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Thread: Home Automation

  1. #1

    Home Automation

    Iíve had a love of home automation stuff for a while and probably waste more money on it than I should. Along with that, having aging parents has put this front of mind as I look to the future and how we are going to help them.

    Lots of stuff that has come out in the past few years that I think will make it possible for elderly people to stay in their homes longer on their own.

    Iím interested to hear if any of you have done home automation stuff and what you like.

    A couple of things Iíve installed recently:

    Ring Floodlight - This is a pretty slick camera we put on our garage (it is detached and behind the house). Pretty slick and easy set up, great camera clarity. I get notified on my phone and computer any time someone walks up to the garage. Smart enough to distinguish people versus cats, etc. Really like this one. I havenít done the doorbell because it is so BIG. When they slim it down Iíll probably do it.

    I got this because late last year two guys came and kicked in the door of one of my neighbors. It is on a somewhat busy street and a nice neighborhood. She was in the house and was on the phone with 911 when they came in and saw her. (She saw them snooping around her back yard, they kicked in the front door.) They turned around and ran, so fortunately she was safe but traumatized.

    The next thing is a Schlage Sense deadbolt on my backdoor. I was hesitant to put a keypad on my house as I think after a few years numbers start to get worn down and after about 10 guesses a thief could figure it out. I got this one because it also is synced with my phone and Apple TV so I get notices when the door gets opened, and it will detect forced entry or attempts to crack the code and set off an alarm. Kind of cool to ask Siri to lock my door, or Alexa. I can also open the door remotely too.

    I also have a smart thermostat and am thinking of installing some water detectors.

    As I think about my parents if they (and I) can be assured their house is locked up, they can easily yell for help, lights are off, etc. it will make life easier. I need to do some investigation but a key thing might be a sensor if the stove gets left on, etc.

    Long post... what have you guys done that is worth considering?




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  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Rocker Ute View Post
    am thinking of installing some water detectors.
    My appliances are all still from the 60s (except the fridge, which is from the 90s); I'm not really into home gadgets. But I do like the idea of water detectors. Seems like the only one of these devices that would really be worth the investment.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Rocker Ute View Post
    I’ve had a love of home automation stuff for a while and probably waste more money on it than I should. Along with that, having aging parents has put this front of mind as I look to the future and how we are going to help them.

    Lots of stuff that has come out in the past few years that I think will make it possible for elderly people to stay in their homes longer on their own.

    I’m interested to hear if any of you have done home automation stuff and what you like.

    A couple of things I’ve installed recently:

    Ring Floodlight - This is a pretty slick camera we put on our garage (it is detached and behind the house). Pretty slick and easy set up, great camera clarity. I get notified on my phone and computer any time someone walks up to the garage. Smart enough to distinguish people versus cats, etc. Really like this one. I haven’t done the doorbell because it is so BIG. When they slim it down I’ll probably do it.

    I got this because late last year two guys came and kicked in the door of one of my neighbors. It is on a somewhat busy street and a nice neighborhood. She was in the house and was on the phone with 911 when they came in and saw her. (She saw them snooping around her back yard, they kicked in the front door.) They turned around and ran, so fortunately she was safe but traumatized.

    The next thing is a Schlage Sense deadbolt on my backdoor. I was hesitant to put a keypad on my house as I think after a few years numbers start to get worn down and after about 10 guesses a thief could figure it out. I got this one because it also is synced with my phone and Apple TV so I get notices when the door gets opened, and it will detect forced entry or attempts to crack the code and set off an alarm. Kind of cool to ask Siri to lock my door, or Alexa. I can also open the door remotely too.

    I also have a smart thermostat and am thinking of installing some water detectors.

    As I think about my parents if they (and I) can be assured their house is locked up, they can easily yell for help, lights are off, etc. it will make life easier. I need to do some investigation but a key thing might be a sensor if the stove gets left on, etc.

    Long post... what have you guys done that is worth considering?


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    My wife is totally into electronic gadgets. (Not like that, sickos!) She's a tech freak and flipped out last week when she finally scored a pass to CES after years of pining.

    I've lost count on how many Alexa products we have floating around. The older kids have dots in their rooms, which help them with waking up and alleviates me from having to yell across the house to them. Now I can just "drop in" and tell them that dinner is ready. Although, searching their history, it also seems that Alexa has been a little too helpful with their math homework. For Christmas, Santa upgraded the dot we had in the kitchen to an Echo View. Now we can "drop in" with family members out of state and have a video conference. Like Facetime with the added benefit of being tethered to the corner of the kitchen. Amazing. The biggest plus for me has been the ability to yell out things to add to the shopping list while I'm cooking, without having to stop what I'm doing. The other nice thing is that it's paired to a Sonos Play 1, so I can call out music or podcasts to play. The View apparently does other things that I haven't gotten around to exploring. Santa also brought my wife an Echo Spot to replace the dot on the night stand. My current complaint about the Echo realm is that all devices are tied to our single Amazon account which seems to limit the ability of listening to music to one device at a time.

    We're also wired with Ecobee to climate control our house. My wife jumped on when they were a kickstarter and we've been happy with them. Similar to the Nest. The nice thing about this is that we can put motion sensors around the house and the unit can shut a section down if there isn't any activity in that part of the house. We have a unit for downstairs and one for upstairs, so it allows us to make some adjustments.

    We were also on the Ring when it was just a kickstarter, so my wife has some sort of status with them. Sometimes they send us stuff and sometimes we just get a discount. I think we're on our third rendition of the doorbell. Motion, clarity, setting zones and response has improved a ton since the first version. I don't think we have the flood lights yet, but we do have the waterproof outdoor camera. Pretty funny that the first version wasn't waterproof. We live in Las Vegas and that still seemed like a dumb risk. We like Ring. My biggest complaint is the Ring community. The product has become really popular and the neighborhood alert function has devolved from "This person broke into my house" to every damn solicitor...sorry, let me be more specific...every damn brown skinned solicitor to knock on a door within a 5 mile radius. I wish I was joking. (For those not aware, Ring has a "Notify Neighbors" function that allows you to push out a video to all app users within a certain distance. It's managed to eclipse the "Next Door" crowd in craziness. It's also anonymous and there's a bunch of racial comments on the posts about solicitors with brown skin that are incredibly disappointing.

    We have Blink wireless cameras around the house for security. https://blinkforhome.com/collections...ecurity-camera Sometimes we have to leave my older daughter in charge of watching her little brothers. The cameras are nice to be able to check in and see what's going on. Also good to see which kid is wandering around the house in the middle of the night.

    I mentioned a Sonos speaker. We've got a few around the house and then the surround system for the tv in the game room. Really nice sound and it's nice to micromanage sound to each specific one.

    We have some Phillips Hue bulbs. Some outside in the front of the house and some throughout the inside. It's nice to schedule those when we're around and strategically turn on/off lights when we're away. Damn expensive things though. Seems like they were about $65 a bulb when we first got them. Which I appreciated that my wife was willing to be the one to break one before I could.

    Last thing I can think of is a device plugged into our garage door opener that bridges to our wireless router and gives us mobile control of the garage door. This was inspired when we went on vacation and my wife drove off forgetting to close the garage. We got a call from the neighbor the next day asking if we wanted them to close it. This is great because it sends a notification to your phone if the garage has been left open for a set amount of time as a reminder.

    I've always liked the idea of a key pad front door, because I hate keys, but I've yet to make that upgrade. Once we get our backyard installed this spring, I will have that water system integrated with sensors and mobile capabilities.

  4. #4
    Weíre currently building a new house. Iím taking some tech from the house we sold, and augmenting with more.

    Weíll go with a Nest thermostat and Nest cameras outside. A ring pro doorbell.

    We have two, soon to be 3 Echoís, one for each floor.

    Weíll have an August smartlock on the interior garage door.

    Chamberlain Myq on the garage door for remote control.

    Iíll be adding Philips Hue to some of the new house.

    We use TP Link plugs for voice control of some lamps

    Iíll be adding a mesh WiFi system.

    Our Christmas lights are philips illuminate which I can control from my phone and program in all kinds of crazy ways.

    Our new fridge is a Samsung with the integrated screen, so weíll be able to do all kinds of stuff on it, including having it show my wife and my calendars on the screen.

    There will be more to come, weíre about 6 weeks from completion on the house.


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  5. #5
    Y'all making me feel primitive. I don't even have a cell phone yet.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by sancho View Post
    Y'all making me feel primitive. I don't even have a cell phone yet.
    My wife and I both have two so we make up for you. (Yes we both have work cells now. As if I needed one more thing to carry at work)


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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Diehard Ute View Post
    We’re currently building a new house. I’m taking some tech from the house we sold, and augmenting with more.

    We’ll go with a Nest thermostat and Nest cameras outside. A ring pro doorbell.

    We have two, soon to be 3 Echo’s, one for each floor.

    We’ll have an August smartlock on the interior garage door.

    Chamberlain Myq on the garage door for remote control.

    I’ll be adding Philips Hue to some of the new house.

    We use TP Link plugs for voice control of some lamps

    I’ll be adding a mesh WiFi system.

    Our Christmas lights are philips illuminate which I can control from my phone and program in all kinds of crazy ways.

    Our new fridge is a Samsung with the integrated screen, so we’ll be able to do all kinds of stuff on it, including having it show my wife and my calendars on the screen.

    There will be more to come, we’re about 6 weeks from completion on the house.


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    You'll have to let me know what you think of the August smartlock. I think I may do something like that on the other doors as I believe you can keep your existing hardware.

    So some old skool things I'm still using and likely won't upgrade...

    About 10 years ago my wife left the garage door open and I had my road bike, lawn mower, hedge and line trimmers stolen. After that I added the 'Garage Butler' which will automatically shut the door at dark or if it has been open for a set time you can chose. It just hooks to the opener and has a magnet to detect if the door is shut or not.

    My wife leave the garage door open a lot, which in her case is one of her very few flaws... so I'll take it.

    For a water sensor I used this thing I bought on Woot called the "Leak Frog". It is just a little frog looking thing that you can put in places likely to have water leakage, like water heaters. I bought that after our water heater burst when we first bought our home. It later saved me when the new one began to leak, and I was able to catch it before it seeped anywhere.

    Amazon Connect seems cool, but is getting bad reviews, I think it got released too early. I'll wait for v2 before I jump on that.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Rocker Ute View Post
    You'll have to let me know what you think of the August smartlock. I think I may do something like that on the other doors as I believe you can keep your existing hardware.

    So some old skool things I'm still using and likely won't upgrade...

    About 10 years ago my wife left the garage door open and I had my road bike, lawn mower, hedge and line trimmers stolen. After that I added the 'Garage Butler' which will automatically shut the door at dark or if it has been open for a set time you can chose. It just hooks to the opener and has a magnet to detect if the door is shut or not.

    My wife leave the garage door open a lot, which in her case is one of her very few flaws... so I'll take it.

    For a water sensor I used this thing I bought on Woot called the "Leak Frog". It is just a little frog looking thing that you can put in places likely to have water leakage, like water heaters. I bought that after our water heater burst when we first bought our home. It later saved me when the new one began to leak, and I was able to catch it before it seeped anywhere.

    Amazon Connect seems cool, but is getting bad reviews, I think it got released too early. I'll wait for v2 before I jump on that.
    I had the August lock on my old house. I loved it. Just installed it on my existing hardware, put the old knob back on before we sold the house.

    There is a newer version that is WiFi enabled without the bridge. Iíd buy that one. I need to get a bridge for the new house as Iíll be using my echo to control it instead of Apple HomeKit.

    The Chamberlin MyQ was at my old house as well. Installs on pretty much any garage door. Customizable alerts, cell phone control. It was nice. (We had a detached garage so being able to remotely control it was great) Itís about $100 (you stick the sensor on the door, the box just mounts up by a plug near the opener


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  9. #9
    Okay, a new home automation thing to mention that I've added to my arsenal of nerdery... and this one might be my favorite. I installed earlier this year the Rachio Wifi Smart Lawn Sprinkler Controller. The main motivation is that right now Utah is offering to give you a rebate of 50% the cost of the controller, making it only $75 through Amazon when it is all said and done (the $75 rebate that can be found at utahwatersavers.com). The $150 cost to purchase is a recent price drop, FYI.

    So what it does is you input all of this info about your watering stations which includes the soil type, sprinkler type, what it is you are watering (lawn, flowerbeds, etc) grass type, slope, etc. You have lots of different options but if you do the daily flex schedule, it will water based off of soil saturation, if it is raining, temperature etc. You can hook it to local weather stations to get hyper-local info. You can set it to not water if you get more than a set amount of rain (it recommends but you can alter) if it is too windy or if it drops below a certain temperature.

    It goes by soil saturation too, so in the summer when my kids want to run through the sprinklers it will track that and reduce the watering schedule.

    It works with Alexa, IFTTT and a few others but not Apple Homekit. But you can say "Alexa, ask rachio to start zone 2 for 10 minutes" and it'll turn it on. Kinda cool.

    Reviewers claim 20-40% savings on their watering bills. Based on past bills and with SLC proper raising water prices again, I figure I'll recoup my costs in 3 months or less. Install was a piece of cake, took me about 10 minutes. Plug in the wiring from the old controller to this, turn it on, sync it with your app and you are off to the races. It has seemingly limitless customization on it too.

    I'll let you know if I save like I think I will, but already the math of what they are recommending I water versus what I was (and I had been actively ramping down my watering for a while) will save me about 20%. Overall though, I am impressed and looking forward to not having to adjust throughout the summer like I've done in the past.

  10. #10
    Can anyone tell me what internet service provider I should use in SLC? We're finishing up building a house, and am staying with my in-laws while we do so. They have Centurylink DSL and it is HORRIBLE. I've also heard that Comcast/Xfinity is not good. We're not in an area covered by Google Fiber. Any suggestions? I need something reliable because I work remotely and can't have a bunch of outages or serious slowing. Thanks.

  11. #11
    I have always had good luck with Comcast

    Their service is reliable. The key is to go to the store to order. Donít do it on the phone.


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  12. #12
    Yeah, Comcast gets a lot of crap for their customer service, which has always been hit and miss for us but overall not that bad. The internet has always been very reliable and speedy for us. If you're looking for standalone internet without TV and Google isn't an option then I think Comcast is your best bet. I'd definitely go with them over CenturyLink. Maybe there are other, less well-known options that would work but I'm not familiar with any of them.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by UBlender View Post
    Yeah, Comcast gets a lot of crap for their customer service, which has always been hit and miss for us but overall not that bad. The internet has always been very reliable and speedy for us. If you're looking for standalone internet without TV and Google isn't an option then I think Comcast is your best bet. I'd definitely go with them over CenturyLink. Maybe there are other, less well-known options that would work but I'm not familiar with any of them.
    Nail on the head.

    Many people in my neighborhood have Centurylink. Itís a brand new neighborhood. Our community Facebook page has multiple posts about Centurylink outages. I think my comcast dropped once for an hour in 6 months.


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  14. #14
    Administrator U-Ute's Avatar
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    It seems like Comcast Internet is completely different than Comcast Cable. Internet support is generally much better.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Scratch View Post
    Can anyone tell me what internet service provider I should use in SLC? We're finishing up building a house, and am staying with my in-laws while we do so. They have Centurylink DSL and it is HORRIBLE. I've also heard that Comcast/Xfinity is not good. We're not in an area covered by Google Fiber. Any suggestions? I need something reliable because I work remotely and can't have a bunch of outages or serious slowing. Thanks.
    Just don't lease their modem/router/wifi gadget. Buy good equipment. It will pay for itself in a year or so.
    I saw a door that said exit only. So I entered through it and went up to the guy working there and said "I have good news. You have severely underestimated that door over there. By like a hundred percent." Demetri Marti

  16. #16
    FWIW, I am on Centurylink, I threatened to switch to Google fiber and they gave me a 2 year 40mb deal for $25/mo. I rarely have an outage, but keep in mind that a factor can be the quality of phone lines both in the house and on the poles. My old house Centurylink was awful.

    Conversely, Comcast internet for me in my current place was a nightmare from reliability to billing to customer service.


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  17. #17
    Sam the Sheepdog LA Ute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chrisrenrut View Post
    Just don't lease their modem/router/wifi gadget. Buy good equipment. It will pay for itself in a year or so.
    True. We've been in SLC since June and use Comcast for cable only, and it's been problem-free. I bought the higher-speed package because of my wife's consulting business, which uses lots of video. We did't buy the Comcast modem -- we have an Arris SURFboard SB6183. Much better, and yes, it does pay for itself. That was on the recommendation of my tech industry son. Comcast customer service is frustrating because it is so inefficient -- long phone call, repetitious questions, but eventually they get it right. Fortunately, we haven't had to deal with customer service since the time we got everything set up (but setting up was frustrating). We don't use Comcast for TV -- we stream everything. That's working out well too.

    "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
    --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold."
    --Yeats

    ďTrue, we [lawyers] build no bridges. We raise no towers. We construct no engines. We paint no pictures - unless as amateurs for our own principal amusement. There is little of all that we do which the eye of man can see. But we smooth out difficulties; we relieve stress; we correct mistakes; we take up other men's burdens and by our efforts we make possible the peaceful life of men in a peaceful state.Ē

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