Trying to decide on a Home Automation system


(Raeven Phillips) #1

Hello, I’m start my home automation journey and have spent the past couple of months trying to get familiar with the different technologies and what’s available. I had the sense that the new products bring released this year will be worth the wait.

One thing that I need that it appears SmartThings is currently lacking (but trying to catch up on) is video camera interoperability. I read that this is coming fairly soon, certainly with the new hub. But what I’m not at all clear about us whether I’ll have to have the premium service(s) in order to have camera functionality. I need this for multiple reasons and part of the reason why I’m looking towards a home automation system like this is the ability to control a plethora of things from so many different categories without any service fees. So could someone please tell me if the premium subscription service will be required for WiFi video camera integration? That would be really helpful.

If there’s anything else that one feels is helpful for me to know, please don’t hesitate to add it.

Thanks so much for your help and advice. :slight_smile:


(Egan Greenstein) #2

@Raeven…I’ve been dabbling with home automation since the X10 days. My only recommendation right now is to keep your expectations (and your family’s expectations) very modest. The SmartThings environment…especially using standards like Zwave and Zigbee…is very broad and the community here is amazing at solving problems, but the cloud-based infrastructure is incredibly frail. The system can work perfectly for a month, then things that worked 100% stop working for no (end-user created) reason. The status website (http://status.smartthings.com/) gives some minor indication of the frequency of issues, but this community calls out plenty of issues that never make it to the status page.

Go into home automation as an interesting hobby and you won’t be disappointed. Go into it expecting it’ll make your house smart and keep your family and friends amazed, and you’ll be frustrated beyond belief.


#3

I use ST now for a couple of convenience use cases (like turning off lights in multiple rooms after I’m in bed) and I’m happy with it for the relatively small amount of money I’ve invested.

My personal guess (totally a guess) is that in the summer of 2016 there will be several plug and play home automation ecosystems to choose from that will offer more stability, ease of use, and features (particularly voice control) than what’s available today. With much more reliable presence detection.

I do expect Samsung/Smart Things to be one of the major competitors. And Apple’s HomeKit/insteon to be another. And likely Nest, although that pathway’s a little less clear.

Anyway, I’m holding off any major projects until then. Meanwhile, I do one small project at a time as I see specific value with the current technology.

So I’m very happy with what ST has done for me now. (I’m quadriparetic, use a wheelchair with limited hand function, so convenience projects are a big help to me.) But it all depends on what you need when.

I use a completely different system (three, actually), for anything potentially life threatening, including my security system. But those cost way more than ST.