Home Automation

Zmodo CCTV

I’ve been gathering connected home devices over a few years and although many of the older ones are not true automation I am slowly upgrading and adding devices that are fully integrated with Google Home and Google Assistant. So if it connects via my home router I’m adding it to this list for now. I’ve only thought of them as individual devices up to now (5 Jan 2018) but after glancing at the list of connected devices on my home router, the collection is clearly going somewhere!

Zmodo CCTV Zmodo CCTV – one of my older devices which consists of 8 wired cameras around the outside of the house all recording to an internal hard drive that keeps about 3 days of data. I’ve not set it up with movement detection but I can remote login from the Internet via my phone using the MyEyePro+ app. And some have even got it right to connect these cameras to Homa Assistant using a bit of a workaround.
Ring Doorbell Ring Video Doorbell – I have this on my front door to detect any movement. It notifies me remotely via its phone app and also saves the video to Ring’s cloud service. I recently discovered that the Google Home service will control it.
Sonoff Switch Sonoff Basic Wifi Switch – I have this switch connected to an extension lead so can use it for any device like a Christmas tree (watch a video of this in action at¬†https://youtu.be/H2YNc5P2oEA), a fan, etc. I can switch it on/off and query its status either via Google Home or from its mobile app within the house or from anywhere with Internet connectivity. I have reflashed the switch’s firmware and have it working with my Home Assistant dashboard. I’m planning to buy their power consumption monitoring switches (for washing machine and dishwasher) and colour lightbulbs next.
Sonoff POW switch Sonoff POW Wifi Switchthis Wifi switch not only switches on and off but also monitors instant and daily power consumption. I have flashed this switch with Tasmota firmware so that it connects to my Home Assistant dashboard. Right now I have one of these connected to my washing machine.
Sonoff Color Light Sonoff B1: Dimmable E27 LED Lamp RGB Color Light Bulb – I have one of these smart bulbs on my desk at the moment. It can be remotely switched on/off, dimmed, and have its colour changed. The idea was to have it by my bedside as a red night light and then to use it as an artificial dawn at my alarm time to wake up. But I have a “social factor” to overcome first ūüėČ
Sonoff Bulb Holder Sonoff Slampher Wifi Smart Light Bulb Holder РI have one of these smart devices fitted in my passageway. It takes a standard screw-in bulb and merely switches it on/off. Right now I can ask Google Assistant anywhere in the house to turn it on/off or check its status. With a presence monitor (in future) I could have this light turn on for a period as soon as movement is detected nearby.
Sonoff SC Sonoff SC¬†– This is a room environmental monitor that monitors temperature, humidity, dust, light and sound levels. Rules can be set to switch other devices on or off depending on triggers based on these sensors going above or below certain limits eg. air quality, sound levels, temperature. To be honest though apart from the temperature and humidity levels the other readings are not working very well eg. noise just stays at noisy, but I’m hoping to recalibrate this once I flash other firmware onto it.
Google Home Google Home – I have the standard size as well as a Mini. We use it to set reminders, check calendars, play music, and control many of the other connected devices in the home. See my summary of useful commands. I use IFTTT in conjunction with Google Home to control 3rd party services such as OurGroceries, my Ring Doorbell, etc.
Ellies Hub Ellies Engage Hub – this device has two sensors (one connected to main 220V grid power and the other to the 220V output from my solar system). The system uploads data to the cloud which allows me to check instant as well as historical electricity usage by current, cost and carbon footprint.
Victron CCGX Victron Color Control GX and Inverter Рthis is part of my solar system. The inverter sources power from solar, batteries or grid and the data is collated in the CCGX and sent to the cloud. I can receive alerts remotely and monitor solar generation, battery charge state, current draw, quality of grid power, etc. Solar stats can be seen at Victron.
Acurite Weather Station Acurite 5-In-1 Weather Station Рthis weather station connects via its Smarthub to upload data to the Acurite cloud service. From there it pushes out to Weather Underground and my station data can be seen online at Weather Underground.

See how to configure it with Weewx at https://gadgeteer.co.za/weewx

Chromecast Google Chromecast Рthis device stays plugged into my TV. I use Google Home to switch the TV on or start a YouTube or Netflix movie through the Chromecast.
Weber Weber Digital Audio Thermometer – today there is the Weber iGrill but this older one of mine does a similar thing. I can wear the receiver on my belt and monitor the temperature of the meat on the grill. It will sound an audio alarm just before the meat is ready (per type of meat). The newer version works with Bluetooth directly to a phone.
Home Assistant screenshot Open Source Home Assistant – has modular integration for various home automation devices and services. It is all designed to run off a Raspberry Pi. Their source¬†code (including a link to an interesting demo) is at¬†https://github.com/home-assistant/home-assistant. I’ve started setting up my own installation of Home Assistant, and you can follow my experiences and tips here at https://gadgeteer.co.za/homeassistant. On the left is a screenshot of my initial setup.

Other Projects / Devices of Interest to Me

  • June Intelligent Oven – it’s really pricey at $1,495, but I like the camera that allows you to see how the food is doing. I hate that walking back and forth to the oven just see how ready the food is. It also gives you the estimated time to complete, allowing you to schedule your time and get on with other things.
  • Chamberlain Smart Garage Hub¬†‚Äď Upgrade your Existing Garage Door Opener with MyQ Smart Phone Control, depending of¬†course on what you currently have. But it is useful to know if the door was left open (has happened to me a few times at night), or if you want someone to leave a package you can open it remotely for them. A cheaper and maybe more generically compatible alternative is the¬†Linear GD00Z-2¬†or even plain tilt sensors which will not control the door but with something like an IFTTT rule, you can be notified if you have left home (or at scheduled times) if the door was left open. Another interesting option is the fully open source OpenGarage which works with Home Assistant and has a pretty foolproof way of working with any existing garage door automation system (watch a short video on OpenGarage to see how it works).
  • Blynk app – a popular mobile app for the IOT. Works with anything: ESP8266, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, SparkFun and others.
  • SmartKit – a South African website listing a very good range of Sonoff products (and other home automation products) in local Rands.
  • Six Sonoff Secrets – find out how to add a hardware button to the basic Sonoff switch or even a temperature/humidity probe, or expand its onboard memory, or flash different firmware to it.
  • openHAB – open Home Automation Bus¬†is an open source, technology agnostic home automation platform which runs as the centre of your smart home. This could be an alternative to Home Assistant worth considering.
  • Other home automation options also are: Calaos, Domoticz, MisterHouse, and OpenMotics.