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Want to get started in smart home tech (on the cheap)

5,621 519 October 19, 2017 at 05:58 PM
There's a billion different devices, with billions of different ways to set up. I don't even know where to start. I want to do it on the cheap. I want to start with lighting, and security. I was thinking about going with Xiaomi products, they are really cheap. I'd like to be able to control it all from one app if possible.

I mostly want to be able to dim, and turn the lights on/off from the gateway, over the internet as well through a singular app. I have a lot of expensive electronic equipment in my room. So I'm thinking a door sensor that will trigger a camera with motion detection, and I can upload/record remotely, and night vision would be cool as well.

I don't know, I'm open to ideas on smart home devices, and fun and interesting ways to use smart home devices as well. I just got done watching 2 hours of youtube videos, and I'm more confused then when I started. I think it has to do with there's so much you can do. I just don't know where to start really. Maybe a cheap starter set to get my feet wet?

Help would be appreciated. Thanks!!

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#2
zwave or bust.
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#3
Quote from jkee
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zwave or bust.
Care to elaborate why you prefer it?
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#4
Quote from gonepostl
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Care to elaborate why you prefer it?
doesn't depend on a connection to the internet to function. will still work when then little wifi based product's mfg goes belly up. not vulnerable to KRACK. doesn't slow down your wifi network, creates it's own mesh network. Doesn't sell data about you to advertisers (unless you use a hub that does, but you at least have the choice) or phone home to china.
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Last edited by jkee October 24, 2017 at 10:12 PM.
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Ye wacky olde frogge
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#5
Avoid all the Xiaomi crap. You won't be satisfied with any of it. My suggestion: Get a Raspberry Pi 3 and install Raspbian, then use open-source software to do what you want.
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#6
UPB and Insteon are ok too they're just more expensive on average than zwave.

Software that runs on a Pi or similar can be a nice option, but recommending it depends some on your skill level with linux/command line/programming. For me personally this is what I'd choose. If I were setting it up for someone less tech savvy, I might choose something more idiot proof.
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#7
Well, the zwave stuff is just to expensive for me. I guess beggars can't be choosers.
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#8
Quote from gonepostl
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Well, the zwave stuff is just to expensive for me. I guess beggars can't be choosers.
Monoprice has some affordable zwave products: https://www.monoprice.com/search/...word=zwave

Home Depot has some zwave products starting at around $35: https://www.homedepot.com/s/zwave?NCNI-5

Occasionally there are better deals to be had if something's being clearanced or on sale. Set a deal alert for zwave.
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#9
Quote from gonepostl
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Well, the zwave stuff is just to expensive for me. I guess beggars can't be choosers.
I was racking my brain trying to think of the name... Sonoff. Super super cheap. Uses MQTT so you will have to setup an environment that supports that. I'd suggest going Raspberry Pi w/ Home Assistant route. I'm not sure how much support the commercial hubs provide for MQTT. Sonoff sells their own bridge for super cheap, but I have no clue how it works or if it needs another system to control it.

EDIT: Looks like Sonoff's bridge is for 433 hz receiver. Not sure which of their devices are 433 hz. The inline power switches seem to use WiFi. Also it appears they have an iPhone app that can directly control these without using a Pi and HA.
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Last edited by brbubba October 25, 2017 at 08:29 AM.
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#10
Quote from brbubba
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I was racking my brain trying to think of the name... Sonoff. Super super cheap. Uses MQTT so you will have to setup an environment that supports that. I'd suggest going Raspberry Pi w/ Home Assistant route. I'm not sure how much support the commercial hubs provide for MQTT. Sonoff sells their own bridge for super cheap, but I have no clue how it works or if it needs another system to control it.

EDIT: Looks like Sonoff's bridge is for 433 hz receiver. Not sure which of their devices are 433 hz. The inline power switches seem to use WiFi. Also it appears they have an iPhone app that can directly control these without using a Pi and HA.
Sonoff looks interesting and certainly has some cheap products. It's too bad that they haven't pursued getting their products UL listed. That would go a lot farther towards convincing me it won't burn down the house than a photo of the product in front of flames with the caption "advanced fireproof materials".

The $0.50 mechanical light switch at the hardware store is UL listed as are most if not all automation products that actually find their way to local retailers.
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Last edited by jkee October 25, 2017 at 10:42 AM.
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#11
Damn, wish they had an android app
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Quote from gonepostl
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Damn, wish they had an android app
They do have an android app as well. Most of their devices use the ESP8266 chip, which you can purchase yourself. However, cost and time wise, you're not going to beat their devices.

As jkee stated, no UL listing is definitely a concern. I wouldn't want my house burning down and the insurance company trying to deny a claim due to a non-listed device.
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Quote from brbubba
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They do have an android app as well. Most of their devices use the ESP8266 chip, which you can purchase yourself. However, cost and time wise, you're not going to beat their devices.

As jkee stated, no UL listing is definitely a concern. I wouldn't want my house burning down and the insurance company trying to deny a claim due to a non-listed device.
Damn.......wish I was good enough at LInux to use the Raspberry Pi method.
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Quote from gonepostl
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Damn.......wish I was good enough at LInux to use the Raspberry Pi method.
Home Assistant has pre-packaged images you can use. They'll do all of the setup so you can just access the HTML GUI right away. I setup OpenHAB this way, but I've since decided that Home Assistant is the way to go. Give me a few more weeks and I'll have it setup and I can see how difficult it is.
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Quote from brbubba
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Home Assistant has pre-packaged images you can use. They'll do all of the setup so you can just access the HTML GUI right away. I setup OpenHAB this way, but I've since decided that Home Assistant is the way to go. Give me a few more weeks and I'll have it setup and I can see how difficult it is.
Thanks, you're the man ;-)
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