Modular Installation to Old House

Wave 3 is complete. Four SmartThings Outlets have been installed. Two are in the living room, and highlight the dining table. Two are in the kitchen (along with two of these lovely little 360 Electrical Revolve things), and trigger the under cabinet lighting when there is motion. I’ve also put a Water Leak sensor under the kitchen sink, and one under the washing machine. One more GE Link Quirky bulbs has been installed, taking the total to 9.

I’m hoping the four new outlets, two of which are closer to the garage, will help connect the mesh to the zigbee devices in there. Since a hub outage on Saturday, two of the devices are reporting constant knocking and constant motion, which messes up the Smart Lighting app there. I will power off the hub tonight and let it attempt a heal.

Remember to take out the batteries as well as unplugging the hub and leave it off power for at least 15 minutes. That will force the zigbee heal, although you may not see the results until the next day.

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Well, after pulling all the plugs, wires, and batteries out, there are now three issues - central motion, garage motion, and garage door vibration. I’ll see if it heals overnight.

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Wave 4 is finally complete. I had the devices for the install for over a month, but was unable to complete the integration into SmartThings due to the Windows Phone application being functionally broken.

This wave saw the installation of:

  • ecobee 3 Smart WiFi thermostat - using @StrykerSKS handlers, but looking at the official integration
  • Quirky GE Link - to a total of 10
  • Linear Z-Wave Garage Door Remote Controller (GD00Z-4) - two of them, for both garage doors
  • Aeotec Home Energy Monitor v2 - working very well and logging to a Google Sheets thanks to @cschwer
  • Aeotec Minimote - used to control the living room lights, which are not automated to a timer or motion
  • Aeotec Key Fob - used to control the living room lights

One bulb is playing up after the recent hub update, so I’ll be doing a zigbee repair at some point. Apart from that, the system is finally “stable” (he says, jinxing everything once again). The Windows Phone app seems to be responding appropriately, I have plans to include Rule Machine rules to help automate the system, and I’m able to manage environmental and lighting. Security is still a whole other issue.

Of course, the system is a lot more usable with SmartTiles:

Especially when it comes to seeing what the state of the Garage Doors are at:

Overall, I’d have to say that I’m very frustrated by the system. When it works, it feels like the house of the future, but when it doesn’t it feels like a dead end - I can’t see my support tickets, I can’t get any confirmation that there even is a problem half the time, and I feel like the unloved middle child with my platform of choice. I very much hope SmartThings focuses on stability on the backend and on the apps, and I would love to see the web interface much expanded.

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Oh hey Past Dean, I’m going to answer your questions for you!

Q1 Is there a new version of either hardware or firmware due soon?
A1 The SmartThings v2 hub came out on 03-Sep-2015, 4 months after you posted.

Q2 I leave my car in the garage and take transit to work, should I consider dropping a Presence Sensor in the car to confirm it is located at home?
A2 It sort of works, but the distance from the hub and the metal body of the car made it a little difficult - so you gave it to your room mate to use instead.

Q3 If any adult users of the home have the app installed, will they need a Presence Sensor?
A3 They don’t need a Presence Sensor if they have the phone app.

Q4 Any ideas what other clever uses someone could put to a Presence Sensor?
A4 As many have pointed out, you can hide it and trigger things on it appearing.

Q5 Do these kind of thermostats control heat and air conditioning, or would I need a separate control for the AC as well as the heating?
A5 Most of them - including the ecobee3 you got - control heat, air conditioning, and humidifiers. Certain of them can even do UV lamps and dehumidifiers.

Q6 Are there other thermostats I should consider, such as the Lyric?
A6 The ecobee3 is excellent, you’re awesome for picking one. Go you.

Q7 Will these sensors report the status of the door to the hub, obviating the need for an open/close sensor?
A7 Nope, they tell you if the door is locked or not - which, if it happens when the door is open, is less than optimal.

Q8 Is there a cheaper alternative for the garage access door?
A8 No, the GD00Z-4 is UL certified and makes all sorts of fun beeps and flashes.

Q9 Is there a cheaper alternative for the basement suite door?
A9 Yes, there are different smartlock types available.

Q10 Will a Open/Closed Sensor work just as well?
A10 It will, but that temperature tracking is actually quite useful. Plus, you live in Canada and getting ANYTHING delivered here costs extra.

Q11 Would the Multi Sensor allow me to confirm the temperature in the garage for use in a scene?
A11 It will - and you’ve been logging temperatures to Google Sheets for quite some time.

Q12 Will adding this extend the mesh to the garage, approximately 5 meters from the house?
A12 It did indeed do so, and has made the sensors in the garage a little more reliable.

Q13 Any other danger and damage sensors I should consider?
A13 Maybe the sensors for the windows, when you replace them. Maybe some more leak sensors. Apart from that, just wait and see what is released.

Q14 What interesting uses have these been put to?
A14 The humidity sensors? Not much. Leak sensors are better. Plus, your ecobee3 tells you the humidity of your living room.

Q15 I’m assuming most people are using these to tell if something has been moved or actuated, but has anyone come up with any creative uses?
A15 The Cube That Does Stuff is one. There are others - such as a post has arrived idea, but this won’t work with your metal mailbox.

Q16 We’re going to get a cat - how can we stop the beast turning on all the lights? By knowing that we’re all away? Does this mean that if I am home, the cat can turn on all the lights by running around?
A16 You haven’t got a cat yet, but your downstairs neighbour does, and it turns on the lights in the utility room and the storage room. But, they turn off after 5 minutes of inactivity anyway, and they’re LED, and this rule is only active between Sunset-2H and Sunrise+2H (it’s dark in the basement).

Q17 How long is the battery life for most of the SmartSense products?
A17 This one is odd - the presence sensor polls way too much, and the batter is almost dead. The others are about half power. I’d expect to be replacing the batteries after a year or two, at this rate.

Q18 Would it be possible to write a text-based log of events to OneNote, EverNote, or another destination using IFTTT? Has anyone done this?
A18 Thanks to the Google Sheets logging, and previously IFTTT, you have a lot of data collected.

Now work out some more questions for the next year!

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