The way I got started with home automation was because I was lazy.
I always thought home automation was kind of cool, but I also thought that was too complicated AND expensive for me to get involved with.
Let me tell you that it’s no longer complicated. PLUS in the long run, it actually saves me money.
It used to be that there were so many different kinds of home automation systems it was like the wild west! You had Z-wave, Samsung, Alexa & Google & Apple and none of them worked well together. There were hubs and bridges and repeaters. It was so confusing.
Plus, if you searched the web for anything on home automation, you ended up with some weird website about some guy using a raspberry pie or Arduino to make his garage door go up and down.
Today things are very different and so much simpler.
I use Apple HomeKit.
HomeKit works through Siri to control so many different things in my house. If you browse around my website you will see how I integrate home automation in my every day life.
The reason I chose HomeKit (which is the main Apple Automation product) is because I have an iPhone. It’s really that simple.
But it didn’t always start that way. My very first device was an Amazon echo. It worked well for our family for a couple of years. But recently the echo started to act up. Alexa got an attitude. You can read more about that in this post.
So I decided to switch over to the Apple Ecosystem for home Automation. My very first Apple HomeKit device was a Lutron Casetta Switch.
(If you’re curious as to why I use hardwire switches instead of automated lightbulbs be sure to visit this post.)
Anyway this is how it all started.
When my son was about three or four years old, his playroom was upstairs. This was a space where he could play with all of his toys make forts and generally have a great big mess all the time. It was in the farthest corner of our house so we didn’t have to worry about guests ever looking in and seeing the chaos that existed up there.
But like most four-year-olds when he was done playing in his room he would simply get up and walk out.
I was OK with that because nobody can see the mess. But what I had a hard time with what is it the light was on with nobody in the room. Typical Dad stuff, I know. AND it was all the way on the other side of the house. We have an open floor plan so even though I couldn’t see in the room I could see that the light was on and that bugged me.
I decided to go to my local hardware store to see if there was a timer or some other kind of accessory that I could buy to solve my problem.
While I was there I saw a big display for Lutron and how they can automate your home.
I played with the in-store display for a little bit and ended up buying their most simple light switch and bridge to install. The reason I didn’t buy some cool fancy lightbulb is because in the playroom the ceiling fan was integrated with the lights and they use some weird unusual bulb.
At first I was a little nervous about actually changing the switch in the wall by the door. This was high-voltage and I didn’t want to get shocked and die.
But the instructions are pretty straightforward and I watched about a dozen different YouTube videos to learn how to do it properly.
First I went to the electrical sub-panel in the garage. We have a main panel outside that controls the big stage, and a smaller one in the garage. I found the breaker that turned off the power to the playroom switch. I verified it by turning on the switch in the room so that the lights are on and then when I turn the breaker off without touching the switch on the wall the lights would go off. This means that the entire circuit that controls the lights was dead and didn’t have any electricity going through it. Now I wouldn’t die if I touched a wire.
Then I used my screw gun to take off the cover plate and remove the old manual switch. I was lucky in that they were only three wires go into that switch. There were two black ones and a copper one. Tucked in the back behind the switch or some white wires are connected together as well.
The new Casetta Lutron switch had five wires coming out the back. But after watching the videos and read the instructions I learned which ones I need to connect and the other ones I closed off with the supplied wire nuts.
I carefully pushed the wires back into the electrical box in the wall, screwed in the switch, and put the new square cover plate on it.
Then went out to the breaker sub-panel in the garage and turned on the power for that circuit. Thankfully there were no sparks and the house didn’t blow up.
Now it was time for the moment of truth!
I went back up to my son’s playroom and press the button on the new Lutron Casetta Switch to turn the light on.
Miraculously the light came on! I got lucky and did everything right the first time around. But I wasn’t done yet.
I still needed to connect the switch to my Apple phone and make sure that Siri could control it with voice commands.
I followed the instructions to connect the switch to the bridge and then I looked for it on my iPhone in the home app. To my surprise it was there. I added the switch, created a new room, and tested it from my phone. I could see the light turn on and off no matter where I was using my phone.
Then I decided to ask Siri to turn on the playroom light. I heard a click and looked up to the room and the light came on! It was really that simple.
Of course now I have dozens of switches control and almost every single light in my house but it all started with his very first one.
It was so easy to do that I also bought a second switch for our laundry room (because my wife whom I love very much) leaves the light on there almost every time.
I want to encourage you to try as well. Hopefully for you it will be as easy as it was for me. I can’t tell you the number of trips up and down the stairs I have saved over the years not having to turn off the light.