Best way to tie together smart devices, IoT stuff

Hello everyone,
A friend of mine is building his condo into what I would like to call “Smart House”.
He has asked me to help him identify the best solutions to control all of his different devices, which will include:
-Hot water HEater
-Motion sensors to open blinds

He wants something like GOogle Home or Alexa for voice, but he doesn’t want that to be the primary means of control. He wants to set up everything on timers and sensors so that they follow a schedule or IFTT kind of functionality. Is there a device which allows you to configure stuff like that?
Basically looking for one app to rule them all.
One solution I have found is Wink:

Anyone have any experience or can explain how it works?


I’m personally not a fan of off the shelf solutions, they tend to be expensive and propriety, which makes it hard to add any functionality not already in the ecosystem; eg you can’t make a blinds open themselves unless there is a blinds module that suits your blinds.

You can make basically the same sorts of control with any micro-controller (from a raspberrry pi to a $3 ATmega based ripoff) and for on\off things its literally a entry level tutorial type task you can find video guides for, then just use to drive any reputable (don’t screw around with mains power, get something not a ripoff) solid state relay to trigger your devices, then expand as your understanding and interest does.

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Depending on how deep of a dive he wants to take, you could use something like the Arduino Yún or Raspberry Pi3.
In both cases, you would have to wire up relays and transistors (preferably in banks so you can expand later on) and some more or less “advanced” stuff with shift registers so you have more ports on the controller available.
Control wise, you can either have push buttons on a central controll panel or have the Arduino pull from a clock and then conduct actions according to programming.

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Hi guys,

The point of alll of this project is to do everything in software. He doesn’t want to design a microcontroller and a bunch of hardware to accomplish a simple goal like turnin on lights when there are software solutions to do it.

You don’t need to design a microprocessor to hook an SSR up to a Audino or Raspi, but if you want a off the shelf working solution then thats fine too, just be prepared to pay a bunch and be underwhelmed on functionality and user interface consistency\stability, but it’ll still do the basic tasks on your list like lights, locks and outlets.

Offline and by hand would be my answer.


Disclaimer… I highly recommend the use of, and actively monitoring a pfSense firewall. I strongly discourage using non open source IOT devices and platforms. Especially those that phone home and remove freedom and control from the user.

I have no idea what off the shelf products work best but Will from Tested had used this.

I’d say use an arduino with maybe a zwave router and roll your own. If anyone is interested in a collaboration, I have a functional homebrew web based system using an arduino for I/O that I want to clean up and open source.


If you have any external circuits that could use their own PCB I’d be willing to do layouts for them.

Is your design based on using several smaller Arduino Zeros as a mesh? or one larger Arduino Uno as a central controller? Also, what is your main method of communication between devices?


I’m a fan of using a Rasberry PI as the central hub as it is more powerful than a Arduino CPU wise and has hardware to do a graphical user interface on a touch screen or similar. It may costs a little more, use a hair more power and be a layer of abstraction further from hardware, so its not suitable for making most device controllers, but for the Ethernet and\or wifi connected central hub thats not so much of an issue.

However I’m also curious to hear what others do and their rational for it, so watching this space.

You can have an IoT-type system without being on the Internet or even the LAN if at the time of building a residence there are wires ran for controlling devices. If this is not done, then each device that you want to control needs its own wireless capabilities, typically wifi (2.4GHz), which is both expensive and complicated to the point that you might as well buy a pre-baked solution. For example, a lightbulb may be $6, but a “smart” lightbulb can be well over $80 including the bulb and dimmer switch.

The existing solutions for home automation wholeheartedly have no respect for users’ privacy so you either run wires outside of sheetrock (cool for home projects, not cool if you’re trying to sell a home) or use a wireless solution with sketchy phone-home software.

I don’t see new home builders standardizing on a wired central control system (although tiny home builders and consumers are super into this) so I propose the solution of IR remote control. Each “smart device” would have its own IR receiver and small microprocessor that takes commands the way a TV remote receiver works for an extra $8/smart device. IR is of course directional and requires that the main remote be pointed directly at the receiver so the main drawbacks are:

  • does not work between rooms
  • requires an IR emitter (remote)

Any thoughts about home automation systems involving:

  • Wired control at build time?
  • Wireless control via IR?
  • Wireless control via Wifi or Bluetooth?
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If your lucky enough to be in at a build time, Cat6a everywhere is hands down the best. However most of us won’t be, so hence other options. So for the rest of us most devices will likely be wifi connected due to its medium range and existing standards, however two interesting options many may not have considered:

Ethernet over power can also be a good way to control LOT devices, I use it for my lights as they are inherently there own circuit separate from wall outlets anyway, and even 10Mbps is heaps of bandwidth so you can use older devices or force a less sensitive mode than you would for actual network access to something like a computer.

BlueTooth LP is also very easy to work with, uses limited power (to the extent that you can use it on a permanent battery powered installation off a 18650 or pack of AA’s you remove to recharge), however its short range. Its a really solid option if you can get wired network access to the room, but not each device.

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Controlling devices over the power line is possible as long as you separate power in your house from the main grid via some kind of high power buffer; otherwise, you could ripple commands out over the grid and make the power company mad at you. This is similar to the way that US railways communicate.

Bluetooth modules are slightly cheaper than Wifi Modules and the pairing scheme between bluetooth devices can be painful sometimes, but if these devices are stationary this seems like a good alternative to Wifi and IR. If you have access to main power I doubt you would need batteries; the power consumption of several BLE modules will be < $1/mo anyway.

You could easily reach bluetooth devices in any room with an existing ethernet plug and reach others with Wifi. So maybe a Wifi base station that talks to a wifi and bluetooth room module that talks to bluetooth smart devices? At that level of effort you may as well go all in on all-wifi devices on a separate LAN. Maybe by spinning our own boards from this we could make wifi cost efficient.

Edit: or this

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Hack a day just featured something relevant (indeed very similar in application), but obviously knowing their nature, not off the shelf:

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Thanks, so far I’m only using off the shelf proto shields for sensor headers, dip switches and pullup resistors. Everything else is off the shelf sensors, Ethernet shields and relay boards. The majority of work is programming.

Devices communicate over LAN to a web server. Device displays will probably be i2c or something that will carry 20-30 feet reliability. There is no inter device communication. That’s all done server side. I have one for HVAC that’s working and one for lighting that’s a prototype. HVAC is soon getting updated for an outside air damper and scheduling.


Liquid tnt.

This is a great example of an implementation with physical wiring. I’m all for a wired implementation. Will home owners accept a wired solution with sleek conduit? Because I can start that now in that case.

There looks to be three custom boards: one for fan control, one for vent control, and one for thermal control which is marked “(under development).”


Interestingly, the Pi used its RS-232 output to talk to all the custom controllers but they ran into issues with resistance added by electrical noise. To fix that they added a driver that converts to RS-485 before sending the signal onward.

This would have been solved by shielded wire, using the ethernet port instead, or just using the 3-4 DC signals they need to PWM a relay instead of trying to talk serial that far. They basically just put a repeater in the line to extend it which is not practical for longer runs.

Edit: phrasing

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HVAC is the best place to save money in electricity so I think that’s a great venture. What is your current cost for a single remote module that contains a processor and ethernet shield?

And also, is your web service run on a separated LAN removed from the internet or is the main controller connected to the internet? What kind of security do you have to interface with the web server?

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First, Choose Your Assistant- Virtual voice-controlled assistants like Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa make it easy to control smart home products by speaking simple commands like “Alexa, turn on the lights.” Each of these tools has its strengths and weaknesses, so choose the one that will be more likely to work for your needs:
After you pick your virtual assistant, you’ll be able to choose a piece of hardware that will become your primary smart home controller.
Amazon’s Alexa: Echo Dot, Echo and Echo Show
Google’s Assistant: Google Home, Newer Android Smartphones
Apple’s Siri: iPhones, iPads and Apple Watch
The related reading below will help to guide your decision, but cost will likely play a factor, along with your need for a solid set of speakers or desire to have an additional device in your home in the first place.Then, the fun begins. With your virtual assistant you can set up your home a number of ways to make it “smarter.” Here’s a rundown of the different assistants and some products that work well with them.
Putting Your Assistant to Work
Alexa is the virtual assistant powering Amazon’s Echo products, including the Echo speaker, the miniature Echo Dot speaker and the Echo Show, a smart speaker with a touch screen. You summon it by saying “Alexa.”

If you want to quickly get started with a smart home, buying an Echo product is your best bet, because Alexa works with a broader set of smart home accessories than its rivals.

To set up your Alexa product you’ll first need to download the Alexa app onto your phone. This app allows your to add “skills” to work accessories or increase your assistant’s set of capabilities.

To find home accessories that are compatible with Alexa, look for a “Works With Alexa” logo on the packaging or in the product description.

A wide variety of smart lighting is on the market. While some systems require a so-called bridge, a device that connects with a Wi-Fi router and talks to the smart light, there are also smart light bulbs with a built-in Wi-Fi connection. Lifx is one of these that don’t require a bridge — so its setup is relatively simple. The bulbs are multi-colored and dimmable, but because they rely on Wi-Fi, their reliability will depend on your Wi-Fi router. You can also make your fans smart. Although there are no fans which can be directly connected to the internet but there are fan with remotes which can be controlled through your phones. Hence you can make your smart fans.
To use your Alexa to control a Lifx bulb, you will need:An Amazon Echo product
A Lifx bulb like the A19
An Apple or Android smartphone for setting up Alexa to talk to the bulb
There are many plug-in appliances, like fans, electric water kettles and coffee makers, that you probably wish were a little bit smarter. By plugging them into a smart plug, you use a personal assistant to do things like set a specific time for the kettle to heat water in the morning or switch the power on or off remotely. These rely on Wi-Fi to work, so their reliability will only be as good as your signal where they are located.
For this hypothetical example, we will set up a fan to work with Alexa and a smart plug from TP-Link. You will need:
An Amazon Echo product
A TP-Link smart plug
A plug-in fan with a physical power switch that can stay in the “on” position
An Apple or Android smartphone for setting up Alexa to talk to the smart plug
How to control an electric fan with Alexa using a TP-Link smart plug:

On your smartphone, download the Kasa app from the Apple or Android app store.
Open the Kasa app and register for an account. Once logged in, tap the Smart Plug icon.
Plug the Smart Plug into a power outlet. Plug your electric fan into the Smart Plug. The light on the plug will turn amber. In the Kasa app, follow the instructions to connect your smartphone to the plug.
In the Kasa app, give the Smart Plug a friendly name like “Fan.” Turn on the Remote Control option and follow the instructions to connect the plug to your Wi-Fi network.
Open the Amazon Alexa app. Tap the menu icon and select Skills. Search for the TP-Link Kasa skill and enable it.
In the Amazon Alexa app, tap the menu icon and select Smart Home.
Tap Devices, then tap Discover. The Alexa app will scan for devices and discover the smart plug labeled Fan.
Now test the fan. Make sure the fan’s power switch is in the “on” position. With your Echo nearby, say “Alexa, turn on the fan.” Then say, “Alexa, turn off the fan.”