Starting out with Home Automation - advice please


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Apr 28, 2013
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Hi, I'm looking for some advice if possible please. I am just starting out with Home Automation and would like to make sure I am on the right path in terms of setup. I have a 3 bed bungalow and just want to get a couple of basic things setup initially to give me the confidence to expand over time.
In order to get started, I have the following devices so far:

2 Philips Hue White Ambience bulbs
2 Philips Hue smart outlets
1 Teckin Sp27 smart outlet gifted to me
1 Sonoff ZB Zigbee 3.0 bridge

I already had an Intel NUC with a small SSD inside, which I have installed Home Assistant OS on.

With the price of the Philips Hue devices, even though the bungalow is fairly small, I can see the cost soon ramping up. I have only bought the above items when on offer, but still pricey compared with alternatives.

Before I start buying more devices such as temp sensors or PIR sensors etc, I would like a bit of advice to hopefully prevent buying unnecessary things, If I could be achieving what I would like in a better or more reliable way.

I am comfortable with flashing devices, and have already flashed the Teckin SP27 with Tasmota using Tuya-Convert, and created my first automation so that it switches on at sunset and off at 10pm. The Home Assistant setup looks like a fair old learning curve, but I work in IT so am confident I can handle that side of things.

I am currently overhauling one room to use as my new office, which is what has inspired me to start down the HA path. I have changed out the ceiling rose for 4 GU10 downlight fittings, but haven't bought any GU10 smart bulbs yet. I don't need/want colour bulbs, although I appreciate that you can use a different colour as an alert/alarm based on something being triggered etc.
I've been reading about smart light switches which can control standard LED dimmable bulbs. This might suit better, in terms of any visitors and also the other half - someone would no doubt press the light switch at some point, and render the bulbs useless, if they were smart.

I would like to keep the automation internal either fully or as much as possible, to prevent reliance on the internet and other manufacturers infrastructure.

If I start with my new office, there will be the 4 downlights, which I would like to be able to turn on, off and also dim.
Would some sort of Shelly device be suitable here, which can control dimming of some standard non smart dimmable LED GU10 bulbs? I need to see what wiring is behind the current standard switch. Alternatively are there any smart switches that can turn on/off and dim as well? Having a physical switch is important in case my phone is in another room or if I'm not home etc.

I will probably have some sort of LED strip lighting at the back of my office desk, which I may power from USB port on the laptop or monitor, and possibly an ambient lighting desk or floor lamp which I may want to have turn on when the downlights are on or as an alternative to the downlights.

Looking at motion/occupancy sensors, I could in addition to having the physical light switch, have the downlights and/or ambient light come on when I enter the room and stay on while I am in the room, providing either the lux level is below a set value, or it is sunset etc.

Eventually I would like to have individual TRV in every room, as well as a temp sensor so that each room can call for heating as needed. We have an oil fired central heating boiler with radiators and a hot water tank.

I know I need to take it one room at a time, but in order to cater for following projects like the heating, I would appreciate some advice on what sensors would perhaps be best to achieve what I want to start with, and that would also provide additional functionality as I add to and expand the system.

It all feels a bit overwhelming in terms of what can be achieved and the options available. The Philips Hue motion sensor for example, I believe also has a temperature and humidity sensor built in. If I used one of these in my new office room, to control the downlights for example, it would also provide the temp reading for that room as and when I am ready to fit smart TRV's and start to control the heating etc. I know there are much cheaper alternatives for individual temp or motion sensors - any benefits of having them each performing their own function, as opposed to a single sensor per room for motion/temp/humidity?

If I can just get a bit of advice to set me on the right path to start with, I'd really appreciate it.
Big fan of Shelly both professionally and for my own house

A Shelly dimmer 2 module with a none smart retractive centre off light switch would do exactly what you want

Dim and on/off at switch , works with gu10 dimmable bulbs and pretty good phone app.

Add a Shelly motion sensor and you have the next stage as well .

Finally Shelly have just launched their smart TRVs ,I have some on order but not arrived yet .

These coupled with a Shelly relay attached to the boiler would be the way to go possibly with some Shelly Temperature and Humidity sensors .

All very affordable

Wiring diagrams for Shelly dimmer 2 with and without neutral at switch with retroactive centre off switch
Hi Seb, brilliant - thanks very much for all the detailed info! I'll have a proper read through and check out the wiring diagrams tomorrow as it's been a long day, and only just able to pop online quickly now before catching some shut-eye!!
I'd also recommend the Shelly's. Between the Dimmer 2, 1L and RGBW2 you can pretty much do whatever you want!

Individual smart TRV valves are a good choice too, it can feel like quite a big upfront cost to move your home over to smart TRVs but its worth it. We've been using HoneyWell evo home for the last three years.

Smart bulbs / the guest problem
Definitely agree with you that the last thing that you want with smart bulbs is to have guests turn off the lightswitch and cut power to the bulbs. If you ever did want to use coloured bulbs or smart bulbs for some reason something like Philips Hue or Innr with a Shelly i3 can be used to get round guests turning off the lightswitch and killing power to the bulbs. If you're interested I've written about how this can be done here:
Agree with above though may as well use Shelly duo rgbw gu10 s rather than having another system
Thanks very much for all the pointers. I've been reading up about all sorts of options as well as getting my head around the whole Home Assistant setup. I've barely scratched the surface but am starting to get an idea of how I would like things to work and how to achieve various solutions.

I've created a deeper cut-out for the light switch in the wall as it was only using what looked like a 12.5mm metal box, and I've replaced the 2 core light switch cable with 3 core as it was behind capping and relatively easy to replace (ish!), being just inside the loft hatch area. I've setup my first Shelly Dimmer 2 using a kettle lead so that's updated and ready to wire in properly now, and I have gone with 4 Energizer 4.5W LED Dimmable GU10's as they didn't need to be smart. I've got a retractive centre off switch ready to wire in now as well, and picked up a Philips Hue motion/occupancy sensor too.

Once I've got office all sorted with the plastering done and everything decorated, I'll start to look at the central heating system and work out what system to go with there, whether it's Shelly, Hive, Honeywell etc as that will be a fair old project and it might be time to replace the old boiler with a combi and get rid of the hot and cold water storage tanks etc. and some radiators are past their best. I dread to think how much all that will cost before even thinking about making it smart...
A shelly motion sensor may have been a better choice just so you have the same manufacturer for both the lights and the switches. Also it would mean you can use the excellent Shelly App if you wanted to keep it simple. It is now what I use for all my rooms

Smart heating can, once you get your head around it, be pretty simple whether CH or radiators

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