Anyone started investing in Smart home devices?

Discussion in 'Third party hardware, software and accessories' started by zagu, Sep 11, 2015.

  1. VicB

    VicB PhilMUG Addict Member

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    @oj88, thanks for the suggestions & the video. Great insight on the advantages between smart light bulbs & smart switches! Just need to read up on what you did as it's Greek to me at the moment. Not your fault, it's my senior mind that takes time to understand all this new tech.
     
  2. potpot2

    potpot2 PhilMUG Addict Member

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  3. oj88

    oj88 PhilMUG Addict Member

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  4. Joemer

    Joemer Member

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    Hi Everyone,

    I'm new to this home automation. I would like to seek you help on what are the things I needed to start off with this. I will first try this automation in our bedroom and what I wish to automate are my main bedroom light seperate swith location, C.R light seperate switch location, A/V Receiver, TV, Cignal STB box, WD TV live Media Player or the Mi Box 3 Player. May I ask what are the things I needed to set them up. upon backreading here I saw that one option is the Broadlink TC2 smart RF switch as I don't need to modify my home wiring. But I want to know how I can integrate it with my echo dot. Same inquiry goes to the other devices listed above. Sir oj88 and sir ignudi your input on this thread is much appreciated and inspiring po to the likes of us who wants to start home automation po. TIA to all who will respond and will share their input towards my inquiry po.
     
  5. oj88

    oj88 PhilMUG Addict Member

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    Oh dear. Where do I begin?

    First things first... If you're keen on automating your A/V equipment (TV, receiver, STB, media player, etc.), nothing beats the Logitech Harmony Hub. It readily integrates with Alexa and this approach is what I would recommend.

    For everything else, you can use Broadlink (to control IR and/or RF devices) or WiFi smatplugs to control almost anything.

    The family of Broadlink universal remotes (RM Pro/Pro+ and RM Mini3) is similar to the Harmony Hub, but nowhere near as easy to use as the latter when it comes to automating A/V equipment. What the RM family is good for is controlling 'everything' else. The RM Pro can be setup to control your A/Cs via IR, for example. I've relegated it to do just that and to power on/off my A/V equipment for now. I have a Harmony Remote 665 that is still in its blister pack that I plan to use to automate the A/V... maybe later.

    There's literally a lot of things to discuss. I would rather you start wrapping your head around Paul Hibbert's excellent video tutorials starting with this one:

    Paul Hibbert's Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/wolfsweb

    Revert back if you have any questions.
     
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  6. Joemer

    Joemer Member

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    Thanks oj88, Appreciate your reply towards my inquiry but isn't it too much if I'll use logitech hub and the broadlink simultaneously? As per my understanding with Pauls video, The broadlink is capable to performing almost the same as the logitech hub with the plus of having an RF. If setting up the broadlink is complicated then are there other RF blaster capable of controlling the broadlink TC2 smart switch that can be integrated with alexa? My top concern in starting the automation is the powering on and off of my Hometheater devices (A/V reciever, TV, media player, STB) and this is done in one of pauls video where he substitute the off function with a mute. with the lights I only have 2 lights that needs to be controlled. Any other insight in achieving this is much appreciated. Another note is if you can provide me the things that I need to make this happens is a plus. I'll send you a PM if posting in this thread is prohibited. Thanks in Advance..!!!
     
  7. oj88

    oj88 PhilMUG Addict Member

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    For turning on/off A/V equipment, the RM Pro or Mini3 will suffice. This is what I have for now. I only suggested the Harmony Hub if you're looking at FULL A/V automation. Automation is not the same as turning things on and off, per se.

    Example of what the Harmony Hub can do:

    You say; "Alexa, open Netflix"

    Harmony Hub turns on your TV, turns on your receiver, sets input to whichever media player you're using for Netflix, turns on or wakes up the media player (ie. Roku) and opens the Netflix app.

    If you say, "Alexa, open Youtube"

    The Harmony Hub remembers that you've already got the TV and receiver on. What it does next is tell the media player to exit Netflix and run the Youtube app.

    If you then say, "Alexa, open ABS-CBN"

    The Harmony Hub still remembers that the TV is on and it will just set the receiver input to your cable or TV box, then change the channel on the TV box to ABS-CBN.

    That's automation. It's that ability to "remember" equipment states is what sets the Harmony hub apart... aside from the ease of setup. The Broadlink RM family, along with its software, is nowhere near what the Harmony Hub can do. But again, for turning on/off A/V equipment, the RM will do.

    Basic components you need:
    1. At least one (1) Amazon Echo device (which you already have)
    2. A Broadlink RM hub (model depends on your needs)
    a. Broadlink RM Pro/Pro+ to control IR and RF (you typically only need one RM Pro/Pro+ per home since RF can penetrate walls and floors to a certain extent)
    b. Broadlink RM Mini3 to control IR devices (you will need one per room that you need to send IR to. Remember that IR needs line of sight to the equipment it needs to control Make sure that the distance is not more than 15ft. IR also cannot pass through walls or IR-opaque objects)
    3. (Optional) A dedicated Android device (smartphone, tablet, or Android TV box) that is always powered-up and connected to your home's 2.4GHz WiFi. This is used to run the RM Plugin app to extend Broadlink's capabilities for Alexa beyond what their apps can do (IHC and e-Control).
    4. Broadlink TC2 light switch - Be sure you get the US-230V model

    As far as I know, only the RM Pro/Pro+ is compatible with the TC2.
     
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  8. Joemer

    Joemer Member

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    Really appreciate your concise and complete response towards my inquiry. I'm now more inclined in getting the harmony hub as the scenes/activites are expanded to the things I can do with my Hometheater. On the other hand I can see the potential of broadlink RM series specially the Pro+ in my future home automation as It will allow me to control light switches and even wall outlet connected devices via RF. Last question though I checked la*z*d* and found out that they are selling it ridicilously priced at more than 21K. I then checked amazon and found some sells it for less than $100. Any recommendation where I can source it out locally? A used harmony hub will suffice at I just want to test the waters first before I start diving into this new hobby. Thansk alot sir for your assistance.
     
  9. oj88

    oj88 PhilMUG Addict Member

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    Best you buy it from abroad. Though, potential warranty claims may be difficult, if not impossible. To the best of my knowledge, none of the local Logitech distis and retailers carry the Harmony Hub. You can call them up and ask.
     
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  10. 11Finger

    11Finger Member

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    any recommendations for a 3 gang smart light switch ?
     
  11. oj88

    oj88 PhilMUG Addict Member

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    You have two options...
    1. WiFi light switch -The switch is connected to your home WiFi. The only drawback is, it requires the two Live wires (which constitutes 220V) to function. Technically, the 2nd wire is called the Neutral wire
    2. Broadlink TC2 - Requires a hub (Broadlink RM Pro+) to work. It works off of RF signals from the RM Pro+. One distinct advantage of the TC2 is that, it doesn't require the Neutral wire so no additional electrical work is required to replace your switches
     
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  12. jessec

    jessec Active Member

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  13. ignudi

    ignudi Member

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    hi @Joemer sorry for very late reply. i wasn't active that much online the past few weeks. (n)

    i also considered the Broadlink RM Pro before. It's way cheaper than the Logitech Harmony (the last time i checked amazon it was priced at 35USD). if i really wanted to, i can configure it to control both my media center and my split type AC. however, after careful consideration (and with lengthy readings of online reviews), i opted to design my smart home by purchasing:

    1) ambi climate v2 (last december 2017), and
    2) logitech harmony companion (april 2018)

    going generic and purchasing the broadlink RM pro would have saved me a lot of money, but i wanted the specialized functions of the ambi and the harmony.

    the ambi allows me to fine-tune the humidity and temperature in my bedroom. it uses A.I. to adjust to my comfort levels. i had to teach the ambi at first, but over time it uses the trends it has learned, as well as ambient indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity levels, to set the optimal temperature setting. as of this time, no other smart AC controller except the ambi can do this (tado and sensibo don't have this feature AFAIK). of course, the broadlink doesn't also have it. ;)

    i was waiting for the logitech harmony elite to drop down to affordable levels, but it seems stuck at the 250-350USD price range. besides, it utilizes an internal lithium ion battery, which would make it somewhat difficult (but not impossible) to replace once it dies (you can buy a replacement lithium ion battery on amazon, but it requires some DIY to replace). also, the elite requires being docked constantly in the charging cradle when not in use (the battery lasts for two days max if not docked). of course, the cradle itself would require allocating another power outlet in my living room. going touchscreen and support for 15 devices would have been nice, but the downsides i mentioned far outweigh those features, IMHO. :sneaky:

    so i settled on the (relatively) more affordable harmony companion (140USD amazon). CR2032 coin-cell battery (logitech says it lasts for a year) that i can easily replace, with home control support (i integrated my philips hue lights with it; i could either shout at alexa or use the harmony remote to control my hue bulbs). :rolleyes:

    if you don't have a hue lighting system, or do not wish to integrate it with harmony, you can also buy the harmony smart control. other than the home control buttons, the smart control functions identically to the companion.

    i use camelcamelcamel.com to set up email notifications when there is a price drop in amazon. i specify a floor threshold price (e.g. for the harmony elite i set up 150USD; but so far the price hasn't dropped that low; it's moot also since i gave up on the elite and went with the companion :LOL:). i don't have that kind of luxury to go about on impulse and buy from amazon; i time my purchases using the notifications from camelcamelcamel. that's how i was able to buy the ambi climate and the harmony companion.

    as to the hue system, i had to resort to lazada and olx. i wasn't really so sure about the hue systems being sold on amazon (A19 120V). i have learned that philips manufactures the hue on a regional basis, with varying socket sizes and voltages. your best source for hue bulbs would be lazada; those that ship from hong kong are of the E27 220V variant (very much compatible here in the PH). you can also try hotgadgets in cyberpod corinthian. they also sell hue systems there.

    if you can, go with the smart switch that requires neutral wiring. if you're going to install a broadlink-compatible smart switch (which will still require that you remove your old switch and do some moderate DIY), you might as well go hardcore with the DIY and proceed with the wifi-enabled smart switch. remember, you can only install the broadlink-based switch if within reach of the RF signal of the broadlink pro controller (basically within the room where the switch is located). with the wifi-enabled ones, you can install them anywhere in your house that your wifi signal can reach. :sneaky:

    sorry for posting such a long post; i only wanted to be very detailed so that i may be of help. cheerios! :love:
     
    #333 ignudi, Jun 22, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2018
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  14. oj88

    oj88 PhilMUG Addict Member

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    ^A few corrections...

    RF works throughout most homes, not just within the room.... similar to how WiFi performs. Maybe you’re thinking of IR, which requires line of sight.

    Also, WiFi light switches will require more work than the Broadlink TC2. In 99.999% of homes, there is no neutral wire behind typical light switches. The neutral wire is in the ceiling and will require an electrician to install a neutral wire to every switch junction box where you plan to use a WiFi light switch.

    Note; Strictly speaking, the Philippines doesn’t use a Neutral wire. Our equivalent of the Neutral wire is actually the second Live wire. Our electricity transmission is the balanced type, for lack of a better term. We just call it the Neutral wire to describe the 2nd wire that when paired with the Live wire constitues what we know to be 220V.
     
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  15. ignudi

    ignudi Member

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    @oj88 thank you for the clarification.

    i merely wanted to emphasize that since @Joemer is going to have to remove from the wall the existing conventional switches (which would require some moderate DIY), i suggested he pull out all the stops on the DIY and use wifi-based smart switches instead.

    on my part, i resorted to using wifi-based for the following advantages i deem important:

    1. no additional hub to contend with. an additional broadlink hub would only clutter my existing setup (i already have the harmony and philips hue hubs--if i will have the cash to finally dip my toes in samsung smartthings territory, then that will make it three hubs in all; more hubs to set up and maintain).
    2. easier integration with existing wifi. the wifi smart switches integrate directly with my router (i take note of the MAC addresses and set up DHCP reservation in my router).
    3. less radio interference. there is at least a dozen 2.4GHz and/or 5GHz wireless networks being broadcast where i live. add to that my own 2.4GHz/5GHz wireless signal. the harmony remote also uses RF when communicating with the harmony hub. of course, the philips hue also uses zigbee light link to transmit. add the broadlink hub, then any devices that emanate radio frequencies (microwave, etc)... you get the picture. fewer devices transmitting radio frequencies, lesser interference.
    of course, each individual's mileage may vary. :)
     
    #335 ignudi, Jun 25, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2018
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  16. oj88

    oj88 PhilMUG Addict Member

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    ^ Replacing a conventional switch plate with a TC2 is a 10-minute job or less. On the other hand, adding a Neutral wire to each switch junction box could take days, weeks even, if you have a lot of them.

    I would’ve used WiFi switches in a heartbeat, except that it requires rewiring because of the Neutral wire. In some places, they’d need to punch holes through my wall because of hairpin conduits.

    Just saying, you can’t compare installing a TC2 vs adding a Neutral wire. That’s like comparing changing a tire vs changing the transmission.
     
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  17. Joemer

    Joemer Member

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    Hi ignudi and oj88, Appreciate you insights towards my inquiry. already purchase a Broadlink hub but the one I got was the RM mini 3 which doesnt cater RF signal. I set it up using the IHC app with an android device and link it with my echo using broadlin smart home skill, Now I can control my STB, TV, WDTV media player, denon A/V receiver, Blu-ray player, Platinum videoke player, Yamaha stereo receiver via IR. After going through in creating scenes in IHC and routines in Alexa i can now use voice command to turn them on and off and some basic function like volume up and down, channel up and down, changing to my favorite channels. Now my issue is that I cannot find any wifi light switch that fits my needs as all that I've seen requires a neutral line. I will have to change my Broadlink hub to pro to get the RF function. I'm eyeing on sonoff basic wifi switch as I can insert this to the existing wiring as an alternative rather than getting an RM pro and the TC2 light switch. Any input?
     
  18. oj88

    oj88 PhilMUG Addict Member

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    The Sonoffs are a good alternative... except that in stock form, full control (on and off) is only available via voice (Alexa) or app control. There's limited physical control because, once you turn off the physical wall switch, the Sonoff loses power and you won't be able to turn the lights on using either Alexa or the app. You might as well get a smart LED bulb, only it will be substantially more expensive. To regain control of the Sonoff, you will still have to walk back to the physical switch and turn it on. There are tons of hacks available for the Sonoff switches, including extending the function of the reset button into an on/off switch, among many others. but if that's not your thing, you're better off just laying down the neutral wire.

    If you have another room in the house that can benefit from an IR blaster (A/C or TV), I think the purchase of the Pro+ will be worth it. After that, you'll be able to deploy TC2 wall switches all around the house. This approach is still the most straightforward and will afford you both physical and software control of your lights.
     
  19. Joemer

    Joemer Member

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    Thanks oj88, That's what Im considering now. I'll get an RM pro and move the RM mini to my room as getting the sonoff nor the smart light bulb is not for me.If you dont mind me asking, Does the RM plug in and e-control still works with alexa? as I've seen in Paul's Hibbert YT video that e-control no longer works with amazon does the RM plug in still works as I'm intending to use this as well so I can expand more the capabilities of the RM pro hub. Another thing I want to ask is I cant seems to use the arrow buttons for my cignal tv STB via voice command. I can only utilize the on/off, Volume up and down, Channel Up/down function with voice control.Any hint or walkthrough on how to achieve this is really appreciated.
     
  20. oj88

    oj88 PhilMUG Addict Member

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    I’m using the plug-in almost exclusively for Alexa control. IHC has native Alexa support but only the functions they allow will work. For now, only the common buttons work, power, channel, volume, mute, etc. If you need to use the arrow keys, you will have to do it in the IHC app.
     

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