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Topic # 150184 14-Jul-2014 14:24
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Hi everyone,

I have been lurking around these forums for a few years now and have just recently started up a new business to fill a void I encountered in the NZ market. I got interested in home automation about 12 months ago and found it very difficult to source hardware directly from NZ. Pretty much everything had to be imported from Australia or Europe.

I figured there would be others in the same boat so decided to something about it - and hence Smart Things NZ was born!

We specialise mainly in Z-Wave products currently, from both Fibaro and Aeon Labs (Aeotec). We have quite a bit of experience with these products and our own home is fully automated using this gear.

We are very much home automation enthusiasts so if you have any questions or suggestions for our site, i.e. blog ideas, product requests, please drop me a line on ben@smartthingsnz.co.nz and I will do my best to help out.

Thanks for reading!

Cheers,
Ben

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gzt

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  Reply # 1088672 14-Jul-2014 14:58
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For appliance monitoring can you get away with just the Smart Switch and Lab Z-Stick?

Is software provided for that?




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  Reply # 1088673 14-Jul-2014 15:04
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If you go down the Z-Stick route you need to run your own controller software on the host machine. This is ideal if you already have a 24/7 server, or are happy to run a Raspberry Pi (or something similar) for this purpose. For products like the Fibaro HC2/HC Lite, or the VeraLite, the controllers are self contained units, i.e. contain the Z-Wave radio/chip as well as the controller software.

In terms of the controller software available there are a number of open source options. OpenZWave, openHAB and Ago Control are three examples. I personally use openHAB and it is very good but YMMV.



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  Reply # 1088748 14-Jul-2014 16:28
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Not to be rude, but you're playing a risky game by calling your company "Smart Things NZ". Especially with the US company called "Smart Things". It may be misleading to some people and a potential copyright infringement. I would seriously consider a name change.



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  Reply # 1088759 14-Jul-2014 16:42
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Yeah it is a valid point. I came up with the name and foolishly only checked out NZ for anything similar. I then registered the name with the companies office and setup the site and only then did I come across the US site/product. To be fair the US version has only been around a few months as well! I am loathed to change everything around now, and I am very careful to always include the NZ bit in all my online presence. You are right, it is risky, but to date I have only had one enquiry from someone thinking I was the US version.

I have already moved the site from a .com to a .co.nz domain to make it more obvious. 

Awesome
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  Reply # 1088760 14-Jul-2014 16:44
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Love the website. Nice and clean looking. Wordpress?




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  Reply # 1088761 14-Jul-2014 16:47
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Thanks for the positive feedback ajobbins. Yep, you guessed it, Wordpress. I am a software developer by trade but have zero experience in web design/hosting etc. So took the easiest option and got someone in to help set it all up. The cheapest avenue seemed to be Wordpress and they have some quite crisp templates. I am a big fan of simple, easy-to-navigate, online stores, so tried to base it off that sort of design principle.

Glad you approve ;).

gzt

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  Reply # 1088777 14-Jul-2014 17:48
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SumnerBoy: Yeah it is a valid point. I came up with the name and foolishly only checked out NZ for anything similar. I then registered the name with the companies office and setup the site and only then did I come across the US site/product.

Ouch. Imho better to change the website name now in the early days. There's a risk you'll get buried by the other guy's search results.

If you have to change it down the track it will destroy your search ranking built up over that time. Imo no need at all to change the registered company name or anything associated with that.



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  Reply # 1088906 14-Jul-2014 21:34
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I appreciate your concern but having been through the process of moving the site once (from .com -> .co.nz) I think I am just going to risk it for now. I have some reasonable search results coming thru now and I haven't had any negative feedback regarding the name. 

I will probably live to regret it, and I do understand your reasons, but I am not planning to build a multi-national online store, it is solely for NZ and will remain so. I can't imagine it ever becoming a threat to the US site, or even register on their radar!

Fingers crossed...;)

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  Reply # 1088917 14-Jul-2014 22:04
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Your domain name includes NZ as does your branding so TBH I can't really see any issues with an overseas based supplier taking issue (IANAL). You'd be hard pressed to find a relevant name/url that isn't already in use in a similar industry somewhere in the world.

I would like to comment on your site but I can't get it to load from work (will be filtered), will have a look when home though. Very interested in Home Automation so I'm hoping you will be offering a solid blog and good advice in the future.



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  Reply # 1088919 14-Jul-2014 22:06
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Thanks Kingjj - I have a couple of blog posts on there but it is high on my TODO list to add some more. To be honest I have more fun tinkering with new ideas so am struggling to find time to write more! Fire away with any questions you have though - happy to offer any advice or suggestions.

gzt

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  Reply # 1088927 14-Jul-2014 22:27
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SumnerBoy: I appreciate your concern but having been through the process of moving the site once (from .com -> .co.nz) I think I am just going to risk it for now. I have some reasonable search results coming thru now and I haven't had any negative feedback regarding the name.

Yeah it could all turn out ok : ). If it is a destination site tho and users are typing in 'smart things' to find it then the other guy will hold you back for some time or forever even on the google nz.



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  Reply # 1088928 14-Jul-2014 22:30
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To be honest I am not really expecting too many searches to come from 'smart things'. It will be more like 'home automation', 'zwave', 'smart home' and the like. Anyone that 'knows' about the site via GZ or a business card for example, will have no trouble finding it (he says hopefully...)...

gzt

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  Reply # 1088930 14-Jul-2014 22:32
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Imo your hope is not misplaced there.



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  Reply # 1088934 14-Jul-2014 22:36
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Cheers gzt - has been a lot of fun getting things this far at least!

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  Reply # 1088960 14-Jul-2014 23:48
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+1 on the design. Very clean and clear! Welcome to the start up world!

The only thing I would comment is that the landing page doesn't have a lot of info about what you are providing. I checked the site out not knowing a much about home automation, and more looking to provide feedback so not really a qualified customer, with experience in this area.

For instance I thought the smart energy switch looked like I could start to analyse usage data of different electrical devices around my house, but there wasn't enough information for me to tell if I could connect my computer to it or how I would see results. Would I need to buy the controller, or could I get away with just the z-stick.

Happy to answer any question.

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