What do you want from your Smarthome

After a “funny video” my father in law sent my wife a small discussion happened.
Now in said video a man is depicted in living a “rich life” where everything from his Boat to his front door is voice activated and he has various issues controlling these devices, ie he went to the dentist and the front door doesnt understand him.

Now, my only response was I like having a smart/ autonomous home, I dont want a voice activated home, thats just not my thing, I dont see the point. I have an echo dot, but alexa only plays the radio, notifications or does “oven timer” things,it cant control any devices in my house.

So, what do you want from your smart home?

I want the mundane, routine jobs done.
I don’t care about a mauve lighting atmosphere or biosensing mood music.
Fill up the water tanks, water the garden, feed the dog, take out the trash that sort of stuff is what I want.


for some reason, home automation doesn’t do anything for me, only things I have are the 2 geysers and pool pump on wifi switches and I am the human automation controlling these appliances from my phone, depending on pv production and total load on the house.

I mainly do two things with the automation.

  1. Floor lamps with switches in hard to reach places. It is really handy to have them turn on automatically at dusk, and to be able to turn them off after I’ve gone to bed. It allows leaving the lights on a little bit after putting the kids to be (giving them that feeling that mom and dad are still up, I can go to sleep), and it allows reading a book and switching the last lights off just as you go to sleep.

  2. Manage loads. Turn off loads to minimise grid consumption, ie a minimal effort to make water heating appliances run when there is surplus PV available, or in short… after the pool pump is done.

I also don’t have any real use for voice recognition or setting mood lighting to match the movie we are about to watch… while HA spools it up on NetFlix automatically… that’s what remote controls are for :slight_smile:

For most people, they consider a smart home as one where you can turn things on and off with your phone or your voice. I don’t really call that a smart home, all that has happened is that you moved the switch.

For me , walk into the kitchen area and say: 1 Bacon and 2 eggs … and it is done. Just open a panel.
Water leak … what leak as they are fixed automatically
Needs a paint job … it always looks perfect.
Optimal use of solar power and batteries all day long.

Yeah, just like those SciFi movie spaceships… THAT is a Smart Home.

I have only one smart thing configured: a LIFX wifi bulb in the kids’ bedroom. It:

  • it switches on to a neutral white on 100% @ 19:00. Stories, etc. happen now plus some free play afterwards.
  • it switches to a warm white on 1% @ 19:45, which is the kids’ cue to run to the bathroom one more time and climb in bed. We tuck them in 5mins later (manually)
  • it switches to a hot pink on 100% @ 06:00 over 5mins, gradually waking them up. We come in and turn the real light on 6:10.
  • it switches off at 07:10. If you see this happening, you’re late.

Weekend mornings are slightly different, but same idea. This way if they wake up early, and the light is not pink, they can’t get up yet, except for bathroom. Been working non-stop for two years, with some tweaks to timing.

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In terms of want, I want some more car info. Specifically:

  • a reminder that my car should be serviced in 2 weeks (based on km and how much I typically drive in a week)
  • a reminder that my last service was 11.5 months ago, if it’s earlier than ^
  • a reminder to rotate my tires every 8000km, based on when I say “done”

I’ve actually got a wifi OBD2 dongle that can read the kms, but never got to the software part…

Easy. Just take it to Rola Toyota once. Then they SMS you to remind you… even if you don’t take it to them.

Again, easy. Take it to TWT once, and they SMS you to get you back in the shop :slight_smile:

All said in jest.

We’ll need much smarter AI to filter my inbox for what I actually want :slightly_frowning_face:

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Toyota Culemborg used to call me for YEARS afterwards… Mr Smith!? Do you still have this vehicle? Uuuhm no, I’m not Mr. Smith, he was the first owner, but yes, I do still have the vehicle. Aaah, well good… it has an airbag recall, please take it to your dealer!

At that point there was already two recalls on it. The window switches on the door had to be swapped too… :slight_smile:

Man, if I can get a large chunk of my electricity usage generated by PV (and stored) and know exactly where I stand I’ll be a happy camper!

For me, as much as possible but without being intrusive. That means everything must still work as people expect it and the home automation system also shouldn’t be the only way to control things.

The energy management aspects (when to switch to batteries, when to run geysers, when to switch off aircons) are pretty useful, as are the loadshedding tie ins. This is the kinda stuff which makes my wife not have to worry about PV / batteries at all - even if we don’t have enough batteries to go completely off-grid.

The other things are a little bit more around security - camera system is integrated and does person recognition. But that also meant that I can have a camera outside the gate and “know” when a car or person is waiting there, which is surprisingly useful. My Google Chromecasts & Google Homes (Which I originally got for the voice recognition part and now NEVER use) acts nicely as text-to-speech notification systems (“A car was detected at the gate”)

Then there are small little automations - like notifying me when the gates outside are open for longer than 5 mins, so that I can go and look for the dogs who probably ran away :slight_smile:

I need to get the sprinkler system automated as well…

Absolutely! Having been in industrial automation for much of my career I’ve learned that even if your system is ‘fly by wire’ one should still be able to switch back to ‘manual’.
Personally I like having a big switch that switches back to a hard wired system!

I have 4 Echo Dots. They don’t work when you are a dutchman trying to speak english. They are unused now.

Outside of that, I love the automation part of home automation; and so far it’s been pretty bulletproof.

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The reverse is also hilarious. I love it when Google Maps tries to pronounce “Ganzevoortsingel”.

The other day my my daugther ask how do you pronounce the new name for PE. We tald her to try and ask Google :sunglasses:
So she said: Google, how do you pronounce the new name of Port Elizabeth?
And Google replied: You pronounce that: “The new name of Port Elizabeth” :smiley: haha. Way too smart!

I go with: Say it like Rebecka, but with a click instead of the R, and a soft ch in the middle (almost like School in Dutch, where we replaced the soft ch with a hard K in Afrikaans).

Edit: On that topic, the guys here at Magic 828 (a Radio station in Cape Town) should be congratulated on their excellent pronounciation of Gqeberha, but their pronounciation of “Klipfontein” still needs work.


I must also admit, I detest seeing a light on in a room where nobody is (and was 30 mins ago). My other housemates are the culprits.

So I am slowly but surely pulling neutrals through and putting a sonoff mini (or a Shelly, and I’m also considering Sonoff zigbee minis) in every light switch. Next step is to get more Zigbee motion detectors and then automate automatic light switch-off in every room.

I’m likely not really saving money (compare to the wire and cost of the Sonoffs) but it feels right :slight_smile:

Idea is to also scale the auto-turnoff time depending on Eskom availability - if the grid is unavailable and we’re running only from batteries then those lights are coming off ASAP. If Eskom is available, it might be longer.

Yeah, keeping the Sonoff/Shelley alive eats all of your light savings. But it does feel right and it’s nice not ever to worry about turning lights off/on.
Once you are used to it, it seems too clumsy to turn the lights on and off as you walk around the house.