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  1. #1
    Automated Home Jr Member
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    Post Connecting round the home

    I've just read https://www.troyhunt.com/iot-unravel...ome-assistant/ which is a really interesting read if you are into home automation. The followup is interesting too.

    I agree with a lot of his points, even if it doesn't convince me to move to a Home Assistant solution. It did get me thinking though. I like the way the Zigbee units work - one of the hassles with a wired system like idratek is getting the cables to the modules, which may be easy enough in a new build, but is a pain for those of us with a period home. What would be nice is a way round this; specifically a way to wirelessly bridge the idratek data network. At the moment all module need an idratek data cable carrying 12v power, data and audio using a cat5 twisted pair cable. Of the eight connectors in this cable only the data pair must be connected back to the idratek network for most modules to function. The 12v can be supplied locally and the audio isn't used by most modules. So if the data could be connected via a wireless link then idratek network "islands" connected back to the main system could be setup. Since the data link is relatively low speed this can't be that difficult for modern electronics.

    This would transform installation. Garden offices could be connected up, so could ponds, waterfeatures, greenhouses and so on.
    Last edited by achapman; 25th November 2020 at 11:33 AM.

  2. #2
    Automated Home Guru cliffwright's Avatar
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    I agree to the spirit of what you're saying here, but Zigbee is nothing short of a con. If you're happy to spend twice the price on something with no advantage ... then I've got a 20 note I can sell you for 40

    Joking aside, Wifi devices do the same equivalent job ... for pretty much 1/2 the price of the equivalent Zigbee stuff in pretty much all cases. Philips Hue especially is just overpriced crap IMO.

    In this post here - https://www.automatedhome.co.uk/vbul...ink-Wi-Fi-bulb - Karam talks about some Wifi modules being in the potential offing for Idratek, but clearly we're not there yet.

    The beauty of the Idratek system right now is that it's reliable by being a wired and closed-loop system. Wireless comms will always have some degree of downside, no matter how small an amount, so it's down to whether you can live with the occasional mis-connect or not. Maybe Idratek's wifi modules will be wonderful though when they land

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    Automated Home Legend paulockenden's Avatar
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    To a point. But ZigBee kit can be battery powered (for temperature sensors etc.) whereas Wi-Fi will usually need mains power (there are a few exceptions such as Cricket).

    And ZigBee can be meshed so it works better than Wi-Fi in some situations.

    Horses for courses.

  4. #4
    Automated Home Legend Karam's Avatar
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    WiFi would not have been my first technical choice for home automation products, however I have found issues with pretty much all radio protocols which I have experimented with over the years. Sometimes the issues are not technical in nature but more driven by market expectations. In fact probably more so I'm learning to accept... .

    Anyhow, WiFi has some advantages in some respects alluding to above (and for some technical reasons too) but needn't be the only solution in a radio mix. I'd agree with the 'Horses for courses'. BTW WiFi meshing of sorts is also possible and I have managed to get nearly a year out of a couple of AA's for an experimental sensory only module. It's not great but might be tolerable in some circumstances.

    To original poster: A WiFi bridging module is more than likely to come about as an inherent result of what other things are awaiting.

  5. #5
    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    our Devolo WiFi is meshed - even though they don't seem to advertise the fact ...

    ie: all units have the same ID ... so can move, in our case, tablets around the house without having to bother about the WiFi connection ...

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karam View Post
    ... To original poster: A WiFi bridging module is more than likely to come about as an inherent result of what other things are awaiting.
    I wasn't aware a bridging module was a possibility. I deliberately refrained from suggesting a wireless bridging technology as I am aware that there are problems with Zigbee, zwave etc. Licencing and compliance are likely to be an issue and, as part 2 of the article I referenced says, interoperability between 'compatible' items under the same standard does not always work. There are obvious attractions to using a public standard (WiFi). I did wonder about Lora, which is touted as being appropriate for IoT developments, but guessed that, while it may be appropriate to connect sensors to a an IoT hub it probably would not be suitable to bridge the hub network (i.e idratek network) itself.

    We have a meshed WiFi network too - I use Unifi kit, which I'm very pleased with. I suppose idratek bridging could be piggy-backed onto the WiFi mesh network. (I've also got a Sonos system, which has its own proprietory meshed wifi system, but I won't complicate things by involving this)
    Last edited by achapman; 27th November 2020 at 04:29 PM.

  7. #7
    Automated Home Guru cliffwright's Avatar
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    If you've got solid Wifi around the house, then the advantage that "Zigbee can mesh" seems irrelevant to me (although I take your point where Wifi isn't solid). These days, even Wifi devices herald decent battery life in battery-powered models .. but it's the price point that annoys me most. "Zigbee" as a protocol is not more expensive to produce than a "Wifi" device ... it just isn't ... so there's Zero reason the devices should cost double what an equivalent Wifi model does (other than the makers wanting to maximise how much cash they extract from your wallet).


    Quote Originally Posted by achapman View Post
    I wasn't aware a bridging module was a possibility. I deliberately refrained from suggesting a wireless bridging technology as I am aware that there are problems with Zigbee, zwave etc. Licencing and compliance are likely to be an issue and, as part 2 of the article I referenced says, interoperability between 'compatible' items under the same standard does not always work. There are obvious attractions to using a public standard (WiFi). I did wonder about Lora, which is touted as being appropriate for IoT developments, but guessed that, while it may be appropriate to connect sensors to a an IoT hub it probably would not be suitable to bridge the hub network (i.e idratek network) itself.

    We have a meshed WiFi network too - I use Unifi kit, which I'm very pleased with. I suppose idratek bridging could be piggy-backed onto the WiFi mesh network. (I've also got a Sonos system, which has its own proprietory meshed wifi system, but I won't complicate things by involving this)
    I've tried a couple of Mesh network options for the pure intrigue of seeing how capable they were in real world deployments .. but the signal between each one never seemed strong enough to get the bandwidth that I wanted / expected ... so short of having an excessive amount of Mesh nodes to add hops (which in turn, doesn't help with speed necessarily if the hops are linear along the chain) ... they were going to have to be wired anyway .. so I ended up going OTT and installing a Unify solution too.

    I love the Unify kit (aside from the fan noise on the USG! Am going to have to swap the fans to quiet it down) and I've got the luxury of having the ability in the house to have all uplinks wired to AP's in any room needed. It gives solid results and I love all the control it gives.

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