Smart Home Choices and Ideas

Recently, I’ve decided to add some smart-home technology to my residence. This past weekend, I selected and installed three Nest 3rd Gen Learning Thermostats. (I have three A/Cs in my home) The Nest app is very cool and allows some sophisticated A/C temperature and humidity management. Nest is of course owned by Google. I have, however, integrated it with my Alexa Echo’s. I can say “Alex set the temperature in the Kitchen to 73 degrees” and she’ll make it so. This is very handy if you’re sitting in the living room and do not want to get your "fat lazy butt’ up and adjust the thermostat.

I also bought some camera technology to try out. I chose the Ring product and bought a Doorbell Pro and the RING Floodlight Cam, but now I’m having second thoughts. There is no way to save video except through a subscription of $3-$10 a month. This is not ideal for me. (I think there is a hack for this, but it seems convoluted since it uses the “Alexa” interface to do this) This means that Amazon, who owns Ring, has video of your home’s activities. They can do almost anything they want with it apparently:

Most of the other leading security camera companies do the same thing. My alternative is a completely local security camera solution. This limits the online video options for answering the door etc. I guess I could build a system which does this myself, but this has limits, too.

Next, I want to connect to my existing security sensors provided initially by Brinks and get rid of the monitoring service.

Here’s the solution I’ve found do do most of all of this. Hubitat:


and Konnected:

Another option instead of Hubitat is Home Assistant which uses a Raspberry PI BTW. (I bought my RPI4 2GB yesterday at Microcenter)

My questions are:

  1. Has anyone designed built and installed a security system that they love?
  2. Has anyone installed a system using local stand alone cameras that journal the video locally and are happy or unhappy with it? Something like Nightowl


3. Lastly, has anyone installed and hacked a Raspberry PI based system?
4. Right now the Hubitat, which uses Z-wave and Zigbee to access hundreds of devices looks very attractive at only $90 or so.

PS. I’m also looking at running Pi-Hole for a firewall after reading several recommendations on Talk.

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It would be great to have commercial, UL approved, switches/outlets/… and be able to control them from a RPi. I have not really looked but this could be developed into a very popular class.

There are several “smart” switches that can be controlled through a Raspberry Pi / Home Assistant setup. The one that looks the most “legit” [commercial, UL approved] is the Shelly brand [https://shelly.cloud/]. They have a few flavors that are really just ESP8266 with relays and exposed inputs [to control the device locally].

Most people running Home Assistant tend to flash the firmware to Tasmota - and the Shelly products make this simple.

I do not have any experience with these devices, but have looked into it several times when I come home to an empty but extremely well lit house… It was on the list to try out this summer, which is now on the try out this fall list - so this time next year I might have some first hand knowledge to share.

Tom

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Recommend you lock down your router to keep hostiles away from your Nests. Google has been very quiet about it, but there have been a number of ransomware attacks.

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I’ve setup a number of surveillance systems based around UniFi cameras recording to a Synology NAS. Everyone I’ve done that for has been very happy with it.

A number of people recommended the same in this thread:

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Thanks for the URL pointer the the preexisting discussion. I have Ubiquity wifi and didn’t even think to look at their cameras. I’ll look more closely at them based upon the numerous recommendations in the thread.

Ubiquiti, like Apple, can provide an excellent homogeneous experience.

1, 2, 3)

yes, this was all before hass.io, rpi, and cloud offerings so we had to look things up on instructables or use old laptops and usb webcams but it can be done with better hardware these days.

Amcrest 2K 3MP Wireless Outdoor Security Camera is a really good option for $69 (price of a pi and camera hat) one gets a full solution that has a https stream of the camera feed which can be picked up bo Home Assistant and also captured to disk via vlc, obs, or other similar software then automatically backed up to AWS S3 Glacier via s3fs or cronjob.

Take a look at https://www.home-assistant.io/components/generic/ for configuration and S3 Glacier is about $1/mo for 1Tb cold storage

I also suggest looking into https://zoneminder.com/ which is a free open source alternative to BlueIris.

Before I forget, there’s fairly easy way to build electric locks that tie into Hass.io:

This one pains the hell out of me since I want to build one that unlocks a pair of deadbolts as I get within a geofence of 3-5m of my door when I get home and lock when I leave the geofence. But whatever you do; avoid the bluetooth “smart” locks on the market. https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/08/08/using_a_smart_bluetooth_lock_to_protect_your_valuables_youre_an_idiot/

Other than that I’d be glad to advise or help with the project at any time.

Thanks for the advice. I really appreciate it.

I purchased another RPI 3 for the HASS.IO controller today. I didn’t realize the RPI 4 binaries were Beta currently. I’m going to load the RPI and start working with it to get familiar with the interfaces.

I’m having fun at the moment. I may call upon you later though.

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I purchased another RPI 3 for the HASS.IO controller today. I didn’t realize the RPI 4 binaries were Beta currently. I’m going to load the RPI and start working with it to get familiar with the interfaces.

I’m having fun at the moment. I may call upon you later though.

Cool! Love to hear how it’s coming along and one should know to find me :wink: