Paul's smart home diary week 10: Over and out (for now)

Tying up some loose ends

Paul's smart home diary week 10
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This is the last smart home diary in this series. That doesn't mean that I've finished tweaking and improving my smart home setup, but you don't need to be reading about every new smart switch, bulb and sensor that I install – and I think we can all agree that nobody wants to hear anything more about my Ethernet cables.

Over the last few months I've made some big improvements to my home network. I've eliminated all Wi-Fi black spots, I've made dumb sockets and switches smart, and I've added a load of new tech to my ever-expanding connected abode.

I've covered most of this in the last nine weeks of the series, but I do have a few loose ends to tie up regarding things I've been testing out but not mentioned…

In the garden

Over the last few weeks, when the sun has been shining I've spent a lot of time in the garden. I've already spoken about Gardena in the diary before and the Smart Sileno robot lawnmower (which is awesome by the way, a few weeks in and it is doing a fantastic job of keeping my lawn trim with no effort on my part) and I’ve also now added some more tech to the Gardena smart gateway – notably the smart Sensor and the smart Water Control devices.

These use the same Gateway as the lawnmower, and everything is housed in the same Gardena app. The Sensor simply sits in the soil and tells the Water Control box, which fits onto a regular outdoor tap, about soil moisture, temperature, light penetration and the like; and automatically controls your watering schedule. I've got mine hooked up to a Gardena micro-drip system for plant irrigation but, given that it's just standard hose connectors you could use an existing setup you've got with sprinklers and so on.

Last year, a LOT of plants died because I forgot to water them. This year I don't even have to think about it – the smart scheduling in the app, combined with the info the Sensor is sending it, means that everything is watered just as it should be.

Paul's smart home diary week 10: Over and out (for now)

Hubbing it

I've gone Wink mad as of late – so I'm not so reliant on the cloud for automations from the likes of IFTTT and Stringify.

Wink calls those automations 'Robots' and it's this aspect that's the real selling point of the Hub 2. The 'Robots' allow you to team up your compatible tech to work in tandem. For example, you can have some of your Hue bulbs come on if your Nest Cam IQ Outdoor notices some motion, or you can have your Sonos speakers start playing music if your Ring Doorbell is pressed but you're not at home.

Another hub that I've recently installed is the new Flic one. Now, Flic buttons were already awesome and I have a bunch of them scattered around my house, but now I don't have my wife texting me that the one for the bedroom lamp isn't working – because I'm not at home with my smartphone. The Flic hub is doing a grand job of offering Flic button controls throughout the whole house. Highly recommended.

Paul's smart home diary week 10: Over and out (for now)

Chinese contender

I'm testing a lot of Xiaomi smart home tech as of late. The robot vacuum range is seriously impressive, but it's the cheaper, less glamorous devices that have been winning me over as of late.

Now, the Xiaomi mijia Smart 720P WiFi IP Camera Pan-tilt Version (great name, eh?) isn't going to worry the likes of the Nest Cam or the Netgear Arlo, but – for less than $45 – it's certainly a security camera for people to consider if they are on a budget.

The Xiaomi Mi Home app is getting better (i.e. getting more usable for English language users) and, not only is it a one stop shop for all of your Xiaomi smart home tech, but it also has a great automation feature.

One device that I've been making use of on this front is the super cheap (around $13) temperature and humidity sensor. I've already mentioned in this diary series how I'm obsessed with indoor air quality, and how I'm already making use of the Xiaomi Pro Air Purifier, and this additional sensor allowed me to set up an automation to whack the fan speed up if the temperature or humidity spikes.

Wish list

As mentioned in the intro, I'm not done with perfecting my smart home. I have a massive list of stuff I want to implement – which I won't bore you with here – but I will let you in on my big ambitions…

Dedicated controllers – An iPad with HomeKit on it doesn't cover everything, Wink's got some big brands missing from its armoury and sometimes you don't want to talk to Alexa. I need a proper smart home controller. Control4 are one of the specialists in this area, so I'm going to keep hounding them.

Comprehensive verdict: Control4 smart home review

Extra security smarts – My security camera game is strong with Nest Cams all over the place and I'm happy with my smart alarm system from Somfy. What I'm lacking is some smart locks and also some shutters. I'm looking into the Tahoma system (also from Somfy) for this – so keep your eye on The Ambient for any updates on that front.

Kitchen upgrade – My kitchen is still pretty dumb. I've got a smart coffee machine but that's about it. Washing machines, fridges, cookers – none of these are first-gen for smarts now – is it time to upgrade?

Catch up with my smart home diary…

TAGGED    smart home

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