HomeKit and home automation

I’ve just moved into a new house and have decided to go all in with home automation using HomeKit.

Right now I’ve got all our bedrooms on Philips Hue lights, I’ve got OMNA cameras pointing in and out, with motion detectors turning on a back Philips Hue LED strip, an Eve water controller, Eve switch for our printer, and together with our Homepods and AppleTV are all showing up in the Home app.

I’ve got security, and soon, heating/cooling, and gate, on separate apps as HomeKit doesn’t have these yet. Would also like our blinds automated too but not there yet.

Anyone else gone down this route or a similar route?

I want to. For me its trying to get organised for a time when I would need to be in care, but won’t be able to because the government has stuffed up aged care, totally. So looking for different solutions.

I’d like a homekit compatible video doorbell, and a lock that I can unlock from my phone (ideally the two would be interrelated.) There are situations in which I wish I didnt have to get up to go to the door right now…eg two nights ago when I had to call the ambulance to take me to hospital, because I was having a gushing nosebleed that wouldnt quit. IN the future… if I have a fall (still havent got my apple watch 4), if homecare, meals on wheels etc need to get in.

I want to feel safe, but able to let people in and out as I choose. I currently use Siri with the AppleTV as my hub, (LIFX lights) but dont know if that will do in future or if I would be forced to get a Homepod. What I do know is that I wont get a Google device and after hearing about Echo and its listening in and sending data even when not in use, thats out too.

The problem is, every time I look at something that looks likely, its either or both amazon and google compatible but not Homekit.

Homebridge may be your saviour with the separate apps: Using Homebridge to with Raspberry Pi

I’m just using LIFX lights throughout the house - no other automation/smart devices now.
Automation earns a good WAF (wife approval factor) until it doesn’t work - then it can get in the bin.


I’ve really gotten into the whole Google world of home automation and am looking into that further over homebridge. That said I’ve asked questions on their forums before around AirPlay and possible integration with Chromecast, but apparently that’s not what homebridge does (I want to setup a virtual chromecast which re-broadcasts to a physical AirPlay device).

While it’s not quite the same, my experience so far seems to be that all the devices that “works with” Google/Alexa actually maintain their own back end but allow Google/Alexa to send commands to that back end meaning I’m still reliant on those providers (and their services) to be in place forever, not an ideal place to be.

Personally I hate ‘smart bulbs’ since they remove all physical controls. I want to be able to walk into a room and hit a switch and have the light turn on/off. I also want to be able to yell at the air and achieve the same (a smart app that is also state aware would be very nice too). That means smart bulbs are out (I do know they have some controls through the physical switch, but once it’s off you’re boned). WAF is lower on these units :stuck_out_tongue:
I’ve just picked up some cheap WiFi light switches for about $25 each that should do what I need, although they will require re-wiring the switching in the walls since they need permanent power and neutral lines. I have a few to test which I want to do on a bench before I bring in an electrician to do the actual work. I want to make sure that the apps and voice control actually work how I want otherwise I’m left with a bill for what are essentially pretty touch sensitive light switches. Either way I will still be stuck with whatever apps and backend the makers have chosen.

I’ve got a couple of Broadlink smart devices, one RM Mini 3 and one RM Pro +. These are IR controllers (the latter also provides RF) so you can get them to control your IR Air conditioner (although the stock remote is not state aware which breaks one of my control requirements). The Pro+ brings in the potential of controlling some RF power sockets I have in use, this means I can control them from the app OR the physical remote, the issue at the moment is that I can’t seem to get the RF devices to work using voice over the google devices for some reason. Maybe this is a limitation of the iOS app vs the Android one all the walkthroughs I’ve seen are using… I need to grab a cheap android to play with.

I’ve got a couple of Brilliant branded smart sockets from Bunnings for about $20 each. These are 100% app (and now voice through google) controlled so again I’m breaking my own rules by not having physical controls. These are installed in my fish tank for the tank lights and an overhead light, they are set on a timer to go on/off on a schedule, but I can also just yell at the air to turn things on/off which is pretty handy (mostly nerdy). In theory I could turn on the overhead light which provides enough light for the kids to walk back to their beds at night (past the fish tank) then turn it off again without leaving my nice warm bed. I say in theory because one of us always ends up getting up and walking them there anyway :frowning: Not having physical controls hasn’t been an issue just yet since it’s mostly timer based, although I don’t know if the timers require an internet connection to work or if they have an internal clock. Having a pretty stable internet connection means it’s not something I have really considered yet.

What I really should be looking at a single standard like Z-wave or Zigbee where devices themselves are less smart and are controlled locally by a hub with the smarts. This should mean that internally things always work without an internet connection, although from what I understand google/alexa/siri all need to bounce off a server somewhere and then come back to take an action. In short, a brand name solution with a known back end it probably the far far better option…. He says while testing a bunch of unrelated things.

I can still use the light switches with my LIFX if I want to. They can be exactly like “normal” lights if you choose. Just don’t know why anyone would want to. However one or more of mine have from time to time lost their connection to the router, and I have to use the physical switch to turn them off, then back on, as a kind of reboot.

WHAT??? Thats just crazy.

Have a look at Home Assistant they have integrations for virtual chromecasts and virtual airplay so that you can use any Google Home/Chromecast as an AirPlay target and vice versa.

There’s a bit of learning curve, but it is worth the work in my opinion. I’ve got all my stuff integrated with Google Home and HomeKit through using this. It has a built-in homebridge server as well so you’re sorted for unsupported devices through that.

Here’s a link to another thread with more information on the stuff I’ve mentioned above.

I am using a Sensibo A/C controller. Is not yet HomeKit compatible but does work with Siri Shortcuts for voice control.

Also have mixture of LIFX and Hue lights. Using elgato motion detectors door open /close detectors I have setup Scenes so that outside and garage lights come on for a specified time at Night when motion is detected or an outside door is opened. Also have a motion detector that turns on a light( only between midnight and 6 am) in the bathroom to 20% brightness for 2 minutes. Handy for man’s bladder syndrome

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I understand that, but once they are off they are off and on is no longer something you can control outside that switch.
Why I’d actually want a switch is when someone else walks in the room without a device (or knowledge of the voice assistant) who wants to turn on/off a light. Best of both worlds, although I do appreciate that coloured bulbs add another dimension that complicates the physical controls.

I would be more than happy to be proven wrong, but from what I understand, your standard light switches are just that a simple bridge/switch in the circuit, WiFi light switches are complete devices in their own right that also happens to allow power out to a light globe so need more wiring. Everything I’ve seen that bridges physical and remote control have this sort of setup.

If you can point me at that particular solution I’d appreciate it. I’ve asked that question on Google forums and HomeAssistant forums and been told it can’t be done. I saw some solutions of playing music TO a Google Home, but not the other way around.

To be clear, my use case is as follows:

I play music through google music.
Currently this is either through a Google Home Mini or similar.
Right now I can “Cast” to Chrome enabled devices like my Chromecast Audio or my Chrome enabled AV Receiver. This works perfectly. My understanding is that once they start playing the end devices takes over the receiving, decoding and playback of music so the initiating device isn’t technically needed anymore.

Once upon a time I used Apple Music so have a number of AirPlay capable speakers around the house.

Technically I can play Google Music on my iPhone and AirPlay it to an AirPlay speaker, but I have to manually to do this but I need to keep the phone in range since it’s actually playing the music.

What I want to do is say to my Google Home Mini “Play music in the bedroom” and have it start playing music (from google music) and cast/airplay it to the AirPlay speaker in the bedroom.

I assume I need a software/server bridge that acts like a chromecast receiver which then pipes the audio via AirPlay to an AirPlay enabled Speaker… I don’t care about lag or sync, I just want to use the speakers I have via my assistant.

I could sort of do this with an old Mac running AirServer to receive audio then Audio Hijack to redirect it to an AirPlay speaker… but even if this works I need a separate mac (or OSX VM) and maybe licence for each setup.

I’d be happy if I could get a docker container or linux based VM or something for each device.

Would Airfoil achieve this? https://rogueamoeba.com/airfoil/ edit doesn’t look like it could without using your iPhone, although I’ve never tried it

Same problem with doubletwist, I suspect. https://www.doubletwist.com/

I have 6 wifi lights from LIFX. I did not need to have any wiring changes. The lights are expensive. But, no wiring changes. They work via my router, AppleTV, and other devices. I’m pretty sure that the Philips Hue setups also dont require any rewiring. A friend of mine has been using Philips and has not made any changes. Maybe its about the light globes you chose. My light switches work just fine as they are. When the globes are in use, the switches are always “on”. They can be switched off just as easily and used only in the same way as ordinary globes (but why you’d want that after spending on wifi globes, I cant imagine)

[edit] Hmm, I may have misunderstood your previous remarks, now that I am re-reading… you want wifi light switches??? My switches are just normal ones. The Globes are self contained units.

I am disappointed with Apple’s current solution for home automation. I have only experimented with a LIFX light and an Elgato Eve pushbutton and yet I have already experienced many issues, including:

  1. The Home app is not intuitive. It is hard to discover all the functionality of the app. There are more screens than necessary in the iPad app, requiring too many clicks to achieve anything.
  2. Too many apps. The Apple Home app is not sufficient in itself to fully utilise various devices. You need to use third party apps that employ different terminology and conventions
  3. Siri needs more work. I believe that home automation via Siri must be the default mode of operation. Having to find an iPhone/iPad, login, locate and open the home app and then hit buttons, is too slow and clunky just to turn a light on and off. Voice control is simple, or it should be. Voice recognition via Siri on our Homepod is not as good as that on a Google Home Mini (which costs only 20% of the Homepod cost). It also offers far less general functionality.
  4. Difficult setup. Information on the setup process for third party devices is different depending on whether you use the third party app or the Apple Home app.
  5. Unreliable. The automation does not always work. This may be due to the Elgato Eve pushbutton. Perhaps it is a poor example device. However Apple’s home automation ecosystem should be bullet proof, because it is Apple. I like the @FaultyTaco metric, the WAF (wife approval factor). If you cannot achieve a good WAF, then the home automation project has failed. In my experience, any hint of poor reliability destroys the WAF.
  6. Conflicts. I suspect that different home automation apps conflict with each other. I could investigate further, but I do not have the time or inclination. My reasoning: it is Apple, it should just work.
  7. Slow. The automation is not as quick as I thought it would be. Sometimes the response time is very slow (4 seconds or more)
  8. Cost. The LIFX price was great. The Elgato Eve price was a rip-off.

In summary, Apple’s home automation functionality is an imperfect, expensive, technical solution. It is too complex for the average person. It is akin to using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. In addition, I suspect that most people do not have a really compelling need to crack that nut anyway.


I considered this option but not only would I need a sparky to come in and rewire all the switches… as all the light switches in my place are architrave mounted, I’d have to replace the architrave as well - being urethaned timber I can’t just patch it - and since I like things to match correctly and the exact moulding used isn’t readily available I’d probably have to replace all the architrave, and the matching skirting too… Before I even get past planning stage of this, the Husband Approval Factor is very low :laughing:

Ours are currently timber but need to be painted white so I can just patch, although ours are (mostly) architrave mounted too so that is a consideration.

Homepod is too rich for my blood but I find that my LIFX lights work well with Siri, and when out and about and wanting to turn lights on or off, the appleTV serves just fine as the hub and I talk to Siri on my watch or phone, whichever is handiest.

Sorry mate, misread you post. Apologies for leading you up the garden path. Have you looked into using a Raspberry Pi for creating a virtual chromecast server that is locally connected to the speaker that you want to cast to(providing the speaker has a headphone jack)?

I’ve got a virtual AirPlay server hooked up to my Bose Soundbar for Airplay handoff, I’ sure there’d be similar stuff for chromecast protocols.

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Right now I have a Chromecast audio plugged into the main mini system (which is AirPlay capable) using the line in. The downside is I have to manually turn it on and while it’s a reach my mythical server would also bridge volume controls :stuck_out_tongue:

Given the Chromecast Audio has been discontinued the Pi’s might be an idea, the bonus being they are also able to be re-purposed to do other things too… probably at the same time.

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No such thing so far, but apparently one’s being released later this year. I’m about to install a Ring doorbell, will let you know how it goes.

I’ve got Philips Hue lights, and I bought matching wireless switches, which I’ve installed above the light switches - they include a dimmer and a switch to change colours, so seems to work well - the kids love them.

Re Homebridge - I looked into it, and was thinking of running it off my Mac Mini server, but there are not that many compatible third party devices - I don’t see a point trying to put my Samsung TV on home kit for example.

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Interesting, that solves a lot of the problems I have with the technology and negates the need for an electrician and would be an excellent option for lots of places.

This thread had led me down a rabbit hole of looking into what might work for me, even more that last post which initially looked really promising. The down side to this solution though is having to replace all the bulbs with smart bulbs (both upfront and all future replacements) vs a single smart switch. This is especially an issue in a room with multiple bulbs connected to a single switch, which in my case is actually just about every room :stuck_out_tongue: which is totally a me problem. The second part (of the me problem) is the type of bulbs I’m using. I’ve got a couple of rooms which have the brightest LED lights I could buy since they are a little dark, I’m guessing the off the shelf smart bulbs generally don’t cater to the super bright end of town (although the LiFX was exceptionally bright when I had those). This includes the laundry and the kitchen with multiple LED downlights in each.

In short the solutions are going to be different for everybody, especially when we are working in a transitional time of trying to retro fit solutions into existing homes rather than designing solutions from the scratch. I still think smart switches are going to be the better long term solution for my requirements (and probably for most people), although the coloured options smart bulbs bring are interesting, it’s not something I think I would actually use in many (any??) places around my house.

That said I’m enjoying hearing about everyones different options and approaches as technology evolves.

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A couple of my LIFX are coloured… it was something I thought I would like to have and it turns out, I dont. I have nearly all my LIFX set to “Incandescent” and at about 25% except the kitchen which is at 100% brightness.

Last night I got my Ubiquiti UVC G3 cameras working in Home app via homebridge as described here. :tada:

A bit of fudging… I will write up the steps if I get around to it.

More than anything else, the biggest take away is… Home on macOS (Marzipan) is an absolutely rubbish ‘port’ of that app! :man_facepalming: Makes me worried for WWDC and 10.15!