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Looking to start basic with some outlets, maybe adding a security system (Ring?) and adding a Nest later. I already have Arlo cameras if that matters.

Looking at plugs I'm initially targeting something that doesn't require a hub/central system (and use Google Assistant to control), but thinking more about it if I start adding all these different types of devices later on how can I centrally manage all of them without having to open all these different apps, and have them work together? Should I be looking for a hub based system of some sort?

1/1/2019 4:42:43 PM

wwwebsurfer
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I think the biggest question is going to be your relationship with the cloud.

Obviously Alexa/Google are using off-site services to do things like translate your voice into commands, but a crap ton of those "made for" devices are using it to receive commands too. Your ABC outlet is subscribed to a channel on XYZ brands server and your voice command triggers alexa to post which then passes it along for execution. For most people this is fine, and as long as you expect them to keep the servers spinning to receive those commands, they should continue to work. To me this feels like a 5 year plan - I'm happy with it, but I don't trust it enough to put it at moms house to not need some maintenance or "upgrades" to continue working when TLS goes up a version, etc. Pros: usually easy to setup, but you'll need 14 different apps and a few hours to stitch it into google home or alexa. Cons: servers and services from 3rd party to continue operating, 1001 'interesting' DNS requests in your logs, probably a backdoor to your network

What I wanted was something that's self-contained within my house, that I can send simple commands to the same way I would make restful calls to a web service. For this you'll almost certainly need a 'hub' of some flavor (which might be $100+ for a nice one), and that's probably going to lead to an early segmentation about zwave/zigbee/insteon (? I think this one is owned by home depot or something?) For me these are the best option but it takes some technical knowledge. Example: zwave is great, but only some devices have repeaters in them. Whenever possible, get the repeaters on anything connected to wired power. Solves soooo many problems. Pros: way more freedom, no interwebs required, as long as hub is spinning so is your home automation. Cons: not based on wifi, so utterly dependent on hub, which can be pricey. Extremely limited range (~25 feet) - so to make a jump to a garage or shed you'll need a 2nd hub or longer range protocol to bridge.

There also a collection of really pricey ones out there that are real-deal internet of things. Optional LTE modems, SSH access, full web servers to accept commands. Last I checked they were mucho dollars and really you'd be better off putting a raspberry pi everywhere.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure any of this stuff is even remotely secure. If you're just wiring up some lights: do it. But they have z-wave locks and security stuff. Those still sketch me out.

But... if you're ok with the security possibilities of 100 different vendors and random stuff all over your network, do it up. I have migrated the 2.4Ghz band in my house to a separate network segment/VLAN, hook everything to that, restrict it's bandwidth, and let it run.

https://www.amazon.com/Vera-Control-VeraPlus-US-Smart-Controller/dp/B01BX9P89Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1546397714&sr=1-1&keywords=vera+controller My best bud uses 2 or 3 of these and swears by them. I helped him all set it up, but I'm not ready to commit on the $40 light switches yet.

1/1/2019 10:04:44 PM

dtownral
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i like smartthings, with the smartthings hub (about $70, supports Zigbee and Z-Wave) i can use whatever the lowest cost device is but still have everything integrated. webCoRE also allows you to really customize things if you want. check in advance, but most switches and outlets should work with smartthings since it suppports buth Zigbee and Z-Wave. right now i have a combo of Leviton Decora Smart Switches and some Lowes Iris outlets (bought on clearance for $8, you have to change the device type but they work with smartthings). Most of my lights are LED fixtures so I didn't have enough light bulbs to make Philips Hue worth it so I have LIFX bulbs in the few lamps I have (Philips Hue has a higher initial cost because of the hub, but after you have the hub it becomes cost competitive if you have a lot of bulbs due to the lower bulb price). With smartthings though I could use most brands of smart lightbulbs and they could play well together. i also have various sensors and buttons, the buttons i use to control scenes or control lights that don't have conveniently located switches.

i also use some nest products which aren't integrated with smartthings but are still all supported by google home and stringify so that's a non issue

1/2/2019 9:24:54 AM

BigMan157
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i have alexa, ring, sensi, hue, harmony, etc, etc

i don't think you're going to find anything that lets you centrally manage everything, but there's plenty of options that'll let you control them all and some options integrate better than others (ex. i use a fire tv to watch all my crap. if i yell out "Alexa, show the front door" my echo dot will hear it and show it on the tv. I think you can do similar with a chromecast, google home, and nest hello)

if you have a bunch of apple crap, i think the newer apple tvs have a homekit hub built into them, but i'm not sure

for outlets, any will work. i'd just get a couple cheapo wifi ones and see if it's something you want to continue down

1/2/2019 10:52:33 AM

Nighthawk
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I have currently got four different power plugs (2 TP-Link and 2 Etekcity) which work great. One bit of advice though if you do plugs, standardize on one brand so you don't have to deal with multiple apps.

I also recently got into the Hue lights and really like those. Currently just have four but I will slowly buy more. For Christmas I got one of the motion sensors so my dining room lights come on automatically when we come in the back door. That is really cool and I do like that.

My future plans are to add a couple more Echo devices for voice controls, some more Hue lights so I can do them in our bedrooms and hallways and such and motion sensors so rooms light up automatically. Eventually I will probably add a doorbell camera and thermostat but haven't made that jump yet.

1/3/2019 9:09:46 AM

rjrumfel
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I have a Harmony hub from Logitech that is working with Alexa. Seems to work pretty well. That, along with Hue and Ecobee are the only smart things I have going.

1/3/2019 2:54:34 PM

coolio526
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I have about 50% of my lights, fan, ac hooked into smartthings(about 30 devices). Works well enough. I can go into more details if you curious.

1/4/2019 9:43:16 PM

moron
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I have some plugs from vesync and hue lights and they simultaneously work with Alexa and Siri.

Home theatre is on a Crestron system with a custom Alexa integration.

1/5/2019 3:01:22 AM

A Tanzarian
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What's the attraction with this stuff? Is it basically a hobby?

ELI5

1/5/2019 12:52:21 PM

Nighthawk
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Multiple things. I like automating stuff to help my wife and kids and I out. Lights come on automatically in the morning when its time for people to wake up and Alexa has an alarm, then when the kids have to head to the bus Alexa reminds them (wife and I are already on the way to work) and if they forget, the lights go off automatically. Being able to say "Alexa, turn on all lights" is great when you come home, but with the motion sensor I just got I don't even have to say that now. Also like the Hue Sync setup as I can play games and movies and the lights sync to the color on my screen, making it even more immersive. My Hue lights even do nightlight mode if motion triggers them on late at night.

Basically it just makes my house more fun and interactive. The kids like it and its helpful to my wife and I enjoy tweaking them and finding new shit to do with them.

1/5/2019 7:57:28 PM

moron
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I got the vesync plug because we have a robotic litter box, and if you toggle the power it resets the box. When we go on vacation we setup an old phone to point to the litter box, and if it happens to get stuck, I can reset it anywhere with an internet connection. Also, at Christmas time the vesync plug is good for the christmas tree to turn it on/off on a timer. You can set the name in the app too so you can just say "alexa turn on the christmas tree" and it does it.

The vesyncs also have a power meter on them too, so it tracks power usage of anything plugged in, if you ever are trying to troubleshoot a power draw issue.

Hue lights started out just being for fun since they can change colors, and you can get a phone app that lets the change colors in beat with music.

But I really do find it convenient to just walk into a room and use alexa to turn the lights on and off.

If you have a home theater with multiple devices/inputs, being able to say "watch appletv" and the inputs change appropriately and audio settings adjust automatically, it's more convenient than having to pick up multiple remote controls. Also, if you ever have guests over it means they can use the equipment on their own if they want.

1/6/2019 12:19:30 AM

dtownral
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^^^ initial reason I got into was to "zone" the HVAC, then I just started having fun with lights and automation.

It really is helpful to be able to tell google what to do

1/6/2019 6:13:09 PM

A Tanzarian
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so basically cool toys with just enough practical usefulness to justify themselves

(don't get me wrong--I get it)

1/6/2019 8:03:54 PM

dtownral
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my washing machine water lines automatically close if there is water on the floor in the laundry room, and the main water shutoff valve will close if there is a leaking sink, toilet, or water heater so it's practical too, but all of the setting up automation and changing color/temp of lights and making scenes and stuff is just a fun hobby

phone alerts are helpful too

[Edited on January 7, 2019 at 9:35 AM. Reason : .]

1/7/2019 9:34:19 AM

darkone
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I was reading this morning about a guys who set up all the lighting in his house to shift to orange then red based on data from his kid's continuous blood sugar monitor.

1/7/2019 2:51:49 PM

Novicane
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i think im really only interested in the security side - mainly webcams that send alerts to your phone.

Is this smart system better than say a proprietary stand alone PoE camera system?

1/8/2019 4:05:15 PM

dtownral
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there are PoE camera systems that are basically standalone but can also send alerts to smartthings. i haven't investigated them, but i know they exist.

the main advantage of something like a nest cam is probably just the ease of setup vs a PoE system. i do really like my nest hello doorbell camera though, not sure if there is a similar PoE solution for that.

1/8/2019 4:32:42 PM

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I have Arlo cameras but if I was in the market I'd probably get Blink cameras. Cheaper and better resolution.

1/9/2019 12:25:45 PM

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