Let's run over the setup in the house so far, on a basic "what's plugged in and actually working and connected" level.
The Nest thermostat was the first bit I picked up. It wasn't available to me until I moved Stateside and the slick-looking design had me. It arrived on a week Husband was away and I was dubious about setting it up myself, having never opened up the wiring for a thermostat before, but it turned out to be a piece of cake.
The Nest works decently. Living in San Francisco in a relatively new apartment, we don't have a lot of issues with heating (we don't have central air for cooling, either) , so it mostly just gets to do nothing except report the temperature hovering at roughly the same value all the time. It had a bunch of issues staying on the WiFi but recent firmware updates seem to have cleared that up. So, it's cute, but I feel bad that we don't live somewhere more interesting for it to do its thing.
Nest (now owned by Google) also now owns DropCam, which we've got a couple of. We're only using the one in the garage right now, but it's very reliable.
Basically, all these "smart home" setups require some sort of controlling hub device. There's a few on the market, and I ended up getting a SmartThings hub last year (so it's the first gen one). I went with this one because at the time it seemed to leave the most doors open to me - not only did it connect with its own devices, it also connected to Belkin, Philips, Sonos and a few others, plus it had IFTTT integration. I'm pretty sure most of the hubs on the market these days do similar door-propping-open exercises, but I haven't bothered to check. The main downside is it'll lock you into that hub's API and apps for the most part, and SmartThings is hardly the best app - it's slow and finicky to setup - but their API is handy and I'll explain why another day. A bunch of our lights and dimmers and such are controlled via SmartThings, notably:
- My desk electronics (except my laptop charger) are plugged into a power strip connected to a smart switch. A movement sensor triggers that switch on and off depending on whether I'm at my desk or not, so the lights are only on when I'm actually using them.
- I have a remote in the bedroom that lets me control the lights - I can toggle on and off the bedside lights (both connected to their own switches) and the ceiling lights. I can also use the remote to trigger the "Good Morning" action in Smarthings, which brings on the lights and has the Bedroom Sonos play the days weather forecast.
- We've replaced the dimmers in the bedroom, living room, dining area and kitchen with the smart dimmers - so they're all controllable from the app. They are all configured to turn off when we leave the house (both of us - our presence is set by our phones location within the house geofence), and have automatic lighting sequences configured for vacation time.
- The kitchen has a motion sensor to detect activity in there, and toggles the dimmers on and off appropriately.
- Likewise, the living room lights come on at dusk and toggle on and off based on our activity via a motion sensor.
- All the downstairs lights turn off when activity ceases, and all the lights in the house turn off when I trigger the "Good night" action on Smartthings.
- The hall light turns on when the front door opens (this is one of my favourite interactions - subtle, but very effective).
- We have open/close sensors on the office window (so I know when Husband has forgotten to close it when we go out - it's the only easily people-accessible window) and the external doors.
So, that's the basics. Back soon to cover some of the more custom parts.