Advice needed for setting up a smart home


(Simon Shi) #1

Hi folks,

I am planning to set up a smart home before I leave my home for a period of time. I need some suggestions on how to arrange things.

I already replace the CFL light bulbs to be dimmable LED bulbs. And I need four dimmable switches, 4 wall switches, 4 motion sensors, 1 multi-sensor, 1 on/closed door switch, etc.

But I heard that the SmarThings Hub will have V2 coming out next month, so what should I do now?

Should I buy these switches first to set up and connect to V2 ST hub when I get it in April? Or

I should wait to buy these together with V2 Hub?

Thanks so much for your help community!


(Chris) #2

What are you looking to accomplish? As in, what kind of automation are you wanting to do? For things like the switches if you are planning to replace the actual light switches then you can go ahead and do that now if you want, because SmartThings isn’t going to be bundled with Z-Wave wall switches.

For things like the multi-sensor/motion sensors you will save money if you bundle so I’d say wait for the new hub or bundle with a current hub. When are you leaving?

If you need it now, buy it now. If you can wait a month then you can get the switches installed and then connect to V2 when it comes out.


#3

It’s really hard to say what the new hub will support. It’s going to have bluetooth, which could open up more device choices. But we don’t know yet.

And then there’s the bundle issue Chris mentioned.

So I’d wait for now unless you happen to see something on a really great deal you know you’ll want.


(Ash (www.smart-dots.com) / Ashutosh Jaiswal) #4

@Coolstone It seems like you are going to be leaving your home for sometime and are looking for a solution so that you can set it up before you leave. If you are going to leave your home and you have got the thought of installing smart Things, then may as well do it before you leave. More than often, when you delay things… you bear the consequences of it.

Whenever SmartThings Hub V2 comes along, you can always replace your hub - As I understand the configuration will be transferable between the hubs. You can sell your old hub online. You may lose 30-50 bucks, but its worth it!

As for the solution, this is what I would recommend,

3-4 switches : In areas where you live the most (Ex: Living room; Dining Room; Kitchen; Master etc)
2 Motion Sensors (Indoor): In areas which are common to entry/exit points and commonly used areas
1 Motion Sensor (Outdoor): Place it in area like your patio , where you do not expect presence when no one is home
2 Open/Close sensors: On the two most frequently used entry/exit doors - Which are directly accessible from outside
1 Foscam Tilt/Pan Camera: Place it strategically, So that you can view your entire home when away by panning or tilting it remotely.
Sonos Player (or) if you are tight on budget and have an old computer then use that with the VLC Thing (Its worth it) - To narrate things when something happens

With the set up above, you can do the following,

  • Use the SmartAlarm app which will automatically arm/disarm your home when you come and go
  • Use the Vacation Simulator app which will randomly turn your lights ON/OFF when you are on vacation (You may have to make an app to change you mode automatically to Vacation Mode when you are away for 24 hrs or something)
  • Use the ActionDashboard to view your home while you are away - You can get a quick view of the camera
  • Set up your outdoor motion to send push notification if it detects motion while you are away - Then u can check the camera if you want
  • Set up the Smart Alarm to play message like “Attention! Police is on the way” multiple times when there is a security breach through Sonos or VLC Thing
  • Smart Alarm will also send you push notification if any door is opened when you are away
  • Use the indoor motion sensors to detect motion if someone gets in without opening a door/window - Get notified and initiate alarm through SmartAlarm
  • SmartAlarm will also turn on all lights in the house if it detects a breach - That will scare anyone.
  • Use the indoor motion sensors to turn the lights off when you are not in the area - Save electricity - or alternately turn them ON when you are present (can be managed to behave differently at different times of the day)
  • If you install a smartsense multi on your main door - You an detect vibration when someone knocks and get notified if you are not at home - Alternately have the SOnos/VLC thing call the Dogs Barking Audio

I can go on and on… with these limited things that I listed above. Let me know if this gives you a good idea of the possibilities.

Thanks

Ash


(Simon Shi) #5

Wow~~ People here are so active!! Which is very good! I like it!

I will leave home for one month in late April and hope to fulfill things like Ash mentioned. So I will have a little time to buy V2 and get familiar with the system. I hope to buy V2 directly without losing money and transition from V1 hub etc, who knows what issues it could have. And V2 will be smarter and support more devices.

Thanks Yavin17 for telling me that ST will not be bundled with Z-Wave switches… do you know why? Then I probably will buy Linear WD500Z-1 when it’s a good deal as JDRoberts said.

Thank you Ash for your detailed description of the vacation scenes I might have! I will need some time to think & plan it with a proper budget.

And guys, I have a few more questions related to the products:

  1. I need a new Thermostat for the system. Any recommendation?
  2. Any recommendation on dimmer and wall switches, and also motion sensor, on/closed door sensors, IP cameras? I hope to buy something with a balance between reliability and price as most people hope.
  3. My backdoor is a glass slide door. What sensor will you suggest for it? Vibration sensor?

Thanks again!


#6

As a former network engineer myself, I tend to implement slowly. I started with a zwave doorlock and one zigbee motion sensor for the first few weeks, just testing system reliability and looking for sources of interference. But that’s just a personal preference. Some people prefer to jump in with several dozen devices at once. Your choice.

SWITCHES AND DIMMERS

I personally prefer light switches that have what is called “instant status” capability. But those are a lot more expensive than the kind that don’t, like $45/switch vs $25. So I tend to get Leviton or Cooper in models with that feature, rather than Linear or GE/Jasco. But it’s not worth the markup price to everyone.

The Aeotec micro relays and micro dimmers (which also support instant status) let you keep your existing switches (they install inside the switch box), which a lot of people like in terms of decor. The wiring is trickier than with the other brands, though.

On the other hand, my house was built in the 1950s with archaic wiring, so my preference isn’t always possible, and I often end up using either plug ins or battery operated switches instead of replacing a wallswitch.

One caveat: if you want a lightswitch to act as a zwave repeater to a doorlock, it needs to also support “beaming.” (Most Aeotec and Jasco models do, but check to be sure.)

SENSORS

Zigbee sensors will tend to have somewhat better battery life than zwave, and I hate changing batteries, so that factors into my choice of small sensors.

For the glass door sensor, it just depends. Those get broken less often than regular windows because they tend to be sturdier and, to be honest, pretty easy to open. So I would myself more likely use multiple motion detectors in a zone pattern in that room. But that usually doesn’t work if you have pets.

THE OFFICIAL “WORKS WITH” LIST

If you get products on the official “works with SmartThings” list then support will be able to give you more help if you run into any issues.

Just make sure you read the little “I” popup on the list if there is one, not all devices are fully supported.

And “SmartThings Labs” means in beta.


(Ash (www.smart-dots.com) / Ashutosh Jaiswal) #7

@Coolstone I am glad that you asked this question. This is really important in terms of choosing the right devices. Like @JDRoberts pointed out above, those are definitely important factors to consider. Here are some of my recommendations,

Switches & Dimmers: I personally prefer the Jasco Switches because of reasons mentioned by @JDRoberts and because they are very reliable and high quality. I’ve got 16 in my home and they work great. Moreover, if you plan on eventually expanding your home, switches act as the repeaters that strengthen your network reliability - They form the backbone. So get the best.

Motion Sensors: Over here, as mentioned above Zigbee Sensors will give you relatively higher battery live, but option is limited to ST. So if you dont care about the temperature sensor within the motion, then you can choose a motion sensor like EcoLink, which is almost 40% cheaper and will help you detect just motion.

Contact Sensors: There are cheaper options available for this from Aeon, including the recessed ones. You can choose the cheaper options for most of your doors and choose ST multi for the main door, where you can detect knocks and temperature. What I have done is used my existing contacts (wired ones) and designed my own circuit that interfaced my hardwired sensors with ST using existing contacts (cheaper ones) - So for $60 all the doors AND windows in my house are connected with ST. I have made some boards for my friends as well… Let me know if you need one :slight_smile: Check this thread --> Hardwired Alarm Sensors & Arduino

By the way you can use a contact sensor for your slide door. If it already has an embedded hard wired sensor, then my circuit solves your problem as well.

Camera: Foscam is the way to go . Under $60 you get an IP camera with tilt and pan option. I have mine working great. It takes pictures if there is alarm and saves it to my FTP - I can also view pics live via ST if there is alarm. Use the Device Type by @RBoy . If you want outdoor cameras, that is under $80


(Simon Shi) #8

Thank you JDRoberts & Ash! These advice are precious to me!

I will follow these steps when I buy V2 Hub!


(Simon Shi) #9

Update:

Just got news that V2 will come out in Q3, so I will buy V1 instead.