Suggestions to make existing system more effective? (UK)

Hi there,

2nd post, long time reader so go easy if i’m asking the obvious.

I’ve finally convinced my wife to embrace the Smart home idea and as such we’ve slowly been getting devices that are smart capable however i’m not convinced i’m getting the most out of my setup and it could be a lot better with some tweaks and allow more flexibility creating routines etc…

So this is what i have:
Samsung Smart TV (2019)
Samsung washing machine
Samsung Family Hub fridge
Echo Show
Mk1 Alexa
3no echo dots
1no echo spot
roborock S5 vacuum
Hive Smart heating with 4No. smart plugs
Ring doorbell

So at the moment, i dont have a smart hub and the above items seem to work ok through a bodge of smartthings routines and alexa routines. I presume a hub would mean i can look at different brands etc and bring more devices into the fold but i really dont know where to start.

Any advice, questions or comments would be massively appreciated!

Thanks!

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What devices are you thinking of? Bulbs? Plugs? Curtains? Roller blinds? Light switches? Irrigation system?

With your current setup, you don’t really need a hub. All of them are cloud based integrations. You only need a hub if you want Zigbee and Zwave devices, or any LAN connected device, what is not capable of cloud to cloud connection.
Some of the newer Echoes has zigbee functionality too, so you doesn’t really need an extra hub, unless you want to integrate everything under the ST app.
@JDRoberts can give you quite good directions if you have some clear ideas what you want to achieve. He might can point you to specific topics to look at where to start.

Edit: Regarding your other subject, definitely @JDRoberts going to give you good ideas. He is an expert of middle man solutions, but I think then you need to sort out first the Alexa skill.

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Welcome! :sunglasses:

Sounds like you’re off to a good start! We do need to know what country you are in, as the available features and devices do vary by region.

I’m not sure what this is, though:

Roborock

As far as the vacuum, you are probably going to want to throw Ifttt into the mix, so start taking a look at that:

THE GENERAL: What should I do next?

For your general question one, there are typically two kinds of people who do home automation. :wink:

The first are problem-solvers. Those have a specific problem (which technical people call a “use case“) and they have a feeling that home automation will be the easiest/cheapest/cleverest way to solve it. So they first define the parameters of the problem, and then go looking for an appropriate solution.

The second are first adopters. Or ”Maker” type enthusiasts. They follow all the rumors, watch video from tradeshows, trade tips on boards like this, and whenever a new home automation device is released to the market, they start thinking about what they might do with it. So device first, use case second.

Both of these are perfectly reasonable approaches. The enthusiast group will probably spend more money on home automation, but they also get a lot of satisfaction out of automating something they never even thought of before. They are generally willing to put up with a higher level of unreliability from any individual device just because they think the whole thing is so cool. They imagine a fully automated Jetson house, and eagerly study what other people have done for new ideas. :rocket: :heart_eyes:

The problem-solver group is more likely to be people who have a very specific problem in mind that they want solved, either because of a prior bad experience like damage to their home from a water leak or Having a carpet ruined because the dog walker forgot his key. Or they have specific issues as an individual, such as using a wheelchair or having a family member with cognitive issues Or even just having a new baby where home automation might make some every day tasks just much simpler.

The problem-solver group doesn’t want to spend more money than they have to and they are often looking for “set and forget” solutions. At the same time they may be Willing to spend more money on any one device than the enthusiasts if it means they get better reliability or easier set up. They just want to solve a particular problem. :umbrella:

Enthusiasts grumble about higher list price for an individual device, but at the same time, they might go to Best Buy or Home Depot or Crutchfield and come home with a dozen devices that they have no idea what they’re going to do with yet, because they were on a really great sale. :wink:

Again, both ways of looking at home automation are equally valid, it’s just important to be honest with yourself about which group you fall into because that will help shape your criteria for the devices that you will buy and the projects you will do next.

For example, I myself am quadriparetic. I use a power wheelchair and have limited use of my hands. I have to pay someone else to do pretty much anything physical with my home automation set up, even change the batteries. I fall into the problem-solver group. I use Home automation to make every day tasks easier, which means very high reliability is my top priority. I also strongly prefer “set and forget“ solutions because I can’t tinker around with the system on my own. (I have the technical knowledge, because I was formerly a network engineer, but I don’t have the physical capability.) So I will pay more and accept fewer features if it means the basic functionality is highly reliable and doesn’t require a lot of ongoing attention.

There are many other people in the community who are makers/enthusiasts. They are delighted when any new device comes to market and may buy two or three at the introductory price before they even have a solid idea what they’re going to use it for. And if it’s a little glitchy or requires a lot of extra effort to get it integrated with their existing system, they are OK with that. They may even sort of enjoy it.

All of which is to say we can’t really make suggestions about what you should do next or even if you should get a hub until we have a better idea of what your personal priorities are.

Are you looking for reliability or novelty as the top characteristic of your set up?

What kind of budget do you have? Just as an example, my budget is a maximum of $500 per room and under $5,000 for the whole house, but I am willing to replace everything every three years in order to get new features. So I set aside about $140 per month to cover the next replacement cycle. If a particular device lasts longer than three years, that’s great: it means I have more money in the home automation budget. Problem-solvers are more likely to have that kind of budget, either per month or per project. Enthusiasts often don’t set a budget at all, They just look at each individual purchase and decide whether they think it’s worth it at that time. :money_mouth_face:

If you just want to start looking at cool stuff, use the quick browse lists in the community – created wiki, look down near the bottom of that page for “project reports“ and there’s a list there called “impress your friends” where you can read project reports on everything from a magic wand to a hidden bookcase room. Just fun and exciting stuff. Some of it has practical applications, some of it doesn’t, but almost all of it will really appeal to makers/enthusiasts if only as a source of inspiration.

https://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=How_to_Quick_Browse_the_Community-Created_SmartApps_Forum_Section

If looking at a list like that has no appeal for you at all, and you just have some specific problems that you’d like to solve building off of your existing system, there are lots of community members who would be glad to help you find solutions for those. But then you need to be much more specific about the problem you are trying to solve. :sunglasses:

3 Likes

@JDRoberts, you have just made my day! :smile:

I am thinking now, what am I, a problem-solver or a hobbyist (actually your description probably defines more an entrepreneur than a hobbyist).

I learn new things every day!

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I’ve edited my post above to change the two groups to “problem-solvers“ and “enthusiasts.“

The original word I chose, “hobbyist,“ is one that doesn’t always translate well and it has different meanings to different people. I think “enthusiast“ is more accurate. :sunglasses:

The basic split is still the same. Do you have a problem and then start looking around to see if there’s a gadget that can solve it? Or do you buy a cool new gadget and then start looking around to see how you can use it? :wink:

2 Likes

@JDRoberts what a fantastic reply, thank you! Its really made me think about what i want for a system.

I think i fall into the problem solver category. I’m based in the UK and have a very hectic home life with a wife and a toddler and a baby so i’m always looking for ways to best make use of time and almost be able to multi-task.

I’ll use the vacuum as an example of what i mean by this, so as you can imagine, its like a hurricane has been through the house during the day when the family are home and trying to keep on top of the chores is a nightmare so when we go up to put the boys to bed, the vacuum is set off cleaning all the rooms and we can come back downstairs to a cleaner environment free or crumbs and half eaten biscuits. Its a similar scenario when they go out for the day, ideally setting the vac off when the house is empty.

Another key is getting as much as possible automated or at least voice activated allowing the the wife to focus on looking after the boys. (i work long hours so dont return till late evening).

I’m trying to encourage her to embrace the technology fully, using the ‘inside view and foodlist’ of the fridge etc but its quite laborious to enter everything fully.

I guess what i’m looking for is the ability to get everything onto smartthing so that i can set up detailed routines and scenes to suit a likely day. Currently things are split over smartthings, alexa and separate apps.

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@Stubo, probably it will be split over still in your scenario. You need to have decent schedules at home if you want to make the most out of Automations and you need to be prepared your wife’s anger, when things are not working (as expected).
My wife calls it SmartShits. I know what I am talking about.
And of course you need a lot of time to set things up and define the right logic what fits for all requirements and possible use cases.

You might want to add lights with motion sensors or remotes. Voice commands are working well with lights and you can make schedules for the children too.

If not bulbs, then dimmer switches or just simple switches to turn on an off the lights.

Smart Locks for easy entry for the wife. The lock, motion sensor and presence sensor can be combined for a use case where the lights come on automatically when the wife arrives home with the children after sunset.

Smart Speakers can announce when the washing machine finished.

Just some idea…

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