New Home -- Heres my todo list :)

Hello Everyone,
My name is Direwolf20, and I’m currently building a new home, it’ll probably be ready in September. As such, I am waiting for the new Smart Things Hub 2.0 to get started with home automation. Currently I have almost 0 experience here, but I work in IT by trade (MCSE) and have some programming experience, so this is right up my alley :).

That said, I plan the following, and was hoping for some feedback from you, the community, who know loads more about this stuff than I do so far ;). I’ll be working with an electrician as my new house goes up, so have the opportunity to get stuff in before walls go up, etc. I’m hoping to get a few things in first, and then add more later, as I find new an interesting things I’ll want to do. Heres my first phase plans.

Your feedback is MOST appreciated. I’d love to hear if theres a couple things I should consider adding to or changing on the below list. Thanks everyone! :smile:

As a new user, I couldn’t post more than 2 links, so I dropped them into pastebin:

I gather the thermostat MAY NOT be controllable via Smart Things (Anyone happen to know?) – Worst case it’ll have its own separate app. The reviews on nest are so all over the place that I got a little nervous, and this thermostat looks pretty slick, and has great reviews, but I’d be happy to hear feedback to the contrary :).

Finally, I’m somewhat interested in motorized blinds for the windows, but I gather they might be a bit expensive. Anyone have any recommendations on that front?

Again, thanks for any advice you can toss my way :).


Door lock, I have 4 of these on my house and I love them :smile:

Garage Door Opener, I have 2 of these and they work great.

Door Sensors, I don’t use the Multi sensors for doors. The “magnet” is vertical and it doesn’t like to stay in position as well as it could and they are pretty big and stick out on the door. I went with these and I love them:
They really are hidden and you don’t have big white boxes on your brand new doors (which I just had installed too).

Motion Sensors, do you have pets? These are not great for pets since you can not control the sensitivity of the motion. I use these in the house, because when we are gone our cat is in our sunroom. But out there I use two of these: (Note, not the 5 gen). I like these because they also do LUX readings and you can set them to “only turn on lights when it’s dark”.

Light Switch, I have 25+ of these (Switches, Dimmers and 3-way switches) and they are pretty awesome. Keep in mind that if you are doing new construction ask your electrician to install these in plastic boxes and not metal ones. I did a bunch of reading on these and the signal strength is much higher if they are in plastic boxes versus metal ones.

Thermostat, I’ve been doing a ton of research on these to work with my system (which unfortunately none did) I personally would go with an Ecobee 3 if I had my choice:

Other things, depending on the size of your house and the location of your hub to your devices you may need to get a couple of these:

They are Zwave repeaters and will greatly enhance the signal for your locks as It supports “beaming”.

I would also recommend some of these:
If this is a new home, think about appliances and other items that you want to automate. For me, Christmas came to mind. I placed several of these in the areas that we will have our tree and other items that I want to control on a schedule.

I also use these in my Garage for some battery chargers to cycle themselves over night. I also have them hooked up to the motors of my Garage Doors so when the house goes to sleep the outlets power off and the motors lose power. Which means that if someone breaks into one of my cars and tries to open the door with the remote, they can’t.

Hope that helps :smile:


Awesome! Thank you for all the suggestions, this is exactly what I was hoping for :). We don’t have pets, so the motion sensor issues shouldn’t be a problem, but I’ll definitely check out the one you recommended, its cool that it has a temp/light sensor too. I’ll also look at that thermostat.

I thought that a lof of the zwave devices are also repeaters themselves, like the motion sensors, etc?

Oh, I had one more thing to add - we’ll be getting Zone Dampening on our HVAC, so there’ll be 2 zones (1 unit).

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Only devices that are plugged in have the potential to be repeaters. There is a big difference between the mesh network relaying a signal and a plugged in device repeating it. The big thing to note is the beaming, that supports repeating a secure connection which all Locks should be using. I have two of these in my house to make sure that all of my locks are beamed to properly.

One other thing to note, are you also putting in CAT5 everywhere? If not, when you go to add these devices later on you may need to move the hub closer to them to pair them. The hub doesn’t need to be too close to use them, but pairing them it does. I had to move mine around with a 50’ cat5 cable to get to some of the remote switches after they were installed. But once they were they worked like a charm.

I have no idea if the Ecobee3 can handle zones or not, I have a geothermal system and these stats do not play well with it so I couldn’t use it. However, their support is awesome, send them an email and ask. They will respond pretty quickly.

Cool thanks. No, I wasn’t really planning to run Cat5 through the walls, these days almost everythings wifi anyway, so I didn’t think it was really necessary. I think I’ll take your suggestion though, and if I have any trouble pairing anything, I can just snag a really long cat5 and walk the hub downstairs.

Thanks again for all your help and suggestions :). I’ll grab 1 or 2 of those repeaters, they’re cheap and it sounds like they’ll really help.

I gut renovated a house a year ago, but got turned on to home automation after the project was finished. Here’s everything I wish I had known before the project started.

Since you’re working with an electrician, be sure to talk to him/her up front about all of this stuff. Ideally, you will get a neutral wire in every switch box, and make sure the junction boxes are large enough for z-wave switches. Don’t skimp on either one of these things.

Seriously: you even need a neutral in the “remote” switch box of a 3-way switch. Be up front with your electrician about this. Show him/her a wiring diagram of your switches. Show him/her a switch so they know how big they are. This will save you endless headaches down the road.

The value of your home automation system increases exponentially the more devices are integrated. You’re going to get addicted to this stuff, so it’s good to plan ahead.

In my experience, metal junction boxes are not a big deal if you’re putting in lots of z-wave switches. My mesh is more than robust enough to handle the metal boxes.

Dumb switches are super cheap. Dumb dimmers are actually quite expensive. Dumb fan controls are also quite expensive. Smart z-wave switches, dimmers, and fan controls are not really that much more expensive than dumb dimmers or fan controls. Do not buy any dumb dimmers or fan controls! Just buy smart z-wave ones. Installing a $0.79 dumb switch now to save a few bucks is fine. Installing a $20 dumb dimmer switch now, only to replace it in a year makes no sense.

Definitely get the Aeon recessed door sensors. That’s the only way to go. Your carpenter can install them when he/she is installing your doors.

I have two Nest thermostats, and I love them. They qualify me for all sorts of rebates through my electric company. For example, I get paid about $40 per year to let the electric company adjust my AC up 1 or 2° about 3 days per summer. And I can override the adjustment with no penalty.

I would never buy a thermostat that cannot be integrated. It is a huge energy saver to have the HVAC system integrated. For example, when my downstairs motion sensors detect a period of no motion (meaning we are all upstairs), they set my downstairs thermostat back. Since you are zoning your system, you should absolutely do the same thing. If you don’t want to go with Nest, go with Ecobee. Also, Honeywell’s app and thermostat UI are terrible.

Blinds are expensive, even when they are dumb. I wish we had spent the extra cash for motorized blinds on the south side of our house. If you have any skylights, get them there also. Closing the blinds when you are out of the house and also overnight are big energy savings. Plus, they’ll protect your furniture and floors from UV.

You’re going to want motion detectors in every room, trust me. Plan for it now. There are a few ways of running power to them, or you can use battery powered detectors if you don’t mind changing batteries.

And finally, run Cat5e everywhere! I have it in my living room, basement, my office, and in all bedrooms. I wish I had it in my kitchen and my detached garage too. We use our wired network to extend our WiFi network, and also for TV and music over Airplay.


The ecobee3 is not on our Works with SmartThings page, but you can pair one using the older ecobee integrations ([+]>Thermostats>ecobee Smart Thermostat). You won’t have access to Ecobee’s smart SSTO features, but you can monitor temperatures and push set points using Hello, Home phrases, etc.

For the record… @dckirker may or may not have tried to assassinate me while walking through the steps to wire one straight into a power adapter using a paperclip :stuck_out_tongue:


I’ll mirror NorCalLights

  • every switch (that you will use daily) should be a smart one
  • outlets controlling dumb lighting should be smart, and/or the bulbs in them should be
  • motion sensors. You need them in every room. Get pet friendly ones if you have a dog.
  • all exterior doors with smart locks. All exterior doors/windows with open sensors
  • don’t forget the garage doors

Having stuff directly wired in is the way to go for switches and outlets, recessed door sensors certainly look better.

  • think about getting remotes, keyfobs, or other non-smartphone controls to improve non-technical acceptance/usability.

I have to nest thermostats and they work great though they required quite a bit of programming. I also connected my water heater/re circulation pump to be off at night and when nobody is home and connected my gas fireplace. A power or vibration sensor for the washing machine is very useful, too as well as a connected doorbell (I just used a vibration sensor). I also connected my hard wired smoke/CO alarms to turn on all lights, unlock doors and turn off HVAC and fireplace in case of an alarm.

Integrating smoke/CO detectors is a great point as well, especially if you aren’t going to have a traditional monitored home alarm system.

We have a dog who gets a panic attack whenever the smoke alarms sound, so we went with Nest Protects so we get a verbal warning (and a chance to silence them) before the alarm sounds. But otherwise, I would strongly suggest any smoke/CO detector on the supported ST list.

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This is an awesome post for people wanting to automate their new construction.
Just to add 2 more things. Don’t forget to install the water shutoff valve. At least one at the main and hot water tank. If possible, one per floor.
I would run cat5 cable to the corners where the motion sensors will be located just in case you want to power them later with low power.

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Wow guys thanks, this is all awesome feedback! Now I’m getting even MORE excited to automate all the things!

With regards to the motion sensors, I was thinking just batteries, especially so I can ‘start small’ and then work my way up to more of them as time goes on. I’m guessing I can check the current battery levels in the sensors via the HUB?

Also, good feedback on Honeywell’s UI and smartphone app. You guys are actually making me lean more towards the nest again. How easy is it to get the nest working with smart things? I did a small amount of research and it sounds like its doable.

Finally, is there an ipad app for Smart things? I saw the iphone one, but can’t find one for the ipad.

Thanks again!

It took me about 10 minutes to integrate my Nest, and that was my first time using the IDE. Some folks have more trouble, but usually this community can get you sorted.

There is not a dedicated iPad app for ST. Many people use a home automation dashboard on their tablets instead.

Not yet

As for the thermostat, I am a bigger fan of a “dumb thermostat” that I can control through STs. I have some pretty advanced stuff going on that Nest would never be able to do. Ex… When I open my windows/doors, my thermostat will turn off.

Curious if anyone has powered motion detectors (or other devices) over Cat5. I’m also getting ready to build a house, and wire the crap out of it, but I hadn’t thought of running Cat5 to power low voltage stuff.

What’s the other end look like?

@tslagle13 My Nest turns off when any of my doors/windows are left open. I built a smartapp to do that. Works great.

I turned off the “learning” features on my Nest. The thermostat can easily be controlled through ST, the Nest app/website, or locally at the thermostat.

Here in the frigid north, I wanted to have a thermostat with some smarts. If ST fails, my thermostat will still protect my house with min/max temperatures. If ST fails, I can still log into the Nest app and check on my house. Plus, I get all the other benefits of Nest (Airwave cooling, time to temperature, and awesome rebates from my power company).

Traditional power over ethernet is 24V I think. There are power over ethernet “extractors” with transformers to 5V and USB ports on them. That’s the easiest way.

You can also build a custom 5V power injector, and just solder a USB plug on the other end.

I wish I had run Cat5 from my AV closet to the ceiling/corner of every room.

Understood, i also built an app to do so… My point is, it buying a $250 thermostat to put into a home automation system is not worth the money IMO.

@tslagle13 For sure… to each his own. With the $140 in rebates from the power company, plus an additional $40 every summer, the cost of a Nest is much more approachable. Like I said, the added features were worth it to me. Again, I live in a difficult HVAC climate, so my heating and cooling costs are high.


Not all provide this… so in my case nest holds zero value over the others. If mine did I might… but they don’t so I won’t… lol :stuck_out_tongue:

To bring this full circle.

A super smart thermostat doesn’t necessarily afford you any extra functionality. In most cases a dumb one will do.

Wanted to make sure you you have all the info so you can make an informed decision :smile:

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