Full Circle

So. I feel like we’ve beaten the whole home automation thing into the ground for now. Maybe that’s because of the total immersion I’ve been experiencing for the past 2 months. It probably is. If I’m not careful, and/if/or statements are going to become part of my vocabulary.

That would be bad. It would be very hard to write these in code. I have to stop considering trying to do that.

Home automation programming is really supposed to be a DIY thing. Aside from the odd one-off function, how you live in your home is so individually specific that attempting to force everyone into one cookie-cutter scene preset is…. impossible. The key to a successful home automation install is not whether or not the devices work correctly (you’re not done if they don’t). The key to a successful install is keeping the system generic enough to not dictate how an individual uses their house.

If you’re trying this on a DIY level, I’d honestly like to hear from you. I’ll tell you what I’ve found.

  1. There are alot of things about how people live that they didn’t even know, but they didn’t know they didn’t know until they tried to automate it

All of those unconscious habits you have? Those things you didn’t even think about? Those are gonna totally throw you off. The more you automate, the more you find you need to automate. The more you find you cannot automate.

First rule of automation; Don’t be too upset when you can’t make something work without you. Your habits vary. It’s gonna take a while to account for them all.

2. Go easy on the notifications

It’s awesome that you can get your phone to tell you when your toast pops, but do you really need to know that? Are you gonna bolt down the stairs and grab while it’s still scorching hot?

I know the answer. It’s no.

Now. When your laundry finishes or your doorbell rings? Do those. Or not. That’s why programming is up to you.

3. Be careful with your perimeter openings

This is kind of a no-brainer, but also kind of not. So let’s go with do’s and don’ts, and then don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Do: Do something to let your system know you’re home

Don’t: Position your trigger anywhere but at your main entrance door

Do: Back your automatic locks with an alarm system

Don’t: Allow your alarm system to be disarmed through the same device as your locks are connected to

Do: Give yourself a buffer between your door unlocking and the door relocking

Don’t: Give yourself a week and a half to walk through the door

Do: Have a special scene for when you go to bed

Don’t: Have the doors unlock until you’re ready

This is the short list. As you get more comfortable you’ll be able to do more.

4. Whenever possible, Voice Activation

This isn’t for convenience. Not totally, although it is a nice feature.

The point is to make sure your system will only respond to your voice or anyone you’ve allowed to operate the home.

Programming scenes can be tricky through voice, and most systems don’t allow for it yet (for good reason… you can really mess things up), but for operation? It’s one of those great little convenience features that also adds security.

That’s one rare combo.

5. Take. It. Slow.

It is so easy to get sucked up in the excitement when you start this. Do not go head over handle bars. Many of the systems I’ve encountered are half finished and/or unused. Reason?

Building out a full automation system is expensive. Yes. It is.

Also, a lot of things about automation look cool, but that’s really where the usefulness ends…for most people. Once again, we come back to the unconscious habits you use while you are at home.

You think will use it.

6. Take it easy on your programmer…even if it’s yourself


Ok so that last one is totally self-serving. Thanks in advance.

For the record, it’s rare that any of us will actually have to do any real programming on one of these systems. Generally there are apps and add-ons that can be used to make what you want to happen, happen. Once again, this lends to the DIY nature of automation.

All this said, if you want it and have no idea where to begin, shoot us a message. There are too many one-off situations for me to write about every specific one. But I bet we can come up with something one-on-one.

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