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112 posts

Master Geek
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Topic # 220382 8-Aug-2017 19:04
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Hi All,

 

Apologies if this has been discussed in some other threads but I couldn't find anything recent that specifically addressed all my questions. We're a family of 6 about to embark on a new home build - what we hope will be our forever home. Where practical I'd like to invest in future proofing the home and take advantage of some home automation features. It seems HA technology is rapidly evolving but I'm not clear on which horse to back. Hopefully by making the right choices up front the infrastructure will allow for changes down the track if (when) required. 

 

Whilst there are probably hundreds of cool things that can be done I think in practical terms lighting would be the primary use in our household. The ability to switch on/off/dim lights using a smart phone or even better by voice is what appeals. I'd also like to have full control of RGB LED strips which will be used in one or two areas for feature lighting. Second priority would be HVAC control. From there the nice-to-haves would be garage door control, TV control, front door control or status and monitoring water level in tank (rural living).

 

My specific questions are:

 

     

  1. Should I be running screeds of Cat5e (or 6) cable throughout the home? I'll be terminating RJ45 sockets in key areas for Ethernet, Phone and potentially multimedia but should I be running additional cables to light switches and/or flush boxes for wired control? Or is Wifi and/or RF the way to go these days?
  2. Should I plan for a touch panel somewhere in the house? It would be cool but my smart phone is never far away so it may not get used.
  3. Can anybody recommend a good looking light switch that will integrate with an automation solution?
  4. Likewise any recommendation for LED light fittings? From what I've read some are more flexible for LED lighting and control than others.
  5. Is there a reliable voice control system? I use Siri and NaturallySpeaking for dictation daily so am comfortable with voice control and for me that would be a killer feature.
  6. I also love to play with technology and am comfortable building hardware and scripting. Home Assistant looks like a good solution. Or is a commercial solution a better option?

 

I realise there is a lot to this but any bits of info you could share so I can go away and research and formulate a solution would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


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7677 posts

Uber Geek
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  Reply # 1841436 8-Aug-2017 20:05
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1. most HA technology is wireless, be it wifi, z wave zigbee etc.
run your cat6 cable for all the devices you can possible run with wired connections, and also for things like access points and security cameras.

 

2. i dont know if you need a touch panel if you have a smart device around, and if you use voice control via amazon alexa or google home, i dont think you need it.

 

3. pretty much any light switch will integrate a HA on/off/dimmer. pick one you think looks the best

 

4. with the light switches the fittings dont really matter just as long as they will work with what ever dimmer you go with.

 

5. as mentioned earlier, amazon alexa or google home seem to be what most are using these days

 

6. openhab seems to be one of the more polished and recommended solutions round here, and they have a new GUI along with the command line based system. there are other prebuilt systems like fabrio home centre or vera edge which require less manual work.


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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1841560 9-Aug-2017 08:05
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  1. Yes, but not for light switches or HA gear its all wireless like zwave, etc. With the exception in #2
  2. Yes, because mucking around with a smart phone to do a simple task gets annoying. Look at tablet wall mounts that have POE, run Cat5e to where you want to mount tablets.
  3. Since its a new build just use zwave gear and use whatever light switches you want.
  4. Fittings do matter, its just a case of investigating which ones play nice with the dimmers you buy. Plenty of info on the net.
  5. I use echo dots, there are some annoying limitations around what words you can use which make some commands not "natural" to say and the kiwi accent can throw it off.
  6. If you want to play around learn OpenHAB. Its a steeper learning curve but can do a lot.

 

 

 

 


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Spark NZ

  Reply # 1841613 9-Aug-2017 09:18
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I'm going through this now. New build and a good amount of HA gear bought and about to go in.

 

1) Don't worry about cat6 for HA, as mentioned, it's all wireless really. However it's useful for things like cameras and where you might need small amounts of power for POE devices. I ended up with about 26 rj45 outlets around the house and another 6 terminated cables for POE ip cameras.

 

2) You can decide on this later. Wait until the system is operating to see if you need it. I for example chose a wall location for mine with a closet on the reverse of that wall and had a power socket put in that closet so I could power the device through the wall.

 

3) You don't have to use a special switch. You can get tiny units that add control to existing switches. Otherwise there are heaps, have a good look around. I went for standard switches with the tiny controllers added after.

 

4) Ditto above. Anything. There are some that dim better than others, and some dimmers are better than others. Buy a few examples and test is the only good advice here.

 

5) Amazon Echo is brilliant. I have Google home and Amazon Echo and so far AMazon echo is much better. Add a couple of Amazon dots around the house and you're set.

 

6) I started with OpenHAB and after months I barely felt like I knew what it was doing. I switched to Homeassistant a few days ago and I already have a better system than before. My vote goes to Homeassistant.

 

Cheers - N

 

 


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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1841807 9-Aug-2017 12:46
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Good info here thanks. I've been meaning to ask some similar questions, but haven't quite known what to ask. I to am in the planning stages of building a long term place for our family of 6 in a semi-rural location (tank water etc). Good to know that most lighting control automation can be added later, as I'm thinking it ain't gonna happen in my current budget. Seems like the most important thing to make sure of is to get the dimming right. Am I correct in my thinking that these automation modules sit in behind the faceplate somehow so can be added later? 

 

I'm also thinking of running some Cat 6 to a couple of locations for PoE cameras in the future, would you normally put some type of jack on the soffit or just leave the cables there and drill a hole later?


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  Reply # 1841905 9-Aug-2017 15:20
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All good advice.  My only addition to that is, be careful of light switch fittings. Using smart bulbs is fine (like Phillips Hue) but they can get expensive at $30 each. The best way is to put the switch in the fitting but from personal experience often the switch cavity is not large enough to insert a smart switch.

 

I used Insteon devices for the smart switch since they seemed like a good choice.

 

I got mine here

 

http://www.trademe.co.nz/building-renovation/electrical-lighting/other/auction-1385590762.htm

 

I had a sparky do the installation and even he had some issue with trying to fit the microswitch into the cavity with all the wires etc. If you are doing things from scratch maybe ask the sparky to cut out one side of the switch box to create more room?

 

I also use OpenHab but only for the HABridge feature. This is because I bought into Insteon before I realised that the international Insteon hub does not support the Amazon Echo or Dot, only the US one and you cannot use the US one here for a number of reasons.

 

However HABridge does support the international Insteon hub and treats it like a Phillips Hue hub. So I can control all my Insteon devices with the Dot as if they are Hue bulbs.

 

If I were starting from scratch I would try to find in cavity switches that have native Amazon support or possibly ZWave.

 

 





System One: Popcorn Hour A200,  PS3 SuperSlim, NPVR and Plex Server running on Gigabyte Brix (Windows 10 Pro), Sony BDP-S390 BD player, Pioneer AVR, Raspberry Pi running Kodi and Plex, Panasonic 60" 3D plasma, Google Chromecast

System Two: Popcorn Hour A200 ,  Oppo BDP-80 BluRay Player with hardware mode to be region free, Vivitek HD1080P 1080P DLP projector with 100" screen. Harman Kardon HK AVR 254 7.1 receiver, Samsung 4K player, Google Chromecast

 


My Google+ page 

 

 

 

https://plus.google.com/+laurencechiu

 

 




112 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 1843018 9-Aug-2017 19:56
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Thanks everybody for your input. I've learnt a lot already.

 

It seems there are a few people that have moved from OpenHAB to Home Assistant. I'm currently giving Home Assistant a go.  I initially tried using it within Docker but the networking was a PITA and I couldn't get the discovery process working. I've since built a Linux VM on VMWare (bridged networking) and it discovered my Sonos system without any problems so that'll do as a test environment. Running on a Pi in the future looks like a good solution. 

 

Am I correct in thinking Z Wave is the most popular technology for device automation? If that's the case then I'll invest in a small proof of concept and will purchase:

 

  • a Z Wave USB Stick (I assume I can connect it directly to Home Assistant to give it control of Z Wave devices?)
  • a couple of Z Wave controllers for my light switches
  • a couple of Z Wave power outlets

Has anybody done anything with the Broadlink RM2's for IR control through Home Assistant? Controlling the Heat Pump and TV would be good tests. It looks like Home Assistant supports them.

 

 

 

Talkiet:

 

5) Amazon Echo is brilliant. I have Google home and Amazon Echo and so far AMazon echo is much better. Add a couple of Amazon dots around the house and you're set.

 

 

Talkiet, does the Echo integrate with Home Assistant? i.e. are you speaking to HA which then sends the instructions or is the Echo talking to the devices directly (in which case I would be relying on the Echo to support the various pieces of automation hardware that I might have)?

 

 

 

CutCutCut:

 

I'm also thinking of running some Cat 6 to a couple of locations for PoE cameras in the future, would you normally put some type of jack on the soffit or just leave the cables there and drill a hole later?

 

 

Thats what I intend on doing. I've installed POE cameras at work and just terminated the cable and connected directly to the camera. Once the camera is mounted it looks nice and clean.

 

 

 

lchiu7:

 

I had a sparky do the installation and even he had some issue with trying to fit the microswitch into the cavity with all the wires etc. If you are doing things from scratch maybe ask the sparky to cut out one side of the switch box to create more room?

 

 

Good info. I'll chat with my builder and see if there is an option for a larger-than-normal flush box to facilitate the extra hardware that will likely be installed with the light switches. 

 

 

 

 

 

In terms of controllers (if that's the right term?) for light switches what are people using? I see products from Aotek, Insteon, Aeon Labs and others. 

 

 


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  Reply # 1843021 9-Aug-2017 20:01
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You speak to the voice device (echo, or google home) it then sends a command which HA/OH picks up, then sends the command to the device to do what it needs to do. Some devices the echo/home will be able to control directly. others need a bridge through HA/OH


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Spark NZ

  Reply # 1843044 9-Aug-2017 20:41
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sfrasernz:

 

[snip]

 

  • a Z Wave USB Stick (I assume I can connect it directly to Home Assistant to give it control of Z Wave devices?)
  • a couple of Z Wave controllers for my light switches
  • a couple of Z Wave power outlets

Has anybody done anything with the Broadlink RM2's for IR control through Home Assistant? Controlling the Heat Pump and TV would be good tests. It looks like Home Assistant supports them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That's EXACTLY what I did (except I got only one light switch dimmer and one wall power outlet) in my current place and it works perfectly all the time. I haven't turned my lounge lights or electric blanket on or off using the switches for months...

 

In the last few days I managed to get my Broadlink Mini to turn the heatpump on and off... I have the heatpump set to auto everything with my target temperature so that's all I need. It turns on in the morning 20 minutes before I get up, and turns off at midnight if I forget to turn if off sooner. I also can turn it on and off with "Alexa, turn the heatpump on/off"

 

I also have a harmony Hub for controlling Harmony scenes, I like being able to say "Alexa, turn on the movies" and the lights dim, then turn off, and the projector turn on, screen drop and Kodi input selected on the amp. In my new place the blinds will drop and the curtain close as well :-)

 

All the above things can also be selected through the homeassistant UI as well

 

Cheers - N


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  Reply # 1843093 9-Aug-2017 21:53
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Talkiet:

 

sfrasernz:

 

[snip]

 

  • a Z Wave USB Stick (I assume I can connect it directly to Home Assistant to give it control of Z Wave devices?)
  • a couple of Z Wave controllers for my light switches
  • a couple of Z Wave power outlets

Has anybody done anything with the Broadlink RM2's for IR control through Home Assistant? Controlling the Heat Pump and TV would be good tests. It looks like Home Assistant supports them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That's EXACTLY what I did (except I got only one light switch dimmer and one wall power outlet) in my current place and it works perfectly all the time. I haven't turned my lounge lights or electric blanket on or off using the switches for months...

 

In the last few days I managed to get my Broadlink Mini to turn the heatpump on and off... I have the heatpump set to auto everything with my target temperature so that's all I need. It turns on in the morning 20 minutes before I get up, and turns off at midnight if I forget to turn if off sooner. I also can turn it on and off with "Alexa, turn the heatpump on/off"

 

I also have a harmony Hub for controlling Harmony scenes, I like being able to say "Alexa, turn on the movies" and the lights dim, then turn off, and the projector turn on, screen drop and Kodi input selected on the amp. In my new place the blinds will drop and the curtain close as well :-)

 

All the above things can also be selected through the homeassistant UI as well

 

Cheers - N

 

 

What blinds/curtains are you using? Are you just using actuators which roll up/down the blinds?





837 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1843095 9-Aug-2017 21:56
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lchiu7:

 

All good advice.  My only addition to that is, be careful of light switch fittings. Using smart bulbs is fine (like Phillips Hue) but they can get expensive at $30 each. The best way is to put the switch in the fitting but from personal experience often the switch cavity is not large enough to insert a smart switch.

 

I used Insteon devices for the smart switch since they seemed like a good choice.

 

I got mine here

 

http://www.trademe.co.nz/building-renovation/electrical-lighting/other/auction-1385590762.htm

 

I had a sparky do the installation and even he had some issue with trying to fit the microswitch into the cavity with all the wires etc. If you are doing things from scratch maybe ask the sparky to cut out one side of the switch box to create more room?

 

I also use OpenHab but only for the HABridge feature. This is because I bought into Insteon before I realised that the international Insteon hub does not support the Amazon Echo or Dot, only the US one and you cannot use the US one here for a number of reasons.

 

However HABridge does support the international Insteon hub and treats it like a Phillips Hue hub. So I can control all my Insteon devices with the Dot as if they are Hue bulbs.

 

If I were starting from scratch I would try to find in cavity switches that have native Amazon support or possibly ZWave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is that a pretty normal NZ price for these things ~$100?


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Spark NZ

  Reply # 1843099 9-Aug-2017 22:03
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CutCutCut:

 

lchiu7:

 

[snip] referred to something like the aeotec nano dimmers [snip]

 

 

Is that a pretty normal NZ price for these things ~$100?

 

 

This, more than almost anything else in my build has really hacked me off. $100 each for a tiny proprietary bit of electronics. You can buy an arduino type board with wireless for $4, but no, these cost $100 each.

 

They aren't available any cheaper but for the moment they are the only thing I know will work well for the lights.

 

I have found alternate solutions for everything else but can't get away from aeotec zwave for the lights (and fibaro are the same cost or higher)... Importing them isn't an option either. Only Aussie has the same frequency as NZ and they are more expensive by the time you import.

 

Cheers - N

 

 


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  Reply # 1843100 9-Aug-2017 22:05
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sonyxperiageek:

 

 

 

What blinds/curtains are you using? Are you just using actuators which roll up/down the blinds?

 

 

Super Special Chinese Imports :-)

 

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/SILENT-TRACK-DOOYA-motor-DT82TN-the-top-motor-brand-in-China-free-shipping/32528164079.html

 

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/DM25LE-battery-motor-DOOYA-tubular-motor-for-Dia-38mm-tube/32614830824.html

 

Neither have arrived yet.

 

Cheers - N

 

 


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  Reply # 1843303 10-Aug-2017 09:44
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CutCutCut:

 

 

 

 

 

Is that a pretty normal NZ price for these things ~$100?

 

 

 

 

The US price for these is about $49

 

http://www.smarthome.com/insteon-2442-222-micro-dimmer-module.html

 

 

 

So there is bit of a markup and of course they are different versions for the 240V 50Hz market.

 

But still... I wish I could find cheaper but approved alternatives and/or devices which combine the switch with the remote like this

 

 

 

http://www.smarthome.com/switchlinc-dimmer-insteon-2477d-remote-control-dimmer-dual-band-white.html





System One: Popcorn Hour A200,  PS3 SuperSlim, NPVR and Plex Server running on Gigabyte Brix (Windows 10 Pro), Sony BDP-S390 BD player, Pioneer AVR, Raspberry Pi running Kodi and Plex, Panasonic 60" 3D plasma, Google Chromecast

System Two: Popcorn Hour A200 ,  Oppo BDP-80 BluRay Player with hardware mode to be region free, Vivitek HD1080P 1080P DLP projector with 100" screen. Harman Kardon HK AVR 254 7.1 receiver, Samsung 4K player, Google Chromecast

 


My Google+ page 

 

 

 

https://plus.google.com/+laurencechiu

 

 




112 posts

Master Geek
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  Reply # 1843304 10-Aug-2017 09:46
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Talkiet:

 

... Importing them isn't an option either. Only Aussie has the same frequency as NZ and they are more expensive by the time you import.

 

 

Is it that the US frequencies won't work here or just that the frequency they use isn't approved for use in NZ?


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  Reply # 1843306 10-Aug-2017 09:48
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Talkiet:

 

CutCutCut:

 

lchiu7:

 

[snip] referred to something like the aeotec nano dimmers [snip]

 

 

Is that a pretty normal NZ price for these things ~$100?

 

 

This, more than almost anything else in my build has really hacked me off. $100 each for a tiny proprietary bit of electronics. You can buy an arduino type board with wireless for $4, but no, these cost $100 each.

 

They aren't available any cheaper but for the moment they are the only thing I know will work well for the lights.

 

I have found alternate solutions for everything else but can't get away from aeotec zwave for the lights (and fibaro are the same cost or higher)... Importing them isn't an option either. Only Aussie has the same frequency as NZ and they are more expensive by the time you import.

 

Cheers - N

 

 

 

 

 

 

That is why I have not installed anymore and have gone to Hue bulbs.  A bulb is $30 so you can get three for the price of one switch in the wall. And you can set them up as in a group so one command can turn on/off a bunch. So unless you have a switch that controls more than 3 lights, then that's the way to go (IMHO)





System One: Popcorn Hour A200,  PS3 SuperSlim, NPVR and Plex Server running on Gigabyte Brix (Windows 10 Pro), Sony BDP-S390 BD player, Pioneer AVR, Raspberry Pi running Kodi and Plex, Panasonic 60" 3D plasma, Google Chromecast

System Two: Popcorn Hour A200 ,  Oppo BDP-80 BluRay Player with hardware mode to be region free, Vivitek HD1080P 1080P DLP projector with 100" screen. Harman Kardon HK AVR 254 7.1 receiver, Samsung 4K player, Google Chromecast

 


My Google+ page 

 

 

 

https://plus.google.com/+laurencechiu

 

 


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