re: Do you have any home automation projects in the works? VIEW POST

re: I recently moved and have been getting my new place set up nicely. Any recommendations on hardware to play with would be much loved.

Speaking as an early-adopter...

For retail stuff:

  • If you're considering HUEs, I'd go with Lifx, instead. Much better color production. Plus, their ecosystem of non-conventional lighting formats is pretty good.
  • Alexa still beats Google Home as far as integration with other IoT stuff: if an IoT device integrates with any given home assistant, it will support Alexa before any other with Home being the next soonest and Apple/Cortana falling well into the "afterthought" support-category ...that said, I distrust Amazon with that kind of access to my home more than I distrust Google. So, I opted for Home
  • I love the idea of the various smart door lock systems, but:
    • The really interesting devices come from companies I don't trust to be there in ten years
    • Nothing has given me the warm-n-fuzzies about hacker-resistence
    • Most seem to be deadbolt-oriented rather than targeted at the door handle
  • When I see commercials for the IoT appliances, I look at the historically shit patch-support for every phone I've ever had and ask myself, "does it make sense to drop 10x the cost of a phone on an appliance that's likely to have similar support reliability?"
  • Most of the retail IoT stuff is cloud-enabled:
    • When a storm knocks out your internet, things suck
    • When an IoT company goes out of business, gets bought or decides, "I don't want to support that model any more" you end up with a brick
    • I'd really much rather these companies' services come from per-user Docker images so that I controlled my data and, if the company decides my device is no longer worth supporting, I could potentially keep my device useful by finding a new place to host the container that maintains my service
  • Even when everything works acceptably well for a geek, other household members might not be so forgiving. Understand the heartburn "works well enough for a geek" may cause you by way of other household members.

Still, it's great to be able to manage and look after your house, remotely - especially when you either travel for business or pleasure.


What are your thoughts on going with single ecosystems or not, like certain lighting products from one company and some from another?

The simple path would be to commit to certain ecosystems but if I can wrap my head around my own architecture and have a handle on the gateways myself, it would be a good place to be.

Any idea if the products play nicely at all in this regard?

I'm a fan of heterogenous environments: I hate-lock-in. Unfortunately, as always, the the price of "freedom" is that you definitely increase the headache-factor.

I have both HUE and Lifx. I've mostly relegated my HUEs to areas where I don't care about color reproduction or brightness. Where I just care about brightness, I get the Lifx Day and Dusk. Where I care about color production - true colors and saturate colors - I go for the Lifx Mini Color. When it comes to alternative lighting form-factors, I haven't bought-in, yet ...mostly because I've got some outstanding household wiring-repairs to budget for. Lifx has their Beam and Tiles that look really nice, but I've no first-hand experience with, yet. That said, the Nanoleafs look compelling from a flexibility of deployment standpoint.

While Lifx has the best color and brightness, you pay for it: their lights are more expensive than HUE (haven't compared to NanoLeaf) and, if you've got a bigger house, you need to design your network to take into account that every Lifx light requires its own IP address. Further, if you have network blips (e.g. thunderstorm makes your wifi blink), need to be aware that it can take a couple minutes from when your wifi blinks till all of your Lifx lights are fully back on the network and controllable. Lastly, because each Lifx is individually configured, if you upgrade your wifi router and don't want to have to re-configure each and every light, you need to give your new router the same SSID and credentials as your prior router.

This problem is, however, not unique to Lifx. You can run into it with hubbed devices, too, if a given IoT vendor requires the use of their hub. Other unfun thing with hubbed devices is you can end up with a stack of hubs. One other nod to HUE, in this regard, is that some competing products will integrate with the HUE hub, cutting down on the amount of hub-sprawl (and you can supplement your HUE-branded bulbs with cheaper bulbs — the TRÅDFRIs from Ikea — and manage them all via your HUE hub and app).

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