I’ve dreamed of having a smart home since I first saw some billionaire demo his on a TV show, way before the technology became widely available. When I bought the […]
I’ve dreamed of having a smart home since I first saw some billionaire demo his on a TV show, way before the technology became widely available. When I bought the house I have now, I began looking into the technology more seriously, mostly because I didn’t like walking into a big, empty, dark space when I got home from work.
It all started innocently enough—just one bulb for the living room that I could program to turn on before I got home, and have it turn off at bedtime. But a short time later, I was hanging out a friend’s place, and he had one of the original Amazon Echos. He played music with just a voice command.
I was enamored. I did research. I could control lights with my voice! And set timers in the kitchen by just asking! And play whatever music I wanted! I bought my first Amazon Echo, and It spiraled from there.
Smartening Up the House:
As I redesigned the guest room and office, I added a few smart light bulbs and plugs. But what about the ceiling fans?!?! Were the rooms truly complete before they could be voice controlled? And to make it seamless, didn’t they each at least need an Echo Dot?
And then came the porch and deck lights. I like to illuminate my main entrances through the night. Because security. So in came the smart light switches that I could program to turn on at sunset and turn off in the morning.
Today, I now have 30+ smart devices connected in my home, from Echos to smart light bulbs, smart switches, smart plugs, Ring doorbell, external cameras, Fire TV sticks, and a Nest thermostat. I haven’t been comfortable enough to integrate my security system or door locks, but maybe I’ll get there.
And it’s been wonderful, until it wasn’t.
Shit Goes Wrong:
Much like space flight, smart home technology is still in an experimental stage. Sometimes things work. Sometimes they don’t. Which brings me to my project for the day: moving all my lights from my Wink Hub 2 to the Amazon Echo Plus.
The original Echos didn’t have Smart Hub technology, and while some devices can connect directly through Wifi, some need a hub to operate properly. I bought Cree smart bulbs instead of Philips Hue, as Cree was less expensive. To control them, I connected them to the Wink Hub 2, which then connected to my original Echo devices for voice control.
However, that Wink Hub 2 is glitchy, and apparently the company is in trouble (see Reddit threads on the topic). The Wink Hub 2 forgets lights or sometimes takes 60 seconds to respond. I finally had enough when it perpetually glitched out on the nightstand lights in the Master Bedroom.
Definitely beyond a first world problem, but not being able to turn off your nightstand lights with your voice when you’ve already found that PERFECT sleep position and gotten all snuggly, and that’s a deal breaker.
After some quick research, I discovered that a newer Amazon Echo, the Echo Plus, has a built in hub that is compatible with my smart lights. I ordered it immediately.
Side Note: I know I’ll catch some flack from the techies, as the Amazon Echo Plus is really not the BEST hub out there. It only offers Zigbee protocol (in addition to Wifi and Bluetooth, of course), so it’s missing Z-Wave and more. However, it fits MY needs, takes an extra relay out of my system, and all of the devices I plan to use that aren’t currently Wifi/Bluetooth use Zigbee. And, with Zigbee being Amazon’s protocol of choice, I have a feeling that will encourage more smart device makers to implement it if they don’t already, but that’s just a hunch. 😉
My Amazon Echo Plus just arrived today. Now comes the pain of migrating all the devices from the Wink Hub to the Amazon Echo Plus.
To do this, I have to remove the devices from the Wink Hub 2, reset them by switching them on and off several times, then have the Echo Plus discover them. After that comes renaming the devices in the app and setting up the schedules all over again. To make it just a bit more time consuming, I have to go room by room, otherwise it’s going to be a mess figuring out which one is which.
And that’s my Saturday, ladies and gentleman. I know it’ll be worth it, but damn—why can smart things just stay smart?
Here are the smart devices I use, in case you’re interested: