Home Automation

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jeff

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On the topic of other things we do to occupy our spare time, does anyone dabble in home automation? In the late 60's I was glued to the TV for every episode of Star Trek. My whole life, I've dreamed of controlling the world around me with voice commands, just like Captain Kirk. Here's what I use - what's in your house?

Echo voice assistants (9)
Wyze cameras (10)
Wyze Sense (door switches [5] and PIR devices [4])
Sonoff wifi switches (10) some with power monitors
TP-Link Kasa plug-in outlet switches (6)
Leviton in-wall switches (4)
Lifx Bulbs (8)
Ring Floodlight Cam (1)
Next Protect smoke/co detectors (3)
Honeywell Thermostat
Tailwind garage door controller
I use IFTTT for various automation tasks and notifications

The thing I most enjoy is automation on the cheap. So the Sonoff wifi switches are my favorite at $6 each.

On the rare occasions when my internet goes out, it's like living in the stone age here.

I just asked Alexa to "make me a pen" and she gave me a list of the different types of penicillin. She must have heard me coughing...
 
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Curly

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Nov 20, 2010
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Saskatoon SK., Canada.
We don’t have any and after watching a CBC program called Marketplace probably won’t. They showed how easy it can be for someone to hack the system and take over everything run by the computer. They could control the security cameras, turn on and off the lights, lock and unlock the doors, get into all the bank accounts too and change the passwords so you can’t get the control back. I think there was a follow up show that had women being harassed and watched by estranged husbands and boyfriends.

 

jeff

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Westlake, OH, USA.
We don’t have any and after watching a CBC program called Marketplace probably won’t. They showed how easy it can be for someone to hack the system and take over everything run by the computer. They could control the security cameras, turn on and off the lights, lock and unlock the doors, get into all the bank accounts too and change the passwords so you can’t get the control back. I think there was a follow up show that had women being harassed and watched by estranged husbands and boyfriends.

It definitely takes some effort to secure your network. It's especially difficult because all these devices depend on the cloud for communicating, so you need router ports open and they're all handing your passwords off to each other. They're easy to set up, and the default settings are definitely not secure.
 

cjester

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Nov 26, 2015
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Location
Illinois
We have a Nest thermostat and doorbell. I'd like to do more automation, but am not interested in voice control and don't really want cloud services. Someday I may stick a server in the basement and roll my own with Python and Arduinos, etc.
 

thewishman

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Mar 9, 2006
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Location
Reynoldsburg, Ohio, USA.
Was on jury duty a couple of months ago and took a tour of the jail in the lower level of the court building. The guide got to a security door and asked one of the deputies to open it for us to go into the prisoner processing unit. The guard hollered down the hallway, "Alexa, open the door." I like to think I'm a pretty clever guy, so I'm embarrassed to admit my first thought was, "What are the chances? They have a guard on the door with the name Alexa?"

I couldn't get my children to respond to voice commands, the dog either. I would be startled to have my house even acknowledge my existence.
 
Joined
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Location
Lawrenceville, GA 30043
WYZE CAMS are a really neat way to keep an eye on your home and yard. I use the memory cards for about 3-4 days of continuous recording from each camera in addition to the brief clips of motion that is recorded to the cloud from each camera. Biggest bang for the buck at $20 ea. for the basic camera.
 

monophoto

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Mar 13, 2010
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Saratoga Springs, NY
I'm not opposed to home automation, but so far wife and I just don't have a need for it given our lifestyles.

Last year, we had to replace a garage door opener. The new unit features web connectivity, and I very quick set it up (not nearly as easy to do as the supplier said). So now I can use my phone to determine if my wife's garage door is open. That's really neat - but other than as a point of conversation, it's not something that I really need.

On the other hand, our neighbors go to Florida each January, and this year Dave called me a couple of weeks into the trip to ask that I go over to check the temperature in his house - his Nest thermostat was reporting some abnormal temperature swings. Long story short - turns out that mice had built nests in the exhaust and vent pipes for his heating system. So in that case, the Nest was able to tell him information that there was a problem even though he was away for a month, and he was able to arrange to have the problem resolved while he was away. A few weeks later, I had a long conversation with an HVAC sales person at a home show and came away with the understanding that applying that kind of technology is valuable if the home is going to be unoccupied for extended periods during the winter, but otherwise a Nest thermostat (or equivalent) is no better/different from the standard programmable thermostat that most modern HVAC systems have in terms of regulating temperature. So since wife and I choose to remain here in the frozen north during the winter, we really don't need the incremental features that a Nest would offer over our standard thermostat.

I admit to being a technogeek, but I'm also a pragmatic engineer - there are those whose lifestyles are such that it is truly valuable, and there are those who are technogeeks and who want to play with it. Ultimately, it comes down to individual lifestyles and circumstances.
 

Woodchipper

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Cleveland, TN
A word to the forum- A company in the HVAC industry conducted extensive research under strict, laboratory conditions and determined it is more energy efficient to set your thermostat at one setting than move it up and down. Every time you change the setting, you are using energy to raise or lower the ambient temperature. We never change the t'stat when we leave for a period of time. T'stat is plain vanilla with no whipped cream or cherry on top.
My father was an ME in the industry and attended their School of Comfort. Found his certificate in the family photos a while back.
Never wanted or needed all the computerized stuff listed previously. My new car is a computer on wheels- too much to go wrong and expensive to fix.
 

pshrynk

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Dec 6, 2017
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Lake City, Minnesota
I had 2 Nests for a while until we figured out that 1) They didn't have anything to do with the boiler/radiator/local valve controlled heating and 2) The power line wasn't enough to charge the battery, even when using the AC. We went back to electronic thermostats that have very little functionality for the AC. We also have an Echo we use to make grocery lists.
 

jeff

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Westlake, OH, USA.
WYZE CAMS are a really neat way to keep an eye on your home and yard. I use the memory cards for about 3-4 days of continuous recording from each camera in addition to the brief clips of motion that is recorded to the cloud from each camera. Biggest bang for the buck at $20 ea. for the basic camera.
Have you tried Wyze Sense? It's a little hub that plugs into the back of the camera, and supports motion sensors and door switches. $20 for the hub with 2 door switches and a motion sensor. Been working really well for me. I can't believe they can produce the hardware so cheaply. They also released wifi bulbs last week at about $8 each. Way cheaper than Hue or Lifx.
 

Humongous

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Feb 20, 2019
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Canandaigua, NY
Well Lets see:

3 Echo's (Std, Dot and Spot)
Wyze cam (Will be mounting outside in an enclosure this weekend)
Nest Smoke/CO detector
TP-Link smart outlet
6 Philips Hue bulbs
Amazon Fire TV (You can ask Alexa to show you the Wyze cameras and they will display on your television)

Considering the Wyze Sense next. You're right Jeff, for the price it's at the "toy" level. I'll probably get one just to play with it.
 

Scott

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Dec 12, 2003
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Blackfoot Idaho
Hi Jeff!

We have a Nest thermostat, and we love it! I think we saved enough money in the first year to more than pay for it! Besides my Wife loves being able to change the temperature using her iPhone.

That’s about it. We have three Amazon Fire TV sticks with Alexa, but we never use the voice control. And we have Siri on all our Apple devices, which we also never use in the home.

Scott.
 

MRDucks2

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Jul 17, 2017
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Franklin, IN
It takes me an average of 2 years to make a decision on some of this stuff, so this thread is beneficial.

A Ring doorbell or similar is high on the list.

A few exterior cameras to monitor shop, chicken pen, pool and entries, just deciding on best bang for the buck.

WiFi enabled thermostat works fine for me.

Automating some inside lighting would be nice.

Also looking at the exterior lighting available in which, if a single light is triggered on they basically trip on in a sequence.


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Joined
Sep 24, 2006
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Tellico Plains, Tennessee, USA.
I'm still old school, all this electronics don't interest me that much... I like my computer and electric lights, otherwise.......

Besides I live so far out in the country, likely couldn't get a signal from a ring doorbell and even if I could, closest Sheriff's office is 18-20 miles away and by the time
a deputy arrived at my house, thieves could cart the entire house out and be gone when they arrive. I sometimes have to go out on the front porch to get a cell signal... can't get one in the shop, have to go outside for that. I've called an ambulance to my house 3 times over the years and it has taken 45 minutes each time
for them to get here.
 

Woodchipper

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Cleveland, TN
We also have an Echo we use to make grocery lists.
My wife uses a pen and notebook, browsing through the refer, cabinet and freezer. She also lists needed items as they get low or used up. No batteries included or needed. As an oldtimer, I find it interesting that these companies come out with all these electronic gadgets "that we absolutely have to have in order to live." IMHO, the most useless thing is the refrigerator that shows the interior so you can see what's in it. Open the door! As for the electronic thermosats, I challenge any utility company or organization to prove that changing the temperature saves money. For us- 68 in the winter and 75 in the summer with ceiling fans to balance the temperature. Blow up in the winter and down in the summer. Our fans right now are on medium and the house is comfortable. OK, I'm done. Next?
 

sbwertz

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May 11, 2010
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Phoenix, AZ
We don’t have any and after watching a CBC program called Marketplace probably won’t. They showed how easy it can be for someone to hack the system and take over everything run by the computer. They could control the security cameras, turn on and off the lights, lock and unlock the doors, get into all the bank accounts too and change the passwords so you can’t get the control back. I think there was a follow up show that had women being harassed and watched by estranged husbands and boyfriends.

I'm a computer consultant in the real world and I don't have any "smart" appliances or switches. I know how easy that sort of thing can be hacked. I have all kinds of security on my systems and router. I owe it to my client base to keep their information safe. And I don't use my smart phone for anything critical like banking.
 
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