So I’ve recently been paralysed and decided to install some smart home bits to help out round the house, however I just needed to ask a few questions.
I have just ordered the Yale smart locks with z-wave modules, nest thermostat 3rd gen and hue lightbulbs for the lights I know I can get changed, and from what I have read these will all run best on the smart things system, although the thermostat takes a little linking?
I live in the uk and my pc world only has the old smart things, is it worth me finding the new rounded version 2?
The only other problem I have is in my kitchen I have 10 GU10 bulbs, in my bathroom I have 4 MR16 on transformers and in my bedroom I have 8 on MR16 bulbs with transformers, now I didn’t order all these hue bulbs as it would cost loads, so I was thinking there must be a way I can just change the switches so they link up with smart things? I was just wondering what switches I buy?
Hopefully you can help and sorry if these are questions you’ve already had
I am sorry to hear about your challenges. I myself am quadriparetic, so my smart home equipment is all selected to help me with things that I literally cannot do by myself. It has been of great benefit to me.
That said, I had smartthings for two years and ended up moving all of my critical use cases off of it, including lights, because it just wasn’t reliable enough for situations like mine. They have had an outage at least once a month for the last 20 months or so and in some cases more than one. They also regularly push out firmware updates which will take your hub off-line for anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. These updates can be neither refused nor delayed, which just didn’t work for me.
I ended up moving all of my critical use cases, including just the regular lights, to Apple’s HomeKit, which then also gave me a backup for voice control. (I prefer Amazon’s echo, but it’s nice to have Siri as a back up.) in the UK, your option for light switches that work with HomeKit would be the lightwave RF series. In the US, we mostly use Lutron.
I do still use SmartThings for some very complex logic situations that are not critical, like notifying me if the guestroom window is left open, rain is expected, and the guest is not at home. It does that much better than anything else in the low-cost price range. But I just don’t use it for things that I need to have work all the time.
You can read the following thread (this is a clickable link) for more information about reliability and of course decide for yourself.
if you decide to stick with Z wave
If you decide you do want to move ahead with Z wave and smartthings, the first thing you need to know is that Z wave uses different frequencies in different regions, and they are not interchangeable. The frequency of your devices must exactly match the frequency of your hub. So assuming that you got UK Zwave frequency devices already, you must use a UK frequency hub. And the newest V3 hub is not yet available on that frequency.
Also, you should definitely talk to @anon36505037 . He is in the UK and his mother uses a wheelchair. He is now working on his second house with SmartThings. What most people do in the UK is to use the zwave in wall micros which can fit either behind the switch or at a junction box. He has done both houses this way, so he can tell you a lot more about it.
By the way, there are a number of other project reports from wheelchair users , including one from me, in the forum. Go to the quick browse lists in the community – created wiki, look down towards the bottom of that page for the project report section, and then choose the list on “accessible” projects and you will find them. They might give you some more ideas.
Anyway, welcome again. Home automation has made a huge difference in my own life, and I don’t have a great deal of money to spend. But there’s a lot of technology available these days that can be of very great benefit.
I also forgot to mention that one thing to consider is whether the home automation app will be usable by voice if you need that.
The HomeKit app works very well with voice. The Phillips hue app works pretty well. Unfortunately, the SmartThings app does not work well, which means I have to have someone else use the app if I need anything done there.
If you yourself have good use of your hands, then that might not matter, but I did want to mention it because it is a little surprising in 2018.
I think the smart home tech is getting really good for people in wheelchairs, however there doesn’t seem to be a standard eco system that intergrates them all and I’ve been second guessing myself all week
I only went with the Z wave modules for the Yale locks as I thought it was the correct option, I could change these if you recommend a different option?
As for the voice control I haven’t ordered anything yet as I keep reading so much about both the eco and google and can’t decide.
I do love the Apple home app though, I only have an out door security light/camera on it but it does work quite well.
Outages is something I never thought about, and I suppose also the Wi-Fi range? I am lucky I can use my arms and am quite mobile so I could still get by, however it’s nice to have a system that works 100% hey.
I am also in the UK and have extensively automated my house.
Like Robin, I use Fibaro modules behind the regular light switches. They allow me to keep the look of the house, are 100% compatible with the rest of the family and mean I can automate any existing light without having to change to expensive bulbs. The only snag can be the depth of the wall box behind the switch. You really need 48mm boxes or you will have to add a spacer. Schneider make an OK looking spacer that you can get from Screwfix. A great source for Fibaro and other HA items is vesternet.com. They carry a good range and the service is excellent.
I personally like Z-wave devices and for me they have been very reliable. Both Zigbee and Z-wave create a mesh to connect all the devices to the hub and the key to stable system is a good mesh. I have found that having a Z-wave module behind all the light switches in the house enables a strong Z-wave mesh.
I would not worry about the hub v3 unless you really want to connect it to the internet via WiFi. otherwise the v2 works well and you can probably find a bargain out there. Be advised though that HA is NOT plug and play. To add some devices to the SmartThings system you do need to add a device handler. Some of these are official, but most are written by folks on here. There are other systems out there that are far easier to setup. Hive particularly in the UK works well. However, you are restricted on what you can do. Once you get your head around The SmartThings app, developer portal (scary title, but its where you ad devices handlers and community apps) and how to add new devices its not so bad. Then you can start to play with things like routine, automation and Webcore. Thats where the fun really starts
All the best with the project. There is a wealth of info on here and don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t understand anything. We’ve all been there.
I’m glad the system has worked well for you, and I hope it continues to meet your expectations. A strong mesh is definitely helpful (I was a network engineer and had worked with both zwave and zigbee before I ever got SmartThings for my own home), but it can’t protect you from problems in the SmartThings cloud. And it doesn’t change the fact that ST can and does push out hub updates that can be neither refused nor delayed.
SmartThings has had at least one unscheduled outage in every month for the last 20 except, I think, Jan 2017. Sometimes more than one. And that’s not counting The planned outages for hub firmware updates.
Many people may not notice most of these because they are away from home when they occur, or because they have a Plan B of just walking over and turning on the switch.
In my case, I spend most of my life in one of two rooms, I can’t physically turn on the light switch, and I have to have someone else help even if the only thing that’s required to get things going again is to open the app, open an automation page, and save it again. So I do notice.
I don’t expect things to be perfect. I do expect an MFOP ( maintenance free operating period) for my home automation which is typical of most appliances: a minimum of six months, and preferably a year.
Since the fall of 2015, I’ve never gone longer than a two week MFOP with SmartThings, and frequently less.
I do get that MFOP from a number of other home automation systems, including the Philips Hue Bridge, Wink, Logitech Harmony, and Apple HomeKit. And in all of those cases I can delay maintenance updates until a time of my choosing, which significantly reduces the negative impact.
None of the systems are anywhere near as powerful or versatile as SmartThings, But they are more reliable even when using the exact same models of devices.
The issue isn’t the protocol or the network layout or anything done by the individual customer. It’s the cloud architecture and the development philosophy.
Of course that same development philosophy is what attracts many people to SmartThings: lots of exciting new features, lots of integrations, lots of customization options. But since this thread is specifically for someone who may not have the same “Plan B“ options as an ambulatory person, I do think it’s important to call out the MFOP issue.
So it looks like I’m best to install the Philips hue bridge ( it’s coming free with a starter kit) and then also the smart things? That way I have a back up for the lights and also Apple home kit on my iPad and iPhone, I’m guessing it’s possible to have all the smart things on different systems?
I think Yale are due to bring out a module that works with Apple home kit, but the only options they have at the moment was a standard module which I’m guessing is Wi-Fi or the Z-Wave one.
As for my standard light switches I will order a couple of the modules to install behind the boxes and go from there. Once I get the stuff installed I will keep you updated on how I’m getting on.
So I’ve installed some of the lights yesterday and they work really well with the Hue app and Apple home, basically I’ve brought a light switch cover for the rooms with hue that hides the switches and allows you to install the hue dimmer.
I’ve alao had a look at the 3 rooms with all the spot lights that I would like to control with a smart switch or module. Now I’m no electrician, but this is what I’ve found :
in my kitchenit is a double switch that controls my ceiling lights and lights under the cupboards, there is 3 wires in there and an earth, then one small wire joining two switches together, the ceiling lights are GU10 and the under cupboard ones are led strip
My bedroom is also a double swithch and they control half the spot lights each, these are MR16 bulbs through transformers, picture of light box setup
Unfortunately you are in a lose lose situation here. 1st you have 16mm back boxes installed (dont even understand why people still install these) so you have 0 chance of being able to install a smart modular switch as you need 35 minimum, ideally 47mm. you then also don’t have a neutral down to the switch so this limits your options even further
It may cost more depending on how many bulbs there are, but if you use Hue bulbs you should be able to use their new partner switches which are coming out at the end of this year. ( they should also work with the less expensive IKEA Tradfri models as long as those lamps are connected to the hue bridge.)
These look just like regular switches but don’t require batteries as they harvest a tiny bit of energy when someone presses on them. They do physically require a hard press, But I understand that in your case that’s not an issue, and it’s not so difficult that people will complain about them.
Philip has announced these in both US and UK styles ( different partner companies) for release by the end of the year. They are going to work for a lot of people, I think.
If use them with smartthings, you won’t have control of the switches, but it won’t matter, because you’ll have control of the bulbs. The switches just become an alternate means of control.
So it looks like my only way is the hue bulbs, it’s just a bugger as there’s so many bulbs in each room and there not cheap! I could then just use a normal hue dimmer with this adaption I used on the others
You can still install a module behind those switches. The Fibaro Dimmer 2 works without a neutral, so your wiring is OK. You woulds need a spacer for the switch to create the room for the module. Like I said, Schneider make one that looks OK and you can stack them if you need to. Not ideal I agree, but it does give you an option that allows you to automate your current lighting and will allow light control even when ST cloud is unavailable.
A better option for you in ref to the modules is to install them in/ above the lights. This way you just change your switch to a push to make or centre off retractable switch and the modules will then have a neutral
My understanding is that if your television doesn’t show up in the model list in the “SmartThings (Samsung Connect) app,” it’s not compatible. But you might check with support. make sure you check with UK support, as I believe the supported models do vary by region.