any better Home Automation system recommend?

Thread Starter

LAOADAM

Joined Nov 21, 2018
899
Hi everyone,
seems there are quite many kinds of Home Automation system, anyone built it and tasted better to recommend please?
Thanks
Adam
 

Reloadron

Joined Jan 15, 2015
7,546
Several years ago my brother gave me an Amazon Echo Dot. Thought it was amusing and used it mostly at night while on my computer working on things. Alexa play The Moody Blues and it would just stream music. Thought that was nice. Since my wife has an Amazon Prime account I decided to buy a few inexpensive outlets which was amusing. Then came switches, relay cards and all sorts of home automation gadgets. Everything I added is easily bypassed but I really like anything I can link to and control with Alexa. It simply works for me. You can also roll your own but I am happy with Alexa and the voice recognition really works well. Sort of a works with everything. :)

I guess it really comes down to what you want to home automate. Think about exactly what you want to do, making a list and checking it twice. Then look at what will best serve your needs / wants. I only used Amazon Alexa because I got one as a gift and went from there.

Ron
 

bassbindevil

Joined Jan 23, 2014
836
Devices that run Tasmota firmware are preferable to things that depend on servers in China. Many devices can be "Tasmotized" to replace the stock firmware, but that's dependent on the kind of chips inside, and whether it's possible to update over-the-air or open it up and connect to programming test points. It's best to seek out models that are confirmed to be Tasmota compatible, because the trend over the last few years has been for manufacturers to choose cheaper chips that aren't supported by Tasmota. I've had some luck finding older Wi-Fi plugs at Value Village. Helpfully, the FCC ID included the string TYWE2S, which happens to be the model number of a Tasmota-compatible Wi-Fi module.
https://tasmota.github.io/docs/Integrations/
I can't say much about the overall software side of things; so far I just have an Echo Dot controlling a Tasmotized Sonoff Basic switch.
 

ronsimpson

Joined Oct 7, 2019
3,145
The Sonoff modules can function without internet. If the function is simple like turn on at 6:00 and off at 3:00 or temperature to on/off then the modules run without internet. If you want a function that includes more than one module, then you need to have a working internet connection. (if Sun =down and camera1 = motion and module7=on then turn on front light)

I am playing with a Raspberry Pi3+ and NodeRed to make a local server that does what the cloud servers do. It works but I am not good at programming. I may upgrade to an Orange Pi800 and try again.
 

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,237
We have too many ecosystems running at once here: Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Amazon Alexa, Shelly, and Apple HomeKit.

My current project is unifying everything under Node-RED. While most things already work cross-system, it can get confusing because of how different systems deal with other system's devices (particularly naming).

Using Node-RED, it's modules, and MQTT, I can make almost anything look like native HomeKit device. We will be trying to consolidate everything under the Apple ecosystem because we have the full Apple device range: computers, tablets, phones, watches, Apple TV, and HomePods.

If I had to pick just one ecosystem for devices, though, I would have a hard time making a suggestion without context.

The most versatile is a roll-your-own system based on Node-RED (with or without Home Assistant). This is also the most work. If can use other hubs, or other devices including WiFi-based ones, and even natively control Z-Wave devices. With MQTT, it can control all sorts of things based on WiFi connectivity, or present Z-Wave devices to non-wave systems as native devices for that system.

The next tier ion the work-benefit spectrum would be SmartThings. This is a very well done system with a lot of capabilities and off-line execution available. It can be used as plug-and-play, or it can be customized with a readily available API. It can cooperate with Amazon Echo if you want a voice assistant. The voices are based on Z-Wave which runs on Zigbee.

The next would probably be Amazon Alexa (developer site). There is good support for it, it is plug-and-play and does that pretty well, and it is based on the Echo voice assistant device already. There are developer resources available but unlike SmartThings it is not end-user friendly. The devices are based in 2.4GHz WiFi.

Approximately at the SmartThings/Alexa level is Apple HomeKit. The reason to choose this would be already having Apple devices, or planning to purchase them. It is based on the vastly improved Home app on the desktop, tablet, phone, watch, TV, and HomePod. It uses an Apple TV, a HomePod, or an iPad as a hub, and can have redundancy. For use, HomeKit + Node-RED is the best path. The devices are based in 2.4GHz WiFi.

There is also Shelly. you can use Shelly devices with the Shelly app, or with other ecosystems. They are like premium versions of Sonoff devices (that is, the relays). The native firmware can be replaced but it is very good and supports MQTT which makes it effectively universal.

Expensive compared to Sonnoff, they are much better built and the form factor allows them to be put into an electrical box with a light switch. They offer a lot of other things as well. The configuration options include using the light switch as a control, so you can convert a conventional switch into a small switch (as low as you have a neutral in the box). Like Sonoff, The devices are based in 2.4GHz WiFi.

Interestingly, the company is based in Sofia, Bulgaria (with offices in the Las Vegas and Munich). Good stuff, hight recommended.

So the choice of an ecosystem depends on your goals and circumstances.

Cheap and cheerful is Sonoff. Flexible but plug-and-play is Smarthings.
Well made and somewhat universal is Shelly.
Plug-and-play but not particularly end-hacker friendly is Amazon Alexa.
Apple user focused and nicely done is HomeKit (also the most expensive in the end).

And, any or all of the above plus HomeKit is the bottomless pit of home automation, a project—possibly hobby—but most definitely the most versatile and potentially fun.
 

Thread Starter

LAOADAM

Joined Nov 21, 2018
899
Several years ago my brother gave me an Amazon Echo Dot. Thought it was amusing and used it mostly at night while on my computer working on things. Alexa play The Moody Blues and it would just stream music. Thought that was nice. Since my wife has an Amazon Prime account I decided to buy a few inexpensive outlets which was amusing. Then came switches, relay cards and all sorts of home automation gadgets. Everything I added is easily bypassed but I really like anything I can link to and control with Alexa. It simply works for me. You can also roll your own but I am happy with Alexa and the voice recognition really works well. Sort of a works with everything. :)

I guess it really comes down to what you want to home automate. Think about exactly what you want to do, making a list and checking it twice. Then look at what will best serve your needs / wants. I only used Amazon Alexa because I got one as a gift and went from there.

Ron
Great!
I'll dig it more.
 

Thread Starter

LAOADAM

Joined Nov 21, 2018
899
Devices that run Tasmota firmware are preferable to things that depend on servers in China. Many devices can be "Tasmotized" to replace the stock firmware, but that's dependent on the kind of chips inside, and whether it's possible to update over-the-air or open it up and connect to programming test points. It's best to seek out models that are confirmed to be Tasmota compatible, because the trend over the last few years has been for manufacturers to choose cheaper chips that aren't supported by Tasmota. I've had some luck finding older Wi-Fi plugs at Value Village. Helpfully, the FCC ID included the string TYWE2S, which happens to be the model number of a Tasmota-compatible Wi-Fi module.
https://tasmota.github.io/docs/Integrations/
I can't say much about the overall software side of things; so far I just have an Echo Dot controlling a Tasmotized Sonoff Basic switch.
Thanks.
does the Tasmota system need any cloud data kind? And even with a continuous fee?
 

Thread Starter

LAOADAM

Joined Nov 21, 2018
899
The Sonoff modules can function without internet. If the function is simple like turn on at 6:00 and off at 3:00 or temperature to on/off then the modules run without internet. If you want a function that includes more than one module, then you need to have a working internet connection. (if Sun =down and camera1 = motion and module7=on then turn on front light)

I am playing with a Raspberry Pi3+ and NodeRed to make a local server that does what the cloud servers do. It works but I am not good at programming. I may upgrade to an Orange Pi800 and try again.
Thanks.
I like the 'function without internet' .
 

Thread Starter

LAOADAM

Joined Nov 21, 2018
899
We have too many ecosystems running at once here: Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Amazon Alexa, Shelly, and Apple HomeKit.

My current project is unifying everything under Node-RED. While most things already work cross-system, it can get confusing because of how different systems deal with other system's devices (particularly naming).

Using Node-RED, it's modules, and MQTT, I can make almost anything look like native HomeKit device. We will be trying to consolidate everything under the Apple ecosystem because we have the full Apple device range: computers, tablets, phones, watches, Apple TV, and HomePods.

If I had to pick just one ecosystem for devices, though, I would have a hard time making a suggestion without context.

The most versatile is a roll-your-own system based on Node-RED (with or without Home Assistant). This is also the most work. If can use other hubs, or other devices including WiFi-based ones, and even natively control Z-Wave devices. With MQTT, it can control all sorts of things based on WiFi connectivity, or present Z-Wave devices to non-wave systems as native devices for that system.

The next tier ion the work-benefit spectrum would be SmartThings. This is a very well done system with a lot of capabilities and off-line execution available. It can be used as plug-and-play, or it can be customized with a readily available API. It can cooperate with Amazon Echo if you want a voice assistant. The voices are based on Z-Wave which runs on Zigbee.

The next would probably be Amazon Alexa (developer site). There is good support for it, it is plug-and-play and does that pretty well, and it is based on the Echo voice assistant device already. There are developer resources available but unlike SmartThings it is not end-user friendly. The devices are based in 2.4GHz WiFi.

Approximately at the SmartThings/Alexa level is Apple HomeKit. The reason to choose this would be already having Apple devices, or planning to purchase them. It is based on the vastly improved Home app on the desktop, tablet, phone, watch, TV, and HomePod. It uses an Apple TV, a HomePod, or an iPad as a hub, and can have redundancy. For use, HomeKit + Node-RED is the best path. The devices are based in 2.4GHz WiFi.

There is also Shelly. you can use Shelly devices with the Shelly app, or with other ecosystems. They are like premium versions of Sonoff devices (that is, the relays). The native firmware can be replaced but it is very good and supports MQTT which makes it effectively universal.

Expensive compared to Sonnoff, they are much better built and the form factor allows them to be put into an electrical box with a light switch. They offer a lot of other things as well. The configuration options include using the light switch as a control, so you can convert a conventional switch into a small switch (as low as you have a neutral in the box). Like Sonoff, The devices are based in 2.4GHz WiFi.

Interestingly, the company is based in Sofia, Bulgaria (with offices in the Las Vegas and Munich). Good stuff, hight recommended.

So the choice of an ecosystem depends on your goals and circumstances.

Cheap and cheerful is Sonoff. Flexible but plug-and-play is Smarthings.
Well made and somewhat universal is Shelly.
Plug-and-play but not particularly end-hacker friendly is Amazon Alexa.
Apple user focused and nicely done is HomeKit (also the most expensive in the end).

And, any or all of the above plus HomeKit is the bottomless pit of home automation, a project—possibly hobby—but most definitely the most versatile and potentially fun.
WOW.
Thank you for the great amount of information and detail.
I guess I'll pick a simple one to start, but I proper it is able to continually develop for a while.
Should I set up 'Node-RED' as a base? And added on whatever needed?
 

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,237
WOW.
Thank you for the great amount of information and detail.
I guess I'll pick a simple one to start, but I proper it is able to continually develop for a while.
Should I set up 'Node-RED' as a base? And added on whatever needed?
Node-RED is a great thing if you want to learn to use it. It runs very well on a Raspberry Pi, if you have one. If not, any computer running Linux is a good host.

There is a learning curve, but it’s very powerful and pretty fun.
 

ronsimpson

Joined Oct 7, 2019
3,145
There are good videos on youtube for Node-Red. Several on Node-Red-Sonoff.
It is a graphical language. You click on a picture of what you want to do and connect up the pictures.
I do not do software but even I could get the examples to work and them make changes to mostly do what I want.

I made a button "back Light On" and another "back light off" and connected them to a "Sonoff". Then I found an example of a timer that I used to push the buttons for me. That program runs independent of other programs. I keep adding small little programs that all run at the same time.
 

ErnieM

Joined Apr 24, 2011
8,378
Similar to Reloadron I started simple and then expanded. I have an Echo in most every room but the bathroom. All outdoor and most indoor light can be controlled via Alexa. My incomplete list of smart devices runs some 50 units long.

Up in the morning I ask Alexa to set the overhead on and the bedroom fills with light. As I make my way down stairs I will wish her a good morning and the stars will light, as well as the kitchen and living room. The TV starts up too on a news channel. Lights on will get the whole living room and dining room lit, while Lights Off gets us mostly ready for bed, but a goodnight will seal the deal with lights and TV off.

I can set the color of the lights in the pool, but mostly just let them come on at dusk and off at 11PM.

While I need to get V2 controller working my in my kitchen I have 3 sections of RGBW under-cabinet LEDs that add a nice bluish night light, of full warm white when let's cook is commanded, even when Walter White is not available.

Very fun to play with.

Setting up devices is simple. Creating Alexa scripts is a bit of a pain but actually simple (just not how I would have done it).

The biggest things I learned are DO check your WiFi router for the maximum connection count as each and every device you add needs its own connection. I spent a bad weekend trying to figure out why my new $160 batch of light switches would not work.

Next is those light switches themselves. I originally chose Leviton brand wherever possible so one phone app would do most. In the few years since this began Amazon added a lovely app to control ALL your connected devices so manufacturer's apps became irrelevant. That's great for those things I could not use a Leviton switch inside (like the modified hall light or the modified fish tank light), still control all in one app.

BUT... I am sad to say out of 8 Leviton hard-wired light switches I use I have had three failures in about as many years. All the same: the internal relay fails to work and the switch remains either on or off. Possibly even more worrisome is these things run warm, and it is not a good thing to press a light switch and be surprised at how warm it is. I am still looking into an alternative, but I am most interested in the least expensive ones as paying $10 is >> then $40.
 

bassbindevil

Joined Jan 23, 2014
836
You should investigate "mysensors" as well. DIY sensors and actuators; might suit your needs better than Wi-Fi IOT stuff. I've played with it on Arduinos to create temperature sensors and relay actuators for the Pihome heating control system. It was easy to convert from the default wireless network to RS485 wired (just change a few lines in the Mysensors Arduino sketches). Figuring out how to make Pihome understand zone controllers that combine temp sensors and relays is another story.
https://www.mysensors.org/
https://www.pihome.eu/
 

wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
17,498
A HomeKit user here. It's the most expensive option but I chose it so that I could develop iOS apps to work via HomeKit with compatible switches and my home thermostat. HK has some other advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is that Apple has done a pretty good job of building in a high level of security. I have zero concern about my HK devices being hacked from the outside. I'm sure it's possible but like I said, it's not something I give a second thought to. I also like that any app that controls HK devices, for instance Apple's own "Home" app, can generally be used with other brands of HK equipment. So you have a lot of choice over how you use them.
 

Thread Starter

LAOADAM

Joined Nov 21, 2018
899
Node-RED is a great thing if you want to learn to use it. It runs very well on a Raspberry Pi, if you have one. If not, any computer running Linux is a good host.

There is a learning curve, but it’s very powerful and pretty fun.
Thank you.
I used to use many Arduino and ESP32, I may try to use Raspberry Pi.
 

Thread Starter

LAOADAM

Joined Nov 21, 2018
899
There are good videos on youtube for Node-Red. Several on Node-Red-Sonoff.
It is a graphical language. You click on a picture of what you want to do and connect up the pictures.
I do not do software but even I could get the examples to work and them make changes to mostly do what I want.

I made a button "back Light On" and another "back light off" and connected them to a "Sonoff". Then I found an example of a timer that I used to push the buttons for me. That program runs independent of other programs. I keep adding small little programs that all run at the same time.
Thanks.
 

Thread Starter

LAOADAM

Joined Nov 21, 2018
899
Similar to Reloadron I started simple and then expanded. I have an Echo in most every room but the bathroom. All outdoor and most indoor light can be controlled via Alexa. My incomplete list of smart devices runs some 50 units long.

Up in the morning I ask Alexa to set the overhead on and the bedroom fills with light. As I make my way down stairs I will wish her a good morning and the stars will light, as well as the kitchen and living room. The TV starts up too on a news channel. Lights on will get the whole living room and dining room lit, while Lights Off gets us mostly ready for bed, but a goodnight will seal the deal with lights and TV off.

I can set the color of the lights in the pool, but mostly just let them come on at dusk and off at 11PM.

While I need to get V2 controller working my in my kitchen I have 3 sections of RGBW under-cabinet LEDs that add a nice bluish night light, of full warm white when let's cook is commanded, even when Walter White is not available.

Very fun to play with.

Setting up devices is simple. Creating Alexa scripts is a bit of a pain but actually simple (just not how I would have done it).

The biggest things I learned are DO check your WiFi router for the maximum connection count as each and every device you add needs its own connection. I spent a bad weekend trying to figure out why my new $160 batch of light switches would not work.

Next is those light switches themselves. I originally chose Leviton brand wherever possible so one phone app would do most. In the few years since this began Amazon added a lovely app to control ALL your connected devices so manufacturer's apps became irrelevant. That's great for those things I could not use a Leviton switch inside (like the modified hall light or the modified fish tank light), still control all in one app.

BUT... I am sad to say out of 8 Leviton hard-wired light switches I use I have had three failures in about as many years. All the same: the internal relay fails to work and the switch remains either on or off. Possibly even more worrisome is these things run warm, and it is not a good thing to press a light switch and be surprised at how warm it is. I am still looking into an alternative, but I am most interested in the least expensive ones as paying $10 is >> then $40.
Thanks.
Sounds wonderful!
 
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