Noob to Homekit. Want to get started

Discussion in 'HomeKit, HomePod, CarPlay, Home & Auto Technology' started by adam9c1, Dec 15, 2015.

  1. adam9c1, Dec 15, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2015

    adam9c1 macrumors 68000


    May 2, 2012
    I really have no idea which forum to stick this to.

    My wife and I both have iPhones, iPad, and one ATV 3rd gen.

    I would like to get started with home kit.
    The wiring in our house is fugged / ancient and for example we can't install timers on outside light or bathroom fan because our wiring is old and does not have the third wire (and there is no room in conduits to run lines).

    So I would like to get started with Home Kit.
    The thing is can it be tied to TWO Apple IDs?
    Right now we have separate Apple IDs and Apple TV is signed into mine.

    Which brand(s) to go with?
    for starters I'd like to accomplish the following:
    light bulb outside the house turn on and off at specific time, is it possible to still turn on/off with the wall switch?

    at specific times (night) have the bathroom lights set to soft white / dim when I turn them on with the wall switch

    migrate from a programmable thermostat to a homekit so it can be fine tuned depending on weather etc and adjusted when outside the house.
    We have a set schedule M-Th, and Fri-Sun always on set temp as most of Fridays my wife works from home, but I know this can be tuned better.

    Thank you for your assistance.
  2. ZolakJHS macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2008
    Wake Forest, NC
    Hey... so welcome to the pain of getting help with HomeKit (there is no place good on macrumors to put these questions). I started my HomeKit implementation with a Schlage Sense lock a couple months ago and am happy to give you my 2 cents...

    As far as sharing with 2 apple IDs, that is no problem. You set up HomeKit under your ID, then you can invite your significant other to join your homekit network (its an option in the iOS settings for HomeKit).

    Now, if you want to get HomeKit working when you are outside the home, my understanding is you really need an Apple TV 4. While it technically works with the 3, it doesn't work well. I can verify that I have a ATV3 currently and when remote access actually works I consider it a Festivus miracle. I am hoping my soon to arrive ATV4 will fix the problems.

    As for thermostats, the Ecobee 3 is the gold standard, and for lights I can't really help you as I am still looking at those. To be honest $60 for a LED light just seems outrageous. You should look at the insteon stuff, I think they may have more of what you are looking for with switch integration. You will need their Hub Pro, but then you can add all sorts of plugs and switches to that, including fan control if you are interested in that.

    Hope some of this helped... let us know how you are making out!!! I really hope that HomeKit continues to improve as time goes on. For now, its a bit of a PITA.

    Oh, one comment about your wiring... I've been there! My last home in New York actually had low voltage wiring and doing anything electrical was a complete nightmare, as no place local stocked any parts that were compatible (I couldn't even buy new switches -
  3. adam9c1 thread starter macrumors 68000


    May 2, 2012
    Thanks Zolak,

    I did get a quote for some electrical work, and I think honestly it will be less expensive to get smart bulbs that I can set a on/off schedule etc than run third wire and replace switches with programmable (the old way).
  4. AvidArtist macrumors newbie


    Apr 19, 2010
    I'm in the same boat. I want to convert my 1987 country farmhouse into a smart home using HomeKit. Many obstacles stand in the way: old wiring, thermostats in EVERY room (electric heat) - no way I can afford 10 HomeKit enabled Honeywell smart thermostats…and of course, the biggest obstacle of all, budget. What I really want are: a smart remote controlled garage door opener that I can activate from my iPhone or Apple Watch (preferably via bluetooth); indoor and outdoor video cameras with motion sensors that will notify me on my phone when there is movement; dimmable, programmable lights I can control remotely from my iPhone; a smart lock that I can control and check status of remotely (I had been looking at the Schlage Sense, but then saw many reviews on Amazon that made me think it won't meet my needs); and smart thermostats I can control remotely, set on a schedule, and which would ideally learn my routine.

    I was looking at the Canary, which seems to have many useful features for home monitoring…I'm not sure if there is a HomeKit device that offers similar functionality.

    Any suggestions?
  5. NorCalLights macrumors 6502a

    Apr 24, 2006
    I started my home automation project long before HomeKit (I use Smartthings) but the process is largely the same.

    My suggestions are:

    1) Start small. Pick one project you want to automate, and accomplish that well. For me, that was my hot water recirculating pump. Don't automate something because you think it will be "neat". Focus on stuff that actually improves your life. Trust me, there will be bugs and issues. It's much more rewarding if the payoff is actually improvement in your day-to-day life.

    2) Understand the limits. If you use smart bulbs, you'll have very limited "physical" control at the switch. Self-monitored security systems are fine, but you actually have to notice the push notification on your phone, and you have to call 911 yourself. False alarm? That's your responsibility.

    3) Understand that you're going to be spending a lot of money. I treat this as a hobby.

    4) Shop around for a platform. HomeKit is okay, but it has major limitations. Smartthings is okay, but it isn't the easiest platform to use (nor is it the most reliable). Etc...

    5) Wait a year. Seriously. Technology is advancing quickly, and sensors, cameras, bulbs, switches and hubs are all getting cheaper quickly.
  6. aristobrat, Dec 17, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2015

    aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    Programmable bulbs are probably the least expensive way, but I'd recommend that you read up on the details of how the brand of bulbs you're considering work.

    I played around with the Phillips Hue colored bulbs and ended up returning them because of two things. #1) if you turn the bulb off via switch, when you turn it back on again, it loses anything you set (like how bright the bulb should be) until you have Hue re-set the bulb again. #2) if Hue has turned off a bulb (say the bulb is running on a timer), if the power goes out, when it comes back on, the bulb will turn back on (even if it's normally programmed to be off at that time).

    My house has the 3rd wire in the outlets, so I ended up going with Insteon light switches controlled by an ISY controller. The ISY controller is not HomeKit enabled (there are other controllers that work with Insteon that are), but to me, at this point all that HomeKit would get me is Siri-integration. I was initially bummed about not being able to say "Hey Siri, turn on the outside lights" when I pulled into the driveway, but now I have a $40 Insteon wireless motion sensor that detects me pulling into the driveway and runs a program on the ISY that can tell if the outside lights are already on, and if not, turn them on for 5 minutes (and then turn them off). The motion sensor can also sense when it gets dark outside, and you can have programs run off of that. The ISY controller already knew when sunset was, and I had programs based off of that (like automatically turning on porch lights, etc), but on cloudy winter days, it can get dark over an hour before the actual sunset, so I switched the programs over to running when the motion sensor says that it's dark outside.

    I'm not sure how much research you want to do, but Insteon does have 2-wire dimmer switches. Their description says that they do not work with LED or CFL bulbs, but from reading reviews, it seems like people are using those kind of lights without problems. They may be using the newer dimmable versions of those lights, though. That switch (plus a controller) might work for you.

    I'm also using the Ecobee3 and freaking love it. The extra sensor that it comes with allow the thermostat to monitor the temperature/occupancy of other rooms in the house. So if your wife is working from home in a room that's not the same temperature as where the thermostat is located, it'll (by default) average the temperature of where she's at in (when it detects her in that room) and turn the HVAC on/off based on that averaged temperature.

    For my upstairs unit, the thermostat is located in a hall that (during hot summer days) will never cool down to a reasonable temperature. Before the Ecobee, I'd have the AC set for 74'F, and the unit would run for hours and never cool that hallway down. Meanwhile, all of the other rooms upstairs were as cold as ice. When I got the Ecobee, I put a remote sensor in my upstairs bedroom, and told it to ignore the temperature that it reads on the thermostat in the hallway. Now if I have the AC set for 74'F, it turns off when the remote sensor in my room reaches 74'F, regardless of what the temperature of the actual Ecobee in the hall is reading. That's saved a lot of money. I know I probably could have just set the old thermostat to 80'F and it would have cooled my room to 74'F, but this was only an issue on super-hot summer days, and I'd have to be constantly resetting the temperature on the old thermostat based on the forecast, which wasn't going to happen on a reliable basis.
  7. NorCalLights macrumors 6502a

    Apr 24, 2006
    This is true with most (if not all) "smart" bulbs. Frankly, I would avoid smart bulbs at all costs. The handful I purchased at the beginning of this project have all be relegated to my basement.
  8. Peepo macrumors 6502a

    Jun 18, 2009
    I have an ISY994i and this past weekend I just setup HomeBridge on my Raspberry Pi along with the isy-js plugin. It took a bit to get working but it surprisingly works pretty good. Let's me play around with Siri voice control but the novelty of that is already starting to wear off. I am working on tweaking it am solving some sync issues with scenes but for most part I think it will work good. I am treating it as ability to just use Siri and HomeKit maybe but most of my real back-end automation and scripts and HA logic will be done by ISY (I also have it checking status of my DSC Alarm using dsclink so I can turn off lights etc. if I arm alarm in away mode for example. I also have Ecobee 3 which I replaced my Nest and think it works way better than Nest.
  9. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    That's awesome! I'm just about to start looking at HomeBridge, glad to hear that works pretty good!

    My house was pre-wired for an alarm. Before I heard about the ISY and how it works with ELK/DSC and others, I installed a SimpliSafe wireless system, which has been great, just doesn't integrate into anything (and I'm not a fan of the "warts" on the doors). I'd love to get an ELK, it's just hard for me to justify spending $700 to replace a perfectly fine $400 alarm system so I can have something that hooks into the ISY. I'm pretty sure by the end of the summer (latest) I will have broken down and done it, though. :D

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