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Smart switches and outlets...whose tried them?

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  • diplodock
    replied
    Originally posted by Jim DaddyO View Post
    "Smart" appliances are becoming a favourite target of hackers. The security is very low on them in lieu of convenience. They can be used for things like cypto currency mining and DDOS attacks. On top of that they are ALWAYS drawing voltage. Meaning that it costs you real money on your electricity bill. If they are hacked and in use they draw more electricity. To me, it's not that much trouble to walk a couple of steps and flick a switch. My (dumb) TV and android box are on a power bar that gets switched off when not in use to prevent the ghost loads of them always being in "stand by" mode while turned off. You would be surprised how fast all these tiny loads add up to bigger electricity bills.
    I had never thought of that. Thank you very much for your reply.

    Leave a comment:


  • Jim DaddyO
    replied
    "Smart" appliances are becoming a favourite target of hackers. The security is very low on them in lieu of convenience. They can be used for things like cypto currency mining and DDOS attacks. On top of that they are ALWAYS drawing voltage. Meaning that it costs you real money on your electricity bill. If they are hacked and in use they draw more electricity. To me, it's not that much trouble to walk a couple of steps and flick a switch. My (dumb) TV and android box are on a power bar that gets switched off when not in use to prevent the ghost loads of them always being in "stand by" mode while turned off. You would be surprised how fast all these tiny loads add up to bigger electricity bills.

    Leave a comment:


  • petee_c
    replied
    Originally posted by billh View Post

    One often-used way to wire a switch is to run a black/white pair down to the switch - hot on the black and the white is the hot returning to the lamp. I do not believe this is allowed any longer and a circuit neutral must be present in the switch box, most likely to accommodate all the clever devices that replace switches but need a neutral.

    billh
    I tried wiring a bathroom timer to the switch by the man door from the garage into the house. This was a three way switch circuit, and I was not successful as the lights were wired with the power going to the lights first, and there was no neutral in the switch I was replacing....

    The light problem was solved for now by replacing the one dead CFL bulb with a LED so I have instant on, the LED bulb I put in met FEC rules for radio noise, so I can still use the garage remote.

    -- back to the wifi outlet plugs, if I can still find them next time at Costco, I will definitely pickup another couple.

    Leave a comment:


  • guylavoie
    replied
    Ahhh, my "other" hobby (well ok...among several others) has been home automation. I have the granddaddy of all do it yourself home automation: X-10 switches. Mine are all Switchlinc series from Smarthome. These predate the period when things are all now connected to the internet, and I designed a fair number of my own devices using the X-10 protocol, most of which are still in use in my home today. My main controller is the Ocelot, from Applied Digital. Still going strong 19 years later. I developed a pretty intimate relationship with Applied Digital, even writing documentation for them and got invited to a show they were participating in, in Florida. Home automation has developed a lot since that era (around the year 2000) and yes, the internet has become an integral part of the system, for better or worse. It's in the process of becoming mainstream although the multiplicity of protocols and brands still makes this difficult to do for a whole house system. I find that the best approach is to try it out with inexpensive modules like the ones being sold at Costco and such, and see where it takes you. Often one idea will lead you to the next. Instead of approaching it as a solution looking for problems, start by defining individual real problems that you want to address and then see what it does for you.

    Leave a comment:


  • Wayne
    replied
    Interesting topic. I have had an ISY (by Universal Devices Inc) installed and running for some years now. This device is housed in my basement and is not connected to any third party provider. It's designed to control a number of different brands of smart devices, the main brand I use is Insteon, and I have a thermostat from a different supplier. The ISY hub communicates to the devices via the household power cables themselves and also via wifi.

    Besides controlling lights, one of the main things I've done is control my electric hot water heater. It's set up to turn off the HWT during peak power times and the savings are considerable.

    Another program automatically turns on en-suite bathroom lights at lower and lower levels after a certain time in the evening. So during early morning trips to the bathroom the lighting levels are very low, just enough to avoid a toe stub or worse.

    I'm very hesitant to allow these big tech companies into my home via automation, this works for me but might be a bit hi-tech for some.


    Wayne


    Leave a comment:


  • wbembrid
    replied
    Originally posted by WCraig View Post
    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.
    If you think Apple is more ethical or better than the others, then I am sorely afraid that you that though you started in the tech industry that you are not remaining current.

    Leave a comment:


  • beakie
    replied
    Originally posted by Rusty View Post
    Tom I can't nor am I disputing your input but I'm pretty sure you would be singing a different tune if your identity was stolen and a loss of something sufficient had occurred to you or your family due to your own ignorance.

    I was young and brash, full of myself and my abilities, when I brought home a very powerful Corvette. At the time my father was racing the very same engine in a super modified stock car. He said: "Sell It!'' "Cause I have no intention of burying you in it!" He knew my abilities and limitations better than I did although I thought I knew better. Years later and better equipped I did race! The point is we may think we know and we make think we need BUT don't let it bite you in the ass.

    I'm not sure my input on this point is useful or needed as you suggest so I will refrain. Back to your regular programming!
    I'd think our input is fine, if it isn't we'll both find our posts gone in the wind once the mods take notice.


    and while I may sing a different tune at that time, I'm looking at it like this;

    if a hacker across the world singles me or my family out for identify and/or monetary theft, a few smart switches won't be the master key to all my info. the time effort & $$ I could spend trying to defend us could be better spent in other ways.

    if a vehicle parked down the road for a few hours isn't noticed by myself or my few neighbours, we have other issues (rural country road)



    I'm not much for conspiracy theories, and I don't normally concern myself with "worries" that some people do.
    I respect each persons reason for/against using smart devices, who am I to dictate what others should do?
    I just wanted a non battery powered remote temp sensor for my tstat, and for all my outdoor lights (2 dif circuits) to turn on/off via one switch. The only way I could so that was with the 2 dif types of switches I purchased... if that leads to my financial ruin, I'll report back here & eat my humble pie.

    Leave a comment:


  • Rusty
    replied
    Tom I can't nor am I disputing your input but I'm pretty sure you would be singing a different tune if your identity was stolen and a loss of something sufficient had occurred to you or your family due to your own ignorance.

    I was young and brash, full of myself and my abilities, when I brought home a very powerful Corvette. At the time my father was racing the very same engine in a super modified stock car. He said: "Sell It!'' "Cause I have no intention of burying you in it!" He knew my abilities and limitations better than I did although I thought I knew better. Years later and better equipped I did race! The point is we may think we know and we make think we need BUT don't let it bite you in the ass.

    I'm not sure my input on this point is useful or needed as you suggest so I will refrain. Back to your regular programming!

    Leave a comment:


  • beakie
    replied
    Originally posted by Rusty View Post
    Tom, I don't know if I'm being unreasonable to ask a manufacturer to include directions that could lessen the chance of security invasion by making someone aware of certain possibilities but it seems pretty simple to me. My point is I'm not going to assume they know what they are getting into. In fact the opposite is true in most cases. I do admit and understand wholeheartedly that some devices will definitely make life easier for many seniors and I applaud that. However someone else in this thread mentioned the chances of security/privacy invasion and that strikes me as formidable for some unknowing seniors. I'm certainly not trying to invoke anything more than discussion that could provide valuable information for some who may be less aware than others.
    I understand what you're saying Rusty, I just don't think it's needed... or useful.

    by that I mean, I opened my switch package, looked at the wires, decided I knew how to install, and tossed the instructions aside. thinking back, I'm not sure if any security warnings were included, but I have atleast one box w/all included papers and will have a look.


    I would suspect most buyers know what they are buying, and the risks they open themselves too.
    Yes manufacturers could include a little blurb that explains what "could" happen "if" hackers decide to attack them... but then should they also explain how to protect yourself from that threat, and if so how in depth should they go?
    EG setup your new smart device BUT also change your wifi password, and don't click on certain emails, and don't give out pers info, etc.


    Most of these smart items are marketed to those who want plug & play with whatever other smart devices they have. My opinion is
    IF one is willing to spend the amounts of $$ for camera doorbells, voice command lights, motion activated room lighting, etc
    THEN you should either understand the risks involved, pay/trust someone who will setup & secure it for you... or like me, know very little, care very little and accept that whatever the hackers take from me is the penalty for being so ignorant... and learn from it or not (hey, this could be cross posted to the risk discussion!)

    also
    IF one wants very secure, non wifi, non cloud based smart devices they are out there, however they are not exactly plug & play.

    Leave a comment:


  • Rusty
    replied
    Tom, I don't know if I'm being unreasonable to ask a manufacturer to include directions that could lessen the chance of security invasion by making someone aware of certain possibilities but it seems pretty simple to me. My point is I'm not going to assume they know what they are getting into. In fact the opposite is true in most cases. I do admit and understand wholeheartedly that some devices will definitely make life easier for many seniors and I applaud that. However someone else in this thread mentioned the chances of security/privacy invasion and that strikes me as formidable for some unknowing seniors. I'm certainly not trying to invoke anything more than discussion that could provide valuable information for some who may be less aware than others.

    Leave a comment:


  • beakie
    replied
    Originally posted by Rusty View Post
    Actually Hammers did come with warning labels on the face and handles for years. I remember one telling not to strike the face on something harder than the hardened hammer face which might chip and cause flying shrapnel. Those types of warnings were quite common.

    Today when we talk about these devices and applications I think the manufacturer should have to provide security information. I don't see these situations any less harmful than a senior being preyed upon by phone solicitation advising them of a tax refund. They become victims because they don't know any better and grew up trusting whomever would not ever do anything so underhanded. If you can make a devise turn on your house lights from a hundred miles away how difficult would it be to make it safe and secure and how tough is it to provide a big bold red letter warning wrapped around the device just like wrapping it around a hammer handle instead of hiding behind some buyer beware comment that seems to be the acceptable norm today?
    so who warns seniors in such a situation? that scenario isn't much like the topic, they are innocent and unknowing.
    if a senior purchased a smart switch (I could see them being useful for many applications for senior or limited mobility persons) then I could see some comparison. but in that case I'd imagine anyone, regardless of age, goes into it knowing what they are getting... otherwise they have to pay an electrician to install and/or a IT person to setup and program it. of the 3, atleast one will know what risks are involved.

    Leave a comment:


  • billh
    replied
    Originally posted by beakie View Post

    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.
    One often-used way to wire a switch is to run a black/white pair down to the switch - hot on the black and the white is the hot returning to the lamp. I do not believe this is allowed any longer and a circuit neutral must be present in the switch box, most likely to accommodate all the clever devices that replace switches but need a neutral.

    billh

    Leave a comment:


  • Rusty
    replied
    Actually Hammers did come with warning labels on the face and handles for years. I remember one telling not to strike the face on something harder than the hardened hammer face which might chip and cause flying shrapnel. Those types of warnings were quite common.

    Today when we talk about these devices and applications I think the manufacturer should have to provide security information. I don't see these situations any less harmful than a senior being preyed upon by phone solicitation advising them of a tax refund. They become victims because they don't know any better and grew up trusting whomever would not ever do anything so underhanded. If you can make a devise turn on your house lights from a hundred miles away how difficult would it be to make it safe and secure and how tough is it to provide a big bold red letter warning wrapped around the device just like wrapping it around a hammer handle instead of hiding behind some buyer beware comment that seems to be the acceptable norm today?

    Leave a comment:


  • beakie
    replied
    Originally posted by Rusty View Post
    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.
    like knife manufacturers, car dealers, bicycle shops, running shoe makers, etc all do?

    used to be when people bought things they did so knowing what it is they were buying and the inherent risks involved.

    Did your first hammer come with a sticker saying "missing nail & hitting a digit may happen, it will hurt, just a heads up"

    Leave a comment:


  • Rusty
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:

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