Affiliate links to Smart Home Tech I used and had lots of success with:
Kara Light Switch:
Hue Motion Sensor:
Hue Light Bulbs:
Lutron Switches (Requires Hub):
Aqara Temp and Humidity Sensor (Requires Hub):
Tapo Smart Plug:
Affiliate links to YouTube gear I use:
14in M1 Pro MacBook Pro:
1:00 What’s the Goal?
1:50 What Needs Automating?
2:40 What Devices Do We Need?
5:53 Smart Home Standards
7:53 Smart Home Ecosystem
10:23 Home Assistant
Let’s talk about what I learned trying to make this house smart, this includes all the things I would do differently with everything I know now. That’s the idea, make things more convenient and make less things for me to worry about, which you’re about to see from me, actually leads to a lot of inconveniences itself.
We’ll need a way to control the ceiling fan, the 3 lamps, and the blinds. We also need something that can tell when someone is in the room, and a way to tell how hot or cold this room is. So, what devices are available to do these tasks? If you’re trying to control lights, you have smart bulbs, smart plugs, and smart light switches. Each have their own pros and cons and really you have to figure out for yourself what’s best to use for your situation. As for the ceiling fan, I’m going to use a smart switch since I don’t care about the fan speed and the fan will only be kept on medium anyway when I have it on. Now the hardest part was finding devices for the blinds. I had to purchase these aqara E1 drivers, to smartify and motorize these existing blinds.
To solve the remaining items, we’ll need to use sensors. These are the “eyes” of your smart home. These can be used for your smart home to understand what’s happening in your house and can be used in your home automations. And sometimes you can actually find multi-purpose sensors that have more than one sensor built in. Like the one I have right here. The Philips Hue motion sensor, has a motion, illuminance and temperature sensor all built into this single device.
The primary smart home ecosystems are Alexa, google home, and Apple Home or Homekit. You have to be careful using one because you have to be on the lookout to see if your specific ecosystem is supported by the device or hub that controls all these devices. So it requires a bit of research to make sure you have the right device. These systems don’t talk to each other and you get stuck in a situation where a bunch of devices only work on one platform but not the other. So my solution for a while was to just use both google home and apple home and use them for different things.
Home Assistant is a tool that enables you to consolidate pretty much all your smart home devices and more like your NAS into a single point. And from there it can behave as your smart home letting you control all your devices in the Home Assistant app, or then route all of your devices back to your desired smart home ecosystem even if they were not originally supported by that ecosystem. See this TP-link motion controlled light switch? It’s not Apple Home compatible, but with Home assistant controlling it, it can be used in Apple Home. Home assistant also has super robust automations that let you make some really complex stuff. The level of customization Home Assistant provides is fantastic. That being said, it has its own issues too, some integrations with Home Assistant aren’t very good and doesn’t work the way you’d expect. Home Assistant also requires being a bit techy to fully setup, and since the automations are so robust, it’s easy to make a mistake that leads to unintended consequences, like the lights turning on randomly at midnight causing your significant other to wake up. So if you’re willing to spend some time with it, it can definitely enhance your smart home, and make it so much better as long as you’re aware of its limitations.
So here’s a summary of all my tips. Research what you’re buying, make sure they’re compatible with everything you use now and in the near future, use 3rd party platforms like Home assistant to further consolidate what you need and force compatibility for the devices that aren’t compatible with your smart home ecosystem and use it to control all the automations in a single place. And take it one room at a time to keep the end goal in sight.