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Thread: First time home owner and first time smart home

  1. #1
    Automated Home Lurker
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    Default First time home owner and first time smart home

    Hi,

    I have always wanted a smart home, something that will make my life easier but also just because it is cool. So in the next couple of months I should be moving into my first home and now I have a chance to se up a Smart Home.

    Being an apple boy, Homekit was the first idea I had but after having a look, the tech seems to be limited in the UK and expensive (when you need extra hubs and an apple tv to remotely control it). Instead I've seen Z-Wave but I dont know anything really about it, other than it's been around longer and there is more accessories.

    Obviously buying a home is expensive so to begin with I'm going to start small and build up a system slowly. To start I'm thinking a simple system where when the front door is open the hall light is turned on in the evening. Or a motion sensor on the landing that turns the light on dimmed neither at night or in the morning. Then expand the system.

    So my first question is what is will be better? My second is what happens about the light switches, can these be replaced so you can still use the wall switch without turning the smart features off?

    Another thing I want to soon after moving in is set up a security system. Now a home alarm system is good but it's only useful if you are there so I will look at getting one installed but in the meantime I am thinking of some form of camera system that alerts me when it is triggered.

    I really like the look of the Canary All in One, it can be connected to the power and ethernet (which really appeals to me), have an alarm and can monitor air quality and temp (for incase of a fire). It also looks great and would sit well in the living room without looking like a cam. However I would need a membership plan at an annual price and the Canary Flex (for outdoor) only connects via wifi.

    Another option would be just a standard CCTV system with a DVR (?) box, that also have an app so I am notified when triggered and I can watch remotely. i know these systems will be cheaper, but they aren't as clever. I could do a mixture I suppose?

    Can anyone help find the best system for me?

    Thanks
    Phil

  2. #2
    Automated Home Sr Member franktate's Avatar
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    Welcome. It's always daunting to start the Home Automation journey. It's hard to get the right thing for yourself as there is so much equipment and advice out there. What is perfect for one person is an overpriced white elephant for others. So I'll make a start:

    I use SmartThings. Pro's are: cheap(ish), compatible with Z-Wave and wi-fi things and Nest etc. Cons: Not as prgammable as some of the better controllers like the Fibaro Home Centre. If you are not into programming and only want the basics then the SmartThings hub will do. As a bonus, just released, is the Amazon Echo which now has built in smarts to control stuff so you may not need a SmartThings hub - saving a bit of cash if you intended to buy both.

    My Echo with SmartThings controls all the z-wave lights and the Nest Thermostat.

    The lights I have are Fibaro back boxes (behind a normal light switch. This was means you can either use a movement sensor, an app or the actual physical switch to turn your light on.
    I use the Fibaro motion sensors to switch some lights on automatically. They have a bonus of being able to log temperature and light levels as well movement so you can just turn the light on when it's dark rather than all the time.

    Have a look at these for now and ask any questions.


    Frank

  3. #3
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    Hi Frank, thank you for the reply. What I really like the about Homekit is Siri integration and combining everything into one app. However if I use Echo then that would replace Siri (plus you can have extra smaller microphones to dot around the house, or did I dream that?). And then as long I can use an app.

    The Fibaro stuff sounds ideally, especially the back box. Iím going to have a look now. Thank you again.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by franktate View Post
    Welcome. It's always daunting to start the Home Automation journey. It's hard to get the right thing for yourself as there is so much equipment and advice out there. What is perfect for one person is an overpriced white elephant for others. So I'll make a start:

    I use SmartThings. Pro's are: cheap(ish), compatible with Z-Wave and wi-fi things and Nest etc. Cons: Not as prgammable as some of the better controllers like the Fibaro Home Centre. If you are not into programming and only want the basics then the SmartThings hub will do. As a bonus, just released, is the Amazon Echo which now has built in smarts to control stuff so you may not need a SmartThings hub - saving a bit of cash if you intended to buy both.

    My Echo with SmartThings controls all the z-wave lights and the Nest Thermostat.

    The lights I have are Fibaro back boxes (behind a normal light switch. This was means you can either use a movement sensor, an app or the actual physical switch to turn your light on.
    I use the Fibaro motion sensors to switch some lights on automatically. They have a bonus of being able to log temperature and light levels as well movement so you can just turn the light on when it's dark rather than all the time.

    Have a look at these for now and ask any questions.


    Frank
    Thanks again franktate, been looking into things a little more and although I am an Apple boy and like the idea of using Siri, I also like the idea of having a separate system. Also like the fact there is so much more choice than Homekit currently have.

    Also I do have two fire tv boxes so it would seem a waste of money to have to buy an Apple TV as well. A couple of questions I do have is are z-wave devices cross compatible? I like the idea of picking and mixing different devices.

    Secondly, I presume things are able to be controlled with an iOS device?

    Lastly, can I still use the devices when away from home?

    Thanks

  5. #5
    Automated Home Sr Member franktate's Avatar
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    I too was an apple fan for a while but sometimes they are just not up to speed with Technology.

    The answers to your questions are:

    Yes, z-wave devices all share the same z-wave protocol. If a device is z-wave it will talk to any other device. There are functionality differences but they all share the same communications protocol. My internal sensors are Fibaro but external ones are by Everspring. My door sensors are from Everspring. The Garage door sensor is from Vision.

    Depending on the controller you use, you can use an iOS app. SmartThings has an iOS app. Before you buy a controller check the app store. Download the app and see what it can do.

    I have SmartThings and the app can be controlled from anywhere in the world (where ther's wi-fi or data). So I can be in Canada and switch the lights off or see if a door is open.

    Have fun

    Frank

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