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Home Automation for existing homes


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Home Automation for existing homes
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Tidewater Virginia
 
2009-06-16, 02:12

So I am a geek and want my home to have all the nice features of a modern home. One such way would be to add controls for lighting and other basic devices from my iPhone/Touch. Wouldn't it be nice to be in bed and realize it's cooled off outside making it just a little too cool to leave the A/C on. Reach over, grab the phone and turn off the A/C, or turn the temp up on it so it doesn't run.

Maybe I want to turn the ceiling fan on in the family room, or the deck lights off in the back yard. You get the idea.

I know there a few ways this can be done but I'm looking for something the add into a house built in 1960. All the electrical wiring has been upgraded because of a lightening strike. I know X10 claims to do some of this, but I've always seen them as a company designed to help you put a camera in your bathroom, or in the bathroom of a sorority house.

Smarthome advertises a similar home automation product line that includes an option for iPhone/Touch control. This is inline with what I'm looking for. What I'm wondering is what are the options out there for home automation. Google turns up many options but I'm curious if any of you have used something that works.

At some point I'm sure I can run Cat6 cables so an option that uses data lines isn't out of the question. I'm going to have to build up too because as it stands I'm going to have to buy most of the appliances in the new home too since the seller is taking the ones in there now.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
MineCraft? mc.applenova.com | Visit us! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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Robo
Formerly Roboman, still
awesome
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Portland, OR
 
2009-06-16, 02:54

Ahh, home automation, the great "in the year two thousand..." revolution that never happened (yet).

I'll be watching this thread too, purely as an interested party (not yet a homeowner).

and i guess i've known it all along / the truth is, you have to be soft to be strong
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Tidewater Virginia
 
2009-06-16, 22:29

I've been doing more looking and it looks like Insteon is the latest and greatest I've found as a system. It's by Smarthome/SmartLabs and uses Rf and powerline to communicate. It also uses a mesh tech so missed commands happen far less.

So does anyone have anything like this? Will I be the AN pioneer for home automation? Reading the wiki comes of like an advertisement, but seems informative enough. It's also inline with this article from Popular Mechanics that was written earlier this year. At least it recent compared to most I find.

Electronic House even did an article recently that talked about two other standards out there. At the end of the article though they recommend Insteon for existing homes.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
MineCraft? mc.applenova.com | Visit us! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
  quote
turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Tidewater Virginia
 
2014-05-31, 19:33

So in the end I've started using Z-Wave. Right now I have a number of things controlled by it though no where near the amount I have planned. I even found where you can put a film on your windows that can go from clear to opaque with Z-Wave!

Right now I can do things like control lights and my thermostat. I will be adding more as I go along. This is one of the most fun hobbies I've had in a while too!

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
MineCraft? mc.applenova.com | Visit us! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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Bryson
Rocket Surgeon
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Whitby
 
2014-05-31, 21:27

There's a rumour going around that Apple are going to get into the game...
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Tidewater Virginia
 
2014-05-31, 22:16

I saw that rumor as well as a follow up to it that indicates it won't be hardware but "Made for iPhone" certification like. This means Apple isn't making it, just trying to unify it for the iPhone. While I like this, I just couldn't wait around anymore.

Currently, I have one interface that allows me to manage all my automation. I can add in my garage door opener or even a lock for my front door. We won't be doing that much since an old tumbler style lock has to be manually picked where the other can be hacked (see post #16). If it wasn't for this service I'm using then it would be pretty fragmented much like Android and other tech that doesn't have a solid ecosystem.

SmartThings seems the be the closest to joining all of them to the mass market, just they require a connected home. If you lose your internet connection your lose control as I understand it. That's really bad if you asked me. Plus then all my stuff is on someone else's servers. It's nice having web controlled access from my phone, but it's not needed when in my home.

For some cool stuff I'm looking into though, something like this power strip that allows you to control 4 of the 6 outlets. You can even add a hidden door switch to know once someone has opened a monitored door in your home without all the bulky sensors hanging on that door like they do now. You can also set it so say you open one door it turns on lights for you automatically, etc.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
MineCraft? mc.applenova.com | Visit us! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
  quote
turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Tidewater Virginia
 
2014-06-01, 20:53

I now have all of my exterior lights on Z-Wave switches! I was looking for options when I found that Lowes (US chain hardware store) carries the exact same ones I've been using for less even though they are branded slightly different!

This is a great example. Seems Lowes has a brand called Iris that's a competitor to SmartThings if I read the lit correctly. Turns out that the bulk of the stuff is Z-Wave and made by the same people who made the GE/Jasco branded ones.

I even added an outlet that one socket is controlled so I can disconnect power to my little AC unit that supplements the cooling of my playroom. I'm pretty happy about this stuff.

Though I don't get why they made the outlet to use stranded wire (not copper) when they know we are going to be wire nutting it down to solid 14AWG wires? The wire nuts they provided in that were horrible too. At least I had some of my own.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
MineCraft? mc.applenova.com | Visit us! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
  quote
turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Tidewater Virginia
 
2014-06-04, 21:53

So the next thing I did was add Z-Wave light control to my den ceiling fan. This was done with a micro switch that is wired inline. I love the design of this one because it allowed me to continue using the existing pull chain to operate the light while allowing my Z-Wave system to do it for me.

This wasn't the easiest to put in, but I'm very pleased with the results:




The switch actually fit into the housing for the fan's pull chain and reverse switch. It wasn't easy as I mentioned, but it did fit in the end. I was concerned about the reception in there because the antenna would be surrounded by the metal housing but this wasn't an issue at all. What was the hardest part about this switch was getting it paired to my controller. I ended up having to wire it to a plug and then pair it near the controller, 3' - 6' away.

Now when my alarm is armed "away" the light goes off and it turns on when the alarm is disarmed. I can also turn it off or on when ever I want with the chain or the Z-Wave system like with my phone. The fan portion is operating like it was originally too. No changes there.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
MineCraft? mc.applenova.com | Visit us! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
  quote
Eugene
careful with axes
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Hillsborough, CA
 
2014-06-05, 00:43

Quote:
Originally Posted by turtle View Post
At some point I'm sure I can run Cat6 cables so an option that uses data lines isn't out of the question. I'm going to have to build up too because as it stands I'm going to have to buy most of the appliances in the new home too since the seller is taking the ones in there now.
This is the biggest hold-up for me. I want to run Cat6a and better quality solid-copper RG6 in my walls without cutting through the drywall, but that's not going to happen. The existing low-voltage wires weren't run through conduits and are stapled in place. Some of the new runs would be pretty impossible to fish blindly.
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Tidewater Virginia
 
2014-06-05, 22:01

I have 1000' of CAT6 here in my house now but I haven't pulled much of it. Going with Z-Wave means I've not had to pull wires for it. This is huge for me. While I can drill down from the attic in my place, I don't much because I do have fire break about 4' up in the wall. This is a real pain when trying to drop wires down the wall.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
MineCraft? mc.applenova.com | Visit us! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
  quote
turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Tidewater Virginia
 
2014-06-14, 20:44

So I've added a new switch to another existing fan. I forgot to take a picture of the label side for my records or to share here, but it's this one (Aeotec Z-Wave Micro Smart Energy Dimmer). This one is also wired so I can use the pull chain like a normal fan light control. You wouldn't know it was Z-Wave unless you read this post or I told you. The one difference of this switch vs the one I posted earlier is how the light actually goes from off to on or vice versa. With the first switch the lights are on or off "instantly". With this dimmer switch it goes from off through the brightness scaling up until it reaches the brightness level you set. When you turn it off it goes from the level it was set to down gradually to off.

This isn't very long, but it's not "instant on" by any stretch. Think CFL on a very cold morning and add more time.



This one is a dimming light controller so I can have it turn on and adjust the brightness as well now. This is very cool as far as I'm concerned because I've set the light to turn on at my old alarm clock time. My idea being use this control to make the room brighter "naturally" like daylight coming in to wake me up. I've adjusted my alarm clock time to be 10 minutes later in hopes that I'll be able to move away from it completely.

The other awesome part about this particular switch is that it monitors your energy usage too. It reports it to the Z-Wave Controller that logs the usage. Then you can see historically how much it's used.



So I also got an Aeon Labs Aeotec Z-Wave Smart Energy Meter that needs to be installed still. I wouldn't mind doing this one other than it goes in the breaker box and I don't want my insurance company telling me I did something wrong if something were to go wrong. Plus I need a circuit added to my panel anyway. I hope to have this added within the week so I can see my whole home usage!

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
MineCraft? mc.applenova.com | Visit us! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
  quote
Escher
Sub-PowerBook Lobbyist
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Washington, DC
 
2014-07-17, 12:13

Just discovered this thread, checking in on AN to see who's still around. It's hard to believe that Turtle started this thread over five years ago!

I have limited myself to running two Nest thermostats as well as a Belkin WeMo switch for the pendant light in the kitchen, while planning a major remodel of my house. Construction is about to start in earnest within the next couple of weeks. So Apple's recent announcement of HomeKit and this thread are very timely. This makes hardwiring a real necessity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eugene View Post
[Running data lines] is the biggest hold-up for me. I want to run Cat6a and better quality solid-copper RG6 in my walls without cutting through the drywall, but that's not going to happen. The existing low-voltage wires weren't run through conduits and are stapled in place. Some of the new runs would be pretty impossible to fish blindly.
My neighbors across the street, who newly built a modernist house from scratch, wired everything with Cat6. While I was originally going to rely on WiFi for my own house, their Cat6 got me thinking. I also have some old cinderblock and brick walls, which do an excellent job of shielding radio signals, especially the high-frequency (Ghz) signals used by modern wireless networks.

While I was planning the renovation and working out the logistical details for the past two years, I ran a single Cat5 Ethernet cable from my FiOS modem and AirPort base at the front of the house to a second AirPort towards the back of the house. This improved WiFi dramatically throughout the house as well as garden. Plus the TV, which is in the back of the house, is now hardwired, rather than relying on WiFi. That single Ethernet cable completely changed my perspective on hardwiring for data!

I now plan to run conduit, rather than wire, throughout the house. A majority of the walls and floors are going to be opened up or rebuilt completely. I'm also going to be rewiring most of the house, running new water lines (the old ones are too weak to save), and A/C ducts. So it's question of "do it now, or never" and a complete no-brainer. Running conduit instead of wires will also allow me to research and analyze all the options, especially any new ones that come to market over the next year, while the renovation is still under way.

I hope that Apple's release of HomeKit is going to act as a catalyst for new solutions. I can't wait to see what the market will offer up!

I've been waiting for a true sub-PowerBook for more than 10 years. The 11-inch MacBook Air finally delivers on all counts! It beats the hell out of both my PowerBook 2400c and my 12-inch PowerBook G4 -- no contest whatsoever.
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zippy
Veteran Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Unknown
 
2014-07-18, 13:05

One suggestion I would make: Before any drywall goes back up, take pictures of the framing and any pipes/wires/etc running through it. It makes a great reference for any future projects.

Do you know where children get all of their energy? - They suck it right out of their parents!
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Kickaha
Likes his boobies blue.
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Hell
 
2014-07-18, 13:18

Quote:
Originally Posted by zippy View Post
One suggestion I would make: Before any drywall goes back up, take pictures of the framing and any pipes/wires/etc running through it. It makes a great reference for any future projects.
Hells^(the yes).

I was lucky that the prior homeowners were the builders, and left the original blueprints behind. I took a pic, used it as a template in OmniGraffle, and updated them to match the current house layout. The one thing I don't have is the internal wall wiring and plumbing, so I'm still guessing half the time.

My other brain is hung like a horse too.
#IRC isn't old school.
Old school is being able to say 'finger me' with a straight face.
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Tidewater Virginia
 
2019-12-20, 10:37

Bringing this thread back to life. I'm looking at what home automation is out there now and trying to find a way to make it all work. Currently I'm still heavily invested into Z-Wave but knowing there is so much more out there now just wondering what people are doing that works well? Basically I don't have to stay with Z-wave and am willing to look at what is available now.

This announcement (from Apple) points towards Zigbee but I'm sure the fruit of this cooperation won't be available for at least a few years. Of course it is anyone's guess when we start to see the products on the market. I mean, what about the HomeKit for Secure Video? Where are all those products? I'm still wanting a new doorbell.

The key for me is I want a relative level of privacy from my devices. Too many damning articles out there about complete privacy invasion going on. If I were to go with someone like Google or Amazon I know I have zero privacy. So I would need a controller from a company that at least tries to act like they care. My only concern about switching to an all Apple system is I'd feel pigeonholed.

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
MineCraft? mc.applenova.com | Visit us! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
  quote
PB PM
Sneaky Punk
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Vancouver, BC
Send a message via Skype™ to PB PM 
2019-12-21, 13:13

Yes, please use more IOT devices in your home, it makes our bot net for DNS attacks stronger! Mother Russia thanks you! Sorry, feeling cheeky today.
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kscherer
The Ban Hammer
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Boyzeee
 
2019-12-21, 13:43

I was considering a Nest, and then Google bought them. Knowing what Google is, my purchasing decision was immediately made, and not just for that item. So far, I have exactly zero internet-connected home automation devices, and am planning to add exactly zero over the next fifty years. Seriously, I'm waiting for the bomb to drop—the all-encompassing hack that lets the nefarious types into whatever home they want to access at 3 o'clock in the morning while your sweet little daughter sleeps in the next room and then suddenly is gone forever but there is absolutely no evidence of forced entry and so she is classified as a runaway.

No, and way!

I smell a giant rat, and I'm not taking part. It's bad enough that my phone knows where I am at any given moment. I am not turning my doorknob or lights or A/C over to the internet. I've already seen way too much damage with the whole "X-Corp data breach affects 500,000,000 customers who are now exposed to Pakistani fraud attacks".

Hell, no! You guys knock yourselves out.

Boise State! … Boise State! … Boise State!
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PB PM
Sneaky Punk
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Vancouver, BC
Send a message via Skype™ to PB PM 
2019-12-21, 13:46

You don't have to wait, most IOT devices are already being hacked and spied on if nothing else. All those keyfinders that people are getting? Most of them are hacked. Fridges? Yup. Smart TVs, yup. It just goes on and on. Glad I have one of the last dumb TVs LG put out.
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turtle
Lord of the Rant.
Formerly turtle2472
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Tidewater Virginia
 
2020-01-18, 23:02

See, the thing about home automation is it doesn't have to have internet connectivity. My Z-wave system is connected via my alarm company and cellular within the panel to their network. Sure it is arguable that this is online, but not like a random camera or even my doorbell that is a major brand (not owned by Amazon) and I have no control over it.

I will likely look at Z-wave again in my next house, but this is why I'm asking again in here. Maybe others have heard of things I haven't and I can broaden my horizons without opening my home to the IoT Skynet!

Louis L'Amour, “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
MineCraft? mc.applenova.com | Visit us! | Maybe someday I'll proof read, until then deal with it.
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