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:
Lawrence K says
I use Gmail and google services. I use Apple gadgets, I prefer Amazon echo devices, I do have some google devices as well. I started my automation journey in 2000 with X-10 and Z-wave. I have used Active Home, Houselinc, Homeseer, Wink, Smartthings, and even apple H***K**.
I think Smart Things is the best all around automation platform working with just about any phone or computer or automation device.
Amazon Echo’s and Alexa, seems to be the best Assistant, able to access any calendar service. Using Google’s gmail and calendar, I can access it from my iphone, the web or ask Alexa to do it from anywhere in the house, or car. 😛 Alexa seems to be the great unifier. Aside from Eve, I think every other company or product can work with Alexa. Google’s automations seem incomplete, and Apple is a walled Garden only allowing certain devices in like a snobbish country club that allows the public in to play only at 5am on monday mornings.
Smart Things or Home Assistant can be great bridges to bring devices to the Alexa alter. You can set up automations in their own apps or right in the Alexa app.
Really enjoy Sengled’s line of zigbee RGBW LED strips. I’ve used them with an Echo’s hub as well as their own hub which grants H***K** support. But ultimately they work best with my Smart Things hub.
Having used industry standards for so many years I shudder at the idea anyone would use a wifi product. The standards are local controlled not needing internet access or a wifi network to function. upgrading a home router or wifi shouldn’t leave you in the dark until you repair every device in the house. You may get lucky if you reuse the same SSID, but its easier if you want AI access to just move the ethernet cable from one to the other.
Lawrence Kibler says
I wonder what Ken is using now for all this devices. If he already has an Echo, why not pair everything together now with Alexa. If he still has X-10 devices, Homeseer would give him Alexa control with his X10 products. Sounds like Ken is already set to integrate Alexa and a few Echo Shows for screens and touchy control or his home.