• Simon Salvin

Refining a Smart Home

When we moved in to our apartment in 2015 I set myself the target to make it a smart home, and over the last 6 years its been slowly coming together, but in all honesty its been thrown together. Stepping back and looking at the system as a whole has highlighted a number of issues which over the Christmas period I have had the time to plan, tidy and implement a more fluent system, as I write this its not finished yet but the plan is clear, in my mind at least?

So lets go back to the beginning, it all started with a simple quest, to make my entertainment smarter! I hate remotes, so for a while I’d been using the Roomie app to control our system, it worked well for a number of years but I became frustrated with the ever increasing price subscriptions. Roomie had replaced a Logitech tablet style touchscreen remote, it had more customisations, but whilst I had been using Roomie, Logitech had moved on now offering the Harmony Hub, basically a remote sender using both Infrared and Bluetooth, connected to the network by Wi-Fi with an accompanying iPad remote control app.

I wanted to go one step further and this offered voice control via Amazon’s Alexa smart assistant. So with our SONOS Play:1 speakers we added Echo Dots next to each one and paired them, this way we could ask for music to be played on the speaker, and adding a Dot to the living room allowed us to voice command the TV.

Next came lighting and over time I replaced every light bulb in the apartment with Philips Hue lighting, an app for configuring and controlling with the ability for automated routines and control away from the home.

And of course the switches, to ensure guests weren’t disturbing the system turning off the physical switches which must remain on.

Over time the SONOS Play:1 speakers were updated to One speakers eliminating the need for separate Echo Dots and a SONOS 5.1 system was added to the living room.

Next were the blinds, again over time they were added, the first with a remote control and then as more blinds were installed switched to the Somfy Hub for control by app or voice with Alexa. These were the first major disappointment, discovering the motors only had one way RF communication to the hub, I couldn’t ask for the blinds to be lowered 30%, it was just up, down or one predefined point. I overcame this with a wall switch for each one and automated programming within the hub, turning it into a near perfect positive