New to home automation

project_getstarted

(Thomas White) #1

Hello everyone I’m Thomas and I am new to the community. I’m currently building a new home and want to add as many home automation things as I can afford and trying to figure out the best way to use smartthings as my main hub. I currently have a ring video door bell, 2 August door locks, ecobee3, Arlo security cameras and I plan to add the keen air vent once I know how many to purchase. So my questions are, am I getting the right things to put together and do I need to have Lurton caseta switches along with Philip hue bulbs. I’m thinking you only need one or the other I think. There are so many options of things to buy and want to use my funds wisely. Also how about myQ for the garage door. Thanks


(Marc) #2

Hi Thomas. You shouldn’t look to build a house with home automation until you define your requirements. Your naming products and hardware, but I would name what you would like to achieve? I realize when building a new house, it’s harder to list out your requirements because you don’t know your pain points, living habits, but figure out some high level stuff you would like to achieve and then match products to them.


#3

Welcome! It’s all very exciting, isn’t it? :sunglasses: @Mbhforum has given you very good advice: begin by defining the specific problems that you want to solve. Many times the choice of devices depends on those specifics. Something that would be a perfect set up for one person would not work at all for another household.

(An obvious example is a household with a large dog who would set off the motion sensors that would work perfectly in another household that didn’t have any pets. The motion sensors are still very good devices – – it’s just that that particular model doesn’t solve all problems. So you need to match what the devices can do to what you need to have done.)

The same thing is true for many items in the home. One family might need a washing machine they can handle very large loads. Another might need a washing machine that fits into a specific space. A person in a wheelchair with a service dog might want a combination unit so that the dog could load and unload the machine. Three different households, three different sets of needs, and they will probably end up selecting three different “perfect” washers.

So begin by thinking about what benefits home automation will give you for specific cases.

Other factors

Of course, you will also have additional factors that enter into device selection: if you want them to all work together, or to work with a specific controller. Your budget. How highly you rate Energy efficiency. Aesthetics of the visible devices. Physical ease-of-use. Etc.

You may also find that the use cases vary from one part of the house to another.

And it’s true – – sometimes you see a device advertised which has a feature you hadn’t even considered, and that gets you thinking about how you can use that particular device. :heart_eyes: Which is good too, it’s just that that’s not usually where we start in terms of home automation.

Home automation is most successful when it solves real problems for real people. So we think about the needs before we think about the brands.

Lighting

Regarding lighting, some people like smart switches, some people like smart bulbs, some people use both in different parts of the house. There’s no one right answer.

Here is a good place to start on the lighting question:


#4

As far as “using funds wisely,” again the answer will be different for different people. In my own case, I have typical middle-class budget issues. I have some money to spend on home automation, but not an unlimited budget. Doing one thing often means giving up doing something else.

The following is my own project report on the first year I spent with SmartThings and the projects I chose to do . It’s likely that you would have different priorities, but the process might be interesting:


#5

Oh, and the following might be of interest:


(Thomas White) #6

Thanks for the feedback I guess I never looked at it that way. I do have some things to think about. I will say first and foremost I want to be energy efficient I guess convenience would be second I want things to just work and adjust to my moods. I will continue to give thought to what I’m trying to accomplish and share my trials and tribulations with the community


(Dale C) #7

Great thoughts above! New home construction awesome! Just a side note to consider and that is pre-wiring even though you may not know what exactly you want. Wireless is nice for existing homes but nothing beats wired when you have the option to do it like you do. You mentioned security cameras and you want to be hard-wiring those cameras in as opposed to wireless since you have the option. So get all your homework done to determine the video coverage you need and have the wiring setup to be run to those future locations in gang boxes. And I would suggest you go with POE for ease of installation.

Same holds true for the video door bell, I know you said you already picked up the video door bell but I think it is possible it that you would be better served to get your security cameras system to monitor the front door and have a wired door bell switch being monitored instead to the hub.

I would consider having a security contractor pre-wire the house for a stand alone security system whether you actually put one in or not. They do that all the time in hopes that they get your business in the future. This gives you the option to use SmartThings but if you don’t like its reliability for security monitoring you can always go the traditional standalone security system and just use ST for automation.

I would not look at the myQ if your intention is to integrate into your hub… myQ dropped support for ST. Lots have found the Go Control GD00Z Garage Door Remote Controller works very well instead for integration.

[quote=“Thomas_White, post:6, topic:49100”]
I will say first and foremost I want to be energy efficient I guess convenience would be second
[/quote] So for sure you want to be working with your home builder because the design of the home is where you will maximize your “first and foremost” for energy efficiency and not from the home automation. Certainly home automation plays a part but nothing like the original design impact will be. The vast choices available for energy efficient products in building homes today can be mind boggling. :relaxed:


#8

@dalec makes great points on the construction issues. You will find other topics on people building new homes and you can look at the suggestions that have been made.

It’s likely that a new construction in United States will have a neutral wire at every light switch, but if you are in another country, definitely consider that.

You will want deep switch boxes everywhere to make room for radio options. US code allows for a lot of variation in the box depth. So just talk to your contractor about what is practical, but at least 35 mm will give you a lot more options than a shallower box, and 45 mm is even better.

One suggestion I often make, although not everyone finds this useful, is to consider whether you will want any plug-in equipment up near the ceiling line in any rooms. This could be motion sensors, cameras, LED strips, or other kinds of sensors. If it’s easy, it’s worth considering putting some plug-in receptacles up high. Again, it just gives you some more options later. For example, this configuration is much easier if you have outlets near the tops of your cabinets:


(Marc) #9

Great point about kitchen cabinets and strips. My
Cabinets are fortunate enough to have outlets in good locations so I have Hue strips that aren’t that noticeable that power on when motion is detected. One of my favorite automations and one of my first!


(Mike) #10

I think everyone else so far has given a lot of really great advice. My house is 100 years old and I am definitely envious of new construction, fresh wiring, big deep light boxes, lots of outlets…

But if you don’t want to plan a while brand new automation system and want some quick opinions:

Light switches over light bulbs - you’re going to be familiar with your system, but everybody else already knows how light switches work. Pick one type of dimmer switch you like, and use that everywhere.

A pattern that works alright for automation is motion=lights on. Get some motion sensors, maybe one for each non-bedroom, non-bedroom, and you can put them in yourself pretty easily. You can have them trigger turning on a light switch or light switches. The motion sensors then can augment your security system.


(Dale C) #11

I second that… the very small increase in price for a dimmer is worth it even if you think you only want on-off control. It gives you options.

My favorite is the HomeSeer HS-WD100+ with LED bar, z-wave plus, instant status feedback, and multi-tap control so it doubles as a ‘button’ controller. It rocks for me. :slight_smile:


(Thomas White) #12

I’m feeling pretty good about Lutron caseta wireless for my light switches throughout the house. Then 4 maestro fan controls for the ceiling fans. The only con I see with the fan controls is you can’t use LEDs with them which I don’t know maybe could be a deal breaker


#13

Lutron has outstanding engineering for light controls and holds many patents in that area. Unfortunately, however, there is no direct integration with SmartThings and the company has said it is not on their roadmap. Smart things direct integration is limited to zigbee devices using the zigbee home automation profile (ZHA 1.2) And Z wave, Plus a few specific LAN devices like the Phillips hue bridge and the Logitech Harmony Home Hub where the company has built an official integration. ( there is a Bluetooth radio in the V2 smartthings hub, but it is inactive).

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Supported_Network_Protocols

There is indirect integration with Lutron Caseta because both the Lutron Caseta line and smartthings have IFTTT channels. This works pretty well, but does have the issue of additional lag. The amount of lag varies a great deal from one house to another. At my house it tends to be eight seconds.

Eight seconds is fine for use cases like “turn the lights on at 7 PM” or “turn the lights on at sunset.” It’s also fine for “turn off all lights when I go to bed.” And of course the Lutron light switches do not have any lag when they are just used manually at the wall. You’re also probably fine with anything triggered by Geopresence.

Where you typically run into problems is if you want a SmartThings – controlled motion sensor to trigger a Lutron-controlled light. Then the additional lag may simply be too long.

So while the lutron caseta lights are excellent devices, most people using SmartThings as their primary home automation controller will instead choose Z wave or zigbee lighting so that they can get direct integration.


(Dale C) #14

@Thomas_White And that is for Caseta line only, the Maestro fan control doesn’t even fit in that limited integration. If you plan on direct integration fan control with ST our best integration today is using the device handler such as by @ChadCK[ Z-Wave Smart Fan Control Custom Device Handler] (Z-Wave Smart Fan Control Custom Device Type) on a GE 12730 Z-Wave Smart Fan Control or Leviton VRF01-1LX designed specifically for motor control. It works excellent in direct integration like a smartapp for temperature control.,