On our most recent IoT Podcast episode, Ken called in to our IoT voicemail hotline with three smart home questions. He wants to know what multi-zone color LED light strips we’d recommend for his house, which digital assistant he should consider, and if he should consider looking into a DIY smart home with Home Assistant.
It might sound like Ken is new to the smart home scene but he’s not. In fact, he has experience with the old X10 smart home interface, which has been around for decades. Plus he already did some homework on his questions, so our responses are more about confirming his own research.
Ken mentioned the Shelly RGBW2 LED controller, which isn’t something we’d normally recommend to a mainstream smart home owner. Typically, we suggest connected light strips that are mostly the plug-and-play variety. In fact, the Shelly device doesn’t even come with light strips. You have to hardwire the light strips to the module. Being a controller, it adds connectivity to standard light strips via a Wi-Fi radio. However, in Ken’s case, we think the Shelly controller is the way to go. Currently costing just over $50 for a two-pack, the RGBW2 provides flexibility, supports up to 288W of LED strips, and works with the three main digital assistants.
Speaking of digital assistants, Ken caught my recent article on living with more than just one of them. He has an Echo Dot but would consider using Google Assistant, or maybe both. He’s wondering if we have a preference to suggest in his case as he wants to scale up the voice processing power of his smart home. Ken is an Amazon Prime customer and relies mainly on Google services.
Given the usage of Google services, Google Assistant may be the best way to go. But this is really a matter of personal preference as most of the voice functionality between Amazon and Google is comparable. Ken could even test Google’s digital helper without buying any hardware: An install of the Google app on any phone supports voice commands in the home, although it may require a screen tap.
Finally, Ken mentions a range of brands that currently make up his smart home. He’s wondering if he can stitch them together with Home Assistant. Based on my usage of that platform, the answer is a resounding yes.
Not only will Home Assistant offer support for the widest range of devices, we even made sure it integrated with Shelly products. (It does.) Home Assistant is free software that can be installed on a low-cost Raspberry Pi. Those are hard to come by these days, so alternatives are to use an existing Linux, Mac, or Windows PC as a Home Assistant server. It’s not the easiest solution to set up if you’re fearful of tech, but Ken’s prior experience should come in handy here.
To hear Ken’s question in full, along with our discussion, tune in to the IoT Podcast below: