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Novice wanting to make home a smart home

  • Thread starter Deleted member 92943
  • Start date
D

Deleted member 92943

Guest
Afternoon,

Myself and my partner are looking to do a refurb our flat which we intent to stay in for about 3 years before we look to move to a house.

As part of the refurb, I want to make the flat as smart as possible for minimal cost.

So far I have our dyson purifiers working on the app ( I work for dyson ) and looking to get the robot vacuum in a few months.

Electricity has been updated to digital for automatic readings and a HUD display. Gas is being updated beginning of August.

Just has a Cosy thermostat installed for the heating and got the app up and running on that.

Looking forward, with Homepod launching from Apple I'm hoping a lot of what I end up getting installed works with that and HomeKit so I want to be mindful with that when adding my additions.

What I'd like to do is:

All the wall plugs are going to be updated for ones with USB ports in them. What voltage do I need to get them to charge quickly because I'm seeing different ones online.


Got 4 rooms with simple switch lighting and living room on a dimmer. All using LED bulbs and was wondering if the switches could be changed out for ones that I can control on my iPhone?

With my home entertainment equipment which consists of Hinsense 65" LED, Sky Q, XBOX One S, Sonos plabar with rears, I'm wondering if there's anything I can do there to maybe save electricity and have those on a switch that I can do on an app? Is this something worth doing at all?

Overall, I'm looking for whatever is the cheapest options so that I can afford to leave it all in place when I move home in a few years. If I can take it all with me, even better
 

sparkymark75

Well-known Member
Cheap is relative of course but changing all your wall sockets for ones with USB can get expensive quickly. As can changing the switches.

I'm changing 6 double sockets so they have USB. Each one is £15.

Just remember to keep your old face plates and switches for when you move out!
 

Chester

Well-known Member
USB has a standard specification of 5V DC. You're more interested in the current which should be at least 2.4A which gives you 12W, giving you enough to charge an iPad. I'd only bother with charging sockets in strategic places where it makes sense to charge them. I only have one double and then some appliances that will charge over USB anyway, like computers and alarm clocks.

For cheap lighting and switching automation, have a look at LightwaveRF. Far from the best, but the biggest bang-for-buck you're gonna get, and should work great in a flat.
 

RGP01

Standard Member
A couple of other things to note about USB sockets: quite often the stated amps are divided across all the ports so if you have 2 items charging at the same time it will be very slow if 2.4amps is split between a tablet and a phone.

Also the depth of the switches can vary, but I struggled to fit them in some locations as my back boxes weren't deep enough
 

sparkymark75

Well-known Member
A couple of other things to note about USB sockets: quite often the stated amps are divided across all the ports so if you have 2 items charging at the same time it will be very slow if 2.4amps is split between a tablet and a phone.

Also the depth of the switches can vary, but I struggled to fit them in some locations as my back boxes weren't deep enough

Yeah I had this too. I bought some BG Electrical ones but that quality wasn't great so I returned them. But then thing they did have going for them was they weren't too deep, the depth was spread across the width of the socket.

Whereas the ones I bought to replace them, made by Deta (to match the sockets already fitted) are slim but then a small block sticks out the back. If your cabling comes into the back box slap bang where the bulk is on the socket, you're screwed. They do supply you with a spacer to be fair but it never looks as nice.
 

Chester

Well-known Member
So you'll need to remove the existing back box and remove some material to fit a deeper back box. You can't expect a USB charging wall socket to be as shallow as one that has no features. Same for dimmer switches.

I can charge an iPad Air and an iPhone 6 at the same time with my LAP socket. If there were to be a current issue, the iPad will have a good moan about it!
 

giffordpikes

Active Member
Energenie switches and plugs might be an alternative to lightwave. I have no experience with them myself but the reviews look ok. Work via app if you get the hub.

Not sure about apple homekit but the belkin wemo wifi plug works with yonomi app as does sonos
 

mark6226

Well-known Member
Unless you are disabled or elderly then don't bother with so called smart home. It's not necessary.
This months t3 mag has an article about sh. It's so farcical it had me chortling.
The mag had to explain what things did.
There's a Yale smart door lock. So instead of inserting a key, you insert a key code.
Why bother.
You can turn on lights, the kettle and heating. All things easily done by the able bodied.
Smart home seems targeted at those cloned modern housing estates where everyone drives the same car, lives the same way and is obsessed with image and keeping up with the neighbors.
Smart home could be brilliant for the disabled. It could transform their lives. Sadly no-one gives a monkeys about the disabled.
People need to be thankful that they have full use of their limbs and faculties. They need to be thankful they don't need smart home.
 

Iain42

Well-known Member
I wouldn't entirely agree with the previous poster.

I don't have a smart door lock, but it would be bloody handy not to have to carry keys, two required for our front door. Especially as I refuse to look like one of those geeks with them pinned to my belt.

Lights - done correctly and at the right time, smart lights can save you channelling cable into wall to switches, as you just don't need it. Our electrician recommended Rako for our bedroom, smart option no more expensive than the conventional, and no making good required afterwards.

Heating - our boiler is in the garage. Before, if we needed to turn the heating on at a time when it wasn't timed to be on, we (almost always me....) had to go outside in the cold and rain (let's face it, that's when you need the heating on) to switch it on. Now we have Nest, we can turn it on from the house, very convenient. If we are out, we can also turn it on shortly before getting home, rather than rely on a timer, in which case we could be heating an empty house.

So not essential, but useful.
 

johndon

Well-known Member
Smart home could be brilliant for the disabled. It could transform their lives.

Completely agree.

People need to be thankful that they have full use of their limbs and faculties. They need to be thankful they don't need smart home.

By the same token you could argue that there is no need for TVs with remote controls...

As for lighting, here's an example - the kids, no matter how many times they are told, constantly leave the downstairs toilet light on. Apply a little bit of smart home technology and it now switches off automatically, a minute after some one leaves the toilet. Not strictly necessary I agree, but very useful...

John
 

giffordpikes

Active Member
Unless you are disabled or elderly then don't bother with so called smart home. It's not necessary.
This months t3 mag has an article about sh. It's so farcical it had me chortling.
The mag had to explain what things did.
There's a Yale smart door lock. So instead of inserting a key, you insert a key code.
Why bother.
You can turn on lights, the kettle and heating. All things easily done by the able bodied.
Smart home seems targeted at those cloned modern housing estates where everyone drives the same car, lives the same way and is obsessed with image and keeping up with the neighbors.
Smart home could be brilliant for the disabled. It could transform their lives. Sadly no-one gives a monkeys about the disabled.
People need to be thankful that they have full use of their limbs and faculties. They need to be thankful they don't need smart home.

Well I work with the disabled, and those who are on benefits would not be able to afford any of the high end stuff. With the market opening up and us buying more of the simple starter stuff, prices are coming down and in the long run likely to make it more affordable for those that need it.

Yes most smart home stuff isn't essential or life changing, just handy and convenient. But as jondon
pointed out
By the same token you could argue that there is no need for TVs with remote controls...

John[/QUOTE]

We all probably said the same about, TV's with remotes (or in fact anything with a remote), mobile phones, dishwashers, keyless entry on car, satnavs - the list is endless but now they are standard and expected in any house or car - it just takes the market to take off in a big enough way. Meantime stop blaming us early adopters for the ills of modern society ;-)
 

Chester

Well-known Member
@mark6226 It's all about adopting the correct level of automation for each individual's circumstances. I find it a fascinating subject, and lest we forget that it's been around for a very long time, certainly since the 50's, albeit things have changed somewhat since, especially with IoT devices.

I've deployed some elements of a smart home to solve problems, again albeit first world problems (I actually detest the term, but unfortunately it fits here). The first one is lighting and switching. Having timers and triggers and scenes makes controlling multiple circuits much simpler. For example in our open space, rather than spending time getting the right brightness levels across 5 circuits, a single button press sorts this all out. And very simple to achieved too. The second scenario is heating; our home has considerable differences in heat loss in different spaces. Zone controlled heating brings this under control by providing heat where required and not where it's unnecessary or where heating would make the room too hot. Or perhaps I'm working from home and just need my office to be warm but not the rest of the house. This flexibility gives me control of what I need from the system, makes the whole house more comfortable, and saves us money by not heating rooms not occupied.

Would I invest in an automated door lock? No, it adds nothing to our home that we need right now. Curtains and blinds? We have limbs as you say, and automating these would have no benefit to us right now, possibly even adding drawbacks. Did you like what I did there? Ha! Anyway, it's about investing in smart technology that works for you. The possibilities are vast now providing much choice. Needless to say you also have the choice not to invest.
 

limegreenzx

Banned
I would find a smart door lock very useful.
1. It would save me getting up to answer the door when my adult kids "forget" their key.
2. Allow me to grant temporary access to friends or tradesmen when away from home.
 
D

Deleted member 92943

Guest
Does anything actually work with HomeKit?

We are big apple fans. Everything apple but all our tech like the Sonos, Dyson's, cosy thermostat ect work with Alexa it seems but not HomeKit.

Now my partner wants an Apple TV. Only appeal to me seems to be sharing of our content libraries on the TV.
 
D

Deleted member 27989

Guest
Does anything actually work with HomeKit?

We are big apple fans. Everything apple but all our tech like the Sonos, Dyson's, cosy thermostat ect work with Alexa it seems but not HomeKit.

Now my partner wants an Apple TV. Only appeal to me seems to be sharing of our content libraries on the TV.
My Netatmo thermostats works with HomeKit, as does Philips Hue lighting...

I started off wanting to control it, but I've learned that actually proper home automation is rather seamless and doesn't require manual intervention :)
 
D

Deleted member 92943

Guest
We have abandoned HomeKit and I got a Echo for my birthday.

Works really well so far. For my TV and Sky looks like I'll eventually have to invest in a harmony solution but I believe they are incredibly expensive. £250 for the remote and hub isn't it or can I get away with just the hub?

Works great on the dyson stuff. Tile trackers. Just working on the Cosy thermostat.

Got some USB wall sockets and bell I'm leads. Much better than the Apple ones and the wall sockets charge nice and quickly
 

giffordpikes

Active Member
We have abandoned HomeKit and I got a Echo for my birthday.

Works really well so far. For my TV and Sky looks like I'll eventually have to invest in a harmony solution but I believe they are incredibly expensive. £250 for the remote and hub isn't it or can I get away with just the hub?

You could get away with just the hub as it would work with alexa or the app. I think that would be fine to start and stop activities, but I find the app is a bit clumsy if you want to fast forward, rewind or quickly pause or stop something. That said you could still use your old remotes but you wouldn't get the benefit of being able to ditch all the other remotes (a good selling point for me)

I have the logitech harmony ultimate one (the version before the latest) which I got from the classifieds here a lot cheaper than the full £250 for the latest version. Look around for deal here or ebay or wait for Black Friday. The last amazon prime day had them at half price
 
D

Deleted member 92943

Guest
After what seems like a lifetime to fix, I’ve been able to get my cosy themostat working with Alexa. Just need to give it a proper try out.

Sonos update for Alexa is out and works well. Quite impressed but just need Spotify added.

Over the next couple of weeks we are gutting our flat and updating it and we can see how it’s all going to work nicely.

Next thing I need to look into is light wave. Lighting would be nice to do remotely but if it’s going to be costly and involve a lot of work and re-wiring then I’ll give it a miss
 

Shrimp_Stu

Standard Member
Sonos update for Alexa is out and works well. Quite impressed but just need Spotify added.

I thought the Alexa integration with Sonos was fully functioning - can you not use Spotify via Sonos via Alexa? Contemplating buying an echo dot for working my Sonos speakers around the house and sending Spotify tunes to them....
 
D

Deleted member 92943

Guest
Spotify works directly on the Echo but currently via Sonos only Amazon music and TuneIn work but Sonos have said Spotify support is coming ‘soon’
 

sjackson

Well-known Member
Curtains and blinds? We have limbs as you say, and automating these would have no benefit to us right now, possibly even adding drawbacks. .

Actually for me that is a big thing I'm looking into. My other half always goes to bed leaving all the blinds open downstairs. It drives me nuts as anyone poking around the house would see the home cinema setup (projector, TV, speakers, sub etc).
 

Shrely

Novice Member
Install a smart door lock for your home, fingerprint to unlock,not to have to carry keys, very convenience!
a smart light can save you channelling cable into wall to switches, as you don't need to control it by your hand
 

Technophile42

Novice Member
There are really good reasons to implement some SH tech in your home. I agree that there are a lot of IoT devices that just don’t make sense, but if you dig through all the hype, you can find some very useful HA tools. The main thing I wanted was automated home security, like the ability to have my home arm/disarm itself as I or other members of my family left and arrived. There’s a new device called the Konnected Alarm Panel that basically takes the place of your current alarm panel motherboard and connects all your sensors to SmartThings. It works beautifully! Anyone authorized to enter my home has the app running on their phone and can come and go even if I’m not around without having to remover codes. I’ve also set up a bunch of automations with lighting based on time of day and doors opening and closing. It’s pretty great. You can even pay for pro monitoring if you need it, but I just self-monitor.
 

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