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  • Smart switches and outlets...whose tried them?

    Bought a pair of the outlet adapters from Costco yesterday, used one for my son's fishtank light... works well as a timer and remote on and off switch.... Now I'm trying to think of other uses for the 2nd one....

    Anyone converting their home into a 'smart' home?

    Pete C.
    http://blog.pjbj.ca
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  • #2

    Re: Smart switches and outlets...whose tried them?

    "Anyone converting their home into a 'smart' home?"

    I can see the point of having remote control over lights, heat etc. however with the 'internet of things' built into every appliance and the new whole home voice activated computers I'm headed in the opposite direction.

    I've always been an early adopter of tech. The last house I built for myself was back in 2007. I wired it for everything expecting smart switches, smart thermostats and smart appliances to be integrated as the tech emerged but today I want nothing to do with it. I've resigned to live with my phone and Ford tracking my every movement however I'll be dammed if I tolerate the likes of Google and apple tracking how I use my fridge, coffee maker and what temperature I have my thermostat set at.

    The NSA has admitted to using Samsung TV's and computer cams / mics. to spy on individuals and now we have the likes of Google Alexa and Apple Home Pod collecting every word that's said in the house and sends it all back to the corporation .... I've become a smart home luddite.
    schor likes this.

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    • #3

      Re: Smart switches and outlets...whose tried them?

      I share some of Dave's concerns, although I'm more concerned with someone hacking in and getting into the house, there is one application I am considering. We have two outside circuits on timers. One is outside house lights which are programmed to come on at dusk and off at dawn. Although the timer is supposed to self adjust for the shorter winter days it doesn't adjust enough. The other is for a "holiday outlet", used to plug in our Christmas lights seasonally and some landscape lights year round. Both timers are a pain to adjust and if they pack it in will likely be replaced by something I can control with my smart phone. We have a MEMO WIFI enabled humidifier that I can turn off/on and adjust fan speed and humidity setting with my phone. I would hesitate to install smart locks that someone could hack into and get into the house (we do have a Weiser Smartlock on our front door with a keypad and a keypad for the garage door so we don't have to carry a front door key.

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      • #4

        Re: Smart switches and outlets...whose tried them?

        Before getting into a topic I admittedly know very little about, I have found there are many options for "smart" electronics (switches, bulbs, outlets, etc) that are NOT wifi or cloud based. Many many people do NOT want info, sounds, etc going off their property, so there are plenty of options to suit those needs.


        I'm not one to care about evesdropping, info gathering or the like. So for 2 different reasons we have 2 switches with Amazon Alexa built in, and 2 additional "smart" switches.

        We have an Ecobee3 t-stat, and I really like it, however the remote temp sensor runs off batteries, and I hate replacing batteries. Ecobee then made a "smart" switch that has Alexa built in, and most importantly would act as a remote temp sensor for the t-stat.

        Long story short, it tooks months longer than expected to get the temp sensor option rolled out, but again I really like it now. Very useful for programming temp settings for our home.

        The Alexa, meh, it's a gimmick for us... have it turn lights off after getting in bed, kids get a kick out of having it play music now & then.


        The 2 additional light switches work with Alexa (can be controlled by talking to her) but are just wifi operated switches. Our outside porch lights are on 2 dif switches (1switch for each door) so they are programmed to turn ON/OFF together now and are also programmed to be ON/OFF specific times (added feature, but same as normal programmable switch)



        For an outlet as you/OP has, Christmas lights would be handy, electronics power bar (keep drains down @ night) or maybe to program a light in spare/back room to come ON/OFF as a security measure.
        [insert something witty here]

        Comment


        • #5

          Re: Smart switches and outlets...whose tried them?

          I've had Apple Homekit smart switches for 3 years. One controls my landscape lighting, another controls a lamp that 'makes the house look lived in', another two for seasonal use (Christmas, Halloween). Also have an Ecobee smart thermostat. The best home automations are the ones that just do what you want without needing any input.

          I would never buy Amazon or Google devices. (If I ever bought the Facebook device, commit me immediately because I will have clearly lost all rational thought!) Their business models DEPEND on exploiting your personal information. They do that relentlessly.

          Apple is not the same. They have consistently and repeatedly staked their position that they do not collect personally identifiable information. Their business model depends on selling more (higher priced) gadgets to users. Whatever they do collect is strictly anonymized.

          Craig
          PS I started my career in computer system security in the late 1980's.

          Comment


          • #6

            Re: Smart switches and outlets...whose tried them?

            Is there a wifi light switch that can be set with a default timer setting?

            1st world problem.
            The garage lights in our garage are all on one switch. (Heck currently our whole garage is on 1 circuit). The garage lights are controlled by a 3 way switch. One switch is by the man door into the house, the other by the man door into the garage.

            When I leave for work, it's dark in the garage and outside, garage door opener doesn't really light up the garage enough to avoid tripping over things to get to my car. I am going to look at a a timer switch (typically bathroom fan type) that works on a 3 way switch to have the lights come on for 5 minutes when I go out in the garage in the morning... Alternately, it would be kind a cool to put the lights on a wifi switch if I'm replacing it anyways....

            -------

            Might be nice to have the outdoor lights on a wifi switch so that we can turn them on when pulling into the driveway....

            -------
            Not really worried about security concerns for putting these in... (hacking etc)

            Pete C.
            http://blog.pjbj.ca

            Comment

            • Thread Continues Below...

            • #7

              Re: Smart switches and outlets...whose tried them?

              perhaps a motion sensor would work well inside the garage (if I'm reading/understanding the layout)
              door opens, lights come on... after all gone it shuts back off after XX minutes.



              one issue people run into with smart switches, is the lack of a neutral in the box. in that case, one can use a smart bulb. single bulb or a few ganged together (pot lights, outdoor, multi light circuits) that are wifi enabled.
              normal switch powers them, but they are programmable too.
              [insert something witty here]

              Comment


              • #8

                Re: Smart switches and outlets...whose tried them?

                Originally posted by beakie View Post
                perhaps a motion sensor would work well inside the garage (if I'm reading/understanding the layout)
                door opens, lights come on... after all gone it shuts back off after XX minutes.



                one issue people run into with smart switches, is the lack of a neutral in the box. in that case, one can use a smart bulb. single bulb or a few ganged together (pot lights, outdoor, multi light circuits) that are wifi enabled.
                normal switch powers them, but they are programmable too.
                Tom are you talking about a neutral on the switch or in the circuit inside the rough in and device boxes. Even in the old 2 wire systems that I ever ran into, had a black and white wire with the white being neutral.
                "Do it Right!"

                Comment


                • #9

                  Re: Smart switches and outlets...whose tried them?

                  Originally posted by Rusty View Post

                  Tom are you talking about a neutral on the switch or in the circuit inside the rough in and device boxes. Even in the old 2 wire systems that I ever ran into, had a black and white wire with the white being neutral.
                  Neutral in the circuit.

                  as far as I can figure, the "smart" part needs constant power.
                  so 2 black, atleast 1 white (more likely 2 present though)


                  where some switches have only 1 black & 1 white into the box, the white sometimes has black tape on it, (I'm assuming here, very little elec knowledge) the white is the leg out to finish the circuit once the switch is thrown.
                  Last edited by beakie; 12-05-2018, 06:50 PM.
                  [insert something witty here]

                  Comment


                  • #10

                    Re: Smart switches and outlets...whose tried them?

                    Originally posted by petee_c View Post
                    Is there a wifi light switch that can be set with a default timer setting?

                    1st world problem.
                    The garage lights in our garage are all on one switch. (Heck currently our whole garage is on 1 circuit). The garage lights are controlled by a 3 way switch. One switch is by the man door into the house, the other by the man door into the garage.

                    When I leave for work, it's dark in the garage and outside, garage door opener doesn't really light up the garage enough to avoid tripping over things to get to my car. I am going to look at a a timer switch (typically bathroom fan type) that works on a 3 way switch to have the lights come on for 5 minutes when I go out in the garage in the morning... Alternately, it would be kind a cool to put the lights on a wifi switch if I'm replacing it anyways....

                    -------

                    Might be nice to have the outdoor lights on a wifi switch so that we can turn them on when pulling into the driveway....

                    For the garage, put a motion sensing switch in the garage and disable the switch in the house. I use the Lutron Maestro units. They are simple, rely only on power. I have one in my garage and one in my shop.
                    For smart devices, I went with Apple HomeKit compatibility.

                    For exterior lighting I went with Phillips Hue as I had the hub for some indoor Hue lamps. In hindsight, I would look at the Leviton Decora switches. They do not require an additional hub and you can use any bulb. You can then create your own automated sequence and remotely control via the app when required. I have some additional lighting controlled through an Elgato Eve Energy receptacle. This device is very good. Elgato's Eve wall switch is now available in Canada. I would thoroughly explore the support requirements, as I do not believe it is released for Android. Requires Apple TV for automation support.
                    It is an interesting, powerful technology but lacking any guidance on how to best get your result - certainly not the folks at the Apple Store. Maybe the techie people at Best Buy or London Drugs have more experience and knowledge .
                    Interesting how all of the basic devices seem to be in the $60.00 range, regardless of manufacture.

                    Comment


                    • #11

                      Re: Smart switches and outlets...whose tried them?

                      Although I've always been an early adopter of all things computer (well, most things) since the days of CP/M, like dave_k I'm a luddite on the home automation front. I will not allow an Alexa or Nest or other programmable thermostats in my home. By listening, Alexa and your thermostat can determing when you are home or away and develop patterns of your habits - similar to smart electric meters that can also determing your presence or absence. None of my computers have microphones or cameras and my Samsung TV is old enough that I don't have to worry about it listening to me. Google and Amazon get enough information out of me through my keyboard but I also refuse to facebook or join any of the other social media sites. I like to protect my privacy, rather than giving it away through social media. The CIA and the 5 Eyes must have been rubbing their hands and smiling with glee when Facebook went on line. A joke around our office was that IT said we should protect our email addresses - they seemed to forget that they published all of them on our website.

                      All of my computers are networked and I wouldn't be concerned about devices using my wireless as long as they are only local and not getting out past my router and talking to the mother ship (Alexa). Every now and then someone is trying to hack my router but never gets in. I'm thinking of new garage doors and openers and wifi openers are interesting, but I'm not convinced about their security. Anyone have any experience with those? I would never ever get wifi door locks - which is why I'm concerned about garage door openers.

                      Anyway the creepiest thing that happened to me was while watching news on youtube, my Samsung cell, sitting on the table beside me, lights up and says "I'm sorry, I didn't understand that". Little bugger is always listening or so it seems. I don't know the phrase that triggered it.
                      Last edited by Glenn from Winnipeg; 12-07-2018, 05:49 PM.
                      Nothing is ever as straightforward as it seems.

                      Glenn from Winnipeg

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                      • Thread Continues Below...

                      • #12

                        Re: Smart switches and outlets...whose tried them?

                        https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/s...lace-1.4837963


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                        • #13

                          Re: Smart switches and outlets...whose tried them?

                          Too many people don't know what they don't know.
                          And too many people are too trusting.

                          Noel
                          "Being so impressed with the beauty of nature, I never cease to be amazed at how the
                          'touch of the human hand' can transform it into another kind of beauty that is so uniquely human.
                          "
                          John Snow, Outdoorsman and Retired Teacher

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                          • #14

                            Re: Smart switches and outlets...whose tried them?

                            good article, certainly shows how little people understand, or grasp, just how easy it can be to "hack" them.

                            however, I feel the story points a finger at the manufacturers to do more in regards to security, I'd say the opposite.
                            we drive cars capable of going almost 2x the max highway speeds, yet most of us know the danger in actually doing so.
                            these smart devices are OUR responsibilty once WE buy them. the manufacturer shouldn't be obligated to MAKE them secure, only provide the capability to BE secure, it's on us to operate/utilize them however we see fit.

                            If I buy a $500 gun vault, I shouldn't expect the same level of security
                            as a $10,000 model. Regardless of price if I leave the combination written on the wall beside it, the manufacturer isn't at fault.
                            [insert something witty here]

                            Comment


                            • #15

                              Re: Smart switches and outlets...whose tried them?

                              I don't have any smart devices but if I did I wouldn't know how to protect myself from them anyway. The very least a manufacturer should have to do is tell you the dangers.
                              "Do it Right!"

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