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Michael Sage

IT, Digital & Culture

My Smarthome Adventure

I have been thinking about writing a blog post about the smarthome things I have been doing for a while. When I sat down to write it I realised it was more than a single post. I have tried and tested all the technologies below. These form the basis of my own smarthome.

I have done a few installs for friends and family (and a couple of customers). So… here we go!

Where to start?! I will be looking at this chronologically, this isn’t the way I would do it now!

This journey properly started about 10 years ago when I started to install lightwaverf bulbs on my hall and landing with sensors that automatically turned the bulbs on. This was to stop having to leave the landing room light on all night. I built the lightwave solution up to include sockets and other lights. This was way before Alexa! I was using TP-Link switches and a pfSense firewall. These are great solutions for starting out on.

I then added the Logitech Harmony hub to consolidate all my various remotes. At this point there was no central management just a collection of mobile apps that all worked on their own and were really good point solutions.

Then the world changed… Alexa was born, by this point the company I work with had moved to ubiquiti, I migrated my home network to unifi switches and access points. 

I was given an Echo dot and it immediately changed the game, lightwave and logitech had Alexa skills. I could control the two together, build routines that included the TV, Xbox, DVD player and the lights / plugs.

I upgraded my smart heating to a Wiser product that had an Alexa skill. Replacing a Salus system, that was smart but no skills for Alexa.

Then in early 2018 I purchased a hue hub and a couple of bulbs, since then I have migrated all my lights to hue. The Philips solution is expensive but there is nothing quite as integrated or sophisticated.

Late 2018 saw the addition of a Broadlink mini IR blaster to control TVs elsewhere in the house.  Nowhere near as comprehensive as the logitech, but a lot cheaper.

In 2018 I also began “hacking” the systems to make them work the way I wanted. This included IFTTT to set routines, ESP boards to make custom solutions, AWS including their IoT button to build services around ESP custom actions. Finally I added some NFC stickers to trigger certain routines, such as turning off all the lights or joining our guest wifi network.