This one probably goes without saying but the Nest Thermostat was one of the easiest add ons for the home automation setup. They manage to work with just about every system out there and it does exactly what it says. That being said there are a few things to be aware of. #1 if you have a rectangle standard thermostat you will probably want to order a surround or wall palte to use to cover up the screw holes, unless you plan to patch the walls anyway. I went with this one http://www.amazon.com/Round-Wall-Plate-Nest-Greenfii/dp/B00T3TEPT6 Connecting it into our system did have a problem on switching what was heat and A/C If this is the case call support. They were fantastic and we determines that the back panel actually had one bad pin. They sent me a new one within days and we had it all set up and working.
Since we have had it installed I have been asked once to reset it but they did that via email to let us know so they could do a firmware update. Overall very easy and the ability to change the temperature from anyway has been great. This is probably the one piece of electronics that I have added that my wife picked up on right away.
With now my fifth hub that I have worked with I am now so far able to control almost everything (Waiting on you Sonos and Xfinity). I picked up the Wink Hub from Home Depot for $49.99 (If it rings up at $69.99 check the shelf) which comparably is not bad at all since it does allow alot more functionality although you would think the much more expensive Relay would give you as much also. That being said, so far I have been happy with the integration options on the Wink Hub. As you can tell I have most things through the app now. Cant do the alarm from XFinity or the Camera but those are integrated on their own app.
The biggest problem I had with the Wink Hub was getting it updated. The app will continually tell you that you need an update until you are past version 0.89. Interestingly they tell you to basically get it as far away from your wireless router or access points as possible. The problem I have is I like to not have dead spots in my house so I have wifi that covers the house. To get around it, I ended up setting up tethering from my iphone and then joining the Hub to my iphone and using my ipad to get it to update. Once I did that I had no problem with it.
The integration with the Lutron lights did take a little work, although it might be easy if you do a fresh install. If you had not done a fresh install you will have to remove each switch and Pico remote from the Lutron hub as well as reset the switch before you can join it to the Wink App. Also you will not link the remotes specifically to the remotes via Lutron. You will have to redo that in the Wink app. It took a few minutes but overall not bad at all.
I also added a couple of the GE Link LED bulbs. These needed the update as well but I have them set as a group so I can turn two of them on at the same time. The one issue I have with these is that I have to leave the light switch in the on position all the time for the app to be able to manage them and since my wife is not fully set up, that means I will hardly use them via the app.
Another plus of the Wink Hub is that is is integrated with the Amazon Echo. I had friends over and was able to say “Alexa turn on the living room lights at 50%” and the reaction from everyone was that it was pretty cool. I would prefer if it was integrated with the Apple HomeKit like the Lutron Hub so I could use Siri from any room and not need to be in the vicinity of the Echo but I am also almost all Apple at this point so itsjust easier. if you had Android or PC this would not work as well.
The next thing I added to the Wink App was the ability to run Robots. These are essentially If This.. Then That for the Home Automation. One example is that if I come home anytime after sundown but before midnight it will automatically turn on the entry lights for me.
I have been admiring the look of the Wink Relay for quite sometime as I have been looking at home automation. How great would it be to have a touchscreen on the wall that is convenient and be able to control everything without bringing out my phone but i didnt like the high cost of a unit that seemed to get mixed reviews. I finally found one for a decent price on a trip to Home Depot and decided to give it a try. The look of it is exactly what i expected, very slick as you can tell from the picture.
I did have to try it in a couple places and had some install issues. First off if you have a 3 or 4 way plug it wont work because you cant add a remote tot he buttons. If you are using smart bulbs you are fine i would guess but i have lots of 3-way switches, in fact I think I only have 9 places in the house that are not 3-way. Three of those are bathrooms so that seems weird, one is my guest bedroom that I dont really want a guest to have to try to figure it out, my office and then I have 3 spots for closet lights. The next issue was the buttons wont work as dimmers so I cant put it anywhere that I want to be able to dim the light, that eliminates my office. Since the option seemed to be one of the closet spots, luckily the master bedroom had a decent spot for it. I installed it and right away had problems. The push in connectors it comes with were never getting a good connection. I ended up pulling them off and using normal electrical connectors that I had. Once I did that I got good connection.
Next came the issue with functionality, I was able to get the closet light working fine which by the way only uses the top button, if you replace a double switch you can use both but i just replaced a single. You tap it on and off which is not a big deal. I was able to tie it into my Nest without problem as well as my garage door. It also shows the weather nicely and connected to the app without any problem. (Will show the app in the next step..) The problem came when I tried to connect it to my Lutron dimmers that run the lights for the rest of the house. This requires the Wink Hub also. The Relay is pitched as a home automation hub on your wall but according to a reply tweet from @Wink it only has 1 antenna while the Hub has 6. So began the search for Hub #5
This one seemed like a no brainier although I am sure some would disagree. The argument seems to be that why would you want your garage to be opened over the Internet? For me it was simple, I still needed a username and password and our garage is not connected to the house so it isn’t a home security concern. Also with the app and the xfinity integration I could have the door opening when on my motorcycle without having to stop and find the garage remote.
The setup was rather easy, add the MyQ Internet Gateway (it wants to be hardwired) and download the app. Once downloaded you just tell it to discover and press a button the the wall panel. That’s it! Then you can set alerts to tell you when it is open and even to close the door if it has been open for too long. Overall this was is easy to recommend.
So this was the one that was really needed first. We have some can lights that I wanted dimmers in and the only ones that worked with the Xfinity were the Lutron Caseta but for them to work you need the Lutron Caseta Wireless Smart Bridge. The nice part is you only need the basic bridge and not the Pro that I had heard many other alarm systems need. This is a nice small box that I was able to put out of the way and it does not need to be right beside your router. In fact it doesn’t even need a wired connection it just connects via Wifi to your network.
This one also has its own app that you need to configure the lights on. It is supposed to work with the Lutron blinds also but I haven’t added those yet.
Adding lights and setting scenes is very easy and can be done either schedules or manual. The ones listed I set manual.
The downside so far to this was that it only works with the Lutron switches and no other Zigbee or Z-Wave devices, so now I am limited to only what they offer.
Picking a smarthome hub is probably the biggest choice you have to make since depending on the hub you choose you may or may not be able to use the gear you have or want. My first hub choice had more to do with our home alarm than it did with tech. We decided to go with the Xfinity Home alarm system since we already had it for Internet and TV the price was right and it offered a good selection of “Works with Xfinity” companies
- Lutron Caseta
- Chamberlain MyQ Garage
- August Locks
- More to come (they claim)
First off this seems like an easy option unfortunately these are some of the higher priced options out there and the only one I have seen that actually works out of the box is the Nest. I haven’t tried the August Locks yet (I am hesitant on the cloud connected clock). If you want the Lutron switches or blinds to work you will need a Lutron Hub (more on this one later). If you are keeping count we are at hub #2. The Nest thermostat integrated perfectly and has been solid. The same goes for the Chamberlain Garage door opener except for that to work you need what they call their MyQ Internet Gateway and you have to have a wall panel that has the MyQ logo. We will call that a hub also so we are up to 3.
The best let of this one was that you don’t need anything extra from Comcast, they give you a “Control Panel”
Here’s a quick look at the app as well it is very easy to use.
Those of you who I have seen since we bought our new house are probably aware that I decided that I wanted to make the house as smart as possible. There are a ton of options out for home automation and only a few companies that can work with all the different parts. Since I have learned quite a bit and doubt I will ever really be done I figure I would write it up.
Let’s start by detailing all the parts as I have found them and then I will try to write up each part
- Wink Relay
- Wink Hub
- Thermostat – Nest Take one
- Upgrade Thermostat – EcoBee
- In wall switches/dimmers
- In wall outlets
- Voice activation
- Garage Door
I am sure more pieces will come up so I will plan to update this post as I get into them.