Smart Home Life-Hacks

  • Thread starter Deleted member 24354
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Deleted member 24354

Guest
I thought I would start a thread on some simple Smart Home Life-hacks. Please feel free to contribute your own.

Garage Emergency Lighting

In the majority of new or new-build houses the Consumer Unit or Fuse Board is in the garage. The first thing that most people do, in the event of a power cut is go and check that the fuses haven't 'tripped'. If this is at night (which it normally is) this means finding a torch or some other form of illumination to go and make your inspection of the garage and associated CU. After some bad winds a few years ago, when we had 3 or 4 power-cuts in the space of a month, when power lines were brought down, I decided that there must be better way to do this. Then I thought about the factories that I am responsible for and remembered they all have emergency lighting, in the event of power failure. So I decided, why not install an emergency bulk-head light (which cost about £12) in my garage, near the consumer unit. It is wired with an in-line electricians test-switch so it can be isolated and tested without fear of it being accidentally turned off.

This means that if the power goes off, the battery backed light automatically comes on for around 12 hours or until power is restored. Since then we have had 2 or 3 outages and it has been brilliant, especially for my wife, when I have been away. As all the candles are also kept in the garage it meant that she had light to easily find those also.

I am not sure why builders do't do this as a matter of course on new houses. It makes life so much easier in an emergency situation and would cost about a tenner for them to install.
 
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Deleted member 24354

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Alexa / Google Emergency!

I have Alexa configured with the expression 'Alexa Emergency' which will turn all of my Smart Lights in the house on 100%. This is useful in the event of a Fire or if your home is being burgled or you hear something outside at night. Having all of your smart lighting coming on at the same time is quite intimidating for anyone not expecting it. It may also provide useful illumination if you have to evacuate your premises due to Smoke / Fire / Carbon Monoxide or any other Hazard. For example if you are on your hands and knees trying to get below smoke, you may not be able to find light switches or maybe concentrating on other things.
 
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Deleted member 24354

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Alexa as an Intercom

Intercoms were very popular back in the 70's. Beige boxes with a bell wire between them, allowing you to talk to other parts of the house, by pushing a button. Alexa offers similar functionality using WiFi and the 'drop-in' function. By strategically placing Amazon Echo's or Echo Dots around the house / garage / shed (if it has wifi) you can configure the 'Drop In' function on your Echo's which effectively lets you talk to another Echo without the other party having to answer it.

In our house we use it to talk to the kids when they are on the top floor of our 3 storey house, especially when dinner is ready. Our friends, who have a small garden centre / nursery use them to stay in-touch in their greenhouses (which we put wifi into) which are about 50m from the house. Echo Dots are often on sale at £29 each and are cost effective at the price.
 
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Deleted member 24354

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Bed-Time

Configure your smart home device (mine is Alexa) to turn off lights and appliances when you go to bed. As I go to bed at night, I say 'Alexa Goodnight' and she turns off all my Ground floor appliances and lights, except for my hall lamp (which has a Hue Bulb fitted). This then dims to 30% until dawn (when it turns off). No more running around turning off lights and appliances as I go to bed.
 
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Deleted member 24354

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Bed-Time Reminder

Its all too easy to lose track of time, especially on 'school nights'. I have configured my smart lights, in my living room to dim for 30 seconds (to 10%) at midnight, on a weeknight, then they resume their previous setting. Its just a gentle reminder that its time to get some sleep.
 

Fabien

Active Member
Virtual Dog

Certain types of external activity (when out) trigger Sonos to initiate a Dog Barking sample at a centralised point. I then have this move to the Sonos speaker closest to the external sensor that triggered (simulating the dog is on the move)

Entry Status

Have my home automation give me a verbal status of any activity whilst I was out as I walk through the door, having been away for a defined period of time (ident via Bluetooth - see below)

Bluetooth ident / MFA

My home automation identifies my presence via Bluetooth, on my iPhone (as opposed to WiFi). Due to battery saving, most WiFi on your phone is disabled until you interact with it, where as Bluetooth is always awake, therefore totally passive. My Home Automation sets profiles based on who’s home and also will only allow certain security actions based on detecting me as well as me entering codes / unlocking doors etc (Note: Failsafes are also in place)

Fabien
 

Fabien

Active Member
Alarm

....Oh and I have a fogger system that creates a sensory deprivation environment internally to the house whilst playing the Vengaboys at full tilt through various Sonos Playbars and Subs (again, Failsafes in place) in addition to the external bellbox going off, in the event of an alarm. My wife wouldn’t allow me to install Master Blasters :(

Fabien
 

bruny

Active Member
I also have a bedtime routine (Alexa) same as @mushii for turning everything off. Because as yet we don’t have a front door bell (not long moved in). When we are in the kitchen at the back of the house sometimes we don’t hear a knock at the front door. I use a door vibration sensor so when someone knocks Alexa announces (There is a knock at the front door). I use geofencing to turn on house lights when we arrive home during the dark hours (phone as presence sensor) Especially handy for the Mrs during the winter as she’s home from work first. Most of the other stuff I use is for my entertainment system. I.e. Alexa turn on TV. Alexa turn on music. Alexa turn on movies. Here Alexa turns on the various boxes TV, Sky, AV Receiver, Media Player, Network Music Player depending on routine and sets them to the input/output for said routines and dims the lamps to 50% (Lifx bulbs). Use harmony hub for those automations.
@mushii I do like your Alexa emergency routine might copy that. 😁
 
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Deleted member 24354

Guest
I love to see what other people do with their Smart-Home Life-Hacks. I think by posting them here people new to the smart-home world can get to feel how to make a smart-home without spending too much money.
 

bruny

Active Member
Agree. Also handy for ideas. Already nicked one of yours mushii. :p
 
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Deleted member 24354

Guest
Night-Time Bathroom Routine (great for small children)

This hack isn't in my house but was installed for a client, using a Hue Bulb and Hue PIR. They wanted something so that their child could go to the bathroom at night on their own, without waking them. The fix was quite simple. Hue bulb and PIR on the landing, that after 10pm dimmed the bulb to 20% so that there was a landing light on, but want too bright to keep the kids awake as they slept with their doors open (think night light). At 20% it wasn't light enough to light the bathroom sufficiently from the landing. So anyone crossing the landing after 10pm would trip the PIR and cause the landing light to ramp up to 60% (bright enough to use the bathroom with the door open, but not that glaring brightness that hurt your eyes from sleep). After 5 minutes of inactivity (hopefully bathroom visit finished), the bulb would set-back to 20% brightness, until dawn, when it went off. This was sufficient to give the children confidence to use the bathroom on their own at night, without having to wake their parents for a bathroom visit.
 

bruny

Active Member
Good idea. Would be handy for my youngest grandson as he stays regularly.
 
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Deleted member 24354

Guest
That one has become quite popular with a few friends as well. I have friend who is an on-call Doctor who uses it on his landing and hall lights when he has to go out at night on a call. One less thing for him to worry about when he is in a hurry to go out quickly. It also stops his wife nagging him that he left the landing lights on and she couldn't get back to sleep without getting out of bed and turning them off. Two birds, one stone.
 
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Deleted member 24354

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WiFi Garden Lights

Automate your Garden Lights using a Shelly 1 Smart Relay. By adding a Smart Relay in-line with the power to your Garden Lights you can automate them to come on and off with whatever triggers you wish, for less than a tenner, using wifi to control them. I use mine on a sunset +2 hour timer to come on and 23.00 off, so they are on longer in winter and shorter time in summer. If I dont want them on I just tell Alexa 'Turn Off Garden Lights'. If I want then to stay on after 23.00 then I say 'Alexa, Garden Party' and one of the things that does is over-ride the 23.00 off time for a full 24 hours.

A cheap and cheerful way to make your garden light smart without having to use a timer or expensive proprietary system.

You can even add a Shelly Button if you want a switch, which are £20 from the Shelly Store
NO need for hubs, this a purely wifi solution.
 

Harkon321

Well-known Member
WiFi Garden Lights

Automate your Garden Lights using a Shelly 1 Smart Relay. By adding a Smart Relay in-line with the power to your Garden Lights you can automate them to come on and off with whatever triggers you wish, for less than a tenner, using wifi to control them. I use mine on a sunset +2 hour timer to come on and 23.00 off, so they are on longer in winter and shorter time in summer. If I dont want them on I just tell Alexa 'Turn Off Garden Lights'. If I want then to stay on after 23.00 then I say 'Alexa, Garden Party' and one of the things that does is over-ride the 23.00 off time for a full 24 hours.

A cheap and cheerful way to make your garden light smart without having to use a timer or expensive proprietary system.

You can even add a Shelly Button if you want a switch, which are £20 from the Shelly Store
NO need for hubs, this a purely wifi solution.

Do you set the times in an app or via your Home Hub?
 

Harkon321

Well-known Member
Alternative to Baby Monitor

I've two kids - 8 and 4. When they were little they would have a baby monitor in the room and downstairs. We kept it in the eldest's room for a lot longer than planned,as when I have a film on downstairs we can't hear him if he calls. He knows he's not meant to come down or thinks the film etc is scary. Lots of Hue stuff in the house so added another HUE dimmer to his bunk bed, (to control his own lights without getting out of bed) and then used iConnectHue APP to link it to the Fireplace Hue strip and Kitchen GU10s.

If he feels sick or whatever, the lights change colour and I head up to check on them.
 
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Deleted member 24354

Guest
Do you set the times in an app or via your Home Hub?
You can do either. Personally mine all run in Homeseer as I can create much more powerful rules. For example If we are in Party Mode, and my garden lights are on, and the doorbell rings and the music is on, and we are outside (external PIR on my patio), my Hue bulbs in my garden lights flicker red a couple of times to let me know we have guests.
 
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Deleted member 24354

Guest
Alternative to Baby Monitor

I've two kids - 8 and 4. When they were little they would have a baby monitor in the room and downstairs. We kept it in the eldest's room for a lot longer than planned,as when I have a film on downstairs we can't hear him if he calls. He knows he's not meant to come down or thinks the film etc is scary. Lots of Hue stuff in the house so added another HUE dimmer to his bunk bed, (to control his own lights without getting out of bed) and then used iConnectHue APP to link it to the Fireplace Hue strip and Kitchen GU10s.

If he feels sick or whatever, the lights change colour and I head up to check on them.

That is awesome. What a great use of technology. :clap:
 
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Deleted member 24354

Guest
Making Mains Powered Smoke Alarms Smart

It is very common in most modern properties to have mains powered, interlinked smoke alarms fitted. One of the most common brands used by builders is Kidde / Firex because they are relatively cheap and reliable, but not 'smart' other than being interlinked.

By using a 'base' or pattress with a relay output, such as this https://www.kiddesafetyeurope.co.uk/Documents/DS_SMK23U_SMK23RU_2015.pdf

wired to any sort of smart switch / relay - such as a Shelly 1, you can provide notifications to third party systems (you would wire this to the switch Input not the Output). On activation of the Smoke Alarm, the relay will Open / Close which will switch the status of the Smart Module. This status change can then be picked up by a smart home hub to notify you of Smoke Alarm Activation.

Alternatively you could feed the output of the relay directly into a Security Alarm Panel.
 

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