Home automation project - help a poor ignorant girl! :-(


Novice Member
Hi everyone!

I would like to get a special xmas present for my bf but I need a huge hand.

We just bought a new house and my bf is a software engineer and loves to tinker. Since he is very hard to buy for, I would like to buy for him some hardware in order for him to create an home automation/domotic project with our new house, because I know he would love to code and build :)
It wouldn't have to be a ready made project - the point would be to let him play with both the hardware and software side of it!

The project would be to make a "system" to switch some lights on and off, switch the air con on/off, turn some kitchen appliances on/off - stuff like this. Ideally it would be controlled by an app, that already exists or that he can make himself.

My questions are:

What hardware should I buy?
Is this feasible without intervening on existing plugs, walls, etc?
Any other suggestions for fancier things, perhaps?

If it's of any help, he's an Android user and a Linux enthusiast.
Goes without saying, this should be fairly low cost - low budget, if at all possible.
Sorry for the silly qs and many thanks to whoever will help this poor ignorant girl! :))))


Active Member
I'd start with Samsung smartthings- it's half price at the moment and comes with everything to get started. It's compatible with most other home automation technologies and he can write apps for it.
I'd then add ikea smart lighting over time- like Philips hue but cheaper.


Novice Member
thanks for your input! the electrical system is already in place, though. Is there anyway to build and tinker with a standard electrical system?


Well-known Member
If he likes to tinker and write code and stuff you could buy him a raspberry pi 3 and a zway addon board and then a collection of zwave devices such the Philips Hue lights already mentioned, smart sockets, motion sensors, etc. The smart things hub is also zwave, and he would be able to get into the code side of it too if he wanted, but if you think he'd be an 'advanced' user giving him the kit to build his own little system may be more what he'd like. Look up Razberry for more details.


Well-known Member
I'd go down the pi route too, with some sonoff switches and some wemos d1 mini boards for IoT end points.

If he doesn't want to do HA he can use the pi for whatever he likes


Active Member
If he's a dev guy and Linux savvy then a Pi 3 is definitely a great way to go. Get a Pi3 starter kit (board, PSU, case etc) and a z-wave adapter of some kind (I like the aeotec z-stick). From there he can install OpenHAB or Home Assistant and you have a good open-source hub he can mess with (instead of Smartthings which comes ready to go, although you do get some nice sensors in the Smartthings starter kit and the hub can do Z-wave and Zigbee).

After that, it comes down to what you want to do in the house itself. If you want to be non-intrusive then you can go down the external device route - Hue bulbs, TP-Link HS100 smart plugs are a simple place to start. Plug a lamp into a HS100 and you have a smart lamp. Add an Echo dot and an Alexa skill and you can turn the lamp on and off via voice.

If you want to be really slick you can get wire-in modules that go behind existing switches or in-line with your electrical wiring. Fibaro do some great z-wave switch and dimmer units which allow you to keep your current switches but make the connected lights/appliances smart. They're pretty simple to install but it does involve messing with wires so get an electrician in if you're not sure.


Distinguished Member
Agree with the previous answers - if he likes ultimate control that is the best way...

Very thoughtful of the op :)


Well-known Member
After the Raspberry Pi and Domoticz automation software, he'll need a routing device. Whilst you can send some commands through cloud services and local 'hubs', as a 'tinkerer' I would suggest a gateway attached directly to the Pi. Two examples are an RFXCom USB controller, or for devices that use the Zigbee protocol, an XBee RF module.

The downside is you'll need to know what his preference is in home automation appliances to discover which protocols will be involved. For example, Philips Hue uses Zigbee. For LightwaveRF Gen1 products, the RFXCom would be useful. So it depends.

Another place to go check out for more information is Automated Home. Their forum is much more in-tune with the technical side of this subject than AVF here; and whilst I don't wish to steer people away from this site, it's specifically more appropriate here.

Hope this helps. Do come back and let us know what you decided to do.


Active Member
If he's a tinkerer, and you're looking for the ultimate solution, then i'd have to say have a look at home assistant, the software will happily run on a raspberry pi and it speaks to everything. So as an xmas gift, would look at a pi3, case etc, and maybe some sonoff switches or belkin plugs etc.
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