Smart lights/sockets fixed or plug in, hub or direct, what works with what?

27 Jan 2008
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Llanfair Caereinion, Nr Welshpool
United Kingdom
I would think I am not alone in thinking a smart bulb is not very smart, better to have the electronics fixed so when the bulb fails only the light is binned not all the electronics, however it seems I am in error, as the fixed smart light switches and sockets have failed, and being fixed this means switching off the mains supply to change them, so I have moved over to smart bulbs and smart plug in sockets, so if one fails it is an easy swap.

But then it goes further, my first light bulb was zigbee, bit of a pain as then realised I needed a zigbee hub, but then got more zigbee (Lidi) units and the ability to pair devices so one remote control can do two lamps was a bonus, however finding more remote controls has today failed.

Getting more bulbs from internet I found uses same app "Smart Life" but does not use the hub, so may be needs a different remote?

Add to this we have around seven Nest mini speakers, the attempt to get then to control light switches did not work out well, they behaved like mischievous little boys, ask it to turn off music and it turned off lights, ask it to turn light back on and it said don't know how to do this yet, wife has forgot password so can't add other things to Nest Mini control, and not sure I want to?

I have a Nest wall thermostat useless thing as it will not talk to the Energenie MiHome TRV heads, which adverts said it would, seems when Nest became google support was withdrawn, so although connected to wifi the cheap eQ-3 bluetooth heads do a better job, with window open detect so turns off kitchen heating for ½ hour while we unload shopping from car.

The geofencing has not been that good, yes it turns off heating when we leave, and back on when we approach home, but then unless we manually turn it down it tends to over shoot.

As to setting each room independent this does not really work as we leave doors open. So just means 18 x AA batteries per year to keep the TRV's working.

Once home my phone is placed on the charging pad, so to use phone to switch devices on/off I still have to get up to reach it, the initial remote controls work well Remote control.jpg and the lidi one also Lidi-remote.jpg but the last two Remote1.jpg are complete failures. It said zigbee on advert but can't get them to work anything, I think like the energenie one it was designed to work direct not through hub, and with a hard wired switch or relay, not a bulb, and as yet not got any switch or relay to work with them.

Some smart devices have worked well, the two GU10 bulbs colour changing, are rated 5 watt and 500 lumen but the standard bulb they replaced rated 4.8 watt and 350 lumen so actually an increase in light output per watt.

So that is my set up to date, and what I have found, what I would like is for others to say how their system has worked, with 70 turns to the coil I am not that good with so called IT, I though IT was an earthing system where supply was insulated from terrestrial, and PC was a police constable or the IMB trade name for a computer. Never got into politics.

So I find it is easy to miss read the English instructions, and I never learnt Welsh, just worked out on a toilet the word starting with D is men's, and on a road word starting with A means slow. And at school what a present participle was went right over my head.

So may be I need to return to school to learn how to read instructions?
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I think much of modern technology is flawed/badly planned/programmed. As an early step into Smart controls I bought 8x plugs. They work, but they are not absolutely reliable using Alexa. I have had them sometimes stick on, sometimes stick off and the only way to know is to load Alexa on my phone and manually switch the item on/off to check it responds or visually check. If I find it has stuck, then I have to power cycle the plug. Why cannot Alexa, which is commanding the plugs, simply report it has not responding?

Decades ago, I designed and developed a heating control system. Part of the spec. I built into it, was a watchdog timer system. If the system failed to reset the watchdog within a certain time-frame, then it would force a reboot and restart from the bottom. It never did that, but it was there as a safety system. Why cannot these smart plugs do that?
My smart home stuff seems to work well. None of it is cloud dependant though.
I use home assistant with node red to control it all. I have a zigbee network with motion sensors, switches and some bedside lamps. My lights are all powered by shelly 1's or shelly dimmers (these retain use of the switches in the rooms).
Any esp devices are flashed with tasmota so they work locally on the network.
I dont have any fixed sockets but I do use the plug in smart sockets for christmas lights etc.
I'm the same and don't have any cloud dependency. I also use home assistant, but for the sensors I integrate home assistant to my home Honeywell galaxy security system which has wired PIR sensors in every room / outbuildings and contacts on the main doors - no batteries or wireless signal issues. The key to all of this is MQTT which allows the systems to communicate with each other without having any proprietary protocol. Not only does the security system allow for presence detection to be passed on, it also allows for control of outputs from home assistant, meaning I can switch on lights, close garage doors Etc. all originating from home assistant. There's integration of something called node-red which allows sequenced and more complex flows to be added.

With home assistant, I can then add on other integrations with other devices as I please. And the best part - home assistant and the fantastic node-red are both free :)
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A few years ago, my son gave me an unopened box from British Gas that he got when he switched to them. He was already using a different system. It was two Hive bulbs, a hub and a Hive plug. I set up the hub and fitted the two bulbs in our lounge lamps. I later bought another hive bulb for another lounge lamp and one more for the hallway lamp. I also set them up through my Alexa so that I could control them with my voice. I then bought three more hive bulbs for my outside lamps. Again, I voice controlled them as well as on a timer through the app. About a month ago I found the box with the hive plug and that now controls a display cabinet lamp. Last week I bought a secondhand Hive active heating thermostat and receiver and connected that too. Next on my list is going to be three hive TRV's - two for the kitchen and one for the bedroom. Just waiting for them to come along at the right price. So far, I’m happy with how it all works. :)
I find that if I have to get up to switch the lights on and off I spend less on gym memberships:idea::sneaky:

I'm not against home automation, in fact I have several web and wifi connected items, but my overriding justification is dictated by 'will it work when the web goes down?'

I have a wi-fi controlled double socket in the bedroom. The left socket has the lamp (L) connected, the right side has the radio (R), so easy to remember. Each socket can be manually operated with its adjacent's just that I have a bedside cabinet in the way so I have to fish out the mobile phone to switch each off at night or contort my arms to press the buttons.

I have a standard lamp that is my usual lighting companion in the lounge. It, like most of the other devices, has a timing schedule that I can alter on an App, but always seems to switch off just at the time when I want it to stay on a little longer. Again reach for the mobile!

I have a Honeywell Evohome (white elephant) heating system that insists it knows better than me, so that has been by-passed with a std. timer. It's saving grace is that the hot water addition is about the only system I know of that indicates the hot water temperature. It's very expensive compared to a thermistor and an ESP8266!

I won't fit battery powered TRVs, would much rather wait until I have a full house rewire, when underfloor heating actuators will be hardwired-in to each rad's TRV, or indeed full UFH is fitted.
I once inherited a house with RF security alarm system, meaning a 'low battery alarm' sounding from the central umit at least once per month, usually when the kids were in bed and dad was on the cusp of getting mum interested in a bit of ow's yer father.

Oh yes, home automation has a long way to go.

I'm not against home automation, in fact I have several web and wifi connected items, but my overriding justification is dictated by 'will it work when the web goes down?'

No, but every item I have, includes a physical over-ride button. I can just go to it, press the button and via that turn it on or off.

Must say I was not at first impressed with their switching reliability, but they do seem to have become more reliable over time.

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