a case for a home automation platform – introduction


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Even if you’ve no need for as much as a smart bulb, you do need to be impressed or surprised by the variety of smart gadgets on sale. There are smart door locks, garage door openers, air purifiers, window blind openers and garden waterers as well as smart plug sockets, mood lighting products, security cameras, smart door bells and that’s not half of it. This page tells how to have fewer apps running your smart devices

When you’ve acquired a couple of, let’s assume, very useful smart devices you will have an app and a login account for each of them. You could reduce any confusion by buying all you need from one supplier – but there isn’t one supplier, there are many. A way forward is to have one app to manage devices from different suppliers. We call that app a home automation platform and many of today’s gadgets and information services are capable of working together in one app. You’ll know some of these platforms already: Apple Homekit and Siri, IFTTT, Google Home & Nest; Amazon Alexa and SmartThings. You might not know of Home Assistant and openHab and Node Red but they too help to integrate your stuff in one app. And they connect things so that say, you can make a temperature sensor made by say, Xiaomi control a thermostat by Google Nest.

If you’re new to home automation, I’d suggest to try one of the commercial platforms such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home. For £30 you can easily connect and control equipment with one app without programming skills. You can add new equipment and have different platforms coexist. Try Apple’s Home app too but it’s still a bit new to this. I happen to favour Home Assistant as my automation platform. I rather like getting under the bonnet and fiddling until I achieve a result. I feel I’m tidying up the mess created by a proliferation of gadgets. This website aims to help people make progress with Home Assistant and its first project, setting up Home Assistant, starts here.

There are indeed a lot of stupid smart devices whose existence that I’m not able to justify. But there are plenty that are useful. To the cynical I say: be content to turn things on and off yourself. But do look at your central heating timer – and be happy to own something that’s made to save energy but can’t stop itself wasting it when no one’s at home.

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