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Old 07-24-2021, 06:47 AM   #1
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Scrolling through the tech forum there seems to be a lot of people here utilizing new smart electronics in their homes.

I would like to know what you think about your system and how it works for you. I have the following currently;

-Google Nest Hub (Kitchen)
-Chromecast Audio for in ceiling speakers (kitchen/living room)
-Android TV (living room)
-TP-Link Kasa light switches (kitchen, dining, doorstep, foyer, master bed)
-EcoBee Smart thermostat
-LED Strip lights in the kids' rooms
-Baby Arlo in the baby room
-OHD Smart Garage door opener
-Ring Doorbell (not google compatible)

I would have to say I use the Nest Hub + Chromecast audio for my ceiling speakers the most and it works well pretty consistently, but only pretty consistently.

My google home ecosystem seems to be really hit or miss with most of the connected services. It doesn't appear to be my network (nighthawk MK63 mesh) because I can always use the app that came with the connected service (ecobee, kasa, led lights) but I've been really disappointed in the consistency of the ecosystem for the 5 months I've had it.

Through 5 months on Google Home these are what I've found:

The Kasa lights work 99% of the time so that's awesome;
The android TV only turns on about 60% of the time, but commands work great once its on.
The Chromecast audio works about 90% of the time without being reset, but also cuts out for 3s every couple of minutes, not sure why
The ecobee works about 10% of the time, not sure why, the ecobee app works 100% of the time
My OHD Garage door works maybe 30% of the time, 99% with its app
Arlo "works" for about 3 minutes before it gets disconnected
August smartlock works probably 50% of the time

Again this is all only through google home, which seems like a pretty archaic app to me. All of my devices work fine through their own apps so I don't see a scenario where Google Home isn't responsible for the breakdown in communication. At the end of the day I don't need Google for all that stuff and it's beyond a first world problem but it does get frustrating at times.

How does everyone else's smart home work? Do you use it often? Are there some cool new smart electronics one should look into?
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Old 07-24-2021, 08:15 AM   #2
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For me it’s about comfort and security and it’s all about automation rather than what I can control through an app on my phone or via voice command. Blinds open an 8:00 am, close in the afternoon. Outside lights turn on 10 minutes before sunset and off at 11:00 but on for 10 minutes if motion is detected on the deck or front porch. Turn on closet lights when motion is detected and off 2 mins when motion stops. Spam me and my wife with texts when water is detected in the furnace room.

Automation is what makes a house a smart home IMO and you need a hub for that. One that works locally rather than all in the cloud like Google and Alexa which are not really smarthome hubs. Alexa has come pretty far with routines though, don’t know much about Google home.
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Old 07-25-2021, 12:47 AM   #3
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I use Phillips Hue Bulbs for my patio and love them.
Really helps set the appropriate mood wiry variable lighting.

That and Sonos speakers in various rooms is about as smart home as we've gotten so far.
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Old 07-25-2021, 01:02 AM   #4
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Control4 for audio/video zones (including outside), lights, doorbells, drapes, etc - basically, everything is smart now

Works great, but there are a few frustrations with the app
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Old 07-29-2021, 08:05 AM   #5
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My experience I think is pretty similar to OP. I went for the google home environment and find the app to be pretty awful. I also echo what barnes said in that so much of what I do is just the daily automation of lights and such. We do utilize the voice commands a decent amount, though the rest of my family does not enunciate well enough to get what they need on the first try. I also like having the various speaker groups to play music to. For the most part though I do use individual apps if I just need to turn something on or off.

I have a total hodge podge in our house. (mostly because I'm a tightwad and try all the cheap stuff) Here's what I use:
Rachio sprinkler controller. This is great for automating my watering, pausing the schedule based on forecast or previous precipitation, and allowing me to spot water from my phone if needed.

myQ garage door from Chamberlin. This came with the new unit I put in a year or two back. Its nice to have an app to open or close the garage and check its status. You have to pay to integrate it with google home so this one is 100% external app.

Sensi thermostats (units are Emerson). I didn't want to fork over the big bucks for a nest but wanted units I could control with voice or on my phone. So I do occasionally use voice commands through google to change the temp and can adjust from the app, but most of the time I will go through the sensi app to manage things. has some cool features like usage tracking as well.

Meross for smart plugs: I have tried several brands for smart plugs and switches, but have meross specifically because they had a fairly cheap outdoor plug that I got a couple of for fountains and lights that are outside. I also have a couple regular indoor plugs as well. Same as the others and can use the google app ro voice to control but often use the meross app to quickly turn something off.

Kasa for plugs and bulbs. In our old house we had newer wiring and I had actually switched out almost all the switches on our first floor to have hem be wifi switches. So I was pretty heavily invested in the TP-link environment. Sine moving though older wiring means no neutral wire and I had to ditch all their cheap smart switches. I do still have some bulbs and plugs from them and usage is the same as meross. Can use google but primarily use the kasa app.

Wyze for a little bit of everything. I have a love hate relationship with Wyze. I am pretty heavily invested in their ecosystem at this point but often question why. Their stuff is insanely cheap. But often doesn't work too well. I started with their cameras which do work fairly well.
I have ~8 running inside and outside the some. (side note: i have had the regular $20 cameras outside under my eaves for 2 years and never had any issues with weather) The cameras themselves work great but the app is pretty clunky. They have SD cards for local storage but trying to rewind through footage often causes the app to spaz out. I got in early so I get my clips uploaded to the cloud for free so that's nice.
I also have a decent amount of their home automation items. I have used the door sensors most but at this point have given up. They run through batteries pretty quick and I have had trouble getting them back online after. Either I have to try 5 different new batteries before one works and then if it has power it still won't reconnect to wifi after multiple resets. When we moved into this house I had 4 sensors working initially but am not using any right now.
I have some plugs and bulbs that work well. They are similar to the kasa and meross. I do really like the bulbs as they have a good range of brightness and shading. They are not the color version though.
Lastly we do also have their scale and my wife has their fitness band. Both of those work as intended. The scale is nice to have one that will track your weight through the app. For her fitbit knockoff, I don't see a whole lot of upside in having it be integrated with Wyze. I don't think theres ever a time she used it to turn a light on or off.

Google home. Hardware wise, I do have quite a few devices. I stockpiled a bunch of minis over a couple of black Fridays. I find them to work really well for their price. I have a couple of the last generation home speakers and I do like the better sound quality. We have a larger play area for the kids, and I actually have both a mini and a full size in that room and I feel when you combine them both together you get really good sound quality. I also have first generation hubs that I got cheap before v2 came out. We mostly use them as clocks in addition to their mic/speaker benefits.





Ok, that concludes my way too long rundown of smart home. I have tried a lot of products at this point so feel free to ask any questions! You can probably tell I don't get to talk about this very much as I way overshared!
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Old 07-29-2021, 08:10 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enoch Root View Post
Control4 for audio/video zones (including outside), lights, doorbells, drapes, etc - basically, everything is smart now

Works great, but there are a few frustrations with the app
Ack Control 4 has been around for ages.... its funny you mention frustrations - that seemed to be their MO when I dealt with them I think 10 years ago
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Old 07-29-2021, 08:38 AM   #7
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I have a full HomeKit setup for my house. Lights, fans, thermostat, blinds, garage doors, smoke/CO alarms, leak sensors, etc. For the most part things work really well but I'm not happy with my Netatmo doorbell and security cameras.
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Old 07-29-2021, 01:00 PM   #8
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I don't have a smart home hub or anything (no interest) but is it possible to just get a smart garage door controller, without actually changing the mechanism that opens or close the door?

Basically I want to be able to check my phone to make sure my garage door is closed 10 minutes after I've left home, and have the ability to close it if I forgot
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Old 07-29-2021, 02:19 PM   #9
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I don't have a smart home hub or anything (no interest) but is it possible to just get a smart garage door controller, without actually changing the mechanism that opens or close the door?

Basically I want to be able to check my phone to make sure my garage door is closed 10 minutes after I've left home, and have the ability to close it if I forgot
Yes. Chamberlain MyQ smart garage hub works with most brands. If you have a later model Chamberlain or Liftmaster with built-in MyQ connectivity even easier.

Edit: Make sure you check compatibility as the list it at the website as some older openers may not be compatible depending on the operating frequency.

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Old 07-29-2021, 02:23 PM   #10
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I set mine up, I have a smart hub in the master bedroom, one in the kitchen, one of the mini hubs in the living room, and then just the nests in the other bedroom.


I haven't done the thermostat or blinds yet. I use the Phillips bulbs in the the lights. They work well but sometimes it seems like google has trouble with groups of lights. So for example in the bed room I have two lamps and a fixture in the group and when I go to turn the group on or off, not all of the bults turn on or off.


Love the sunrise wake up on the smart hubs, that's really cool.



Still have a ways to go, but overall google I think is good, though I would like to have the smart hubs be a little more app open.
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Old 07-29-2021, 02:52 PM   #11
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Not really smart home but I bought this thing (IFI Zen Blue DAC):
https://www.amazon.ca/-/fr/iFi-Audio...92118540&psc=1
Basically it's a bluetooth DAC for streaming from your phone, which you can then feed into an old or new amp via RCA. Makes use of all the bluetooth codecs including aptxhd, ldac, aac. I find that bluetooth connections are very device dependent, so this thing rules in the sense that you connect there first and then to your amp, and will use the highest quality codec your phone / streaming device supports. Google nest audio or whatever be damned. It's not exactly entry level for what is basically a bluetooth streamer, but there's very little quite like it right now and the chips they use are audiophile approved
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Old 08-05-2021, 08:15 PM   #12
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If you have multi devices like me. Wemo, Ring, Nest, myq

Look at homebridge if you have an iPhone

You can throw in on a rasberry pi in an hour and almost everything works in homekit and its rock solid compared to Alexa (which is hot garbage)
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Old 08-08-2021, 10:04 AM   #13
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I have the following setup at my place:

- Ring, Arlo, Wyze cameras
- Lifx light bulbs
- Wemo light switches
- Wemo and iHome smart plugs
- iHome and Fibaro water sensors
- Ecobee thermostat
- MyQ garage door opener
- Nest smoke detectors
- zwave motion/door sensors, and Konnected panel that I moved my very old wired alarm panel over to, cancelling that monitoring service (was with AAA Alarms/SecureTek)
- Schlage Z wave door locks

I have Home Assistant as my hub. The only thing I do not have integrated with it are the cameras or the Nest smoke detectors, which is not a big deal to me. I was able to bring in HomeKit accessories into it as well, such as the iHome products so it's all in one spot. There are other things that I was able to get setup wtih HomeAssistant too, like my printer, which now reports ink levels in it. I've been using it for the last few months and it's been great. My SmartThings hub finally gave out and it sounds like Samsung is getting out of the hub business, even though they are still supporting the software.

Put it on my Raspberry Pi which was easy, but I did have to buy a Zwave controller, then had to unpair all of them from SmartThings and paired them to Home Assistant.
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Old 08-08-2021, 10:05 AM   #14
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I don't have a smart home hub or anything (no interest) but is it possible to just get a smart garage door controller, without actually changing the mechanism that opens or close the door?

Basically I want to be able to check my phone to make sure my garage door is closed 10 minutes after I've left home, and have the ability to close it if I forgot
Yes, the first smart home accessory I bought was the MyQ garage open. I've probably had it for 5 years now and it works great. Love being able to open/close it with my phone, which I usually do when we go for a walk and leave through the garage. Don't need to carry the opener with me.

Some Home Depots are selling it for $35 according to RFD, which is a great deal.

https://forums.redflagdeals.com/home...ub-35-2481291/
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Old 08-13-2021, 09:33 PM   #15
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I have gone in a geekier direction. When I bought my house in 2015, one of the first purchases I made was a SmartThings Hub. While wifi is convenient for smart home, it isn't as secure and I didn't want my household devices like lightbulbs to be using my wifi network. So everything I have (with a few exceptions) is Zigbee or Z-Wave. I really like the system and find it to be a lot more reliable than wifi and Bluetooth devices, but a bigger pain to use since there really is no central interface that is intuitive for guests and others in the house to use (the SmartThings App leaves a lot to be desired). So to solve this, I got an old Nexus 7 tablet running ActionTiles mounted to the wall, which acts as my central "control panel".

Recently (start of 2021) I've switched away from SmartThings as it's had a lot of reliability issues and am now using Home Assistant on a Raspberry Pi as my central hub instead.



I have several Google Home Hubs (now called the Nest Hub) which I use to give me an easy voice interface for my smart home. I can say "Hey Google, turn off the living room lights" or use their built in routines like "Hey Google, Good night" which then sends the commands to Smartthings to actually execute the actions on my system. Since installing these, I've been using the tablet on the wall much less as I think voice is a more intuitive interface. This also gets me access to all the features of the Google devices like weather info, my commute, access to my calendar, reminders, etc that SamrtThigns doesn't do (and work well since I am in the Google ecosystem for my business software) and augment the actual smart home devices.

I also decided in my smart home, it makes more sense to use smart switches over smart bulbs (unless the bulbs are for colour) so I am working on swapping out my light switches with smart switches which is proving difficult with an old home and no neutral wire. The devices I am using in my setup are:
  • Raspberry Pi running Home Assistant
  • Shalage Connect door lock/keypad (one on each door)
  • Ecobee thermostat
  • Several Sengled RGB bulbs (I've found the comparable to Hue for a fraction of the price)
  • Tintable white bulbs in the office and living room so I can adjust the white temperature based on the activity
  • Several Zigbee and Z-Wave smart plugs from various brands
  • Various Zigbee and Z-Wave light switches (still installing these)
If anyone is interested in Home Assistant, or has questions about my setup, let me know I'd be happy to discuss it. There are a lot of innovations coming in the near future for smart home compatibility which are exciting, and look like they will support many of the existing protocols which means I likely won't have to redo my whole system.
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Old 08-14-2021, 07:40 AM   #16
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I have gone in a geekier direction. When I bought my house in 2015, one of the first purchases I made was a SmartThings Hub. While wifi is convenient for smart home, it isn't as secure and I didn't want my household devices like lightbulbs to be using my wifi network. So everything I have (with a few exceptions) is Zigbee or Z-Wave. I really like the system and find it to be a lot more reliable than wifi and Bluetooth devices, but a bigger pain to use since there really is no central interface that is intuitive for guests and others in the house to use (the SmartThings App leaves a lot to be desired). So to solve this, I got an old Nexus 7 tablet running ActionTiles mounted to the wall, which acts as my central "control panel".

Recently (start of 2021) I've switched away from SmartThings as it's had a lot of reliability issues and am now using Home Assistant on a Raspberry Pi as my central hub instead.



I have several Google Home Hubs (now called the Nest Hub) which I use to give me an easy voice interface for my smart home. I can say "Hey Google, turn off the living room lights" or use their built in routines like "Hey Google, Good night" which then sends the commands to Smartthings to actually execute the actions on my system. Since installing these, I've been using the tablet on the wall much less as I think voice is a more intuitive interface. This also gets me access to all the features of the Google devices like weather info, my commute, access to my calendar, reminders, etc that SamrtThigns doesn't do (and work well since I am in the Google ecosystem for my business software) and augment the actual smart home devices.

I also decided in my smart home, it makes more sense to use smart switches over smart bulbs (unless the bulbs are for colour) so I am working on swapping out my light switches with smart switches which is proving difficult with an old home and no neutral wire. The devices I am using in my setup are:
  • Raspberry Pi running Home Assistant
  • Shalage Connect door lock/keypad (one on each door)
  • Ecobee thermostat
  • Several Sengled RGB bulbs (I've found the comparable to Hue for a fraction of the price)
  • Tintable white bulbs in the office and living room so I can adjust the white temperature based on the activity
  • Several Zigbee and Z-Wave smart plugs from various brands
  • Various Zigbee and Z-Wave light switches (still installing these)
If anyone is interested in Home Assistant, or has questions about my setup, let me know I'd be happy to discuss it. There are a lot of innovations coming in the near future for smart home compatibility which are exciting, and look like they will support many of the existing protocols which means I likely won't have to redo my whole system.
Do you have an alarm panel hooked up to Home Assistant? I re-wired my old school panel into the Konnected board and tied that into Home Assistant. I can arm/disarm it using Home Assistant but having trouble scheduling it as I want it to arm itself at night and disarm in the morning.
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Old 08-14-2021, 09:20 AM   #17
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Do you have an alarm panel hooked up to Home Assistant? I re-wired my old school panel into the Konnected board and tied that into Home Assistant. I can arm/disarm it using Home Assistant but having trouble scheduling it as I want it to arm itself at night and disarm in the morning.
I was never really happy with how Konnected worked (there always seems to be something that doesn't work), so I just ended up not using it for my system. I have an ADT system that does integrate with the Google Assistant. I can arm and disarm using voice commands as well as use it with routines. When my ADT contract is over later this year I intend to take another look into security systems and see if it's a better idea to use my existing hardware with Konnected or look into some of the newer, more modern systems that are designed for Home Assistant integration.
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Old 08-14-2021, 02:31 PM   #18
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I have gone in a geekier direction. When I bought my house in 2015, one of the first purchases I made was a SmartThings Hub. While wifi is convenient for smart home, it isn't as secure and I didn't want my household devices like lightbulbs to be using my wifi network. So everything I have (with a few exceptions) is Zigbee or Z-Wave. I really like the system and find it to be a lot more reliable than wifi and Bluetooth devices, but a bigger pain to use since there really is no central interface that is intuitive for guests and others in the house to use (the SmartThings App leaves a lot to be desired). So to solve this, I got an old Nexus 7 tablet running ActionTiles mounted to the wall, which acts as my central "control panel".

Recently (start of 2021) I've switched away from SmartThings as it's had a lot of reliability issues and am now using Home Assistant on a Raspberry Pi as my central hub instead.
This sounds a lot like my setup. In considering a switch away from SmartThings, however, I picked up a Hubitat. Haven't set it up yet because, well, ST is still working and I haven't been given a reason to wholesale move away from it. I hate the new SmartThings app compared to the Classic app, it was so much better before.
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Old 08-14-2021, 04:05 PM   #19
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This sounds a lot like my setup. In considering a switch away from SmartThings, however, I picked up a Hubitat. Haven't set it up yet because, well, ST is still working and I haven't been given a reason to wholesale move away from it. I hate the new SmartThings app compared to the Classic app, it was so much better before.
You'll have to let me now what you think about Hubitat. I seriously debated moving to that before I settled on Home Assistant, but would love to hear your thoughts when you get it all setup.
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Old 08-15-2021, 12:20 PM   #20
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I'll keep you posted if I ever finally get around to setting the damn thing up. Between work and personal, I have too many projects on the go right now. Personal, I have the Hubitat and a RPi3b I plan on setting up as a PiHole box. I have all the hardware, just need to actually do it.
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