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Smart home hubs

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Anzir, Dec 23, 2014.

  1. Anzir

    Anzir Member

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    Hi everyone,

    My wife and I plan to start construction on our new home in a few months and I have started researching home automation/control hardware and software as well as home security options.

    Has anyone had experience with any of the leading hubs, such as Smarthings and Wink? Anyone have experience with Frontpoint for home security? It looks like some hubs cross over many platforms but none are as intuitive as the native app for that component (e.g. Sonos).

    Any recommendations?
    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. spentan

    spentan Active Member

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    I have about 25 LIFX light bulbs throughout the house. The software on iOS is a tad buggy but the control is amazing
     
  3. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    Do you plan on linking more Zigbee-based or Z-Wave-based products through the hub? And have you looked at platforms based on the new standard that seems to be gaining in popularity, Thread?
     
  4. bollar

    bollar Disgruntled Member

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    My HA is managed by Indigo on a Mac Mini server. It integrates Insteon, Zwave, Philips HUE, Elk security the weather station and a few other things like my energy management system and the Model S into a single system. Indigo Domotics - Advanced Mac Home Automation Software
     
  5. ww73

    ww73 Member

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    I use a Z Wave system with the MiCasaVerde VeraLite as the hub. They have a new one called the VeraEdge.

    This playlist will explain alot: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFGfKKOu8_7WzRC5f-Nn_-Z1LWF8nKwD_

    The best part about the VeraLite is 3rd party support and the ability to add components incrementally.

    There are a number of companies that make door locks, wall switches, receptacles, wall modules, door/window sensors, motion/temp/humidity/light sensors, etc.

    The AutHomationHD Android apps works better than the default one from MCV. With a little bit of work, you can have voice commands integrated with Google Now on your Android phone, i.e. "ok google, turn tv on and turn lights on". The VeraAlerts app allows the hub to send notifications to your phone. I use it to send status of garage doors and doors/motion sensors when the house is armed to both my and my wife's phones.

    There are a number of 3rd party plugins to support Sonos, Nest, IR remote controls, Google Calendar integration, etc.

    The only thing it doesn't do well is camera support. For that I'm using Dropcam. Some folks prefer Samsung's dropcam equivalent.

    PM me if you have any specific questions.
     
  6. Anzir

    Anzir Member

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    That's the difficulty, trying to find cross-platform compatibility. Wink covers a broad range -- WiFi, ZigBee, Z-wave, Bluetooth. Thread appears to be low-power mesh network supported by Google/Nest. Apple has their own standard. It's worse than BetaMax vs. VHS, Blu-Ray vs HD-DVD.

    I want to be able to control my front gate, know whether my garage door is open, and control certain things like outdoor retractable shades, some lights, perhaps even monitor energy consumption. Am I expecting too much?
     
  7. Anzir

    Anzir Member

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    Thanks! Much appreciated.
     
  8. bollar

    bollar Disgruntled Member

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    It's going to become worse before it gets better, but MiCasaVerde and Indigo both do what you want, have 3rd party support -- and, if you can script in a language like Python, you can add pretty much anything you want.
     
  9. Zythryn

    Zythryn MS 70D, MX 90D

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    Great topic!
    Love the Indigo product, will have to look into that more deeply.

    Question for all of you. How would you wire a house for the most reliable HA network?
    All wireless? Some wired, as much wired as possible?

    We are building from the ground up, so wiring is easier now than it ever will be.
     
  10. bollar

    bollar Disgruntled Member

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    I find that many types of power line wired mesh networks don't like UPS and other electronics, so here's what I use:

    Lighting: Almost exclusively Insteon dual-band (wireless and power line) switches. They are more versatile than the comparable Z-Wave switch. I also have some Philips HUE lights, which I have mostly just to prove I could integrate into the system.
    Outlets: Almost exclusively Z-Wave. Until very recently, Insteon outlets were power line only, which wasn't reliable enough for me.
    Security: Elk M1 Gold -- Integrated to Indigo with a 3rd party plugin. Lighting and HVAC are controlled via the alarm system's state.
    HVAC: Nest -- Integrated to Indigo with a 3rd party plugin.
    Irrigation: OpenSprinkler -- Controlled by Indigo with a suite of Python evapotranspiration scripts I wrote (with help from others)
    Energy Consumption and Solar PV Monitoring: Powerhouse Dynamics SiteSage -- reports to Indigo via Python scripts I wrote. In theory, I can use this to manage TOU or demand charges, if the utility adopts them.
    Tesla: Indigo can control whatever functions are available via the undocumented API, though Tesla's server availability has made this hit-or-miss.
    Security Cameras: Managed by Security Spy and integrated to Indigo via a 3rd party plugin. Can take actions based on motion and things like that.
    Weather: I have written several weather integrations, but my favorite is a connection to the National Weather Service's alerts feed -- If there's a tornado warning, for example, Indigo will turn on the house lights and chirp the security alarm. The cool part is that the alarm only goes off if we're in the warning's polygon -- a warning at the other end of the county won't disturb us.

    Notifications can come by Apple Push Notifications, or emails, as I prefer.

    The two significant limitations I have:

    - No Zigbee
    - No Z-Wave door locks. I use an Insteon locking system that works fine, but can't confirm the lock's current state.

    There are probably some other integrations that I'm forgetting now, but basically any system who has a published API can be integrated.
     
  11. ww73

    ww73 Member

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    Z Wave is wireless, and forms a wireless mesh, so no wiring is necessary.

    If I could wire my house, I'd run Power Over Ethernet (POE) for either OpenMesh or Ubquiti wifi APs (including the garage and at least one AP outdoors). IMO, having reliable and strong wifi makes a huge difference.

    Review: Open Mesh WiFi for a Large House or Small Business - YouTube
    Review: Ubiquiti UniFi Mesh Network - YouTube

    I'm no expert, but I think some security cameras can run over POE. Otherwise, u can pre-wire the house for a security system like this one.

    Amazon.com : Samsung SDS-P5101N 16 Channel DVR Security System 1 TB HDD 10 Box Cameras : Complete Surveillance Systems : Camera Photo

    I wish my house had power to the gated fence, but doing it now would require breaking up and repaving the driveway. :(
     
  12. Anzir

    Anzir Member

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    Great info! Thanks to everyone. I haven't even started thinking about wiring so this is very helpful.
     
  13. Gabzqc

    Gabzqc Member

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    Good topic and best of luck to the OP with home construction!

    NetAtmo user here, great piece of hardware, but the software is lacking some details.
    Totally independent weather station that does not require a Home Hub like Wink to operate.
    Compatible with smartphone Apps like IFTT (If This Then That) for simple warnings and tasks.

    Merry Christmas!
     
  14. bollar

    bollar Disgruntled Member

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    Adding to what ww73 said, IMO, it's not possible to have too many Ethernet drops. A couple of lines per drop, and a couple of drops per room would not be overkill.

    Also, there certainly are PoE security cameras and that's a good way to go since you're starting from scratch.
     
  15. AV-NUT

    AV-NUT Member

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    #15 AV-NUT, Dec 31, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2015
    I second the network drops. You can never have too many. I retrofitted 24 new CAT6 drops into my home. I am currently planning for at least 24 more.
    IP cameras are a great way to go. I would suggest cameras that are open source API like AXIS. They can integrate into the AV and security systems.
    I do a LOT of Crestron system integration.
     
  16. Anzir

    Anzir Member

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    With all these drops, I take it I have to install a server rack system with a fairly large switch. What benefit would all that CAT6/7 provide that a wireless system like open mesh wouldn't do as well?
     
  17. ww73

    ww73 Member

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    Using openmesh (or any AP) in a pure wireless environment will 1/2 ur bandwidth per hop. Using hardwired POE will ensure full bandwidth on all APs.

    Plus, hardwired ethernet can be faster, say if you like to stream movies from a NAS to your TV, or record video from multiple cameras.
     
  18. AV-NUT

    AV-NUT Member

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    Wired is always faster, more reliable, and more secure. This will be important for high definition video. Most hardware could benefit from 23 gauge CAT6. CAT6A is about 2x the cost of CAT6. CAT7 is overkill for most and currency 3-4 times the cost of CAT6. If money is not object STP CAT6A would be the best. There are certain HDMI extenders that can use it. However, at that point is quite a bit less expensive, and better, to run fiber. My recommendation would vary the connection for what is needed at each location. Those high bandwidth locations (think 4K resolution TV's and inputs) you would need fiber. The rest would be CAT6.
    Yes, an equipment rack is needed. I have a 7 ft. rack. It contains a UPS system, CAT6 patchbays, managed PoE network switchgear, my cable modem, NAS for security and home entertainment, data backup systems, and home automation controller. Soon it will contain whole house audio and video hardware.
     
  19. Danal

    Danal electricmotorglider.com

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    I have extensive experience with Home Automation. I am (or more correctly was) a kernel contributor to the "Mr. House" open source project in the 80s and 90s. Later, I decided to purchase "HomeSeer" as a commercial product for another house and performed a very large implementation there. I have wired/wireless automated four houses of my own and helped many friends, therefore being exposed to several of the major commercial systems. I have used a broad variety of hardware and software.

    I cannot recommend Z-Wave. I'm sure others will chime in here with their success stories... they won't convince me, because I've been hands-on with multiple systems in multiple houses, and had lots of grief getting long term consistent performance from large Z-wave systems.

    I'd strongly recommend Insteon. It just works.

    Therefore, when picking a "Hub", or master controller, I'd pick something with good Insteon support. Given that there are a few devices that are available in Z-Wave and not Insteon, I'd pick a hub that does both. After that, there are lots of good ones out there, whatever aligns more with stuff you already have (MAC/PC/iOS/Android), or skills that you have (Python, Perl, LUA, or other scripting languages).


    Just my 03 cents (inflation).


    Danal
     
  20. Zythryn

    Zythryn MS 70D, MX 90D

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    Thanks all!
    This is really helpful.

    Danal, were the issues with Z-Wave only once they got to a certain size? If so, what size?

    I really like the low power required by Z-Wave, but don't have a horse in that race, so am open to either.
    I'm basically starting with a few WeMo outlets and switches and a couple Sonos speakers. So saying I am a novice, is being generous:)
     

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