One of my life long objectives is to automate everything around me,but there has always been one are where due to technological limitations or high price that I never ventured to – home automation.
I’ve had a set of Philips Hue lights for a couple of years, and some other random bits of pieces (1 Wemo plug, Netatmo weather sensors,…) , but nothing that was really running “automatically” or was in any way grouped together.
This all changed when my friend Konstantinos brought me a Google Home device over from the US.I was surprised with how it finally made the Philips Hue lamps more than a gimmick and actually made them more flexible, but at the same time it was clear to me that Google Home still does little to integrate all of the random little devices that exist out there (yes, it has ifttt integration, but it’s not only slow but extremely limited), many of them not more than stupid ideas, many still lacking a lot to make them truly useful, but others, if used correctly (and with a lot of patience) actually quite flexible and surprisingly useful (some would disagree here) in day to day life.
After some research , I came across home-assistant.io, an open source hub for a lot of devices and online services (as I’m writing this it has support for 583 components). Home assistant allowed me to integrate all of the devices I had and made them work together, and allowed me to script simple but useful functionality (eg. turn on hue lights 1 hour before sunset if we are at home). For the stats geeks it also allows for integration with Grafana.
Main issue with home assistant ? It made me want to automate more ! I eventually purchased a set of zwave (a wireless networking protocol) devices to be able to act on other parts of the apartment (turn on light relays, close/open shades) as well as to trigger action on movement or door’s opening as well as a Logitech Harmony Hub to be able to trigger actions via infrared.
For most people out there most of these automations are unnecessary or just a sign of laziness. For me they are a demonstration of what consumer technology is able to do when pushed a little bit beyond its normal uses.
Below is my current device list as well as what they are currently being used for.
- 2x Google Home – Voice Control (lights, scenes [eg. bedtime, watch tv])
- Logitech Harmony Hub – Infrared control (Interact with TV, Amplifier, Cable receiver)
- Philips Hue lights – A lot of them spread out through out the apartment
- 2x Aeontec Door Sensor – Apartment door (sends alert to phones if door is opened and there is no one home); home office door (turns lights on if darkside when door is opened, turns light of when door is closed)
- Aeontec Multisensor – Turns on dinning room lights if we sit at table and it’s dark
- Fibaro Switch – Allows turning hall lights on or off
- Fibaro Roller Shutter – Control of electrical window shade (automatically closes when no one is home and living room get’s too warm) ; Closes down when entering “Watch TV” scene
- Netatmo Sensors – Humidity, Temperature and CO2 sensors
- A few Mi Flower Sensors – Measuring humidity and sending alerts when it gets too low
Other non-core components that also interact with this : Yamaha Amplifier, Chromecast, nVidia Shield TV (curious to see what role it will take once Google Assistant is integrated), Lametric time, Plex, …
Some other automations:
- Bedroom lights fading on automatically in the morning and dimming of at night;
- Living rooms dimming during dinner, and dimming off at night;
- TV turning on to night news if I’m at home;
I consider this to be only the beginning, and there is a lot of tuning still to be done, but I find it amazing how much can already be done with so little tinkering.