My Home Automation Addiction


Hmm, come to think of it, it sure would be nice to have a window open up automatically whenever the whole house (attic) fan turns on. Oh no! Another future project to think about… :smile:


Yep. My phase 1 budget was $1500, which included a smart watch, and I’ve kept to that. One doorlock, one Kuna lantern as a video doorbell, one smart watch, a couple of tablets, ST hub 1 and 2, harmony on sale for $99, $100 worth of ibeacons, echo at the beta price, and then sensors, smart bulbs, the SmartenIT 3 toggle, and some plug in modules. We got a minimote in one of the plug in bundles.

My phase 2, planned for late next year, is when I’ll get to light switches and automatic door and window closers. And window coverings. All of that has the potential to be much more expensive. Plus some pressure mats, but those aren’t that expensive, and I need to wait until I look at the door openers to decide where they’re going. (I use a wheelchair.)

But I’m not even costing out the phase 2 until at least April 2016, because I really feel that late summer 2016 is when we’re going to see some fully baked options for home automation in the low price range.

My initial $1500 was intended for stuff that I’d be willing to completely replace in phase two.

It was clear when I first started looking into all this in early 2014 that there were no existing systems in my price range that would meet my requirements. But I did have some use cases I wanted to solve immediately. So I decided on phase 1 really just as a way of getting me through until more options were available in the marketplace.

It’s an approach that has worked well for me, although I know it might not make sense to everyone. :sunglasses:

It also protected me from signing up for every interesting looking proposal on Kickstarter. Phase 1 was only for stuff that could actually be delivered now and start providing value. Since potentially it might all be replaced again, it needed to be working as soon as possible in order to justify the purchase.

(Jason "The Enabler" as deemed so by @Smart) #10

Yeah, I’ve been mulling over that one in my mind too. Once I figure out how I’m going to do it I’ll automate the whole house fan…


For security reasons, I wouldn’t want a window to open completely, maybe about 6 inches so that I can have it open up in the middle of the night when the air is coolest. Or maybe install some kind of automated vent opening in a back wall somewhere…

(Bobby) #12

Judging by the topic you’ve just contributed, is the security feature just a safety precaution for when you realize how much time and effort you put in your HA setup?

(Marc) #13

I’ve spent over $10,000 in the last few years. Has anyone spent more than me??

4 Nest Thermostats ($1,100)
7 Nest Protects ($800)
Somfy Motorized Blinds ($1700)
Hub $100
MyQ $150
Amazon Echo $200
Rachio $200
3 Harmony Hubs $400
Phillips Hue Hub, Light Strips, Starter Park $400
Rheem EchoNet Hot Water Heater $100
Sonos Playbar, Sub, 2 Play’s 1 and Amp $3000
Various ZWave/Zigbee Sensors/Locks/Switches $2000

(Community Journeyman) #14

I don’t think anyone will come half way close to that. Four Nest thermostats? Do you have a 15000sqft house?

(Marc) #15

Haha. 2500 Square Feet. I bought the house with 3 thermostats (one is heating for bedrooms, one for main floor for both A/C and Heat, another for Heating and /AC downstairs). I recently did a master bedroom extension and that got it’s own heating zone as well).

(Bobby) #16

You have serious catching up to do in the lights area. If you take out the $400 for locks, you only have about 30 switches and sensors. That is not nearly enough for a home with 3 thermostats!

(Marc) #17

I guestimated. I might have more, but didn’t feel like counting :smile:


I just saw that BestBuy has a starter kit on sale now for $170 but I wonder if its better to get the new Homekit enabled version so along with Alexa, I can tell Siri to turn on and off the Hue bulbs. Unlike Alexa, Siri goes wherever you go. Plus the new bulbs are brighter (800 lumens) and has better greens. For those that have the bulbs, is that a big deal?


I think so, my one complaint about the previous Hue bulbs was that they weren’t bright enough.

One other advantage for Siri over Alexa in this case is that with HomeKit you have voice control bulb colors. A lot of people won’t care, but some people will.

With HomeKit, you should also be able to ask if a bulb is on, but I haven’t confirmed that yet.

By the way, if you’re thinking really long term, the HomeKit-enabled Hue bridge is also thread capable, although that feature isn’t turned on yet. The SmartThings V2 hub is also thread-capable, although again not turned on yet.

So even if you never intend to get any iOS devices, if you don’t have a hue bridge now, I would definitely get the 2.0 version. :sunglasses:


Thanks for the info @JDRoberts, that helps a lot. I think I will wait to get the new version and hope the price drops a bit for Black Friday.


An addiction is an understatement… My total device count is just 1 shy of 200 total (only 17 are virtual), and as soon as any Lowes around me stocks their newest devices I plan on even more…

(Duke) #23

I glad to see there are more out there with the same addiction.

I feel the same way about all the color changing bulbs. Question is, will the prices go down or will they go up based on the popularity of the smart home?


I expect the price will come down a bit in the fall of 2016. Phillips just lowered the regular price of the white bulbs to $15, which is pretty amazing since that puts them in exactly the same price range as the Cree and the GE. But there isn’t really a competitor yet for the color changing bulbs, so they’ll leave them high for a while longer.

The color change involved is nice as a persistent notification device. Whether it’s “the laundry is finished” or “the mail’s arrived” for “Rain has been predicted.” Anything where you may want the notification to persist for a while as an active reminder until you get around to dealing with whatever it is.

But other than that, I use the white bulbs. I’m really pleased to see the price of those come down, because I become less happy with the GE links every month. They just don’t stay connected to the network. All the other brands do for me.


I came from the X-10 days where modules were about $10 so it was a bit of a sticker shock when I transitioned into Zigbee & Zwave devices which average around $30-50 per device. Of course there is a lot more flexibility and “smartness” with what we have now so I’m hoping that as more people jump onto the smarthouse bandwagon, prices will start to drop as companies start seeing economies of scale when they are able to produce larger quantities. Although I think there is going to be a “Battle of the Standards” as Apple and Google start throwing their weight around. I like SmartThings openness and interoperability to play nice with a lot of systems. There is also great community support with custom device types and smart apps.

(Edward Pope) #26

Curious at this point @JDRoberts, what are you looking to use for Window and Door Closing and Opening (I assume)


Haven’t really decided yet, it’s going to depend on a lot of things, including what controller I end up with. Since I’m quadriparetic, I really need both full control and full safety features. So if I do go with zwave for windows, I’m likely to end up with something like what said @sidjohn1 has. He put up a project report in another thread that was quite interesting.

For doors, safety is absolutely essential and we have to cover a lot of different use cases. I’m unlikely to use zwave for that. There are quite a few options available for people in wheelchairs, and they vary in price from $800 to around $5000 per door. Usually one for an exterior door costs much more than one for interior door.

There’s an interesting inexpensive model from Drive Medical which is kind of like a roomba that fits the bottom of the door and just moves back-and-forth. The only thing is it’s very slow.

The more expensive door openers usually can be operated manually pretty much a normal speed and then have an assist motor for the person in the wheelchair. But those are a lot more expensive.

Right now my service dog does the doors, and he’s very good at them, but it’s always good to have options. And I do have two gates I would like to have openers for. I’m also going to look into motorizing the dog door.

I may end up not getting any motorized window openers. Although pretty much all of the windows are inaccessible to me, I do have two housemates as well as part time helpers, so there are a lot of people to help with those. I’m just not sure.

Lights first, then doors, then windows

But the first thing I’m going to cost out will be light switches. And then if I’ve decided to replace any of my phase 1 stuff. There are some other things I want to do as well. Once I get a sense of all of those costs, I’ll start looking at door and window options.

And then the fun stuff…

And of course there are some devices that don’t exist yet but maybe they will. And the fantasy projects. I so want a microwave that is controllable from a tablet or by voice. And a refrigerator where the shelves are motorized and slide out to be more accessible . And then there’s this:

Anyway, lots of fun stuff to think about! :sunglasses:

(Edward Pope) #28

Thanks for the quick reply @JDRoberts. As you know I am a dialysis patient, not always wheelchair bound, but have had a recent bout that has returned me to the wheelchair for a while. So, looking to the future I need to have options as well.

I was curious about what you had found and was currently focused on, thank you for the information that you provided.

I love the idea of the Microwave that is tablet or voice based, although I think if you just provided a Wi-FI connection (or bluetooth) it would allow ST or Alexa to drive control of the device. (Now you have me thinking why haven’t we done this). And the fridge is a great idea as well. There are a number of aids out there, but they are often considerably more expensive. I would like to see devices like this near the same cost of the normal units. I know that is a dream. Perfect world we do not live in currently.