Help designing a new system - Extreme cold motion sensing

project_sensors

#1

Hello everyone,

I’m brand new to SmartThings, so please excuse my ignorance. I’m planning to try out a new setup for home automation, and it looks like SmartThings is going to be the core of whatever system I end up building, but I’m stuck on how to set up my front entrance and would appreciate any wisdom that those of you experienced in this community would like to share.

Wishlist:
-outdoor motion detector that will work at -40 degrees (anything with batteries won’t work)
-doorbell cam or other that can be accessed from a smart phone and triggered by the motion detector (again, hardwired power is the way to go)
-Have existing outdoor lights turn on with motion detection, probably through a GE in-wall panel switch controlled through SmartThings

Current Plan:
Right now the best I can come up with is installing a Skybell (http://www.skybell.com/) and a regular, non-connected motion-detecting floodlight since I can’t seem to find any outdoor motion sensors that will work here in winter, or any cameras that will give the functionality that the Skybell will. This isn’t the end of the world, but I’d much rather have a solution that integrates with SmartThings. Any suggestions?

Thanks,
Coda


Kuna lights
Any recommendations for motion sensor for cold temperatures?
#2

Welcome to the community! That’s a tough set up.

I don’t know of any motion detectors that will work down to -40°F. Optex make some great connected beam detectors that will work down to about -10, but that’s the only thing I know of that’s not an industrial design that’s probably way more money than you want to spend. The Optex still doesn’t integrate directly with smartthings but first you’ve got to figure out if there’s even a device that can do what you want.

If I were in your situation, the first thing I would do is call a local security company, maybe even two or three, and have them come out and give you a free estimate and see what they say is possible. They will know your local weather conditions. If they can’t suggest anything that would meet the use case you have in mind, then it’s not likely to be possible in a DIY set up either.

If they say it is possible, in particular if two different companies say that it’s possible, then at least you know there’s going to be some kind of devices out there and you may be able to narrow the search.

As far as The video doorbells, you’re right that there are not any that currently integrate directly with smartthings. That said I don’t think they are weather rated for the conditions you’re describing either, unless you have an atrium set up where the doorbell is much more sheltered.


#3

Thanks for the reply!

Funny you should mention security companies. A big part of what inspired me to start this project was a guy coming door-to-door from Vivint. I was tempted, but the big draw for me was the home automation part of what he was offering, so I decided to see what I can build myself as far as automated thermostats, door locks, etc. Talked to some local police friends who said they think the monitored system is just a big cash grab, and that if we want to deter home intrusion the most effective way is just outdoor lights on a motion detector.

Outdoor lighting was not included in the system that Vivint wanted to install, but they did have a doorbell camera that seemed to work. Skybell’s site says theirs is rated to -40, so I don’t think it’ll be a problem. There’s no way to use IFTTT (something else that I have no experience with but am making big plans for) to trigger lights through SmartThings based on a motion detector in the Skybell, is there?


(Yves Racine) #4

@Coda,

I live in Montreal (Canada), and the outdoor temp can go down to -35° Celsius (about the equivalent in Farenheits), and with the wind factor even lower (probably around -40° Farenheits) in the Winter.

I use an Aeon multisensor with batteries and it works pretty much OK so far.

But, if you need a motion sensor and a cam, why don’t you try Kuna:

I’m supposed to get it soon, as I was part of their indiegogo campaign.

They assured me that their device can work w/o any problems at -40° Celsius.

And, then, you have a cam, a motion sensor, a light, a microphone, and a speaker in
nice designed package that can fit well with the exterior of your home. They have different
design options available.

Regards.

P.S. It is not officially supported by SmartThings, but they are supposed to deliver some APIs. With the community’s help, it should be a matter of few months for the device to be supported by ST as soon as they start to ship (planned for mid-May 2015) and release their APIs (unknown date though).


#5

Hi Yves, thanks for the advice.

I’m actually up in Yellowknife, so I’m still not sure that the Aeon is going to do well in winter here. I just haven’t had much luck with anything battery operated (including thermometers intended for outdoors in “winter”). http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/yellowknife-the-coldest-sunniest-city-in-canada-1.2499278

Kuna looks like it will do almost everything that I wanted the Skybell for, and also turn on the lights, which was the piece of the puzzle I was having trouble finding. This was exactly the kind of advice I was hoping to find on the forum.

Thanks again.


(Yves Racine) #6

@Coda,

The first question I asked to Kuna was about their device’s resistance to cold…And, they posted right away the results of a series of tests done at -40°C… Of course, these tests are done in labs, but for Montreal, I think that should be enough.

Please refer to their indiegogo campaign and what they posted 4 months ago (if you click on updates in the upper section of their page)

If you home is directly exposed to the winds in Yellowknife, that could be another story… But, as it’s not powered by batteries, I think that you have a good chance here that it works properly.

My 2 cents (as a fellow Canadian to another).


#7

Yeah, it’s a “dry cold” (as in, the air doesn’t hold moisture at those temperatures), so it tends not to be too hard on electronics as long as they are stationary (rubber/plastic parts break instead of bending) and power supply isn’t an issue. Kuna looks like it should have no problems, I think.


#8

Everything sounds perfect in its pre-release/kickstarter/indiegogo phase. :wink:
Real world performance is a whole other thing, even if the company is sincere and well intentioned. (Lockitron’s knock detection is a perfect example.)

If it does end up working, great, and if you want to sign up for the first wave, it’s your choice. But I’d reserve judgement until it actually starts shipping.

Updated to add:

I did end up buying a Kuna after they were available through Amazon and I am really happy with it. In fact, it ended up costing less then the backer offer at the time that I first looked at it. I’m always pleased when the devices do turn out to be good, I just don’t judge them by the early marketing materials. :sunglasses:


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #9

Ditto.

No offense to the optimists out there, but I’ve seen way too many Kickstarter and IndieGogo projects that go way way way off track (extremely delayed delivery due to feature creep or dozens of design and manufacturing problems; and very “alpha” quality product once finally released to Backers).

This trend of buying funding gadgets from brand new companies with no warranty or even obligation to deliver, is really confounding.


(Yves Racine) #10

@JDRoberts, @tgauchat I hear you guys, but as far as Kuna is concerned, if you look at their campaign pages, they have started shipping some beta devices. The second wave is in May, which is a month away.

Call me optimistic if you want, but I think that’s a very nice bundle for the price (especially for the campaign price I paid) and a very nice design on top of it. It deserves a chance!

P.S. I’ll keep you posted as soon as I receive my unit.


(April Wong) #11

I’m excited about Kuna! :slight_smile:


#12

Thanks for all of the input, everyone.

I tend to obsessively research stuff like this before actually buying, and my planned timeline is to have the whole system up and running by like August (since most of the benefits I’m looking for only apply when it’s cold and dark, but it’s way easier to actually do the installation when it’s +20°C), so I’ll probably go over everything on the Kuna website and/or wait until there are a few actual user reviews before moving ahead.


(Dan) #13

That looks really cool. Please post your experience when you get yours!


Kuna - Outdoor motion light with camera and intercom
(Yves Racine) #14

Hi guys,

I just got my 2 kunas this weekend and decided to install them. The build quality is good, the overall package seems sturdy except maybe for the housing that surrounds the light.

The installation was not easy as my house has a stone facade (uneven) so that complicated the kuna installation a bit. A flat surface would be much better.

After doing the physcal light installation, I then proceeded with the software installation.

First, I used the Android app (version 1.1.1).

I must say that (for the moment) the Android app is not really ready. I had problems connecting to the kunas thru wi-fi although I have a very good signal (to be sure, I had installed a repeater in my garage). I managed to connect to one light, but was not able to add the second kuna. Then, both of my kunas went offline.

After retrying many times w/o success (I also submitted some tickets to support but they were not available during the weekend), I had the presence of mind to try my iPod. The iOS app is much better (version 1.1.6), and I was able to re-install both of my kunas easily. You can even confirm some events (did the motion sensor detect a real person at the front or not?).

So far, my Kunas have been working fine since then. The images & videos captured are really crisp (720p, and nice wide angle). You can talk to someone outside using the microphone and listen to his/her response. When there is wind, it’s a little more challenging, but the sound is OK overall. You have pre-recorded questions (such as ‘Can I help you?’) that you can play anytime if somebody shows up. You can also trigger an alarm sound (could be useful) in case of emergency. And, of course, you can turn on/off the light using the app.

The alerts also seem to be working OK, but there no way to customize them at the moment (ex. no scheduling except basic sleep/no sleep commands).

The only thing I’ve noticed is a small lag for live recordings (few annoying seconds). It could be issue with their app or with their servers (as all the recordings are done in the cloud).

As I have mostly Android phones & tablets, this could be a problem for me till Kuna corrects the issues with their app and upgrade it to be at par with iOS.

That’s all for the moment! In brief, it seems to be a good purchase for the moment. Time will tell, of course.

I’ll keep you posted after few weeks of operation.

If you are interested in Kuna, you can use the referral link below (they offer a $40 discount right now):

P.S. As indicated in their campaign, they support bluetooth, but I’ll be able to test it only with hub V2. They are also supposed to release some APIs later (no release date for the moment).

Regards.


(Yves Racine) #15

Hello all,

I just had an email exchange with Haomiao (Kuna CTO) and he wrote the following:

"Ah! Yes, it looks like we may have broken a few things in the Android app in the last update. We’re trying to get the Android app up to par with the iOS app, but it always takes a bit longer due to the number of devices we have to support and test for.

APIs are “coming soon” but currently have to take second priority behind stability and performance of the base system and the apps. Hope you understand!

- Haomiao
KUNA CTO


(Andrew Thomas) #16

@yvesracine @Coda - SkyBell has thousands of devices in Canada and they all survived the winter. We are currently part of Apple’s HomeKit and partnered with Comcast Xfinity home. We’ll have a few new integration partners to announce soon. Our goal is to be the eyes and ears of the smart home and will provide this capability to more platforms soon.


(Yves Racine) #17

Just as an update, there have been some new android & iOS releases since my initial tests and things are much better.

The android version is now at par with iOS (version 1.3.1).

The responsiveness of the Kuna app is much better and keeps getting better at each release.

Apart from few disconnections from the cloud (due to my wifi extender or else, not sure at this point), everything is much more stable.

I’ll let you know how it goes after couple of months.

Bye for now.


(Paul) #18

@Coda if you’re still in the market, the last-gen Aeon Multis (and maybe the new ones too… but I don’t have any of those) have a microUSB port that works for power. The ones in my garage, on my front porch, and in my uninsulated back porch are powered that way. I’m in Chicago, so my winters aren’t quite as cold as yours, but they all held up fine last winter.


(Yves Racine) #19

Hello,

Just a quick update on Kuna, I’ve been using my 2 kunas for a while now, and I’m still quite satisfied with them so far.

There have been many software releases on Android (it’s now version 1.3.2.2), and on iOS, and, each time, the improvements were noticeable.

The image is very crisp. The cloud recordings are nice to have (it’s a option with some premium fees) .

There is still a $40 discount now, please use this link:

Regards.


(Brian Steere) #20

I was just gifted one of these and am planning to install it in the near future (buying a new house this afternoon). I’m pleased to hear that it works well.