Computers & Electronics

Smart home advice and questions

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[OP]
Deal Addict
Dec 24, 2008
3044 posts
781 upvotes
Belle River

Smart home advice and questions

I'm totally new to this, I have a lot of questions, and there are so many different devices. I've done some research but it's hard to figure out specifics. This is gonna be long but anyway :)

Things I want to setup:
few indoor light bulbs
few indoor motion sensors
outdoor motion sensor light
outdoor battery powered motion sensor light (if such a thing exists in "smart" form)
possibly an audio alarm

I believe I've read about cheaper brands of these devices, like Chinese brands, that are a lot cheaper than the mainstream ones or the ones sold by the hub makers. I'd like to learn more about that.

How far can the signal go for the different protocols? I figure outdoors with no obstructions is pretty likely, but how about a detached structure (like a garage) where you have to penetrate more walls?

I have extra Raspberry Pi's, and I just became aware of Home Assistant (and hass.io). I kinda like that idea, but I'm not sure about a USB Z-Wave module vs a Wink hub. On the issue of wireless signal reach, I'm guessing the Wink hub has the advantage, but I don't know about other differences.

Originally when I was looking for a less DiY method, people seemed to be suggesting SmartThings most. Anyone care to compare that with the RPi Home Assistant approach? Simplicity, reliability, seems like the ready-made hub is going to win those, but what else?

Can you use an old Android 4.x tablet as a sort of control panel?

Below are a couple examples of what I'd like to do. I've definitely read about people doing these kinds of things, but I don't know how my choice of hub and such will affect this functionality.

Use phones when leaving and coming home to enable/disable a "no one home" mode that will turn a few light bulbs on/off randomly and send me an alert if certain motion sensors are triggered.
Set the certain motion sensors to alert me if it's triggered during certain times of the day.

EDIT: Forgot to mention I do use Alexa currently, have an Echo and Echo Dot, and I have a Google Home Mini that I haven't tried yet.

Thanks
19 replies
Sr. Member
Jan 15, 2010
535 posts
171 upvotes
Toronto
hystavito wrote: I'm totally new to this, I have a lot of questions, and there are so many different devices. I've done some research but it's hard to figure out specifics. This is gonna be long but anyway :)
Be prepared for some frustrations. But its a fun journey.

few indoor light bulbs
Instead of bulbs I recommend switches. Using smart bulbs requires the switches to be on all the time to control. The switches work so much better. I can leave the brand you pick up to you. But take into account the look and feel of the switch as well as the protocol (zwave/zigbee/wifi etc)

outdoor motion sensor light
Do you really need a smart outdoor motion sensor light? You can get a regular one that just turns on and off when motion is detected. Will simplify the setup. I guess if one does exist you should be able to turn it on/off remotely and get notifications when motion is detected as well. I currently get this with my Ring Floodlight in the backyard. But that also has a camera integrated.

outdoor battery powered motion sensor light (if such a thing exists in "smart" form)
possibly an audio alarm
I feel like the Ring Alarm would be right for you. They bought Mr. Beams and are integrating their battery motion lights into their security system. The only issue is that I don't know when that will come to Canada.

How far can the signal go for the different protocols? I figure outdoors with no obstructions is pretty likely, but how about a detached structure (like a garage) where you have to penetrate more walls?
Zigbee and Zwave create a mesh network with each other. However only certain devices can relay the signal. I think hardwired devices are required so the battery isn't drained. Otherwise they connect directly back to the hub. Also keep in mind if you go the SmartThings route it has a limit of 32 directly connected zigbee devices. If they go through a repeater they don't count against that number.

I have extra Raspberry Pi's, and I just became aware of Home Assistant (and hass.io). I kinda like that idea, but I'm not sure about a USB Z-Wave module vs a Wink hub. On the issue of wireless signal reach, I'm guessing the Wink hub has the advantage, but I don't know about other differences.
Originally when I was looking for a less DiY method, people seemed to be suggesting SmartThings most. Anyone care to compare that with the RPi Home Assistant approach? Simplicity, reliability, seems like the ready-made hub is going to win those, but what else?
Not sure about how much time you want to spend. Smart things is popular because of its simplicity (and its power). Its a hub you plug in and has zwave/zigbee built in, a great community, and powerful customization once you add in WebCore. The only problem is that it depends on their cloud and since the beginning of the year it has been giving a lot of problems. I have this setup in my house and I feel it mainly when my automation's don't kick in during an outage. HomeAssistant I believe is all done locally, and I'm so tempted to change over just for this but haven't had the time to really dive into it.
Can you use an old Android 4.x tablet as a sort of control panel?
I do this currently with my SmartThings hub. Setup ActionTiles and Dakboard on it with the Fully Kiosk app and you have a control panel with a screensaver. Works really well. Can't speak for HomeAssistant though, I believe they also have a dashboard you can use too.

Use phones when leaving and coming home to enable/disable a "no one home" mode that will turn a few light bulbs on/off randomly and send me an alert if certain motion sensors are triggered.
Set the certain motion sensors to alert me if it's triggered during certain times of the day.
Definitely can be done with SmartThings but will require a lot of tweaking to get it right. For example, I use two systems to determine my home/away status. A combination of geo fencing built into the SmartThings app (which on iOS they have improved significantly) and WiFi presence. You can't really rely on one or the other alone. With WiFi presence, iPhones actually disconnect from the WiFi when they are asleep. You can usually tweak this with a timeout so if they are offline for 20mins then you are marked as away. But then again it won't mark you away until you are gone for 20mins. You will also need to setup custom scripts to do WiFi presence detection as this is not built into SmartThings and will need a strong WiFi signal that reaches around the house so you don't get marked as away while sitting in the backyard for example. Geo fencing also can be troublesome. Sometimes it doesn't update your location fast enough and you end up walking into the house before the alarm is disabled. But like I said, on the iOS app they have worked hard to get this working and it has been great in my house since. My place will go into away mode when nobody is home, and then back into home mode when the first person arrives. But it took some scripting and lots of testing to get it to work properly.

There are also other methods to do this if you don't want to rely on your phone or those specific apps. Lots of trial and error.

EDIT: Forgot to mention I do use Alexa currently, have an Echo and Echo Dot, and I have a Google Home Mini that I haven't tried yet.
With SmartThings (I also think HA does this as well) you can integrate directly into Alexa/Google Home to control everything in those systems. I have my SmartThings setup currently with Alexa and Siri (via homebridge) and can control everything via voice.

Hopefully this helps some what. My setup is all SmartThings based and bridged with Alexa and Siri. Lots of custom scripting was done to get it to work right. But it has been pretty stable when the SmartThings cloud is not giving issues.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Dec 24, 2008
3044 posts
781 upvotes
Belle River
Thank you very much for all the detailed information.

For the away mode I don't mind just using an on/off button in some app on the phones or the "control panel" tablet, it doesn't need to automatically determine when no one is home.

I don't know which way I will go, but you've definitely helped me get some needed answers.
Sr. Member
Jan 15, 2010
535 posts
171 upvotes
Toronto
hystavito wrote: For the away mode I don't mind just using an on/off button in some app on the phones or the "control panel" tablet, it doesn't need to automatically determine when no one is home.
No problem. It’s a tuff decision because you have to invest so much time into each one to learn it well enough.

With SmartThings the smart home monitoring is built into the app. So you can control it manually via that way.

You can also use actiontiles to create a console to arm and disarm it. There is so much you can do via the scripting engine. The only problem is that it is very dependent on the internet connection. So if it’s down not everything will work.

They have added local processing for certain things but it’s currently very limited to specific devices.
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2004
33799 posts
7440 upvotes
East Gwillimbury
You first have to decide what standard you want to use. There are basically four main protocols

Wi-Fi
Zigbee
Z-Wave
Bluetooth

Wi-Fi is the most popular and relies on third party servers.
ZigBee is also Wi Fi but does not rely on third party servers
Z-Wave is a mesh network based on a a protocol similar to bluetooth
Bluetooth - Not very popular

Wi-Fi is the most popular and the easiest to setup. The problem is that everyone has their own standard. My-Q is used by Chamberlain (garage doors), light bulbs, Ring door bell, Nest Thermostat and others use their own system. Each one has their own app and connects to their own server in the cloud. You control your smart device by connecting to the cloud and a finding your device. My problem with Wi-Fi is that technically someone can get access to all your home devices if the cloud gets hacked. Wi-Fi can work with or without a hub. A hub will centralize all the apps into one location so you don't need individual apps for each vendor. Smart Things is probably the most popular. It is still cloud based.

ZigBee is not very popular in North America and more widely used in Europe. It is basically Wi-Fi without the cloud and requires a hub. You open a port on your router and access the hub directly through your internet connection from your cell phone etc. to control your devices.

Z-Wave is similar to ZigBee but uses the 900 MHz frequency instead of 2.4 GHz used by Wi-Fi. The advantage is that it doesn't have to share with internet Wi-Fi traffic, but the disadvantage is the shorter range. But Z-Wave is a mesh network and each node extends the network. It supports up to 254 devices but you can only effectively have 5 hops between devices from the hub. Home Assistant and OpenHAB are the two most popular interface for Z-Wave

Bluetooth is not popular at all, I've only seen a few door locks using it and maybe Apple.

My preference is Z-Wave, it is open source, it doesn't expose your automation to the public internet through the cloud.

Once you decide what standard to use, then you can look for devices to support it. Z-Wave doesn't have effective garage door openers, CCTV cameras or door bells. But I can access my CCTV directly by connecting to my DVR / NVR, there is a work around for my garage door opener but it isn't elegant.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Dec 24, 2008
3044 posts
781 upvotes
Belle River
Gee wrote: You first have to decide what standard you want to use. There are basically four main protocols...
Thank you.

For an RPi Home Assistant setup, do you have an opinion on USB Z-Wave module vs Wink hub? Or maybe you know of something better? Those are just the ideas I got from the HA docs.

Also if you have any recommendations for cheap Z-Wave motion sensors, lights, or anything else really, I'd like to find some alternatives to the very expensive ones like those branded by the hub makers. I think I read on RFD that Xiaomi makes decent low priced stuff but I can't confirm that now.
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2004
33799 posts
7440 upvotes
East Gwillimbury
hystavito wrote: Thank you.

For an RPi Home Assistant setup, do you have an opinion on USB Z-Wave module vs Wink hub? Or maybe you know of something better? Those are just the ideas I got from the HA docs.

Also if you have any recommendations for cheap Z-Wave motion sensors, lights, or anything else really, I'd like to find some alternatives to the very expensive ones like those branded by the hub makers. I think I read on RFD that Xiaomi makes decent low priced stuff but I can't confirm that now.
The best part about Z-Wave is that it is an open standard and there are over 2500 products available. Make sure you buy Z-Wave Plus devices. Start with a Raspberry Pi 3 and Home Assistant (hass.io)

Get an Aeon Labs Z-Wave Stick Generation 5

https://www.aartech.ca/zw090-zwave-usb-stick.html

This gives you the most flexibility. You can use this stick on a Raspberry Pi or a small computer if you want something more powerful. A Wink Hub is similar to a Raspberry Pi as far as processing power. You're paying for the refined software.

Don't buy light bulbs. Buy Z-Wave light switches and you can control your lights

https://www.amazon.ca/New-Model-Wireles ... RETDCH2VGP

What kind of sensors are you looking for?
Sr. Member
Jan 15, 2010
535 posts
171 upvotes
Toronto
Gee wrote: Wi-Fi is the most popular and relies on third party servers.
WiFi devices don't always require 3rd party servers. They usually have them so that the manufacturer can give you a way to control them without the requirement of another hub or to lock them down to their own ecosystem but some also have open API's. For example, the Wemo WiFi switches can utilize the cloud for control of them via their app remotely, but they can also be controlled locally as they have an API you can access. So when you integrate them into something like smartThings the cloud isn't required. Every WiFi device though is different which makes this a pain to sort through.
ZigBee is also Wi Fi but does not rely on third party servers
Zigbee is not WiFi. I believe it uses similar frequencies which can cause interference at times but its a different protocol. Zigbee also does mesh networking. I would compare it more to ZWave than WiFi. I have both in my setup and I find the ZWave to be more reliable if anything. I've had to rebuild my zigbee mesh a couple times when devices dropped off.

Bluetooth - Not very popular
The only time I've heard this actually being used is with apple products and HomeKit. But HomeKit is so closed off it won't work easily with anything other than apple products (unless you want to set up a homebridge server).
My problem with Wi-Fi is that technically someone can get access to all your home devices if the cloud gets hacked.
This was also my fear too. However, even with the other protocols, once you start putting them on a hub and exposing that hub to the internet they are now open to be hacked as well. Even HomeKit had a vulnerability last year that would allow people to access which was ironic as Apple was always talking about how secure it was.
Wi-Fi can work with or without a hub. A hub will centralize all the apps into one location so you don't need individual apps for each vendor. Smart Things is probably the most popular. It is still cloud based.

SmartThings can work with zigbee, zwave and wifi products. But the wifi compatibility depends on if the device has a way to communicate with it and if a device handler was created for it. For example, MyQ you can control the garage, but chamberlain cut off access to the tilt sensor (it requires a lot of polling to their servers) so the SmartThings hub didn't know if the door was open or closed. The way around this was to add a zwave tilt sensor and integrate that. There was a SmartApp created that would then combine the two to get a full working solution. There was also a node server you can run that would get around the restrictions as well but requires more work.

If you decide on WiFi products you have to make sure your wifi network is strong. If you install ring devices that sit outside your house you have to make sure they can at least get a strong enough wifi signal or you will have bad video quality. Similar with zigbee and zwave. When you set up those devices you have to make sure that they can at least communicate with the mesh network or else they will drop off. Ensure that there are devices that will relay the signal back to the hub.

My preference is Z-Wave, it is open source, it doesn't expose your automation to the public internet through the cloud.
I too have had best luck with Z-Wave. Even my Z-Wave plus products which I think give better range and reliability. They have never given me any issues.
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2004
33799 posts
7440 upvotes
East Gwillimbury
GavinCampbell wrote: This was also my fear too. However, even with the other protocols, once you start putting them on a hub and exposing that hub to the internet they are now open to be hacked as well. Even HomeKit had a vulnerability last year that would allow people to access which was ironic as Apple was always talking about how secure it was.
The difference with having a port open on your router vs using a public cloud is that you own the hub and finding one IP on the massive internet is harder than finding a public cloud which exposes you more easily.

Smart Things can work as a Z-Wave hub but it is still connected to the Smart Things cloud for remote access and that bothers me. It is better to just create your own hub. Yes, I get that you can isolate Smart Things and create a VPN back to your house to access the hub, but the platform still connects to its cloud and you’re exposed
[OP]
Deal Addict
Dec 24, 2008
3044 posts
781 upvotes
Belle River
Gee wrote: The best part about Z-Wave is that it is an open standard and there are over 2500 products available. Make sure you buy Z-Wave Plus devices. Start with a Raspberry Pi 3 and Home Assistant (hass.io)

Get an Aeon Labs Z-Wave Stick Generation 5

https://www.aartech.ca/zw090-zwave-usb-stick.html

This gives you the most flexibility. You can use this stick on a Raspberry Pi or a small computer if you want something more powerful. A Wink Hub is similar to a Raspberry Pi as far as processing power. You're paying for the refined software.
I was thinking of using a Wink hub with HomeAssistant, rather than a USB device, that's what I meant by versus. I figured the Wink hub would put out a lot stronger signal than the USB device and also give me a backup in the sense that if the RPi was not working at some point (or if I just changed my mind later) I'd still have the Wink software to run everything. Maybe the Wink+HA is worse than USB in some ways, I don't know, and yeah getting the Wink is around twice the price, so maybe it's foolish.

Being able to plug the USB into a PC is definitely cool, even though I wouldn't run a PC because it's more prone to failures than an RPi, I'd definitely like to mess around with that at times. Problem is the ones listed on HomeAssistant's site, like the one you linked, are not compatible with Windows according to that site. I do have a Linux box and a Hackintosh but both are no longer in frequent use, actually the Linux box has been completely disconnected for several months. I guess I can always look for a Windows compatible one to play around with, and run the HomeAssistant compatible one as the actual.

That brings up a question, can 2 Z-Wave "hubs" control devices and not cause problems? Will the devices report their states and such out to every "hub" regardless of which is controlling them?

Gee wrote: Don't buy light bulbs. Buy Z-Wave light switches and you can control your lights

https://www.amazon.ca/New-Model-Wireles ... RETDCH2VGP
There are a couple cases where a bulb is either necessary or just far more convenient, but yes I see the point about switches being better.

Gee wrote: What kind of sensors are you looking for?
Things I want to setup:
few indoor light bulbs
few indoor motion sensors
outdoor motion sensor light
outdoor battery powered motion sensor light (if such a thing exists in "smart" form)
possibly an audio alarm
I'm also considering a door open sensor, forget what that's called where it triggers when the 2 pieces separate

One thing I'm still wondering is where to buy the stuff and which to buy. If I walk into a Home Depot or Best Buy and get all these sensors/lights/switches it'll be super expensive. Do I just look on Amazon.ca for Z-Wave plus stuff and then go by reviews and maybe also check fakespot? Or should I look on HomeAssistant forums/reddit or something for recommendations?

Thanks again everyone for all the info, it's been very helpful.
Sr. Member
Jan 15, 2010
535 posts
171 upvotes
Toronto
Gee wrote: The difference with having a port open on your router vs using a public cloud is that you own the hub and finding one IP on the massive internet is harder than finding a public cloud which exposes you more easily.

Smart Things can work as a Z-Wave hub but it is still connected to the Smart Things cloud for remote access and that bothers me. It is better to just create your own hub. Yes, I get that you can isolate Smart Things and create a VPN back to your house to access the hub, but the platform still connects to its cloud and you’re exposed
Correct. And that is why I'm eyeing moving over to HA. But the other problem is a lot of these WIFI solutions themselves will still connect back to the cloud. Even if you are still able to add it to the local hub, it communicates with their cloud piece to do the controlling. You have to look at every device you and on a per device basis to determine how it connects/communicates and that is confusing for most people. You always see the big brands getting pushed (MyQ, Ring, etc) and for each you need a cloud account to add it to the setup.

VPN's and VLAN just make it way over complicated and when it breaks troubleshooting it is a pain as well.
Sr. Member
Jan 15, 2010
535 posts
171 upvotes
Toronto
hystavito wrote: One thing I'm still wondering is where to buy the stuff and which to buy. If I walk into a Home Depot or Best Buy and get all these sensors/lights/switches it'll be super expensive. Do I just look on Amazon.ca for Z-Wave plus stuff and then go by reviews and maybe also check fakespot? Or should I look on HomeAssistant forums/reddit or something for recommendations?
Its going to be expensive. I setup watches on Amazon using the 3 C's site and get notifications when certain things drop in price that I am interested in.

There are some very popular door/window/motion/temperature sensors from Xiaomi that people have jumped on. They are very cheap. For example, you can get the door/window sensors and motion sensors for under 10$ a piece. The problem is that, even though they are zigbee devices they use a hacked version of the protocol so don't work with something like SmartThings out of the box. The community has however created custom device handlers to integrate these and they have been working great.
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2004
33799 posts
7440 upvotes
East Gwillimbury
hystavito wrote: That brings up a question, can 2 Z-Wave "hubs" control devices and not cause problems? Will the devices report their states and such out to every "hub" regardless of which is controlling them?
You can set up multiple hubs but each hubs creates its own mesh network, meaning you will run multiple interfaces. Devices will only report to hubs it is paired with
hystavito wrote: Things I want to setup:
few indoor light bulbs
few indoor motion sensors
outdoor motion sensor light
outdoor battery powered motion sensor light (if such a thing exists in "smart" form)
possibly an audio alarm
I'm also considering a door open sensor, forget what that's called where it triggers when the 2 pieces separate
I'm not sure why you want motion sensors or even an outdoor light sensor. The point of motion sensors are to react when motion is detected. How does this relate to home automation? If someone is on your door step and the light senses movement, it will turn on. It is already automated. Why do you want to monitor or have the ability to turn this light on? Similarly, why do you want an alert if someone walks around the house? The outdoor light can be hooked up to a switch and controlled remotely. This is useful if you are on vacation and want the appearance that someone is home.

The alarm and the open door sensor, again, why do you want to be alerted? This is better achieved with a DSC alarm system with monitoring. If someone breaks into your house, you will get a call from the monitoring centre. Home automation doesn't really do anything except alert you there is movement. You can't control the movement.

hystavito wrote: One thing I'm still wondering is where to buy the stuff and which to buy. If I walk into a Home Depot or Best Buy and get all these sensors/lights/switches it'll be super expensive. Do I just look on Amazon.ca for Z-Wave plus stuff and then go by reviews and maybe also check fakespot? Or should I look on HomeAssistant forums/reddit or something for recommendations?
You need to hunt for this stuff, Amazon and Aartech is a good start to do some research

https://www.aartech.ca
GavinCampbell wrote: But the other problem is a lot of these WIFI solutions themselves will still connect back to the cloud. Even if you are still able to add it to the local hub, it communicates with their cloud piece to do the controlling. You have to look at every device you and on a per device basis to determine how it connects/communicates and that is confusing for most people. You always see the big brands getting pushed (MyQ, Ring, etc) and for each you need a cloud account to add it to the setup.
My very first response was to CHOOSE the protocol you want to work with. I did a lot of research before I settled on Z-Wave. I don't plan on ever buying any Wi-Fi automation.

The only exception to that is my garage door opener. It is using MyQ. I have no choice on the matter. However, I didn't set it up. It is not connected to the Chamberlain's cloud and my Wi-Fi password was never entered. I can get it to work with Z-Wave but it is a real pain. I need a tilt sensor and I have to wire it to a remote because the garage door opener scrambles the signal each time it operates.

It's not elegant, but it works.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Dec 24, 2008
3044 posts
781 upvotes
Belle River
GavinCampbell wrote: Its going to be expensive. I setup watches on Amazon using the 3 C's site and get notifications when certain things drop in price that I am interested in.
3 C's, oh you mean the bathroom thing from Demolition Man? :) Sorry I don't actually know what that is, but I'm assuming it's a competitor or some kinda site we're not allowed to discuss on RFD.
GavinCampbell wrote: There are some very popular door/window/motion/temperature sensors from Xiaomi that people have jumped on. They are very cheap. For example, you can get the door/window sensors and motion sensors for under 10$ a piece. The problem is that, even though they are zigbee devices they use a hacked version of the protocol so don't work with something like SmartThings out of the box. The community has however created custom device handlers to integrate these and they have been working great.
Yeah like I mentioned in a previous post I wanted to find out about the Xiaomi stuff. I remember reading about the Xiaomi hacked version of the protocol but I thought it was Z-Wave. So far I have only researched using Z-Wave with HomeAssistant, nothing about Zigbee.

Gee wrote: I'm not sure why you want motion sensors or even an outdoor light sensor. The point of motion sensors are to react when motion is detected. How does this relate to home automation? If someone is on your door step and the light senses movement, it will turn on. It is already automated. Why do you want to monitor or have the ability to turn this light on? Similarly, why do you want an alert if someone walks around the house? The outdoor light can be hooked up to a switch and controlled remotely. This is useful if you are on vacation and want the appearance that someone is home.

The alarm and the open door sensor, again, why do you want to be alerted? This is better achieved with a DSC alarm system with monitoring. If someone breaks into your house, you will get a call from the monitoring centre. Home automation doesn't really do anything except alert you there is movement. You can't control the movement.
Most of the security related stuff is actually for the inside of detached structures and the backyard, and it may sound dumb but most of that monitoring is intended for use when someone is home. That's why I mentioned wanting to have time of day scheduling, so for example if the motion sensor in the garage triggers when no one is supposed to be in there, I'll get an alert. I do realize motion sensors can go off for no apparent reason but oh well.

But I do want to have some lights inside the house go on and off randomly when no one is home, determined by a simple on/off from phone/tablet app, no fancy wifi presence detection or anything automatic. And if I'm going to set all this stuff up anyway, I will add a couple motion sensors to the house that can also alert me if they trigger when no one is home but that's as far as I'll take that. I don't want to pay a monthly fee so any of those professionally installed and monitored security systems/services are out.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Dec 24, 2008
3044 posts
781 upvotes
Belle River
Gee wrote: Just get s cheap IP camera and it will notify you if there is any motion.
Does the built-in software on those IP cameras have scheduling and "away" modes and such?
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2004
33799 posts
7440 upvotes
East Gwillimbury
hystavito wrote: Does the built-in software on those IP cameras have scheduling and "away" modes and such?
Why would you want to schedule a camera? You can set the camera to record only when there is motion. If your not home (away) it is not recording. At night, when there is no movement, it is not recording

I have a Z-Wave thermostat and I’m not sure why I need it. I can set schedules and I don’t have any interest in monitoring the temperature of my house when I’m not there.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Dec 24, 2008
3044 posts
781 upvotes
Belle River
Gee wrote: Why would you want to schedule a camera? You can set the camera to record only when there is motion. If your not home (away) it is not recording. At night, when there is no movement, it is not recording

I have a Z-Wave thermostat and I’m not sure why I need it. I can set schedules and I don’t have any interest in monitoring the temperature of my house when I’m not there.
Well as an example, when I am in there, I wouldn't want it to be alerting/recording. But anyway I don't think I want cameras, just a bit unsettling even if they aren't recording. There's one spot outside I might want a camera but that's probably it.
Sr. Member
Jan 15, 2010
535 posts
171 upvotes
Toronto
hystavito wrote: 3 C's, oh you mean the bathroom thing from Demolition Man? :) Sorry I don't actually know what that is, but I'm assuming it's a competitor or some kinda site we're not allowed to discuss on RFD.
Ya camel camel camel . com. Not sure why its banned here. But it monitors the price of amazon things in your wish list and alerts you.

Yeah like I mentioned in a previous post I wanted to find out about the Xiaomi stuff. I remember reading about the Xiaomi hacked version of the protocol but I thought it was Z-Wave. So far I have only researched using Z-Wave with HomeAssistant, nothing about Zigbee.
You will have to do a bit of research on this. I have over 20 of them around my place. They work well. But they are zigbee. So if you go with SmartThings you need to install a device hander. Not sure about HomeAssistant. I've only had 1 drop off with them but I think its because it was too far from the hub and I have no repeaters.
But I do want to have some lights inside the house go on and off randomly when no one is home, determined by a simple on/off from phone/tablet app, no fancy wifi presence detection or anything automatic. And if I'm going to set all this stuff up anyway, I will add a couple motion sensors to the house that can also alert me if they trigger when no one is home but that's as far as I'll take that. I don't want to pay a monthly fee so any of those professionally installed and monitored security systems/services are out.
Yup can do that (and I currently do that) with SmartThings. There are scripts you can use to set an "away" mode so that it turns on and off lights that you choose randomly and at a frequency you set. Can also set it so that when you sent the home to away it kicks in.

The motion sensors you can set to trigger and do things like "turn on all the lights for 15 minutes' or email/text or even call (with ifttt) when one of them is triggered. Its pretty easy.
Sr. Member
Jan 15, 2010
535 posts
171 upvotes
Toronto
hystavito wrote: Well as an example, when I am in there, I wouldn't want it to be alerting/recording. But anyway I don't think I want cameras, just a bit unsettling even if they aren't recording. There's one spot outside I might want a camera but that's probably it.
Take a look at the Wyze cam. They are pretty popular, cheap and a long thread here on the forums dedicated to them. I have 2 of the V1 cams. They have scheduling, motion detection, audio detection, notifications etc. The v2 was just announced and currently on pre order. I got confirmation from Wyze that the v2 cam will have IFTTT support so you can integrate with your automations to turn on and off based on your needs, but they said they don't know when it will come to the v1 camera. It records locally to an SD card and also sends clips to their cloud for free.

It is a good camera for simple monitoring.

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