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Old 18-05-2017, 12:22   #1
vaderag
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Home Automation... where to start?

I'm moving into the 'forever' home soon and wondering what people's first steps into home automation have been?

I have two Echo Dot's already, and use them with Pure Jongo speakers for around the house music, but so far that's about it...

I have an IR light switch too which currently is controlled from my Harmony One remote, would like something more advanced here but Hue seems like a dear do, esp coz the main light has 5 candle bulbs... any alternates?

What other things have people found that they couldnt live without?
Thermostat seems a bit pointless? Or maybe I just don't get it, but if i set my coming and going times on my existing one does what the others seem to do?!
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Old 18-05-2017, 12:27   #2
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I just have Hue, but I really like them. Can be expensive, but Amazon occasionally do good deals on the starter sets. I have mine set to different values for TV, BluRay and off via my harmony so that works well. I also have my bedroom light (just a white one) to wake me up in the morning.
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Old 18-05-2017, 13:20   #3
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When I bought my Echo I had no Home Automation - now it's basically all I use it for.

Hive Heating / Hot Water
Hive Lights
LightwaveRF dimmer
Wemo smart sockets
A few other things controlled by a Raspberry Pi emulating Wemo switches.
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Old 18-05-2017, 13:23   #4
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I've started using Sonoff wifi switches which are directly controllable with Alexa.
They are around £5 each but do require a firmware change and they can then emulate Wemo.

Regarding lights, I'd not consider any that won't work like a regular one with a switch e.g. the Hive smart bulbs which need to be switched on all the time so not family friendly.
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Old 18-05-2017, 18:02   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyWilson View Post
When I bought my Echo I had no Home Automation - now it's basically all I use it for.

Hive Heating / Hot Water
Hive Lights
LightwaveRF dimmer
Wemo smart sockets
A few other things controlled by a Raspberry Pi emulating Wemo switches.
Do you find yourself using the give heating stuff much??
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Old 19-05-2017, 07:49   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyWilson View Post
When I bought my Echo I had no Home Automation - now it's basically all I use it for.

Hive Heating / Hot Water
Hive Lights
LightwaveRF dimmer
Wemo smart sockets
A few other things controlled by a Raspberry Pi emulating Wemo switches.
Also, can you tell me a bit more about the lightwave RF switches? Do they work with any lights or only with the kit you have?
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Old 19-05-2017, 07:50   #7
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I use a couple of Echoes, along with a Harmony Remote with Hub and LightwaveRF heating, lighting and sockets.

LightwaveRF replaces the light switches so they still work as regular switches and you only need one per existing switch, rather than replacing all the bulbs. They do dimming, though obviously you don't get the colour changing like Hue has. The heating system includes a boiler control and you can also fit individual TRVs to each radiator, so room temperatures can be controlled individually. Quite like being able to turn the heating on from bed, especially on days when I'm not on my usual schedule (day off work etc.) and also get remote access via an app.

I've linked the Harmony hub to the Echo via Yonomi, so that gives voice control over my AV system.

Now currently waiting on the release of the HEOS skill to work with my Denon amp, to give voice control over music playback using high quality FLAC rips on my server rather than Amazon streaming.

edit - In response to your question, the LightwaveRF switches work with any regular bulbs (as long as they're compatible with dimmer switches), they are just a direct replacement for a regular light switch.

Last edited by neilalford; 19-05-2017 at 07:51.
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Old 19-05-2017, 08:33   #8
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Originally Posted by vaderag View Post
Do you find yourself using the give heating stuff much??
Yeah, it's much easier to say "Alexa, ask Hive to boost the heating for 1 hour" than it is to fumble for my (or the wife's) phone, open the app and stab at buttons with fat fingers. Or actually get off the sofa and adjust the thermostat!

It's also MUCH more flexible than the old fashioned programmer on the wall.

Despite what British Gas try to tell you on the phone it's incredibly easy to DIY fit too - literally, if you've got a modern programmer (mine was 25 years old and still modern enough) it's a matter of loosening a couple of screws, replacing the programmer with the Hive controller which just plugs into the same connection and then plugging the Hive Hub into the internet router.

It's not as flexible as the Nest system - it doesn't learn how long the house takes to heat up etc - but the killer feature for me was the fact that the Thermostat is battery powered whereas the Nest needs to be plugged into the mains - less Wife friendly!!

Also, I left the old wall thermostat in place, just turned it up to max, so I can "undo" the hive installation just by putting the old controller back.

My LightwaveRF dimmer is used to control six bulbs (cheap amazon LEDs) in 2 fittings. You need the LightwaveRF hub too but I do intend to add more devices in the future.
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Old 19-05-2017, 09:16   #9
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Thanks. I can't seem to find too much info about the Lightwave stuff... Can you set a level? That's what I miss at the moment I can go up and down with my ir remote, but want to hit a button to say 'cinema mode' or whatever
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Old 19-05-2017, 09:42   #10
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Thanks. I can't seem to find too much info about the Lightwave stuff... Can you set a level? That's what I miss at the moment I can go up and down with my ir remote, but want to hit a button to say 'cinema mode' or whatever
Yep, you can set "Scenes" which are pre-set combinations of light settings and then control those through Alexa.

Lightwave community forum is here:

http://lightwaverfcommunity.org.uk/forum/

It's available from Maplin:

http://www.maplin.co.uk/search?text=lightwaverf&x=0&y=0
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Old 19-05-2017, 11:25   #11
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Originally Posted by neilalford View Post
Yep, you can set "Scenes" which are pre-set combinations of light settings and then control those through Alexa.

Lightwave community forum is here:

http://lightwaverfcommunity.org.uk/forum/

It's available from Maplin:

http://www.maplin.co.uk/search?text=lightwaverf&x=0&y=0
So you're taking an initial outlay of around the same as a hue then, by the looks of it... £90 for the hub and £35 for the dimmer?
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Old 19-05-2017, 12:18   #12
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So you're taking an initial outlay of around the same as a hue then, by the looks of it... £90 for the hub and £35 for the dimmer?
Yep, that's pretty much the minimum you need. The hub is obviously the starting point then you can add switches, sockets etc. as required.
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Old 19-05-2017, 14:09   #13
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It seems at the moment that you need a variety of boxes... a hive/nest hub for example, a hue hub, a lightwave hub etc .... is there no one solution that does everything, well meaning only one box is needed?
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Old 22-05-2017, 07:01   #14
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A hue hub with two bulbs is a deal of the day at £35.99 on Amazon which is a current low price point.

Affiliated link not working so direct link - https://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0152WXI18

Last edited by Anthony.S; 22-05-2017 at 07:03.
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Old 22-05-2017, 07:23   #15
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Originally Posted by vaderag View Post
It seems at the moment that you need a variety of boxes... a hive/nest hub for example, a hue hub, a lightwave hub etc .... is there no one solution that does everything, well meaning only one box is needed?
Well, the Lightwave hub covers most things, heating, lighting and sockets (and also has PIR sensors, Window\Door sensors etc.). The only additional hub I've needed is the Logitech Harmony hub for IR controlled devices. Can't think of anything much that isn't covered by those two.
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Old 22-05-2017, 07:34   #16
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Originally Posted by Anthony.S View Post
A hue hub with two bulbs is a deal of the day at £35.99 on Amazon which is a current low price point.

Affiliated link not working so direct link - https://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0152WXI18
That seems pretty cheap! Very tempted, but no idea which lights I'm going to be able to use it on in the new place yet!!
Maybe I'll just go for it anyway...

Thing is I'm back to my other question then - is it worth me just getting a Lightwave setup instead, which does the lights and other stuff with one box.

Does the hue do anything but the lights? Anyone know if there are plans for it to?
Also, presumably you can control multiple rooms with one box?
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Old 22-05-2017, 07:43   #17
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Actually, the more I look the more this doesn't feel like the right solution for me. The light fixing in our living room (which we're taking with us) is 5 E14 candle bulbs. If I went with hue then that is £75 just to fill that light.
Also, seems you need to leave the light switch on which I know is just gonna lead to the wife turning off without thinking about it, which will lead me to needing to box it off and then get a hue switch. So for one light I'm looking at £35 for starter set, £75 for bulbs, £30 for light switch, near £150 in total. Seems too much when I already have nearly what I'd like in that room... I think the Lightwave or even the harmony hub might be a better spend for me...
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Old 22-05-2017, 10:34   #18
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Originally Posted by Anthony.S View Post
A hue hub with two bulbs is a deal of the day at £35.99 on Amazon which is a current low price point.

Affiliated link not working so direct link - https://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0152WXI18
Meh. Caved and bought one anyway - figure if it's no good I can prob make most my money back at that price...
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Old 22-05-2017, 10:35   #19
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Actually, the more I look the more this doesn't feel like the right solution for me. The light fixing in our living room (which we're taking with us) is 5 E14 candle bulbs. If I went with hue then that is £75 just to fill that light.
Also, seems you need to leave the light switch on which I know is just gonna lead to the wife turning off without thinking about it, which will lead me to needing to box it off and then get a hue switch. So for one light I'm looking at £35 for starter set, £75 for bulbs, £30 for light switch, near £150 in total. Seems too much when I already have nearly what I'd like in that room... I think the Lightwave or even the harmony hub might be a better spend for me...
Yep, the bulb issue put me off of Hue, when I was looking it would have cost me £300 in bulbs for my living room as I needed six GU10's at £50 each! Plus, as you say, there is the switch issue, both from the point of view it getting accidentally switched off and the fact that if whatever you're using to control the lights is having issues (wi-fi down or whatever) then you seem to be stuck and can't turn your lights on, with Lightwave if the automation system isn't working the wall switches still do.

Only downside is that it is more effort to fit as you need to replace the switches, but that's not too tricky. Worst issue with mine was that the back box for the switch in my living room was very shallow and I needed to replace it with a deeper one for the switch to fit. Other rooms I've used them in have been fine.
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Old 22-05-2017, 10:38   #20
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Originally Posted by Anthony.S View Post
A hue hub with two bulbs is a deal of the day at £35.99 on Amazon which is a current low price point.

Affiliated link not working so direct link - https://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0152WXI18
Cheers for that, not sure why but I've ordered one just to have a play with.

All my bulbs are bayonets, but it won't be a massive hassle to change the roses or get an adaptor.

Just looking at my light fittings (where the trend seems to be for multiple bulbs), would seem to make the whole thing cost prohibitive. I'd need 10 just to do the living room/diner. Much cheaper to change the fittings to do basic ones and get a couple of lampshades.

I'd also be mildly concerned if I went far down the home automation, would potential buyers be put off?
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