Home Automation & Power consumption reduction

Its nice when you are asked by a customer to look in to the newest technology and recently I was asked to look in to Home Automation.

My customer has just recently had to completely renovate their house. My first suggestion to them was as well as updating the mains, make sure you install network cables. In my option all houses should have at least one wired network point in each room (with the exception of the bathrooms and toilets).

Also as part of the re-wire my customer was looking at putting in wireless switches to control the lights and sockets. So I was asked to research and recommend the way forward.

I also wanted to look at doing it at my house.

This meant I had a two pronged attack to the problem of ‘Home Automation’.

  1. A new/re-fit build
  2. A retro fit.

The first items I looked at were the wireless bulbs. As a mood enhancer and to change colours these seemed okay, but as infrastructure in building – no.

The next items were the in-line power sonoff power switches, but was not sure about the ease of installing them for a retro fit. There seemed to be several switches available, but they are for the American market which means they depth of the switch is around 35mm. In the UK the depth of the switch pattress boxes that are let into the wall are a lot less, 15-25mm. So looking around I found Energenie, the company is English and seemed to have the range of wireless switches that looked appeared to be almost drop-in replacements for the normal light and power switches.

After doing further research I thought I would try-out the Energenie Mi|Home range. Initially starting with their MiHome MIHO050 1 Gang Bundle Switch – White.

To install the switches I also got three single gang plate spacers as my house was built in the 1970’s and the depth of the light switches was shorter than the 25mm the switches needed. The installation was easy I have installed the gateway close to my router (which is as close to the centre point in my house) and changed three of my light switcher – a direct drop in replacement for the current ones (with a spacer).

Note: If you need the spacers you might find that you will need to get longer screws to it fix the light switch to the socket.

There is applications available from Energenie for android and apple phones available in the relevant store. Also the system can be setup via a website (mi|home portal). It quite easy – create an account (if you have not got one) and register the gateway to the account. Then register the switches to the gateway (documentation of doing this is available on their website.)

Note: One thing I found was I had to replace my led light bulbs from Tesco’s and Morrisons with Philips LED bulbs to stop the lights flashing when anybody turned a miHome switch on.

On the strength of this I ordered more light switches to replace all the light switches in the house with the exception of the hall and landing lights. I could not replace these are they both are switched by a two switches on a single plate. This option is not available yet, but according to Energenie is due out in the new year. So I will do this and let you know how it goes.

As well as the light switches I ordered the smart plugs. I ordered these rather than the double wall sockets because I group my appliances together. This way I can turn off a group at a time.

Note: Energenie recommend that smart plugs are not used close together, so I would recommend using the double wall socket if you need that.

I also got a motion sensor so I could looking into automating the kitchen light switch.

As before the installation and registration of the devices was easy, but the automation is not that easy. The functionality for turning lights on and off via your phone or a timer is there, but anything more difficult and it gets complicated.

I have received a note from Energenie on how to do it via their website.

Please use the web browser portal (https://mihome4u.co.uk) to sign into the account.  Once in there, you will be able to select the “Triggers” button on the PIR to open this option in a new page

Once on the new page, you can set the trigger for running all day or across a certain time frame.  The trigger can be set to power on or off 1 device or 1 group or set a temperature on 1 device or 1 group when motion is seen and the same for when motion stops.

Once you are happy with the setup, select “Set Triggers” and the trigger will be accepted, a message will appear at the top of the page saying “Triggers Saved”.

At present, the time frame is not set up for sunrise/sunset but we are working to add this in at the same time the triggers become available to set on the app later next year.

My experience of their support is very good.

 

The next post will show how I did it via IFTTT.

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