Getting Started with Home Automation

Lately all I’ve been hearing about are smart things.  You know those little gadgets that turn lights on and off, or announce the temperature at the beginning of the day.  So I decided to  jump in and write a little guide about getting started with home automation.  I’m no expert on this stuff, just somebody who is extremely interested because some of this home tech is just so cool.  I plan on updating this post as I learn more, and add items to my house.

All this stuff can  be super confusing.  It’s like learning a whole new language – smart hubs, z-wave, homekit, hub, zigbee, bluetooth, Alexa, IoT, there are dozens if not hundreds of terms to learn.  I know I’m going just a bit crazy trying to keep up on this stuff.  Hopefully I’ll be able to simplify it for you.

As of right now, I only have two items in my that makes my house a smart house.  The Nest Protect Smoke Detectors and an Echo Dot.  As for the smoke detectors, I bought them first because I liked the Nest brand, and I had plans to add their thermostat and cameras later.

But as I began to learn more I discovered that the language Nest uses to talk to each other, called Thread isn’t the most popular for home automation and control.

Z-Wave is becoming the industry leader and pretty much every other company uses it.  So if you want to add deadbolts, or lights, or other controls, you probably want to go with the most popular protocol, go with Z-Wave.

Basically Nest products only talk to Nest. Yes, there is a way to extend the functionality, but I’m all about simple, and from what I read it isn’t simple to do that yet.

I also have an Echo Dot.  You know the kind where you say “Hey Alexa – what time is it?”

Right now there are a few things I do with Alexa – mostly they are pretty simple.  Play 20 questions, ask what the weather is like and try to make sure I don’t order anything expensive on Amazon.

Most recently I connected Alexa to Pandora, so now I can play pretty much any music I want by simply saying “Alexa play Everything is Awesome”

But the Nest protect and Alexa don’t “talk” to each other.  That’s sad.  It’s because they don’t speak the same “language”  The Nest is Thread, and Alexa uses Z-wave.

Since I have plans on automating all these things I want a system that uses the same language.  For me that will be w-wave.

  • Lights in every room
  • Fans in every room
  • Thermostat
  • Doorbell
  • Blinds, curtains, and window coverings
  • Mailbox alert
  • Outside Cameras
  • Door Locks
  • Garage Door
  • Flood sensors – Air conditioner and laundry rooms
  • Sprinklers outside dependent on weather.

As for now I’m doing a lot of research, and learning exactly what is needed to do each of the above.

Is any part of your home a smart home?  What have you done?  I’d love to know in the comments below.


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