New Device Purchases In The Context of Project CHIP

How is the connected home over IP project changing your device purchases and why, if at all? For example, no more z-wave or mostly WiFi or what have you.

I am not deep into IoT, but am confused about which devices to purchase with CHIP out there. Or is fast obsolescence just par for the IoT course and get used to dropping lots of money to replace devices often?

1 Like

As I’ve mentioned before, beginning in 2015 I started planning for a three-year replacement cycle from my IOT devices. So I will have the budget next year to replace pretty much everything if I want to. It’s one of the things that keeps me from having to worry about the future too much. :sunglasses:

But as far as what to do now, or what to do for people who didn’t plan for a similar replacement cycle, The short answer is that no one, including the device manufacturers, has any clear idea yet. The following blog article does a very good job of laying out all the things we don’t know about project Chip

So for now, to be honest, I just wouldn’t worry about it. If you are trying to buy IOT devices as a one time investment, no replacement cycle planned until the device physically breaks, then you should be looking for A set up that can run entirely locally so the manufacturer can’t change things on you. If you do that, it won’t matter what project chip does: the system you already have will continue to run the way it runs now. You might have a harder time finding devices to add to it eventually, but that unlikely to happen in less than two or three years. But what already works will continue to work.

But I think at this point in the industry’s development you do have to pick one strategy or the other. If you’re going to build your system around cloud-based features that the manufacturers can change at any time, then I believe you do have to look at it as “home automation as a service“ where the devices are simply the delivery mechanism for the features that you want. And you have to accept the fact that those devices may become obsolete and stop working. So you need to plan and budget for a relatively short replacement cycle, somewhere between two and five years, and probably closer to three. (If Individual devices do end up lasting longer, that’s gravy: it just means you’ll have more money in the replenishment budget to buy other stuff. :sunglasses:)

If on the other hand you really really want to protect your sunk costs in hardware then you have to build your system as a “hardware first“ system without cloud dependencies that the manufacturer can pull. There are some options for this, including indigo Domotics, Homeseer, Hubitat, and others.

But I don’t see how you can do both: build a system that depends on cloud features that the manufacturer can change at any time and still protect your sunk costs in equipment. I really do think it’s one or the other. Or at least be prepared to move your cloud-based system to something local if the cloud changes in a way that makes your existing equipment obsolete.



Thanks for the thoughtful response.

This is true for you even with simple things like light switches and sensors? I can’t imagine spending the time and money swapping all my light switches every 3 years.

Yes, even for light switches and sensors. Because these things are not really simple: they are providing features that are quite complex, such as voice control or being able to be grouped in scenes or virtual three ways. All things that a dumb switch can’t do.

I am quite careful with my money and I do work to a budget so it may mean that, for example, I only automate one light switch in a room, not all of them.

I am Quadriparetic, I use a wheelchair and don’t have full use of my hands. So home automation for me is much more than a convenience. I need to be able to turn on some lights, I need hands-free control of many devices. My only “Plan B“ for many things in my home, including light switches, is to have someone else do them.

When I first started looking seriously into Home automation in 2014, there were very few voice control options in my budget range. A few with Siri and a few individual devices which didn’t work very well. But then late 2015 brought Amazon’s Alexa, and everything changed. Anything I had bought previously that didn’t offer voice control options was definitely something I wanted to replace, even if it was just a light switch.

In the future, I am expecting that we will see more “microlocation“ technologies. Nothing to do with project chip, by the way. More likely UWB, Which the new HomePod mini and the new Apple Watch have hardware to support, although it doesn’t do anything yet. So it may mean changing my light switches yet again, we will just have to see.


My budget is pretty straightforward. Up to $500 per room and no more than $5000 for the whole house. But with a three-year replacement cycle, so it averages to $139/month. Which is pretty similar to what I pay for a smart phone. That allows me to look at home automation as a service.

I can afford to set aside about $150 a month in order to meet the home automation use cases that I need: hands-free smart lock for the front door; Voice controlled lighting in at least six rooms of the house, although we’ve ended up putting it in more; And voice controlled television in one room. And I even had enough for some extras: a voice controlled button pusher for a mini blender and the eject button on my DVD player, Voice controlled microwave, A simple sprinkler control that cost under $100.

(Note also that this is completely separate from our security system and a medical monitoring system, both of which were in place before we started looking into home automation for lighting and locks.)

And again, if I’m happy with what I have, I keep it. I don’t change just for the sake of change. I just got a new IPhone 12 mini because it had some features that I wanted, but I had previously had an iPhone 7 for several years while other models came out. :sunglasses:

planning for the future

If I had to move to an entirely new platform in 2021, it might mean scaling back to the basics again, at least to start. I accept that, as do the other household members. But we have peace of mind about how much we’re going to spend and the utility we will get from it.

And if it turns out that in two years there are light switches that know which of our three household members just came into a room and what to do about that, or some other major new feature that we haven’t even thought of, we’ll be financially and psychologically ready to make that jump should we choose to. :rocket: