Why have a Smart Home?

This is one of the most common questions to me around our smart home. Why have it?

Well, the easy answer would be: Because we can!

The choice to have a smart home actually evolved along the way. It started as a small thing, and just grew and grew. I’m quite sure that this also got my wife along side me building our smart home. She is literally coming up with ideas on how to improve the smart home, which is quite nice. We think differently and the combination of ideas makes it “our smart home”, and not just “my smart home”.

It all started with me just wanting to try and control our home through an app on our phones and tablets, but along the way the direction changed. Because of Home Assistant and the endless possibilities and integrations, we wanted our smart home to know our routines and help us during the day without us needing to do anything. We keep this vision on all changes we do to our smart home.

This requires a lot of sensors, so the smart home can monitor the conditions in our house. So we have various sensors to detect motion, temperature, humidity, smoke, lux levels, open/close on doors and windows, phones (with location detection) etc. We even have outdoor cameras to detect trespassing of cars and humans.

The combination of all these sensors and the fact that all lights, switches, robot vacuums, robot lawn mower, doorbell, Sonos speakers, TVs etc. are integrated into our smart home, makes it possible based on sensor data to do stuff with the integrations.

Just some examples of what we have automated today:

  • Lights in Auroras room (our daughters room) turn on/off based on motion & presence and on the light level in the room.
    This is automatically disabled when she’s in bed for her nap during the day, or at night when going to sleep.
  • Lights in the following room turn on/off based on motion, on the light level in each room and what “mode” our house is in:
    • Entrance (different lights turn on depending on if the kids are sleeping or not).
    • Guest bathroom
    • Scullery
    • Garage
  • When the last person leaves the house:
    • all TVs, Sonos speakers, lights and selected switches are turned off,
    • our robot vacuums begins their job,
    • our perimeter protection of the house is enabled, sending us a notification on our mobile phones if the smart home registers any breach,
    • we get a notification on our mobile app if we left the garage door open – and it will also close the garage door for us automatically too.
  • When the first person arrives to the house:
    • the robot vacuums stops their job and return to their base,
    • selected switches is turned on,
    • specific lights based on the time of day and light levels is turned on.
  • When we go to sleep at night:
    • all lights and selected switches are turned off,
    • our perimeter protection of the house is enabled, sending us a notification on our mobile phones and gives us a warning on our Sonos speaker in the bedroom if the smart home registers any breach.
  • If Aurora (our daughter) or Elliot (our son) opens one of their windows, we will get a warning on our Sonos speaker in the kitchen.
  • If there is high sun our slatted blinds automatics closes at our windows.
  • Aurora and Elliot have an electric kids car, that needs recharging some times. When turning on the recharging process our smart home make sure it’s turned off again after a time period. This is to prevent the battery to be overcharged.
  • Our smart home also monitors and tells us about specific events, like sensors that needs to have a new battery, water leaks or other alerts or information around the system.

When the smart home is talking to use, it uses the Google TTS (text-to-speech) service integration. We can send a specific text to the service and it returns an MP3 file that plays on our selected Sonos speakers.

We also implemented the Google Assistant into the smart home, so we can talk to the smart home and make it do stuff for us.

To sum it all up – the vision for us is to have our smart home that knows our routines and helps us in our everyday life. We don’t want to just move a push on a switch to a click in an app. We want our smart home to do it automatically for us, and monitor our house when we are at home and when we are away, and alert us if our attention is needed.

We are moving towards our vision every day, but it takes time and adjustments along the way.

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