Money, Design, Time, Installation, “Programming”
While home automation can cost from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars, your budget becomes a key determining factor. If your budget is, say under $1000 or even $10,000 and you want lots of home automation – lots of smart things to control, you are pretty much in the DIY category. And that means the decisions are yours.
If figuring out a whole lot of things (if you want a whole lot of control of your Smart Home” requires if you are not “industry” to do a good deal of research. Both in terms of identifying the specific products that have the features you want, and, that those products are compatible with and will integrate with the rest of your home system.
Let’s assume you are “into it” and have a pretty good idea of what you want to do, just not how to get from point A to point D, and you have the time to invest and the interest in doing your homework. Great.
Or if you don’t have the time – or ambition to be a serious DIYer – figuring out things for yourself, you can get some affordable help without going to the full professional installation route. One great example – Figure out what you want to do, and check in with your local Best Buy. Now some of their stores have more capable staff, and have Geek Squads trained in home automation. Others stores may not be as capable, so you’ll want to talk to make sure that the staff you are talking to, knows their stuff, and that their Geeks that come to your home to install are well trained. Hint: I’ve found that Best Buy stores with Magnolia home theater shops inside tend to have Geek Squads with more overall expertise.
A highly knowledgeable store worker might be able to provide lots of insights about various smart home products, but the Magnolia stores themselves (and those working within), have been doing home theaters for 15+ years.
There’s an old saying: Home Automation (AKA The Smart Home) came out of the home theater. In 2004, for example, I was able to touch one button in house at the time, which would:
Power up my home theater projector at the time, drop down my motorized screen, and turn off some lights. I also had motorized shades on all the windows back then, but I had to use a separate remote to close them. Today, those same brand, similar motorized shades can be controlled by voice command, or touch. BTW I probably could have programmed those shades into the system using that same IFTTT, just discussed, if it was important enough. It wasn’t at the time.
Design is where things can get complicated, and it’s also where you need to look at emerging trends, new products (and product classes).
First figure out want capabilities you want, but then you have to make sure, if you are picking the products, that devices are overall compatible. (That’s where professionals/experts (can make your life simple, or at least help you avoid mistakes.)
Decide what you want to control, here’s a partial iist:
- Smart Locks
- Video doorbells
- Window, temp, water, CO and other sensors
- Smart switches (Lutron, Crestron….
- Lights dimmers (such as Lutron) (an alternative to smart light bulbs)
- Smart outlets (turn on a table lamp at designated times or by command…)
- Motion sensors – in our last house as soon as you entered the kitchen (within a second or so, a variety of lights would turn on. Some turned off after a fixed amout of time, others when there was no motion in the kitchen for 10 minutes…
- Keeping Cool (or warm)
- Smart Thermostats – Honeywell, Nest, Ecobee…
- Motorized (and smart) shades – ie Somfy/3 Day Blinds, Screen Innovations, Da-Lite…
- Sprinkler systems (most of the usual players, including RainBird?
- Smart indoor lighting (with or without hubs) white or color bulbs and light strips (Philips Hue, LIFX, etc.)
- Smart outdoor lighting
- Smart TVs (Sony, LG, Roku – inside, Samsung…)
- Smart Projectors (Epson, LG, Optoma VAVA…
- Smart sound systems (including whole house (Sonus, Harmon, Echo, Apple HomePod
Now you need a Naming scheme.
Most naming is easy. I mean how many video doorbells do you have (probably no more than 1), how many smart locks – probably the same. But lighting – that’s one area where a plan is important. I say that from experience.
Here’s where I am. We just remodeled our kitchen and some other parts of the condo. I’ve been waiting to put it all together, built around Alexa voice control where possible.
I’ve cleaned out my Alexa app of all the devices as they were set up in my last two homes. Fresh start time. (Sadly, Alexa’s app won’t let you bulk delete!)
Our remodel is down to the last few items. And I’m laying out my naming for all my lighting, switches etc. To give you an idea of what I’ve done (not doing it all). I try to avoid using similar words that the personal assistants hear, so that, below, for example to lock and unlock our front door:
***** This could be a table (below) or it can be put into sections by part of the house (Entry, Kitchen, etc.???
Folks this is what I’ve come up with for our condo. I’ve tried not to have the whole names similar enough to confuse Alexa. Two syllable names are definitely better than one for recognition purposes, three better than two. Also if one word is unique in your names library, you probably won’t need to use other words in that name.
|Entry and hallway|
|Kwikset Lock||Lock the front door||Lock door|
|Kwikset Open||Unlock (“open” solves the problem||Unlock door|
|Of Lock vs Unlock for Alexa)|
|Entry Light||Inside light above the front door||On/Off/Dim/Sched|
|Hallway Lights||Five lights on one circuit||On/Off|
|Hallway 2||Middle light||On/Off/Dim/Sched/colors|
|Hallway 3||Furthest from front door||On/Off/Dim/Sched/colors|
|Lori’s door||Light over entrance to Lori’s office||On/Off/Dim/Sched|
|Nierman||Light illuminating a painting||On/Off/Dim/Sched|
|Office lamp||lamp by desk|
|Office ceiling||ceiling light|
|Island Lights||Pendent lights over kitchen island||On/Off/Dim/Sched|
|Inner kitchen||Ceiling lights around center|
|Outer kitchen||Out ceiling lights around perimeter|
|Kitchen Center||fixture in center of kitchen ceiling|
|Under Cabinet||“White strip lighting, under cab. “||On/Off/Sched|
|Kitchen Cabinet||White strip lighting: glass door cab.||On/Off/Sched|
|Kitchen Color||Color strip lighting in cabinets||On/Off/Dim/Sched/Colors|
|Dining Room||Fixture over dining room table||On/Off/Dim/Sched|
|Fan||Living Room fan||On/Off/Speeds/Sched|
|Bar Cabinet||lighting inside Living room cab.||On/Off/Sched|
|Bar Color||color lighting inside cab||On/Off/Dim/Sched/Colors|
|TV lights||Color lighting over TV/mural||On/Off/Dim/Sched/Colors|
|Living Room lamp||Table lamp in living room||On/Off/Dim/Sched|
|Master Bedroom and Bath|
|Loris light||Bedside lamp Lori’s side||On/Off/Dim/Sched|
|Art’s light||“Bedside lamp, Arts… “||On/Off/Dim/Sched|
|Bedroom Fan||Master bedroom fan||On/Off/Speeds/Sched|
|Vanity||lights over vanity||On/Off/Dim/Sched|
|Bathroom Cool||ceiling lights cool white||On/Off/Dim/Sched|
|Bathroom Warm||lights over sinks warm white||On/Off/Dim/Sched|
|Bathtub light||light over tub||On/Off/Dim/Sched|
|2nd Bedroom and Bath|
|Guest light||Bedside table lamp||On/Off/Dim/Sched|
|Guest bathroom light||bathroom light||On/Off/Dim/Sched|
|Theater and 3rd bath|
|Theater Main||dimmer switch by door|
|Theater Fixture||floorstand fixture w/3 smart lights||On/Off|
|Theater A||smart bulb color||On/Off/Dim/Sched/colors|
|Theater B||smart bulb color||On/Off/Dim/Sched/colors|
|Theater C||smart bulb color||On/Off/Dim/Sched/colors|
|Raise Screen/Drop Screen||motorized projection screen||Up/Down|
|Raise Shades||some day don’t have any yet|
|Lower Shades||some day “ “|
|No smarts in 3rd bathroom|
|Atomic||Outdoor color lighting||On/Off/Dim/Sched/colors|
|Outdoor lights||smart lights in two sconces||On/Off|
With bigger budgets, you can use professionals. I like that! It doesn’t have to be a lot more. You can still be the key designer – in the sense of deciding what you want – thermostats, door locks, window and other physical alarm sensors, then there are also CO2, Fire and Carbon Monoxide sensors, you can have. Outdoor lighting on smart timers, indoor lighting on smart timers…
Let’s see about getting this all installed into your home!
Loading Apps is easy. Making decisions setting up all those apps, that’s where the challenges come in.
Where to Start: By now you almost certainly are aware of the many things you can automate in your home> Now, it’s time to figure out what you want to accomplish, and if you aren’t the person who wants to tackle the install part, reach out to people that can help. If on a budget, for example, the Geek Squad..