Question Help with new home automation set up using Alexa and Dots

Discussion in 'Smart Home, Climate Control & Security Forum' started by Injury20, Jan 8, 2018.

  1. Injury20

    Injury20
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    Hi all, I've not been on here for a long time, looking for some advice on home automation from some of you wonderful experts out there. (Yes I am a noob so limited technical speak :)) sorry about the length of this post but I’ve tried to include as much info as possible to get the best advice.

    I want to use amazon echo alexa (seen it in operation at sisters over xmas and I’m hooked) but not sure which way to turn first. I’ve been reading through endless forums and threads, so thought it easier to list my current equipment and setup (pics) and what I want automation to do for me.

    Firstly as money is limited, ideally I’m looking for a solution which I can add to as and when spare funds are available something like Samsung smart things, starting with music, tv control and lighting and then adding extras like security and automatic curtain closures. Would the solution also be able to set timers etc for when I’m not in/holidays? I already have a hive for my heating.

    1. I would like to be able to control everything around the house and thought the echo dots looked a good solution??


    2. I’m looking to be able to control my lights though out the house with alexa, I have been looking at smart switches on amazon but I don’t have neutral feeds so those are out, are there any other alternatives which may do the trick which don’t require neutral feeds?? I was looking at these sonoff switches https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B075D8R...liid=I3DJ8TYGSKIDZB&colid=27XLDGS0ZRJEW&psc=0 (hope that link worked)but don’t like the idea of them being cloud based and reports of them going offline when sonoff servers are down, is there anything similar which I can create my own network for, I’m happy to invest in my own hub if it’s the best option. Also the type of lighting I have won’t accommodate wifi bulbs either.

    3. I’m currently in the process of building a new banister at top of the stairs which I need some colour changing led strip lights (pic attached), I need something that will be compatible with Alexa but ideally will also work manually as I need the lights sharpish to complete the project but in no rush for the automation, any suggestions??

    4. I have a number of appliances/lamps etc where I can use wifi sockets, hive list some but they look quite pricey, what brands work well with alexa?

    5. Onto music, best options for streaming around the house, I thought I could use an echo dot in the living room wired to my surround system in the living room. Would this work and be able to control tv/sat etc also. I’d like some sort of speaker in the bathroom (maybe ceiling mounted) which I can control with voice (an echo dot or similar perhaps) then could I add bluetooth speakers to other rooms with addition dots as and when required?? I don’t have any Spotify type accounts any suggestions on what works well, as my daughters get older (currently 5 & 8) would like to be able to upgrade so they can play their own music in their rooms and playroom etc

    I think that should be enough to get me started, so would I better getting a separate hub or an amzon echo + with the built in one?? I currently have BT fibre router with a gig switch plugged in for the extra connections.

    All my tech is hidden away in the cupboard under the stairs in a wheeled cabinet i built with a hole drilled through into the living room behind the TV controlled by a pyramid remote sender. 20180107_174923.jpg 20180107_174812.jpg 20180107_161626.jpg 20180107_174923.jpg 20180107_174812.jpg 20180107_161626.jpg 20180107_130328.jpg

    I appreciate you taking the time to read my post, I've added a couple of pics of my set up for reference and hope to get some good pointers, thanks in advance all
     
  2. johndon

    johndon
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  3. limegreenzx

    limegreenzx
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    Alexa IS cloud based, whatever you decide to use it WILL go through the cloud.

    Starting with music I would go for Sonos or just the Amazon Echo depending on the quality/budget. The Echo is a good choice for kids as it is bluetooth enabled so they can connect using phone/tablet etc. Just say "Alexa connect" and it's connected. Eventually maybe a Spotify family account. Spotify family is not perfect because of the way Alexa and Spotify are linked via the cloud which is why bluetooth or Sonos is better for a family with multiple Spotify accounts.

    TV control Logitech Harmony Hub it is a lot easier to setup compared to Broadlink RM Pro alternative.

    Lighting I would look at each room and decide the best solution. I prefer Philips Hue overall. The bulbs are high quality, it has useful accessories and is very widely supported. The bulbs are expensive, but Ikea and Innr both sell cheaper compatible hue bulbs and if you are patient you can buy hue bulbs for half their regular price. I would recommend only buying white ambient bulbs, being able to change from warm white to bright blue white completely changes a room. Coloured bulbs are a bit gimicky and white dimmable is dull.

    For sockets I use TP-Link. They're reliable and can be given useful names for Alexa.

    Finally, I would get a hub. The Philips Hue hub for example has features not available on the Echoplus.
     
  4. Injury20

    Injury20
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    Thanks guys so far, i'll take a look at your advised options
     
  5. Khazul

    Khazul
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    I use Logitech harmony hub+companion for AV control, Samsung SmartThings for smart plugs and motion and door sensors and Philips hue for lighting. Have a nest smoke alarm (was a home insurance freebie), probably will add heating control, but not sure which yet. SmartThings can also control everything else too (and is scriptable) as can the harmony remote.

    Especially handy is having the living room hue lighting controllable from the harmony remote when you want to dim lights etc for movies. I also have the lighting hooked into smartthings to warn me of windows left open if about to rain etc.

    AVR is Yamaha which includes their musiccast multi-room audio system - apparently that is getting Alexa integration very soon.
     
  6. Jamie

    Jamie
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    Just bear in mind when you connect a Dot to your stereo with a cable that the internal speaker is automatically muted. To hear Alexa you'd therefore need to leave the stereo on and turned to the correct input (so you won't hear it when using the system for TV) or physically unplug the cable.

    It's one of the reasons I prefer using a Google Home Mini in conjunction with a Chromecast Audio. Music will still play through the atereo/surround system but voice responses will always play on the Mini speaker.
     
  7. giffordpikes

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    Order in which I got things.

    Music: already had Sonos which plays through Spotify and tune in radio.
    Lights: Philips hue lights for tv room. 3 lamps and a strip light for behind tv. Later have added broadlink rm pro and some cheaper rf light switches for kitchen and living room. Then further 2 Philips hue lights and motion sensors for bathrooms.
    AV control: harmony remote (bought a second hand one from classified on this site) then broadlink rmpro for hifi in lounge. TP-Link smart plug for AV equipment not left on standby.
    Other plugs and lamps: 1 further TP-Link plug for garden lights in the garage. Several cheaper rf plugs controlled through rmpro. Lightwave dimming relay for a lamp with a dimmable Edison bulb also connected to rmpro.

    Use stringify and Alexa to join various bits together. Currently no need for smart hub.
     
  8. Injury20

    Injury20
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    Thanks for all the advise so far peeps,

    As most of my current lighting won't take wifi bulbs etc, To start off with I'm going to try a sonoff dual for the kitchen and dining room lights as I have easy access to the wires via floorboards in upstairs airing cupboard. I'm going to be using these via the app for now as I won't be getting the alexa devise just yet (need a couple of paydays 1st $$) also going to get a wifi enabled led dimmable strip light for the bannister effect i'm constructing.

    So two quick quesions:

    1. Does anybody know if once the sonoff dual is fitted inline under the floorboards will the lights still operate with the standard wall switches in the kitchen??

    2. After reading through numerous threads i'm a little unclear on if I need a hub or not. I will eventually be adding more lighting and additional echo's for bedrooms/bathrooms etc, music streaming connected to surround systems and bluetooth speakers, harmony type device for operating the TV/sky, wifi plugs for around the house and eventually some door sensors, security and possible cctv.

    I currently have a BT home hub 5, would this be able to cope with it or am i best to connect a separate hub to it??

    Thanks again all
     
  9. limegreenzx

    limegreenzx
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    I would imagine using the sonoff in the way you described will not work well at all. The sonoff requires a constant supply. It wouldn't matter if the wall switch is wired into the primary side or the switched side of the sonoff, it would be a nightmare to use either way.
    I personally, would not trust any lights in my house to a sonoff switch. OK for side lights, but not main lights.
    What special fitting do you have that can't accept standard bulb or replacement smart dimmer switch?
     
  10. Injury20

    Injury20
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    Hi limegreenzx, glad i got your tips before ordering the sonoff, i have attached a couple of pics of the lights I have. I don't have neutral wires to my switches. I will take a look at the lightwaves option, they just looked a bit pricey.

    so will need an alternative then, open to any suggestions.
     

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  11. giffordpikes

    giffordpikes
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    Energenie is a bit cheaper than lightwave. Their range of products is smaller but might be an alternative. I have limited experience with it but seems to be ok.
     
  12. Jamie

    Jamie
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    For what you want with the module wired up under the floor board and a standard switch operating it them Fibaro would be ideal.
    Standard switches will work with Fibaro but retractive (i.e. spring loaded momentary) switches would be even better.
     
  13. limegreenzx

    limegreenzx
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    I agree with Jamie above, Fibaro relays are the best solution. That's close to £200 for a couple of relays and a Zwave hub (Samsung Smarthings maybe).
    I think you have to accept that starting this project is not going to be cheap.
     
  14. Jamie

    Jamie
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    I think the simplicity of Hue is why it's so popular but I did come close to going for Fibaro. It's an excellent product but even though I am a sparky it would have taken quite an effort to fit in my kitchen for various reasons. So even I took the easiest route of Hue, although I have done a fair few mods to make it fit into the house better and changed and added some light fittings to suit.

    If you do go with Fibaro I would suggest you replace your switches with retractive ones. Each dimmer module can have 2 switches connected and the second one can be a virtual switch, so can control other dimmer modules or stuff in your hub.

    The proper kit is just better in every way. Sonoff is undoubtedly cool to play with but it's defenitely not suitable quality for installing in out of reach places. I've bought one for the crimbo lights and I may use it for a lava lamp I don't use very often.
     
  15. Injury20

    Injury20
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    Cheers guys,

    So sonoff's are fine for easy access inline products like table lamps etc but not so good for under floorboards etc,

    can you mix and match brands, As I was considering a hub anyway, could I use Fibaro for the lights i cant change the bulbs on and a different brand hub?
     
  16. Injury20

    Injury20
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    What would be the outcome of keeping my standard switches with the Fibaro? reason i ask is I have recently replaced them all throughout the entire house :(
     
  17. Jamie

    Jamie
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    Just slightly more awkward to operate i think but normal switches will work fine. I'm just going on my research, I ended up with Hue so haven't tried either myself

    This explains the various ways it can work.

    APNT-11 - Using Different Switches with Fibaro Dimmer | Vesternet
     
  18. Jamie

    Jamie
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    Yes, although I have my doubts about reliability as well, they need the server in the cloud to operate so stopped working for a while for some folks recently.
    I did read it's possible to flash them to local operation new firmware but no idea what that entails or how it works.

    Edit to add. The switches only have a live and nuetral, there no provision for an earth. If your appliance isn't double insulated you'll need to run an earth wire past the switch. I'd probably install the device in a little project box with cable retainers or glands if some sort for the 2 cables to enter and exit. A lot of lamps don't have an earth though.
     
  19. vanillafreak12

    vanillafreak12
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    Wither the fibaro dimmer switches you can use any type of switch apart from dimmers i believe
     

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