There are a number of ways to control your home. You could use the LightwaveRF WIFI unit or go down the custom route.
I decided to go down the custom route. This post will describe my setup.
What’s in your setup?
Currently my setup consists of two hardware components (apart from the light switches and sensors); a Raspberry Pi and the RFXCOM RFXtrx433.
As I went down the custom route I needed a computer which would be left on 24/7 as it will be the “brains” of the smart home. For this I opted to use the Raspberry Pi (B+ model). The reason behind this decision is that the Pi is small, doesn’t use a lot of power and very quite as no fans are needed. Another reason for opting for the Pi is that they have GPIO pins which give the flexibility to connect components directly to the Pi. For example to integrate with my house alarm system.
My Raspberry Pi is used for two purposes; one for XBMC (Raspbmc/Kodi) and the other for home automation. To date I’ve not experienced any performance issues, the future plan is to have one Pi dedicated for home automation and the other for XBMC.
And of course my setup consists of LightwaveRF switches, LightwaveRF relays, HomeEasy PIR and a Byron Doorbell. I’ve also got a setup to interface with my existing house alarm. I will post about that particular setup at later stage.
How’s it all connected?
The setup between the Raspberry Pi and the RFXtrx433 is pretty much plug and play. The lighting components are linked to the Raspberry Pi wirelessly via the RFXtrx433.
What software do you run?
After much deliberation between custom software and open source platform, I decided to go with the open source platform option and use Domoticz.
Domoticz is a open source Home Automation System, that lets you configure and bring together smart devices from different manufacturers. Main features include the ability to create custom events, automated smart timers and flexibility with custom scripts. As the platform has a HTML5 front end, it is automatically scaled for different devices.
Setting up Domoticz on the Raspbery Pi is pretty simple. The steps can be found here http://www.domoticz.com/wiki/Installing_and_running_Domoticz_on_a_Raspberry_PI
Once you have the software running you simply access the platform through any browser (http://raspberry PI IP :8080). From the browser you can add new components to your setup. Its very simple to setup, for example to add a new LightwaveRF switch, you click on “Manual Light/Switch”, Select RFXtrx433 as the hardware, Type as LightwaveRF and give it an ID. Once this is done you put your switch in to learning mode. To do this on the dimmer switches press and hold down both the ‘ON’ AND ‘OFF’ buttons until the blue and amber LEDs ash alternately. The dimmer switch is now in learning mode. Once its in learning mode, click your light switch button in domoticz, the blue light on the dimmer will flash to confirm the pairing.
So that’s it, once you have added your switches, you can now access them from any web browser on any device.
One downside to going down the custom route is that you need to consider service up time. By this I mean you ideally want the server to start up again if it crashes. For this I used Watchdog. Watchdog is a applications that knows when your raspberry is down, and will automatically reboot it in case this happens. This can be configured to send you emails when a crash occurs. Click here for more information.
How do you access the platform remotely?
In order to access the platform remotely, port fowarding needs to be setup on your router. This is a pretty straightforward task. You can use http://www.canyouseeme.org/ to test if your port forwarding works. Once this is setup, you access the platform using your IP address and the port of the domoticz server.
Domoticz has built in security to stop unauthorised access. There are two options, the first is using a username and password and the second is done using certificates. This under the System tab in the Setup menu.
To wrap up…
So that’s it, this is my setup. Please get in touch if you have any questions.
In future posts I’ll go in to details of the mobile apps which I’ve tried, how I’ve intergrated my house alarm (using GPIO Pins), my door bell setup, geofencing, push notifications and other tech which I’ve added to my home automation system.