15 ways to automate your home

  • by Aone Wan
  • 5 Months ago
  • How To

With additional sensors and scripts, you can make the equipment you already have in house just a little smarter and more comprehensive. We give 15 ways to automate your home.

Domotic as control point

If you want to make your house smarter, you usually choose a central control point, for example a base station from a certain manufacturer or a Raspberry Pi or server with smart software such as Domoticz. A big advantage of a software solution is that you are not attached to one standard. With the help of some peripherals, you can connect almost all of your switches and sensors. A lot of software can even be installed on a Raspberry Pi. Domoticz has excellent alternatives like Home Assistant and OpenHAB, but most of them are not so easy to use. At Domoticz, you can configure almost anything via the graphical interface and support for peripherals is very broad.

1. Powerful 433 MHz transceiver

The Rfxcom RFXtrx433E transceiver (read: transmitter and receiver) for 433 MHz is not very cheap (about 110 euros) but it is very flexible. The device supports a very large number of sensors at 433 MHz, such as door contacts, motion detectors, temperature sensors and smart sockets. These sensors are generally much cheaper than those of the Z-Wave counterpart. Transcript firmware is constantly updated to handle new protocols and thus new products. Domoticz can also handle it very well.

2. Start with ClickOnClickClickOut products

You may have heard about the widely available ClickClickOut products. Remote controls, wireless wall switches and smart power sockets make it much easier to manually switch on and off lamps and other devices. The manufacturer now has a wide range of home automation products. Most works on 433 MHz and the protocol used is supported by the Rfxcom transceiver (tip 1). If you already have KAKU products in house, this is a good starting point for experiments in Domoticz.

3. Weather Underground weather data

The weather is a useful trigger for home automation. Think of folding shutters when there is too much wind or a warning during night frost. You can set up a complete weather station, but you don’t have to. Thanks to Weather Underground, you can consult the weather data of countless weather stations, even near you. For each weather station you can see what kind of equipment is used, which gives an idea of the accuracy. Domotics software such as Domoticz can also use the weather data (see tip 4).

4. 4 Virtual weather sensor in Domoticz

Thanks to Weather Underground’s free Api, you can record weather data from any weather station in your home automation system, for example Domoticz. First create an api-key (key) using the free options Stratus Plan and Developer. In Domoticz, go to Settings / Hardware. Select Type for Weather Underground and enter your Api key. At Location, enter the Station ID of the desired weather station. For personal weather stations you have to put pws: for this, for example pws: IUTRECHT60. The more advanced weather stations are more accurate and also report much more details, such as air pressure, wind speed, sun power, visibility and rainfall rate.

5. A temperature sensor everywhere

If you want to measure the temperature in every room in your home, the temperature sensors can be a nice cost item. Fortunately, in Chinese webshops you will find plenty of sensors for less than ten euros that work well. Most of them transmit both temperature and humidity and can be used with, for example, the Rfxcom transceiver (see tip 1). If there is a (small) deviation in the measured value, you can have it adjusted by Domoticz. It also immediately shows all measured values in graphs.

6. Energy consumption smart meter

An up-to-date overview of your energy consumption is useful if you want to save money. And in solar cells, of course, you want to see what you have delivered back. Many households are already left on the smart meter. A simple interface cable, also called smart meter cable, is enough to read out the data with Domoticz, for example. On the internet you buy such a cable for about 20 euros. That cable is not that long; the server with Domoticz should therefore be close to the smart meter.

7. Torque Hue lamps

The Philips Hue Bridge connects Hue lamps to your network so you can use the Hue app on your smartphone or tablet to control them. You can also link the Hue Bridge to Domoticz, so you can add more logic, for example switching on lights via a motion sensor or when it gets dark. Version 1.0 of the Hue Bridge is excellent for many applications, which can be picked up second-hand for little money. Version 2.0 is also compatible with Apple HomeKit, so you can also put Hue to work via Siri.

8. Board Hue via commands

The Hue Bridge contains a special interface that allows you to control Hue lamps via commands. This way you can control lamps much more specifically, from a self-written program or script. In the developers section of Philips Hue, you’ll find an accessible part Getting Started. With the tips you can, for example, call up numbers of lamps and then turn a specific lamp on or off and adjust the brightness. In Domoticz, you can insert the commands in a script and connect them to a sensor, such as a motion sensor. A nice detail is that you can even change the color of a lamp (see tip 9).

9. Give colour to your Hue lamps via commands

If you have a Hue lamp with colour, you could use it as a status lamp. Do you not react anymore after that, for example? Then you can quickly make that clear with a red lamp. To change the color you have to enter a certain hue value in your command. On various websites (e. g. http://hslpicker.com) you can calculate a so-called hsl colour code. The hue value (h) is then multiplied by 182. For dark pink (h=327) enter a hue value of 59514 in your command.

10. Window/door sensor and motion sensor

A window/door sensor or motion sensor can be used for fun applications, from a burglary protection during the holiday to switching on lighting when moving. On Chinese webshops you will find such sensors for a few euros. Most of them use the PT2262 chip. Some sensors only report the opening of the door with an on signal, not its closing. In Domoticz, it is best to add such a sensor as a motion sensor with a switch-off delay of for example 1 second, so that the sensor is switched off again after “signaling”.

11. Domoticz app on Android

In addition to a browser, Domoticz can also be used with various apps, such as the official Android app (5.99 euros or free Lite version). With the app you can easily operate your switches but also go a step further. A nice example is geofencing, which allows you to turn the lamps on as soon as you get close to your home. You can also switch on switches via nfc tags by pressing your smartphone against the tag. There are also specific apps for working with nfc tags.

12. Domotic accessible from outside

If you want to be able to approach Domoticz from the outside, for example before switching to a link from IFTTT (see tip 14), you need to set a port-forwarding rule in your router for the desired port. It is also wise to set a strong password. To do this, go to the settings of Domoticz. You can also specify one or more local networks here, so you don’t need to log in if you can access these networks.

13. Switching via url

In Domoticz, you can also perform actions such as switching a lamp via a link, for example with a browser, self-written program or IFTTT (see tip 14). The Domoticz wiki shows which commands are available and gives examples of the links you can use. Anyone who likes to make internet applications or scripts can also use links to read status information, such as the value of a temperature sensor.

14. Linking with IFTTTT

IFTTTT does not only contain a lot of standard actions, you can also add manual actions, including the so-called webhook. That is a link that is executed at a certain trigger. For example, the trigger is receiving a text message from you or entering a certain area (geofencing). The link can then be a certain action in Domoticz (see tip 13). The link in IFTTTT can be created via the IFTTT website by creating a so-called webhook in the part Applets.

15. Tinkering with the Raspberry Pi

Anyone who is a little handy with the soldering iron and electronics can experiment to heartlessness with the gpio ports on the Raspberry Pi. These are digital inputs and outputs that can be controlled via software. Domoticz can also deal with it. You can attach a simple push-button or a motion sensor or a relay, for example. It is handy if you learn to program a little bit, so you can add logic through scripts. If you want to go a step further, you can also create an RFLink Gateway for wireless applications (also on 433 MHz) as a cost-effective alternative to the Rfxcom transceiver.

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