Home Technology New House, going all in on Smart Home

Discussion in 'HomeKit, HomePod, CarPlay, Home & Auto Technology' started by iMi, Apr 3, 2018.

  1. iMi macrumors 65816

    iMi

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    #1
    I need some advice. We're buying a new house soon. The house is still being built, so we have some choices to make. We're going with HomeKit because everything we have in the house is Apple. Alexa has been fired since the HomePod joined the household :D:D:D

    All in on HomeKit.

    Except, we already decided on appliances. Kenmore Elite set. Only the dishwasher is "smart" and mostly pointless. Who needs notifications that the rinse liquid is low?

    Anyway...

    Smart thermostats. We're thinking two Ecobee 3 Lite units. Still trying to figure out how the smart functionality will work with two of them in the house. Does anyone have a true two-zone setup (two separate heating/cooling systems)?

    Any other recommendations?

    Garage Door Openers. We currently have the smart Craftsman models. They are absolutely fantastic, but need something that also works with HomeKit next. Any suggestions?

    Smart Locks?
    Smart Light Bulbs?
    Any other smart solutions we should consider that actually make lives easier?
     
  2. robnbill macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2007
    Location:
    Northern VA - Fairfax Area
    #2
    Hi,

    We have been on HK since it came out. iOS 11 brought what I consider many improvements. It's reliable - in home - or away.

    This is an overview of what we have involved in HK:

    • Luton Bridge 2 Pro with about 30 devices - plus 4 or 5 Pico remotes.
    • Schlage Sense Locks (BT)
    • Ecobee3 (2) with a sensor each running two HVAC systems
    • iDevice (1)
    • Eve Outdoor temp sensor
    • LiFx Outdoor LED WiFI Bulb over the front porch
    • Eve Motion Sensor
    • Garage Door - MyQ Home Bridge (I think you would have to add a MyQ opener to your Craftsman - and then the bridge w/ HK would work with that. I'd call them and ask.)
    Automations work well along with scenes.

    The value to having the Ecobee show on the Home app is being able to check the temperatures inside the house. If I make adjustments it's usually through the Ecobee app. That app is real good on the iPhone version. They just changed the iPad version - dumbed it down - it used to have a lot of reports and a "big picture" of all the settings. Now it looks like the iPhone version. That said - the Ecobee's perform very well - including switching between heat and A/C. You can change the 'spread' between heat and air. Default is 5 degrees. We changed ours to 4 degrees - so for that's good for us. Might go as close as 3.

    As to "Hubs": We have two Apple 4K TV's and now a HomePod. HK automatically picks which one is "active" - the others are shown in Standby mode. My understanding is the hubs that are in standby repeat the signals - for example, BT.

    We have not tried any HK cameras. We do run a Security Spy web server for outdoor cameras - separate from HK.

    The only item we want are water/flood sensors connected into HK. There is one by Fibaro - but I'm hoping Honeywell will convert theirs to operate under HK.

    As to alarm systems - a friend of ours converted his original alarm system to a Honeywell Lyric Panel under HK. He's able to tie that into scenes - e.g., "I'm Home" - open his garage door, turn on the inside garage light, unlock the door to the house and turn off the alarm. It works flawlessly.


    Hope that gives you some things to think about.
     
  3. CPTmom2wp macrumors regular

    CPTmom2wp

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2014
    Location:
    Ohio
    #3
    Just to pile on to the last post:

    1. We have two separate HVAC, 5 ton, Trane, heat pump systems. We have two Ecobee 4 thermostats that we creatively named Upstairs Ecobee and Downstairs Ecobee :D. Each is separate and generates separate data, no conflict. In retrospect, we should have purchased the Ecobee 3's, as we don't need or want Alexa.

    2. Likewise, we use Schlage Sense locks and are really loving them. We had heard stories of the smart locks being slow to open, glitchy, or not reliably receiving the wifi signal. So far, none of those things have occurred. Also, the Schlage has a keypad outside that allows you to set a special code for someone else, cancel it later, and change the code for security. But so far, we just mostly use Siri to lock/unlock the door. When your arms are full of trash bags to take out or groceries to come into the house, it is really convenient.

    3.We have Lutron motion sensor switches in 2 bathrooms.

    4. We are in the process of retrofitting our house with Philips Hue (mostly white ambiance A19, BR30) bulbs and have them controlled/named in groupings, mostly controlled by Siri through HomeKit. We really like the Philips bulbs, but others prefer the LIFX as they output 75w vs the 60w Philips. Bulbs that output colors as well as white are nice in the main TV/Movie/home theatre area and in the Master Bedroom.

    5. Likewise, we use (1) AppleTV 4k and (2) Apple HomePods as Hubs. The HomePods seem to be dominant even when I have my phone and iPad sitting next to it. We love the HomePods, not only as speakers, but to control all our devices using Siri. It is so convenient to tell Siri to turn on lights upstairs in the bedroom prior to going upstairs; to tell Siri to dim the lights in a particular room to 50%; or even to be able to tell Siri to turn off all the lights prior to going to bed.

    6. We have Harmony remotes for our 2 TV areas which can also include Philips light bulbs/lighting. We love the Harmony platform for A/V equipment, but really are controlling everything else in the Apple ecosystem.

    No garage, so no opener.
     
  4. robnbill macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2007
    Location:
    Northern VA - Fairfax Area
    #4
    This is sort of off topic - for controlling our AV systems we use an iOS/OSX based product from SimpleControl. The only hardware it needs is an IR extender for older devices. It works very well - easy to set up and edit. We have three "rooms" that are controlled from any of our iPhones or iPads. The app can also control HK devices too. Not using it for HK, yet, just A/V devices. It's subscription based but well worthwhile IMO. It has been 'bullet proof' tested by a non-techie friend of ours who recently sat our house and dog - he used it in all three rooms and had zero isssues.
     
  5. Newtons Apple Suspended

    Newtons Apple

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2014
    Location:
    Jacksonville, Florida
    #5
    This new home automation is still very new with so many new players. In 5 years it will be totally different. Keep your options open.
     
  6. willmtaylor, Apr 5, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2018

    willmtaylor macrumors G3

    willmtaylor

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2009
    Location:
    A Natural State
    #6
    I just can’t get over the sticker shock of “smart” light bulbs. WiFi garage doors and smart locks make sense to me though.
     
  7. Newtons Apple Suspended

    Newtons Apple

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2014
    Location:
    Jacksonville, Florida
    #7
    I am not replacing anything just to get automated. I am pretty happy to be able to have Alexa control my zoned AC system. I never come in my front door and enter in the garage. I will continue turning lights on and off manually, it is just me in this large house and I do not need that much for lighting.
     
  8. BillGates1969 macrumors 6502

    BillGates1969

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2008
    Location:
    Bournemouth
    #8
    I am with you, however once you go 'all in' it is difficult to imagine life in a non smart home.

    I have motion and lux sensors in each room, so when i enter a room, if it is deemed too dark, the lights come on to my desired scene. If then say the sun comes out and the lux level rises, the lights go out. I also have configured a Bayesian Sensor for each room (basically a set of rules that takes into account say nose level, motion, camera activity time of the day, what appliances are on etc) that acts as a pretty accurate occupancy sensor so the lights go out when no one is in the room. My thermostat adjusts itself depending on how many people are in the house, the outside temperature and what rooms they are in etc. I also have certain scenes like a kill switch and a 'goodnight' scene that turns out all lights, appliances, arms the alarm and puts the temperature down to a low level for the night. I use telegram for alerts etc.

    My other half is the most technophobic person you'll ever meet, but she loves it now. We use Alexa and Siri. The funny thing was we went on holiday recently and when we went to bed we both looked at each other and laughed as we realised we would have to get out of bed to turn off the lights :)
     
  9. vipergts2207 macrumors 68000

    vipergts2207

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2009
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    #9
    Black Friday was a great time to buy. Hue color bulbs were nearly 50% off.
     
  10. Herb4372 macrumors newbie

    Herb4372

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2018
    #10
    I made peace with the cost of the smart bulbs... I consider that lightbulbs used to be a consumable that you replace with some frequency but the smart bulbs are fixtures you shouldnt need to replace for a reasonable length of time, and many are warrantied.
     
  11. cynics macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
    #12
    Talk to the electrical contractor about smart switches and dimmers. You can do the bulbs in lamps yourself, but honestly if you are having the house built you’ll likely know where you want a lamp and have a switched outlet nearby.

    I have Leviton switches and dimmers. They are grest but the app is lack luster and with HomeKit the apps used for products make a difference. Thankfully other HomeKit apps can be powerful enough to control other products better then the native product apps.

    If I were to do it again I would’ve tried a Leviton and Lutron switch side by side just to compare. But I’m not re-replacing 30 switches at this point lol.
     
  12. iMi thread starter macrumors 65816

    iMi

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    #13
    Thank you, everyone. Awesome feedback.

    Switches are something I haven't considered yet. @cynics makes a great point. The time to put them into the house would be now. I'll be heading out there this weekend to see where they are at, but I think the switches are already installed.

    Smart bulbs are a good investment. We bought all LED bulbs in the current house and back then they were considerably more expensive. Still, the convenience of not having to replacement them (some are up 15 feet or more) made all the difference. Plus, electricity consumption is lower and at the time we were also paying quite a bit more because of the switch to 100% renewables (today we pay 20% less for 100% wind, crazy).

    It's funny how everything changed in just a few years...

    @CPTmom2wp Thanks so much for the info on running two Ecobee units. I have been trying to think of a great naming convention and decided to go with... Upstairs Ecobee and Downstairs Ecobee. We, Apple people, are the creative bunch after all.

    Yes, I'm stealing your idea :D
    --- Post Merged, Apr 9, 2018 ---
    They will get considerably less expensive with time. As is always the case with technology.
     
  13. HomeKitCottage macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2018
    #14
    --- Post Merged, Apr 18, 2018 ---
    We are little ahead of you and went with Ecobee 3 (which is effectively the same as the Lite). We have two sensors but are only running one Heat/Cool source but have the HRV connected. I'd be interested to see how the two zone works.

    We went with August Locks, Hue lights, and some TP link and Wemo switch (using Homebridge)

    I've started a new blog/vlog http://homekit.yado.tech in case you are interested. I have the first couple of posts up including the first Ecobee video. More to come.
     
  14. DNichter macrumors 604

    DNichter

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2015
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    #15
    I have been dabbling in this stuff for a few months now and I am happy with where I am at, but I still have underlying issues with HomeKit in general. I feel that it's overall the best option out there, but can definitely be improved upon. I have been able to get my August Smart lock to unlock as I pull in the driveway, lights to turn off and on from sensors in the house, and my Nest reliably working through HomeKit also. So far so good, I think you'll be happy investing in HomeKit.
     
  15. RickInHouston macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    May 14, 2014
    #16
    Price goes down when Apple isn't in the discussion, but you prefer it so...
     
  16. willmtaylor macrumors G3

    willmtaylor

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2009
    Location:
    A Natural State
    #17
    I do?
     
  17. CPTmom2wp macrumors regular

    CPTmom2wp

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2014
    Location:
    Ohio
    #18
    ....not sure I understand what you're saying. Apple has nothing to do with Philips Hue bulbs or Schlage Sense locks, for example. They are both expensive. I think that all the new technologies from every company will be priced at the top of the market. That is the price we pay for being "early adopters".
     
  18. DamFu macrumors regular

    DamFu

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2007
    #19
    I have been adding on here and there. Most of my bulbs have been swapped with Hue. I also have a couple Leviton Decora switches, a couple iHome plugs, and an Ecobee 3 Lite. All are working pretty well together. At Christmas, I had all of my decorations (both indoor and outdoor) running with Homekit so that as soon as my wife was close to home, everything was on when she pulled in the driveway. She loved it.
     
  19. willmtaylor macrumors G3

    willmtaylor

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2009
    Location:
    A Natural State
    #20
    That’s sweet.
     

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