Time to Smarten Up This Place


#1

So I have been shopping around and was wondering what everyone would recommend and is using. As the smart accessory market is a bit of a mess.

The first thing we are looking to do is install some type of smart lock.

I’d also like to turn the lights into smart lights preferably by installing some kind of smart switch that control the existing lights instead of buying expensive individual lightbulbs.

Probably would need HomeKit compatibility as well as support for Google Assistant/Home.


#2

Belkin did sell an Aus version of the Wemo light switch, that worked with HomeKit via a bridge, but it seems its not sold in Australia any more.

Daniel at Notaa may have some HomeKit switches? You could import some UK switches but if your house burns down due to Non-Aus certified switches? I’m not an electrician so don’t rely on me for electrical advice.

I do have lots of HomeKit/Alexa/Google compatible LIFX bulbs which I would recommend , but they are expensive.

I’m also interested in a smart lock but the “reviews” of each one seem so inconsistent.

The Nanoleaf Lights are my favorite. No real practical purpose, but you can “paint” colours, change in rhythm to music.
IMG_0594


#3

I had a smart lock, removed and sold it.

Not a sparky but based on my own research, smart switch options are a bit limited in Australia due to the cost of certification. In almost all cases you’ll require a neutral feed at the switch, which isn’t common in Australian wiring, so the cost of installation is worth also factoring in - you can’t legally change the switch or wiring yourself, unless you’re a licensed electrician.

I went for bulbs instead because all my switches are currently on the architrave, so would have to replace that as well as having the switch moved to the wall and having the wiring altered for a neutral feed. Downside of bulbs is the cost and if someone flicks the switch off (guilty of doing that myself) the light can’t be controlled.


#4

There must be a story here. What make & model? Why did you remove and sell it?


#5

I “solved” this by sticking one of those mailing labels over the switch.


#6

We have an electronic lock on the front door and have had a few different ones over the years (and houses), although none are “smart locks”. Every time I read the reviews there were too many reports of people being stuck outside with their smartphone fighting to get the lock to work.

My electronic lock is smartcard/PIN enabled so I get most of the benefits (like not carrying keys) without any of the hassles. While it would be cool to unlock it with my watch or phone there isn’t a whole lot of additional benefits.

When it comes to lights I have had the LiFX ones from the original kickstarter campaign, while they (mostly) worked as described, and from what I’ve read only gotten better, the idea of the primary form of control being my phone just didn’t do it for me. Having to dig out your phone, unlock it, find the app, select the room the make changes it a royal PITA. The smart switches on the other hand negate this problem and mean that anyone walking into the room can turn the light on or off AND you can still control it from your device… As has been raised these are somewhat expensive in Australia and your switches aren’t always in places that make it easy to install.

I think the technology is slowly getting to space where retro fitting these things into houses is becoming more affordable, although often you’re stuck with whatever ecosystem the manufacturer supports rather than any real open standard. It’s still very much a niche product, but I’m patiently waiting for it to become a little more mainstream and a little more standard.


#7

I have only recently dipped a toe into the water, but I got myself a LIFX mini globe (white) which is hub-less and only cost me $30.

I’ve been using it for my bedside lamp, works great. I have the ‘goodnight’ and ‘good morning’ commands as well as a proximity scene which automatically turns the lamp off when I get a certain distance away from the house, so I never have to remember to manually switch it off.

As a bonus, it’s an Australian company. So you get free shipping.


#8

I also have a few programmable "buttons that are HomeKit compatible. You can program them to run Scenes, turn lights on/off. The other advantage is they are portable. I have one set-up to control my Bedroom lights. Sits on the table next to the door during the day. When I go to bed, put it on the bedside table. Press it once and if the bedside lights are off, it turns them on. If they are already on it turns them off. Long press runs the goodnight scene.


#9

I’ve managed to deck out my whole house with Hue lights and a controller for $0 just by getting all the bits with Flybuys. Once you’ve got the starter (controller + 2 bulbs) it’s surprising easy to add enough bulbs to cover your main rooms.


#10

I 3d printed some little removable covers that clip over the switch. The WAF was a bit higher with those than the blue painter’s tape I originally used :laughing:

August Smart Lock (2nd generation, the first of the HomeKit compatible models).
Chewed through batteries pretty quickly and was quite noisy - no such thing as entering the house quietly at night (even when using the key, manual operation of the mechanism was louder than I expected)

The location based unlocking (which is most of the reason I got it) wasn’t reliable enough, and it sometimes wouldn’t respond to Siri. Ended up too often having to get my phone out, unlock it and open the app or use the notification panel widget (which occasionally also wouldn’t respond) - rendering the whole hands-free convenience factor redundant - I may as well just dig a key out of my pocket, which isn’t so bad after all.

Smart locks that retrofit to an existing deadbolt are a good idea in principle but the execution didn’t live up to expectation.


#11

Thanks for the reply so far. Definitely has added some food for thought.

Unfortunately smart globes are probably not going to be my friend here as the whole house is wired with downlights as they are recent installation due to renovation there are already LEDs.

So it’s probably not cost-effective to change all the lights out individually.


#12

These sound like something I could use. I’m just not into colour changing lights, or most of the automation stuff (though a keyless lock might be good, as long as there was a key and PIN option as well)

Do you need the controller to get the voice commands? Or is it sufficient to have Siri active on your phone?


#13

All you need is the globe, I use Siri but you can simply use the HomeKit widget in control centre. Or the LIFX app but I never use it myself


#14

Thanks for that info. Siri or Homekit might be the go.


#15

You’re welcome, my next HomeKit item I’m after will be a basic wall adapter plug to plug my TV into. So when I activate the goodnight scene, my TV turns off too.