Back in the late 90s, my wife and I owned a small 3-bedroom house that was mostly fitted with X10 switches, lamp modules, etc. Everything mostly worked, most of the time (I’ll have to tell you the story of when my kitchen light popped on by itself late at night and I thought my house was on fire). We sold that house in 2002.
About two weeks ago, I started adding some automation to our current house. I wanted to share my experience so far in the form of numbered bullet points. Maybe someone will find it useful, maybe I’ll learn something. Who knows?
Damn, it’s expensive. I started with an Echo Dot, a SmartThings hub and 1 switch. That was pretty cool, maybe I’ll add another switch…and another, before I knew it I had 20 controlled devices.
Not yet ready for most - While the first switch and such worked just fine, some of the later devices really gave me problems. Firstly I bought a GE Fan Switch. I had to install a user-created device handler just to get it to work. I’d think the manufactures of the switches should provide it. I get that they can’t support all the z-wave hubs, but isn’t SmartThings one of the top brands? The next difficult device was a ZL7432US in-wall micro switch. This little sucker needed a device handler, a smart app and some virtual switches to make it work. Good thing I’m a software engineer by trade. Geez.
Too many cloud accounts - I have 4 accounts already. I needed my Amazon account and a SmartThings account when I first started. Not too bad. Then I decided I “needed” some color changing bulbs. Z-wave ones were really expensive, so I bought some wifi ones that were quoted as working with Alexa. Well, turns out they do work, but you need another account with “Magic Hue”. Can we be sure about their web security? Then I decided I had some lamps that I wanted to be able to turn off an on. Again, wifi plugs were cheaper than z-wave so I bought a couple. You guessed it, another new cloud account “Smart Life”. Ugh! I guess I brought this one on myself by not getting the more expensive z-wave devices or Phillips Hue (Do you need a Phillips account?).
Addictive - While this kind of goes along with expensive, I thought I’d bring it up. After telling Alexa to turn on my kitchen light while laying on the couch, I figured out that I actually had to get up and go put the coffee cup under my Kuerig and press a button to make a cup of coffee. I then found myself wondering if Keurig made a z-wave brewer. Man, I’m crazy.
That’s my experience so far. Call it advice from a newbie.