I’ve been using Smart Things in my condo for the last year. Now, my fiance and I are moving to a new (for us) condo in a 90-year-old building. I’d love feedback and suggestions on how we can plan our new automation scheme. That said, I’m not electrically inclined, so I need some guidance on what to buy or what wiring I need to look for in the home before making the decision to buy a particular smart device.
Currently I have a Yale smart lock and two open-close sensors on my front (and only) door. One of the sensors activates as “closed” when I flip the security bar, and that’s the signal to ST that I’m home for the evening and it can activate the “going to bed” routine and change the system to Armed (Stay). When it gets flipped open in the morning, the system is disabled.
I have smart light bulbs in my kitchen, front hall, LR and BR. The LR and BR lights turn on and off according to a schedule. The kitchen and foyer lights are tied to motion detectors and only go on/off when the motion detector is tripped. My fiance hates the motion detector-light combo. His attitude: I can press a switch and I hate when I leave a room and am coming back in a few minutes and the light is off again. (I think I might get him to change his mind with better motion detector placement and a longer wait with no motion before the lights shut off.)
I have motion detectors and multisensors tied to a safe and another valuable so I know if either of those are disturbed. I also have a water sensor under my bathroom sink, a single Echo, and First Alert Smoke/CO2 detectectors.
New home setup/questions
The new home, which is on the 14th floor, has three doors – front, back and fire escape. We’ll have Yale locks + open/close sensors on both the front and back door, and an open/close sensor on the fire escape door.
Window treatments: The fiance loves the idea of having automated window treatments – we’ll probably be going for solar shades, which are raised and lowered using a chain loop. Every time I look at the automated shade modules, It seems as if the motor and controller(?) are separate pieces. Do I need a pair for every shade, or does one controller work with multiple motors? How can I figure out which pairs work together and meet our needs?
Lighting: I currently have dumb “paddle” light switches. The ones that have smart bulbs are always in the on position, and ST controls the on/off function. The downside is that if someone flips the switch, things stop working. I haven’t made the jump to smart switches because I wasn’t comfortable installing them myself and knew we’d be moving soon. That said, logically it seems as if smart switches are less expensive than smart bulbs in the long run.
- Are there smart push-button-type switches where I can turn lights on via ST and off via the switch button without screwing up the entire setup?
- And if there are, does my choice of switch depend on how many wires are in the switch box?
- Does my choice of switch also depend on whether there’s one switch or two that controls the same set of lights?
- Lastly, does my choice of switch depend on whether we want to use compact fluorescent, LED or incandescent lights?
While the fiance says he doesn’t want motion-sensing lights, I do think he’ll appreciate the idea of lighting schemes for different moods. Would that influence how my choice of light switches or how I set up my smart lighting system?
Temperature: Because of the age of the building, we have radiator heat that I believe is controlled manually by knobs. The house has been retrofitted with a SpacePak central air conditioner. I know Nest gets a lot of love. Any other smart thermostats we should consider? The home is 2200 square feet, but as best I can tell, there’s only one thermostat, and the room vents (for the most part) aren’t traditional vents that can be opened and closed.
Misc.: We’ll have water sensors under sinks, the washing machine, etc. Eventually (this moving stuff is expensive) we’ll get some Sonos speakers, and I’ll be curious about the new Echo mini, since our Echo isn’t large enough to cover the entire home. The valuables will continue to be secured with a motion detector and multi sensor.
**Other: ** I’d love to hear people’s suggestions about “things I wish I did when I moved/set up my system.” If it helps, we’re a couple in our mid-40s, childless, but have a cat and dog. I work from home. Our unit is on the 14th floor, so no worries about securing the windows.