Building new home ... Best Practices? (2020)

So I saw a few posts similar, but nothing super recent. I’ve been into ST for years now, but now building a new house and want to see if I can tap into the communities best practices in this scenario. For example, should I be going with Zigbee switches for repeating signal support ? Also, since Nest has screwed all of us, I’m moving away from them. Seems like Ecobee is the leading thermostat recommendation ? Also, what about smoke/CO2 ? Those First Alert Z-wave models ? Thx.

Honestly, that’s just way too big a question to have an answer. There’s no one “best“ other than “meet your local safety code.“ Different people have different needs, different aesthetics, different preferences. Some people rank voice control very high on their desired features, other people want everything to be set up to happen automatically without using voice. A Home that has only one person in it Will probably prioritize things very differently than a home with many people in it.

As far as the protocols to use, that varies also. Some people only use zigbee, some don’t use any zigbee, many people use some zigbee and some Z wave and some Wi-Fi depending on the specific features needed for any one use case. Budgets also make a big difference.

So I think you need to get more specific about what you particularly are interested in accomplishing. :sunglasses:

As far as individual device recommendations, take a look at the FAQ:

Bulbs, switches and sensors, oh my....what to buy (device class features FAQ)

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If you are planning to use either zigbee or Z wave devices, The following FAQ does list the best practices for building a strong mesh network. Start with post 11 in that thread, then go up to the top and read the whole thing. (The topic title is a clickable link)

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Oh, and the following is the list of questions I ask people when they are getting started on a project like yours. I don’t mean it to seem overwhelming, but you might find it interesting to glance over:

Top Level Priorities Checklist: what to consider before you start selecting smart home devices (2019)

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Ecobee is a very good but also very expensive relate to a ZigBee or zwave thermostat. In fact you can get a lot more flexibility with a simple zwave or ZigBee thermostats and use with them remote motion sensors and temperature sensors and adjustable vents to create a very sophisticated system which can do more with less. For example you can have the same thermostat focus on individual rooms at different Times of the day, you can have it motion activated. If you have multiple floors you can coordinate them together or have them work independently depending on the time or day or temperature etc. Basically you can extract more from your setup with putting pieces together at the expense of time and effort. If you prefer a simple out of the box solution, Ecobee is fantastic.

JD has pointed out the rest.

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The two people who’ve responded are the best to get advice from!

Knowing what I know now, I would:

Inovelli Red Switches
Zigbee wall outlets
Run 22/2 wire or cat 6 to everywhere I wanted sensors (hardwire)
Separate Alarm System that’s compatible with the EVL-4 so I can bring those sensors, smoke, co, contacts, motions, glass break, siren, etc. into ST and still have professional monitoring. Will also give you alot of the sensors you will need for automations and will be hardwired.

As far as therms go, I have two Ecobee and I tried and tried to create my own thing to get more out of the systems. However, I’ve learned to just let them do their thing. The savings are there but the buy in cost is high. Same results can be had with much less up front cost but you will need to babysit custom apps until you have it all worked out. However, since it’s a new house, the engineer will have done all of the work in the design and the house should be right and tight so it should be a matter of setting up a schedule and letting it be.

Saying all that, a standard basic Z-Wave therm should be ideal.


BTW, I also use the Ecobee (Lite, since I don’t need to control any furnace accessories like humidifiers or whatever).

That particular model is occasionally on sale for just under $150, which is when I got it. I also got a $50 check from my local utility company for buying a smart thermostat. Check with yours, as the promotions vary quite a bit from place to place.

Home Depot occasionally has the ecobees on sale as well

We’ve had ours for almost 2 years and have been really happy with it. The fact that it also works with HomeKit and Alexa is a plus for us. :sunglasses:


i’ve recently done this with smartthings node proxy, and I’m glad to have the functionality of sensors connected to ST, but the integration was somewhat complicated and feels rather flimsy seeing as how many links in the chain there are to potentially fail.

what integration are you using, and like enough that you’d recommend it to someone starting from scratch?

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My house came with 28 sensors, contacts, motions, smokes, etc…

It was actually one of my first custom ventures that started off with just a, “it would be so cool if I could arm/disarm the DSC Alarm System via SmartThings”… A few searches later, I came across this thread:

In hind-site, it was super easy to setup. Just needed a Pi3 and the EVL-4 module and some knowledge of working with custom codes. However, I had Zero knowledge working in Linux and/or custom codes.

That’s where this awesome forum come into play!

After I got it up and running, I was SUPER excited because it also gave me full access to everything including the Smokes, COs and Glass-breaks.

So full professional monitoring and 28 useable sensors for $100 was well worth the learning curve.

IMHO, custom apps and custom handlers is what makes ST so darn powerful. Once you get your head around it, the sky is the limit.

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Thanks for all the comments everyone

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anyone using the Brilliant stuff ?

Search the forum, there are a couple of existing threads. There are a few community members who have it. You can ask them about their experiences in those threads. :sunglasses:

Or just try this one:

Brilliant Control - Claims It Will Work with SmartThings (But limited Integration)

Thank you for sharing this information with us. In 2019 my spouse and I bought a lot, and we thought we would never build our dream house when the pandemic started. In 2021, when things calmed down, we hired a building company in March. They finished the frame in August, and then we had to choose and follow our plan for the interior.