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Home Automation Philosophy

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  • Madcodger
    When I first got into HA, I wanted everyone to see it. Now, I show it off only if a "fellow geek" comes over. Otherwise, I find that having the house perform simple things that we would often forget or overlook is the best part of HA. Lights, of course, are the most common example but I found that we often forgot to close one of the garage doors. "Isabella" now does that for us a few minutes after it has been opened, and again at a certain time each night, just to be sure.

    I was also finding doors or windows open, with the HVAC running full blast. Isabella now announces a warning 5 minutes after a door has been left open. At 10 minutes, she shuts down the HVAC and warns the household that she has done this every few minutes. We don't hear that warning very often anymore (i.e., people close them), and even the 5 year old in the house has learned not to leave doors open thanks primarily to Isabella.

    We also know when someone has entered our property, come up the front walk, etc., and when the weather service has issued a warning. Each of these are helpful but not really intrusive. Recently, I've started playing a wake up routine for a couple of family members who were having some trouble in that area. It has solved the problem, and the wav files make it humorous enough that they get the picture without too much nagging.

    I would use HA much more than my family, but these things are now well accepted, and sometimes enjoyed, without being too much of a pain for the non geeks in the household.

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  • Gogs
    When I got into HA it had nothing to do with saving money, at the end of the day that is the one thing it has not done for I.

    I went for HA for the fun and the "control freak" bit which lies in all of us. I loved the idea of when I walked into a room the lights would come on, OK originally they were only meant to come on if it was dark, but would come on whenever anyone walked into the room. Which brings me to my next reason: learning.

    The automation of lights I had done before with a Dragon and a relay board, that novelty quickly wore off and I got into the other things HA could do, in particular HST.

    HomeSeer entered the equation when I was about to give it up as a waste of time. Since embarking on HomeSeer I cannot resist it, it is like a drug. What makes it worse is this BBS, you get so much help and can have a lot of fun on it.

    If you would like an example, and I know a lot of "Oh No Not Again", but you do not have to read an old thread: Have a read. Erm sorry, could not resist, but if you do read it through and if you wish to contribute please do. (Sorry for the slight Hi-Jack )

    I have now got into outside cameras integrated with HS. A "Colour by Day and IR By Night" camera using a Dazzle, yes you read correct Dazzle, video capture and the BETA release of Webcam, more expense , and the results are fantastic, cannot wait to get a "proper video card".

    It is something for I that has become, through all the help from the HS Help desk and the HS people and the Members of this BBS Comunity or Family that has made it a pleasure. Do not forget it is the people that are reading this over the years that have made it an enjoyment.

    I once replied to a post on this BBS regarding what the limitations of HomeSeer were; my reply was something to the effect that "The only limitation to HomeSeer is Your imagination".

    I think that still stands true.

    Sorry I am wandering a bit here I think. My philosophy is if I enjoy something, then enjoy it, but, do not pursue it too quickly, you may overtake it.

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  • Steve Q
    My philosophy is to use automation to save energy, improve security, and increase convenience. My HVAC is mostly controlled by Homeseer and puts heating and cooling where I need it. If there is no motion in the house, it puts the house in "sleep" mode until we return. It also monitors my exterior doors (including shed door) and reminds me it any are open after dark. It also turns on motion lights outside and turns out lights when not needed. Increased convenience is important when it comes to TV, DVD, and music. Homeseer alows me to press one button when I want to watch a DVD. Before Homeseer I had to find 3 remotes, press 12 different buttons. Turn on the light to insert the DVD, turn OFF the light to watch!

    Of course I have several cool things like the wake up weather forecast, NPR news at 11 and 5, on the half hour time, temperature, humidity, and heat index, announcements. And I have many reminders like "tomorrow is trash day".

    My philosophy is also not to spend more money on automation than the value of the benefit it provides. For example, if I can save $100 a year by keeping lights turned OFF, then I will not hesitate to spend $100 or a bit more. (but not $1000). But when it comes to convenience, I am reluctant to spend a lot
    but Homeseer gives you a lot of "free" features. All it takes is a little creativity.

    And of course there is the fun of learning new "stuff". The scope of home automation is tremendous, it's a lifetime of learning!

    Steve Q

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  • completelyhis
    I agree with Thymer and others that have basically stated that HA should be something that "automates" things that occur consistantly, so they don't have to be done manually. so it streamlines routine activities, and also gives shape to activities that we want to be routine. IE, I have a fairly complex wake up routine that serves the whole family (even the dogs). TTS anouncements, weather forecast for the day, word of the day, verse of the day, music, lighting, bathroom fans, etc. it is something designed to keep the morning flowing the way we want it to...we don't always do things the same way every morning, but we should. There are other things, like watching a movie, that replicate what we do...just making it easier (turning off lights, setting the tv, etc)...

    So i guess i see a difference between creating routine and reproducing routine...both are good.

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  • tenholde
    What do you use for the two line message board?


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  • thymer
    My goal is for the house to be as "hands-off" as possible while still providing valuable time saving abilities. I want the majority of my HA to be "behind the scenes" ie lights. When you walk in a room the lights come on, you leave and they go out. When you get in the shower the exhaust fan comes on and turns off 10 min after you get out, etc. I still use palmpads for a few things but am trying to minimize that as much as possible. If I have to get up and walk accross the room to get a palmpad to turn the fan on what have I really accomplished. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I want HA to do everything without me having to tell it to. I'm working on that!

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    I think at first people go overboard, and that part of the learning experience. I myself have speakers for announcement in almost every room, and I can control which announcement goes where, but still I use this very discretely. You say you have announcements of news, weather, sunset, etc. but that would drive me crazy.

    My best investment was a two line message board that I have in my kitchen. That has news, weather, reminders, status. If they are very important problems, like the Internet going down, or alarm system malfunction, those are announced as well as displayed, but for common info, it is there to read if you want it.

    So what gets announced? Major problems, caller ID, urgent reminders, and door and window openings, but only AWAY from the area where the door was opened, and only once during a period of time. I also announce when a door has been open an excessive period of time. During parties, door announcements are disabled.

    What works for one person, probably doesn't work for another, and some of this is a bit of trial and error.

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  • rmasonjr
    I recently told my co-workers that I monitor my hot water heater's electricity usage. They laughed and asked "why?" When I told them I could log the data to a mySQL database and produce a dialy chart showing how often it runs, I could use that data to see if I can justify buying a tankless hot water heater.

    I confess I really did it for the 'wow' factor

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  • Uncle Michael
    I also believe in the dual goals of being useful and unobtrusive. It is fun to have a wow factor, but few have much staying power. The real wow comes from making something that could be annoying easier or even effortless. If you can do it so that it's not even noticeable, that is even better in my view.

    My number one priority is to avoid making the automation a nuisance. (Do no harm.) When you automate something, you define how it will be done. If others prefer it to be done differently, I see that as a step in the wrong direction - and I'm sure they do too. If they happen to be members of the household, you are just asking for resistance to future ideas. As a simple example, we have nearly no situations where the light in a room comes on automatically when someone enters.

    Along the same lines of taking the reactions of others into consideration, in response to a similar exchange on this board some time ago, I replaced nearly all voice announcements with annunciation tones. It's amazing how big an effect that simple change had. It turns out to be very easy to learn what the various tones mean, and they tend to have a subliminal effect. You hear them and note the message, but they don't intrude as much as a string of words. (I'm not sure they would be so effective with teenage children, though. There are situations where being intrusive is the objective. Also persistent, even relentless. But I don't think that was the question.)

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  • completelyhis
    I agree with Steve, and would add a bit of a different perspective on the minimalist one. I don't think the goal should be that the HA is "behind the scenes" but rather that it must serve a purpose. for instance, I have some TTS announcements that remind the boys to get ready for school, bed, and church. They are obviously noticable, but serve a specific purpose...making life easier. [and now the family actually knows when to listen to them..thanks, Steve!] Same is true with various lighting scenes, like turning lights off at bed time. Same is true for more complex scenes, like a "dinner time" scene I have that is activated by pressing a UPB button in the dining room light switch - one button runs the following actions:

    turns off tvs if they are on
    turns lights off, except for dining room light
    pauses dvr, in case someone was watching something "important"+
    turns computer screens off
    tts announcement that dinner is ready, and to go wash your hands and help set the table
    set speakers and volume level, and play classical music genre in dining room
    set house to do not disturb, so we don't have incoming phone call announcements, except for emergency.

    it is a thing of convienence to have all of that in one button. it is also something that is quite noticable (packs a bit of wow factor) when we have people over.

    I too have occassionaly gone over the top with automating things. My wife is always good about letting me know when that happens :-)

    "You know, there are some times that I actually want to turn the light on myself." is something I've heard from time to time.

    I have also heard her say, "yeah, me and the boys talk about Alfred [the name of the hapc] as if he is a real person, and part of the family."

    those are good times....

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  • stevea
    My main rule is to never automate for the sake of automation, but rather automate only if it really does have some measure of improvement in the quality of life. We still have several light switches that I doubt I'll ever automate, just because of where they are or how infrequently they are used. I've got a limited set of TTS announcments and I use the BetaBrite, and both of these are big hits in our house.

    There was a time that I would sometimes add something just because I thought it would be fun, and my wife and daughters would clearly think it was either silly or maybe even irritating. Now I'm proud that they actually find nearly all of the stuff I've got automated fairly indispensable. The only time anyone gets upset is when Homeseer hangs (which isn't very often any more).

    Anyway, I agree with the somewhat minimalist approach. There's a fine line between a brilliant automator and an obnoxious nerd...


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  • bpm32
    started a topic Home Automation Philosophy

    Home Automation Philosophy

    The current instance of HA in this house uses TTS to announce caller id, weather, news, email, sunset, outside movement, among a few other things. It also of course runs lighting scenes. Sometimes I find myself going minimalistic, and I'm feeling that way about HA right now. Someone once said on here that a good installation of HA meant that it wasn't all that noticeable. (except for the lights of course)

    I'm wondering - what is everyone's philosophy on their installation? Is it a "behind the scenes" installation? Do you try to have it stand out when someone comes into your home, or do you like for it to be less noticeable? Or do you do what you want, and heck with a philosophy?

    Thanks for your input.