Home Automation

My Home Automation Setup – Devices

By March 12, 2021June 14th, 2021No Comments

Introduction

Often, I am asked, What devices do you have?

Well- today, I am going to make the list as of the time of writing this article…. subject to change.

What I look for when acquiring new devices.

  1. I refused to be locked into a specific ecosystem. *Cough* ring…
    1. As a result- I will only acquire new devices which will work via “universal channels” NOTHING, with a vendor-required protocol/etc. (Lutron Caseta)
    2. It MAY be the greatest device in the world, but, it locks you to what that vendor is willing to give you access to. When that vendor flips, or sells off the assets, you are stuck with a brick of a device.
    3. So- For consolidation, I look for these criteria:
      1. Common Protocols
        1. Z-Wave PLUS
        2. Zigbee
        3. 433mhz (For sensors. Not for… switches..)
        4. Wifi w/Rest API.
      2. Out of the box functionality.
        1. ie- I can integrate it with Home Assistant with minimal effort.. Either via adding to z-wave, or adding the integration directly via Home Assistant.

Disclaimer- Amazon affiliate links are used in this article. For this site, I choose to not pesture my audience with annoying advertisements, and instead, only rely on affiliate links to support this hobby. By using the affiliate link, you will pay the same price on Amazon, as you would otherwise pay, however, a small percentage will be given to me.. To note- I DID buy all of the seen products with my own money, and did not receive any incentive to feature or utilize them.

Navigation

Devices Used By Room

Common Devices

Light Bulbs

  1. Phillips 5000k Dimmable LED – 1,600 Lumen
    1. I use these bulbs in fixtures which I leverage the dimming feature for. The 5000k temp really helps to brighten up my house. These do not flicker at all. I went with the 100-watt equivalent bulbs, because there isn’t much point in having a dimmer if your bulbs aren’t bright enough for the need to dim them.
  2. “LE” 5000K 1,200 Lumen LEDs
    1. These bulbs are very cost effective @ ~2$ each. They are very bright too. However- they are non-dimmable. So, these are only leveraged where the dimming feature is not utilized.
  3. “No-Name” 5000k 2,600 Lumen LEDs
    1. While- I don’t think these are a true 2,600 lumen bulb, they are indeed the brightest bulb I have listed here, by far. These are also not dimmable, and thus, are only used where dimming is not required. I also leverage these for my porch lights. VERY bright bulbs. Also- pretty cost effective around 5$ each.

Smoke / Fire Detectors

  1. First Alert Z-Wave
    1. Really- the only advantage of these detectors compared to a normal one- is the ability to see the battery level on each device. These devices can be finicky, and will only report status every 6+ hours.

Kitchen

There is not a whole lot going on in the kitchen- However, All of the lights are automated.

  1. Inovelli Red Dimmer (Manufacturer Page)
    1. Both of the switches in my combined livingroom and dining room are Inovelli Red Dimmers. I recently completed a project to pull new romex cable to allow a neutral at each box. However- these dimmers will work without a neutral as well.
    2. I do have both of these lights setup with a z-wave association, which allows one light to turn on the other light WITHOUT the use of a hub, or external automation tool. In short- the devices can directly talk to each other.

Livingroom

  1. Inovelli Fan&Light Dimmer Switch (Manufacturer Page)
    1. This switch controls the ceiling fan and ceiling light as well as speed.
    2. If you single-press the light dimmer, it will turn the ceiling light off, and activate the lamp instead, allowing me to control all aspects of my livingroom’s lighting, via a single switch.
    3. Each of the buttons (6 total) can be tied to multiple automations, via single click, double click, triple click, click and hold, etc. The Inovellis are completely stocked with features.
  2. Kasa Smart Plug – HS103 (Replaced by Honeywell below)
  3. Honeywell UltraPro Z-Wave Dimmer (2021-03-13)
    1. This controls the lamp in my livingroom which provides adequate lighting in the evening.
  4. My “Enchanted Rose”
  5. Home Assistant – Automate Holiday Lighting Scenes
    1. This is off 99% of the time, but, during holidays, it does automatically turn on, with lights/patterns appropriate for the current holiday.
    2. Do note, I am running WLED on the device instead of esphome now. It has been outstanding, and does have a stand-alone app. Essentially- create a scene in Home Assistant. Configure WLED to your liking, then save the scene. That easy! I highly recommend WLED.
  6. Acurite 433mhz Temp/Humidity Sensor.
    1. These are simple, basic sensors, which reports temp and humidity information every 15 seconds via 433mhz. They have an outstanding battery life, and leverage AA batteries.
  7. Fireplace (Part 1 \ Part 2)
    1. This automation has saved me a lot of money this year. In short- instead of using the central heat/furnace, it will instead cycle on my fireplace and only heat the main living areas, allowing the bedrooms to cool off when they are not in use. I have update the automation a bit more, however, the basic concept is the same.
  8. GE/Jasco Z-Wave Dual Plug
    1. I use one of these to toggle my fish tank light / bubbler on/off from sunrise, to sunset. These plugs are a tad on the expensive side, but, so far, they have been rock solid. There ARE cheaper/better options available.
  9. My HTPC Build.
    1. While- not quite home automation. This build gets utilized almost daily. It can do everything from retro-console emulation, to playing modern games on steam. We are currently playing through 7 Days 2 Die, on a local server. I would highly recommend this game!
  10. Shelly 2.5
    1. While I am in the process of replacing all of my existing switches with z-wave, I do still have a few Shelly 1PMs, and Shelly 2.5s for a few of my lighting fixtures, and ceiling fans. In conjunction with esphome, these devices are ROCK SOLID. I would highly recommend.

Bedrooms / Home Office

I am grouping the bedrooms together, as there is not a lot of variation.

  1. Inovelli Red Dimmer (Manufacturer Page)
    1. I purchased a 10-pack of these directly from Inovelli this year, and every room is running one of these. These switches are absolutely loaded with features. I would highly recommend.
  2. GE/Jasper Enbrighten Z-Wave Dimmer Plug
    1. I use this to control the brightness of my Lamp in my home office. While- around 30$, it is a bit pricey, it does perform very well. Originally, I used a Kasa HS103 to toggle my lamp on or off. While, I never had any issues with the Kasa, I wanted the ability to dim the lamp, AND leverage z-wave.
  3. Acurite 433mhz Temp/Humidity Sensor.
    1. I have one of these sensors in each room to allow me to chart the temp/humidity across the house. There will be an example below.
    2. For details on how this is configured, Look here.
  4. Converting a fan, into a smart fan!
    1. While, this was one of my earlier automations I created, and does not have a dimmer- It does exactly what is expected of it, and is extremely reliable.

Garage

  1. Inovelli Red Dimmer (Manufacturer Page)
    1. The dimmer feature is disabled, and this is only used to turn the garage lights on and off.
  2. DIY Garage Door Opener
    1. This has been in place since day one, with no changes at all. It works without any issues at all. 100% reliable.

Other Hardware

My Server

  1. Original Build, Unraid Upgrade
    1. (Note- this has been replaced by a Dell R720XD, Running TrueNAS)
    1. Nearly every service I am running, runs as a docker container hosted by Unraid, with the exception of Blue Iris, which runs as a VM.
    2. The only undocumented changes to this server-
      1. I doubled the RAM to 32GB, up from 16GB.
      2. I Added a Quad Port HP/Intel Gigabit NIC
        1. This was not required, however, this means I can handle my vlans at the switch/network level, and just dedicate a entire network port per vlan.
        2. This card leverages dual intel 82571EB processors, with cache. Its a bit overkill.
  2. 2.4Kwh UPS
    1. Provides up to 8 hours of battery backup for my servers, network, and other computers in the event we have a power outage. We have somewhat frequent 10 minute-2 hour outages.

NVR Setup

  1. I leverage Blue IRIS for recording data from my Cameras.
  2. I have Reolink RLC-520 5MP POE Cameras scattered all around the house.
  3. https://github.com/VorlonCD/bi-aidetection
    1. I leverage this tool to take images from Blue Iris, and perform object detection. If somebody is detected, messages are triggered via MQTT automatically, which delivers a push notification to my phone, and also activates a few other automations.

Networking

  1. Router/Firewall: Unifi USG (Manufacturer Page)
    1. I have had this for a few years. If I were to rebuild my setup, I would go with the Unifi Dream Machine instead.
  2. Office Switch: Unifi USW-Flex-Mini (Manufacturer Page)
    1. This is a tiny, cheap switch (< 30$) which can be powered completely via POE if desired. I use this in my office.
  3. Server Room Switch: Unifi US-8-60W (Manufacturer Page)
  4. Primary Access Point: Unifi UAP-AC-PRO (Manufacturer Page)
  5. Secondary Access Point: Unifi UAP-BeaconHD (Manufacturer Page)
    1. This meshes with the UAP-AC-PRO and really helps wifi signal in my driveway and my garage. Setup was effortless.
  6. While- my networking setup is not overly complex, it does serve the needs of my 55 combined wired/wireless devices without any issues whatsoever. Many people report frequent issues with Kasa devices or other wifi switches/plugs. I have had zero issues with my setup. 99.9% + uptime on every single device.

Door Locks

  1. Schlage Connect Z-Wave
    1. This lock works very nicely with my other home automation. I have the ability to program special entry codes, which I can use to detect “who” is entering the front door if required. I can also remotely change the codes if required for a special need…. Ie- mother-in-law does a surprise visit to drop off something when I am not at the house.
    2. The fit and finish of these locks was very well.

Thermostat

  1. Currently, I am using a Emerson Sensi.
    1. This device predates ALL of my existing smart-devices and automations, and was literally the first “IOT” capable device at my house.
    2. As a downside- it does NOT natively integrate with Home assistant, and does not have local control, from what I have seen. Instead, I have it added to Smart Things, and have Home Assistant connected to smart things.
    3. Knock on wood- It has been reliable, and does allow me to specify pretty complex heating/cooling/auto schedules, so, It has not been high on my list of items to replace.
    4. If I were to buy a new thermostat, I would investigate potential z-wave versions, or perhaps a wifi-enabled one with local control capabilities.

Software

Home Assistant

Home assistant is the bread and butter of my home automation setup. This is the central point of command and control. Rock solid stability, tons of features, I would highly recommend this.

I personally run home assistant as a docker container hosted on my unraid server.

Node-Red

NodeRed picks up the slack on complex automations, where home assistant starts to fall off. This isn’t to say Home Assistant CAN’T do the automation, but, I can do it in a drag and drop visual approach which helps future maintainability. I also leverage Node-Red for handling z-wave scenes and special events.

ZWaveJS2MQTT

ZWaveJS2MQTT is the brains behind my z-wave network. Its fast, and reliable. Its pretty new, and missing a few key features, however, I wouldn’t recommend any other z-wave control software over it.

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