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Slydude
07-05-2016, 02:30 AM
Attention fellow mods: Couldn't think of a better place for this thread. If you can, please suggest it and I'll move it.

I've been thinking for some time now about getting a few of those smart bulbs that are controlled by a smart phone. I was wondering if any of you have used some of these bulbs. Mist if the places we could put lamps ion our home are a pain to get to in my wheelchair. Wondering if any of you have used such bulbs and what your experiences have been.

Ember1205
07-05-2016, 02:41 PM
I do not use Smart Bulbs - I have a full Home Automation system.

I currently have a bunch of lights, some outlets, a door lock, and my garage door opener all connected to it. I will be adding a sensor for my driveway as well. Here's how I'm set up:

- I have three lights on the front of the house (single switch) that come on automatically at sundown and off at a fixed time. These lights also come on when the garage door is opened after sunset, and off automatically after the door closes.
- I have two shop lights in the garage that plug into outlets controlled by a switch. I have added a "micro switch" controller (inside the wall gang, no change of switch required) to this. When the garage door opens, the lights will go on automatically after sunset. The lights turns off automatically a few minutes after the garage door closes.
- I have a light over my kitchen sink that comes on automatically at sunset and off at a fixed time.
- I have a light over my island counter.
- I have three recessed lights (dimmable, three-way circuit) around the perimeter of my kitchen / over the counters.
- I have a hanging light and two recessed lights (dimmable) over the table in the eat-in area of the kitchen.
- I have a light immediately outside the back door to the house on the deck (OL1)
- I have lights overlooking the pool in the backyard that also throw light into the yard (OL2)
- I have two halogen floods on the rear corners of the house to illuminate the rear yard (OL3)
- OL1, OL2, and OL3 will all come on automatically if you power on either OL1 or OL3. OL2 can be controlled individually if desired (have lights for the pool without flooding the yard with light)
- OL1, OL2, and OL3 will all go off automatically if you power off either OL1 or OL3.
- OL2, OL2, and OL3, because of their higher energy use, are prohibited from being used during daylight hours. If you attempt to turn them on, the system will turn them off.
- I have a dimmable switch controlling the light kit of the ceiling fan in my master bedroom (separate manual switch for the fan on/off and speed controlled at the fan with the chain).
- I have a keypad lock on my mudroom door.
- ALL lights are forced "off", the mudroom door is locked, and the garage door is closed automatically at midnight.
- I receive push notification on my phone AND an email when the garage door is opened or closed.
- I have a plug-in controllable extension cord (best way to describe it - it's only a foot long) that I use outdoors with the holiday decorations. On at sunset, off at fixed time.
- I have two plug-in controllable plugs. I have one connected to my cable modem and one connected to my router. I power cycle the "perimeter" of my Internet connectivity once per week to ensure that the modem is always running current firmware.

Upcoming additions:

- I am adding a remote sensor to the beginning of the driveway that will turn the outside front lights on automatically when you pull into the driveway if it's after sunset.



I have a web interface to access all of this from a computer's web browser, and I have an app on my phone that allows me to control all of this from anywhere as well.

The door lock was expensive - they're north of $300 for a decent one. The garage door opener, if you have an older one, can be retrofitted for under $100. Light switches run roughly $40 for fixed switch, $50 for dimmers. The controllable plugs were about $40 each and the sensor setup for the driveway is about $150. Use them all with the Home Automation Controller of your choice. These run $100 - $200, typically.


I tried the WeMo switches and they were absolutely horrendous. Every time I launched the app (or so it seemed) it would tell me there was new firmware for the switches. I would go through the process of updating the firmware, and the switches would reset to factory defaults and I would have to re-configure each one of them every time. While there are still some quirks with the Home Automation controller, it's generally pretty reliable for me. And, I like that I can add a user account to the system and give someone access to my house controls with an app on their phone and then take it away when I want.

The one significant requirement for these systems is typically that you MUST be using a password-protected WiFi network at your house (or no WiFi at all) since authentication on the local network is typically not necessary to control things (this means someone could connect to your WiFi while outside and then have access to open your garage door and let themselves in). Mine happens to support a "secure mode" where authentication is always necessary but I use password-protected WiFi anyhow.

Slydude
07-05-2016, 03:12 PM
Thanks. If I come to CT can I move in and play with that setup for a few days?:Blushing: I could have loads of fun. If I tried to set that up I would have to move in with you permanently. Unlike me my wife assumes that simpler is always better. We both know that's not correct.

Some of the things you have set up sound great but would not work for us as we currently rent rather than owning our one home. Though the outside aura is well lit.

I tried the WeMo switches and they were absolutely horrendous. Every time I launched the app (or so it seemed) it would tell me there was new firmware for the switches. I would go through the process of updating the firmware, and the switches would reset to factory defaults and I would have to re-configure each one of them every time.
Thanks for that warning. I've just recently started to seriously look at this issue and had not thought of that as a possible issue.



The one significant requirement for these systems is typically that you MUST be using a password-protected WiFi network at your house (or no WiFi at all) since authentication on the local network is typically not necessary to control things (this means someone could connect to your WiFi while outside and then have access to open your garage door and let themselves in). Mine happens to support a "secure mode" where authentication is always necessary but I use password-protected WiFi anyhow.

I'm currently using a password-protected wi-fi setup. So I'm OK with doing that though it is time to change the password.

I was originally looking at some of the Bluetooth enabled bulbs since I was thinking in terms of easy on/off access for me. Those would work fine for what I want since all the lights I want to control are interior lights that would be within Bluetooth range. She has since decided that it might be nice to be able to turn some lights off or on at a range where Bluetooth would not work so I'm starting to look at web enabled options.

Ember1205
07-05-2016, 03:59 PM
Even if you're renting, you can use a Home Automation system. Get the controllable outlet devices and use them with table / floor lamps. There are even some that offer dimming control.

The in-wall switches require switch replacement. The Micro Switch Controllers do not require switch replacement but do require electrical wiring and are not trivial to install on three way circuits.

Bluetooth isn't going to be a great solution because of distance limitations like you said. WiFi improves on that, but Z-Wave creates a mesh network in the house where devices work together to increase the "reach" of the signal as any electrically powered device can act as a repeater.

Plus, HA works with existing lamps and bulbs when you control things via controllable plugs. Bigger initial investment, but you replace the bulbs with standard bulbs when they burn out. Smart Bulbs are more expensive.

Slydude
07-05-2016, 05:07 PM
You've raised some good points. Some I had thought to look into and some I hadn't. I'm really just started to scratch the surface on this setup. I did think to look at some of the controllable outlets late last night but I'm just getting started on that side of things. I've been looking at bits and pieces of this off and on for a while but have just started to seriously look for solutions.

Ember1205
07-05-2016, 05:21 PM
I have a couple of these:

https://www.amazon.com/Aeon-Labs-Aeotec-Z-Wave-Switch/dp/B00VQISOCG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1467749897&sr=8-1&keywords=aeotec+smart+switch+6

Plus a controller.

My initial investment was around $600 because I started with the controller, the door lock, and three lights. I've been adding little bits here and there for $50-$100 at a time. It's expensive when you're done. But, the convenience factor (for me) is absolutely worth it.

Plus, by adding email notification for the Garage Door, I always know that the kids made it home from school safely if I'm not home, and I can also flip the door open for them from anywhere if something goes wrong with the keypad (although it shouldn't because everything, including the opener itself, is battery-powered).

MacInWin
07-06-2016, 01:52 PM
I started with X10 and now have moved to Insteon devices. I mostly use them for indoor lighting, although I do have two Appliance devices (on/off only) that control the transformers for my 12v outdoor lighting system. No door lock or garage so far. I use an iMac as the controller device, with Indigo software to create scenes and control the devices. There is an Indigo app for the iPhone that lets me communicate with the Indigo server on the iMac as well, so I can control the lighting from the iPhone. Mostly I have the lights come on at sunset, but I also have a "Dark day" scene for those overcast days where I want SOME lights, but not all. I also have a movie setting where the lights are dimmed, but not out completely. At a set time at night all the lights, inside and outside, go out. My wife and I call that "the house has gone to bed." I've looked at the new Insteon hub that is compatible with Apple's HomeKit, but the review were all dreadful so I'll wait for at least version 2. Given my investment in Insteon, it would be expensive for me to move to Z-wave or any other would be pretty expensive.

Ember1205
07-06-2016, 02:06 PM
Some controllers support Z-Wave and Insteon - you could "move" to Z-Wave with a controller without having to replace the Insteon devices.

MacInWin
07-06-2016, 02:13 PM
Ember1205, can you give me a name for that controller? I haven't seen one that worked with both Insteon and Z-wave.

Ember1205
07-06-2016, 02:31 PM
http://forum.micasaverde.com/index.php/topic,31052.0.html

From what I understand, you have to ensure that your specific devices are supported by the Controller Firmware.