Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Getting Started with Home Automation

A few people asked why I started messing with Home Automation(HA).

My new house has timer switches for the outside lights.  They do stay on all night and I can't figure out how to turn them off at midnight and come back on at 5 AM.  They just come on at sunset and off at sunrise.  I have not researched them a lot but they are older and I know newer ones can do this.   They are still pretty cool.

I just moved and discovered a Lutron dimmer switch in my media room.  Never before seeing these, I started digging.  Digging meaning, go to Best Buy and ask someone if it can be controlled by a remote.  They said the model was too old to use any current devices but I should look into some stuff in our home automation section.  "AHHHHHHHHHHH"  I was introduced to my new hobby.  SmartThings, Hue Lights, Lutron, and WeMo to name a few.

After I returned the roof shingles the previous owner's roofer left to Lowe's and found out they have a home automation hub called IRIS.  I did not see much difference between SmartThings and IRIS from a quick search online.  I bought the IRIS hub and a few GE Z-Wave switches, why not.  It was sort of free.

It took a while for me to install the first switch.  Mostly because I had no idea what I was doing and I picked a 3 way switch to start.  For the noobs out there, a 3 way switch is one that works with another light switch.  A 4 way switch would work with 2 other switches and so on.  I moved to a single switch it work.  Then, I simply added it as a IRIS device right?  No, my IRIS hub could not find the switch.  You have to hard wire the HA hubs.  It was connect to my FIOS wireless router, in the far master bed room.   To solve this, I remembered my Net Gear extender had an RJ45 port.  It is installed in my living area. I moved the IRIS hub there.  It is hidden and very centralized.  Then, the switch added just fine.

Next, I replaced my girl's light switch, so I could make sure they turned them off each day.  I replaced my bed room light switch and fan.   Then, I was struggling to find a use for a smart plug.  My wife mentioned her space heater in the master bathroom.  This was a great solution because it was safe to leave the heater plugged in and I could schedule it to go off automatically.

Then, the coolness started.  I had my kids lights come on at 6 AM and off at 6:45 AM on weekdays.  That helped them get up each morning.  Then, I scheduled the master bathroom heater to come on at 6 AM and the master fan to go off.  Then, my light comes on at 6:05 to get a nice bright start to a weekday.  You have to remember to turn off the schedules when you are on vacation or have a day off.  With IRIS premium service, you can create scenes but it was more difficult than just creating a schedule for each device.

That was my first round of HA.  More to come later.  Garage Door controls, Ring, and SmartThings

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