z-wave switches.
Like some others I started out with X10 years ago. I don’t recall the name of the program I was using but I was able to use my voice with the PC to turn on the TV and the lights. I thought that was pretty cool back then.
Started with the original Wink hub and dumped it when a firmware update basically bricked every single hub. Switched to SmartThings (got fed up with cloud issues and speed eventually). Used my Abode security gateway for a few years but they are painfully slow to innovate and lack basic hub features. Been using Hubitat for about a year and really like it a lot.
Played with Home Assistant extensively and used Control4 for a while (came with the last house we bought) along the way.
As a teenager I took over my family’s unfinished basement as my bedroom. Since all the wiring was exposed I had access to all of the lights and outlets so I routed some of them to a remote panel. I also added motors to raise and lower the blinds. It even had rudimentary scene control based on multi-pole switches to lower the blinds and dim the lights for a “romantic” mood.
The panel was portable, to the extent that a bundle of wire as big as my arm and held together with duct tape could be said to be portable. But it was possible to wrestle the panel to almost any point in the room from the bed to the couch to the desk, then casually switch lights on and off and raise or lower the blinds with a practiced “I’m so cool” expression. There was a similar panel to control the sound system but thankfully I had salvaged a cast-off length of bundled phone wire and had something like 100 pairs of copper to work with so it was a bit more portable.
I wasn’t able to do anything about the exposed joists, bare concrete block, or total lack of insulation, but I did throw some paint on. We used to dry our clothes outside on the line and no way was my “love nest” going to be decorated with seagull poop stains so I saved up for some clean sheets and new bedspread on the chance that I might someday get to impress a young lady with my Bond-esque lair.
Sadly, (for me anyway, probably not for them) no girls ever actually witnessed the awesomeness of my DIY high tech bachelor pad, but it did launch a lifelong quest to build, or buy, or influence manufacturers to produce, home automation I’d actually consider feature-complete. Glad to see Inovelli filling in some of those feature gaps and looking forward to more in 2020.
I move into a new-build Lennar home in 2015. It came with a z-wave Schlage lock and Trane thermostat. Come to find out they were winding down a deal with Nexia where all houses came with it. Got the sales office manage to give me a used Nexia hub they had laying around. Quickly outgrew it and pre-ordered the V2 SmartThings hub when it came out. Now 170 devices later…
My entry into smart homes all began when my cheap thermostat stopped working one summer during a heat wave. While at the big box hardware store I saw a wifi connected app compatible thermostat and figured that knowing when and what is happening is a good thing. It was all downhill from there. My second device was a homemade garage door controller using an esp8266 and some resistors along with some reed sensors to detect and report open/closed states. That led to experimenting with different hubs paring it down to OpenHab2 and Home Assistant and then finally deciding on Home Assistant as the hub to manage all my upcoming projects. I run my Home Assistant on a virtual machine (more power than the RPi) on a spare computer using an Aotech stick for ZWave and some other goodies to manage the connectivity.
From that point it has expanded out to wall switches from Innovelli, more home made projects such as blinds controllers, Sonoff switches, zwave deadbolts, media streamers, alarm system adapters, a connection to my whole house fire alarms, and more.
The Primary point I make about any home automation system is that is should be automatic and not just a glorified remote on your mobile device. I feel that with each new connected item, and the configurability of Home Assistant, that I am achieving this goal.
I started out with X-10 but was never really satisfied with its lack of reliability. Since I was just tinkering at the time, I put it all in a box and didn’t think about it for years. When I got the itch again, I decided to go with Z-Wave and Vera. That worked fairly well, but when MCV transitioned to UI7, it began to lose its luster. Add to that the fact that any real customization required programming in Lua–I was pretty much done with Vera. After lots of research, I wound up choosing Indigo and never looked back (that was over 6 years ago). There are many plugins available (I have written a few myself) and I use those for hooks into Sonos, Roku, Harmony, Homekit, MyQ, TiVo, to name a few.
Beyond Z-Wave, I also use a 1-wire network extensively in my system for temperature, humidity, and light sensing and run a few things on Raspberry Pi’s. I also favor Unifi networking gear, which allows me to manage my system easily no matter where I am (all of this stuff has hooks into Indigo, too). I try to avoid battery-operated devices whenever I can and run from cloud-based solutions like the plague.