Home automation

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
GatorFL
Posts: 54
Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:07 pm

Home automation

Post by GatorFL »

Thought I would share some experiences with some home automation and specifically how easy things have become! I am sure my setup is not the most sophisticated, but here goes. You can automate nearly everything that connects to Wifi in the home these days. Here are some of those things in my house:

1. Amazon Echo: I happen to love Alexa and we have a 1st generation Echo and several Dots around the house.
2. Blink cameras: I went with the less expensive blink cameras because they require no wiring and the battery lasts 1-2 years and they are easy to setup.
3. Rachio Lawn Irrigation: I love the Rachio, its saves me water and it works very well in how it waters.
4. Wemo smart plugs for lights: You can plug anything into a Wemo. The Wemos all get setup on Wifi and are controllable.

So, there are 2 types of things that I have set up. First, the Alexa learning system is wonderful and I have taught Alexa to be able to turn off/on all of the Wemo plugs as well as the Rachio.

However, the real fun begins with a little app called "IFTTT" which stands for If This Then That. I set a few these up today and it literally took 10 minutes! Here are a few things I set up:

1. Enable my Blink cameras at 7PM daily and turn off at 8AM. Blink does not come with a schedule, so using ifttt to set up a schedule is great. I work from home, so I don't need to get alerts during the day.
2. At night, if my Blink camera gets an alert, the ifttt app does the following. It first turns on the inside light closest to the camera. Next, it turns on the closest sprinkler zone for a few minutes. Nothing likes getting wet in the middle of the night is my theory.

There are thousands of logic ideas that ifttt comes with or like in my case, it only takes a few minutes to make your own.

Feeling more and more like the Jetsons every day to me.
Gator
TheOscarGuy
Posts: 1132
Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2012 1:10 pm
Location: Where I wanna be.

Re: Home automation

Post by TheOscarGuy »

GatorFL wrote: Sun Mar 17, 2019 6:42 pm
However, the real fun begins with a little app called "IFTTT" which stands for If This Then That. I set a few these up today and it literally took 10 minutes! Here are a few things I set up:

1. Enable my Blink cameras at 7PM daily and turn off at 8AM. Blink does not come with a schedule, so using ifttt to set up a schedule is great. I work from home, so I don't need to get alerts during the day.
2. At night, if my Blink camera gets an alert, the ifttt app does the following. It first turns on the inside light closest to the camera. Next, it turns on the closest sprinkler zone for a few minutes. Nothing likes getting wet in the middle of the night is my theory.

There are thousands of logic ideas that ifttt comes with or like in my case, it only takes a few minutes to make your own.

Feeling more and more like the Jetsons every day to me.
Gator

I am going to check this app! This is something I have been looking for, for a while! Thanks for posting.
User avatar
RickBoglehead
Posts: 5608
Joined: Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:10 am
Location: In a house

Re: Home automation

Post by RickBoglehead »

Home Automation is certainly cool. It also opens up huge privacy issues as well as hacking concerns.

Some points:

1) Make sure that all your devices work off your GUEST NETWORK. Otherwise, a hack of a Wemo plug could provide access to all the data on your home computers.

2) Realize that any cloud solution (Amazon, Wemo, etc.) means your data is accessible on the cloud. I have my thermostats setup, using my Guest network, and the name that Emerson has is "Bugs Bunny". None of my schedules are setup with any revealing info, such as "On Vacation" or "While at work". No address, no phone number. Yes, they know my IP address. Yes, the they have access to my Guest network.

3) Anything that you set to trigger when you're not home or when you are home, by sensing your presence (Nest for example) provides the ability for someone to know when you're not a home.

4) Make sure you clearly understand any privacy policy of a site, especially a free one like IFTTT. Do they collect info about the applets you use, and when they run?
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.
Bacchus01
Posts: 3182
Joined: Mon Dec 24, 2012 9:35 pm

Re: Home automation

Post by Bacchus01 »

GatorFL wrote: Sun Mar 17, 2019 6:42 pm Thought I would share some experiences with some home automation and specifically how easy things have become! I am sure my setup is not the most sophisticated, but here goes. You can automate nearly everything that connects to Wifi in the home these days. Here are some of those things in my house:

1. Amazon Echo: I happen to love Alexa and we have a 1st generation Echo and several Dots around the house.
2. Blink cameras: I went with the less expensive blink cameras because they require no wiring and the battery lasts 1-2 years and they are easy to setup.
3. Rachio Lawn Irrigation: I love the Rachio, its saves me water and it works very well in how it waters.
4. Wemo smart plugs for lights: You can plug anything into a Wemo. The Wemos all get setup on Wifi and are controllable.

So, there are 2 types of things that I have set up. First, the Alexa learning system is wonderful and I have taught Alexa to be able to turn off/on all of the Wemo plugs as well as the Rachio.

However, the real fun begins with a little app called "IFTTT" which stands for If This Then That. I set a few these up today and it literally took 10 minutes! Here are a few things I set up:

1. Enable my Blink cameras at 7PM daily and turn off at 8AM. Blink does not come with a schedule, so using ifttt to set up a schedule is great. I work from home, so I don't need to get alerts during the day.
2. At night, if my Blink camera gets an alert, the ifttt app does the following. It first turns on the inside light closest to the camera. Next, it turns on the closest sprinkler zone for a few minutes. Nothing likes getting wet in the middle of the night is my theory.

There are thousands of logic ideas that ifttt comes with or like in my case, it only takes a few minutes to make your own.

Feeling more and more like the Jetsons every day to me.
Gator
The light and sprinkler zone thing is absolute genius.

I would like to get a sprinkler controller. What about the Rachio do you really like? I need one with 16 zones, the ability to monitor weather and I’d really like it to work with some moisture monitors placed in the yard or have really good algorithm to take care of this. I have a back yard that is almost full sun all day and a front yard that is partial and I can never get it dialed in well.
Topic Author
GatorFL
Posts: 54
Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:07 pm

Re: Home automation

Post by GatorFL »

[/quote]

The light and sprinkler zone thing is absolute genius.

I would like to get a sprinkler controller. What about the Rachio do you really like? I need one with 16 zones, the ability to monitor weather and I’d really like it to work with some moisture monitors placed in the yard or have really good algorithm to take care of this. I have a back yard that is almost full sun all day and a front yard that is partial and I can never get it dialed in well.
[/quote]

The Rachio has several key features that I love:

1. They have a 16 zone unit that sells for $279, but my local water company rebated me $150, so I view the cost as acceptable.
2. Install: I replaced an old mechanical Rain Bird, the Rachio install went perfectly with help from the community.
3. Community: Rachio has an awesome user community. I was unsure about some of the wires, so the group had me take photos and upload them. They studied each photo and explained what went where and confirmed what I thought would work. They were fantastic.
4. Made in the USA.
5. WaterFlow sensor: I also implemented their WaterFlow sensor which will shut the system down if it ever detects a leak in the system. That was an extra $50, but well worth it.
6. Microweather: They assess the weather from many many sources and get accurate rainfall stats for a radius of less than 1000' from the house. I have found that the stats are spot on.
7. Zone setups: You can go through a detailed setup for each zone. You specify the soil type, slope and the type of plants/grass that is planted. If there is slope, then the system is smart enough to water for a portion of the time, go to the next zone, and then come back and finish a previous zone. This reminds me of tightening lug nuts on a tire. You dont crank all the way down on one nut, you tighten one up, go to the next and work your way back and forth. The Rachio works the same way to ensure minimal water runoff. Very cool feature.
8. Soil Sensor: Rachio will work with a few wired sensors, but not wireless. Their point is that they use prior weather to more accurately predict future needs vs a single point for a sensor. My lawn, trees and shrubs have never looked better, so I believe in it.
9. Scheduling: I like the option of setting the system to "finish before sunrise". This is most optimal and it tracks time and adjust for daylight savings and sunrise in an automated fashion.

In terms of security, I also have a guest network setup on my router and I also use non-descriptive names for devices and information that is sent through the cloud. Always good to do that.

Add all of that plus the ability to network with other services like security system make it a huge value for me.
Gator
User avatar
serbeer
Posts: 1266
Joined: Fri Dec 28, 2007 2:09 pm

Re: Home automation

Post by serbeer »

GatorFL wrote: Sun Mar 17, 2019 6:42 pm ...
2. Blink cameras: I went with the less expensive blink cameras because they require no wiring and the battery lasts 1-2 years and they are easy to setup.
...
Where do you live?

Here in Midwest where temperatures in the winter were dropping to -25F this year, battery life is likely to be measured in days, not years. This is the main reason I cannot get equally easy to setup external Ring battery cameras to supplement my Ring Alarm system: I know that battery would not hold in the winter, alas.
gpburdell
Posts: 222
Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2012 9:01 pm

Re: Home automation

Post by gpburdell »

My favorite home automation is for exterior lights. I like them coming on in the evening and turning off as the sun comes up. In my old house, I installed smart LED bulbs which worked fine. However, if someone turned off a light switch then that would stop it from working.

In my new house, I replaced the light switches with smart light switches so the switch can always be controlled even if the light is off.
Post Reply