Adding light switches and SmartThings to my Smart Home
Part 1 – Leviton Wall Switch
Shortly before I discovered Social Robots and embarked upon my Smart Home journey, we began a total kitchen remodel, including a portion of the media room. My wife oversaw this project (of course) and I did not pay much attention. The project included installing a bunch of overhead lights in both areas with a bunch of (dimmer) switches for them.
By the time the project finished, I had begun my journey. I didn’t know anything about light switches. The contractor had installed Lutron (Maestro product line) dimmers. I did a bit of research and it looked to me that Lutron offered a wireless control (named Pico) unit for Maestro dimmers.
My wife would frequently turn on the kitchen lights at night (and forget to turn them off) while we were watching TV in the adjacent media room, and this annoyed me. Interestingly, most of the time when mentioning this situation to someone, they would say they have the same issue in their relationship. So, I now point out how Smart Home technology can improve one’s relationship by eliminating (or reducing) some behavior caused friction.
I bought a Pico unit but it did not work. After further research, I found out that Lutron sells Maestro switches which look alike, but some support wireless control and others, the ones installed, do not. Lutron has another line, Caseta, which I considered, but it requires a Hub (Lutron calls it a bridge, but it is required to connect to the router). If I had known about this stuff at the beginning of the remodel project it is possible I would have chosen the Lutron Caseta or at least the wireless control Maestro units.
But as I had already installed the Phillips Hue with its hub, I was concerned about too many hubs and decided I needed to research the subject much more before making a decision.
Note, the unit pictured is not the one I bought, as it has been replaced by this newer unit. The one that I bought is included in the overview article for my Smart Home devices.
Part 2 – Samsung SmartThings Hub
So, I did a bunch of research about hubs and learned a lot. The article on hubs will go into this subject in more detail.
These are the reasons I chose the Samsung SmartThings Hub over its competition:
- The startup SmartThings had been acquired by major player Samsung.
- It supports an extensive and growing, list of Smart Home devices.
- It provides a development environment for adding new devices and intelligence (called SmartApps).
- There is a significant community that has added handlers for devices not supported by the company as well as many SmartApps.
- It is well regarded by reviewers.
Given that I have a lot of devices, I have experienced a fair number of problems along the way. I have found customer support to be responsive and helpful. I have learned quite a lot about Smart Home considerations and potential issues through these interactions.
Part 3 – Generic Wall Switches
We have a couple of outside lamps in our courtyard controlled by two inside wall switches. My wife wanted the lights to be on at night. The Leviton switch (above) is in a prominent location and is manually used on occasion. The two inside wall switches are not in prominent locations and are almost never used manually. The Leviton unit is considerably more expensive than other available units. I chose these. They were a little temperamental getting connected to SmartThings, but once they did they have not given me any problems.
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