My Smart Home 2019

My Smart Home 2019

I’ve touched on aspects of my smart home
setup during my reviews of products like the Sonos One, Logitech Harmony Elite
and Ring Video Doorbell, but I thought it was time to take you through my full smart
home setup. See what systems I’m using, how I have them
integrated, what I find useful, and what I’m considering next. This isn’t meant to be a “this is exactly
how you should do it” type of video, and it’s absolutely not an episode of Extreme
Homes. If you’re someone just getting started building
out your smart home, this will hopefully give you some ideas. And if you’re someone who already has an
extensive setup, this should be interesting as a point of comparison. There’s not one right way to set this stuff
up, and this will be the beginning of a series of videos where I’ll be doing deeper dives
in how some of this is setup. No matter what gear you buy, you have to have
a centralized backbone to your smart home. I try to be as agnostic as I can be with my
smart home tech to give me options to move between platforms as things change, so at
the heart of it I’m able to jump between Amazon, Google, and Apple to control everything
in my home and setup routines. The platform agnostic gear is also important
since the technology is changing so quickly it will give you more years of service out
of the gear you buy. If a company shuts down, it won’t matter
because their light bulb still can work with another service. Or if you don’t like how a company is handling
your private data, you can switch to a self hosted option to maintain better control. All without having to buy new smart home tech. The backbone and brain of my system is Smartthings,
which I’ve been using for years. Buying a Smartthings hub (
today will cost you about $70 in the U.S.. It’s been a fairly reliable system and offers
a lot of integrations. Samsung bought Smarthings in 2014 and ever
since they’ve been slowly migrating their technologies into a centralized Samsung backend. Personally, I’m not thrilled with that,
but the service has been fairly stable and I haven’t run into many problems. In the future I’m looking at transitioning
to a self-hosted option, like Home Assistant, which is a free open source project, or Hubitat,
which costs about $100 in the U.S., for better control over my data and privacy. Whether it’s Smartthings, Home Assistant,
or Hubitat, the same functionality is basically there across most of these systems. Within Smartthings I have what they call “Modes”
for Away, Home, Night, Vacation, and Work. The modes themselves don’t have a lot of
meaning, they’re kind of like tags that you can hang different settings, features,
and routines off of. If you’re setting up routines around something
like a light turning itself on or off to make it look like someone is home when they’re
not, you can tell a light to turn itself on at sunset, but only when your home is either
in Away or Vacation mode. And this isn’t unique to Smartthings, but
most of these services can use either your smartphone or a little tracker device that
you can carry with you to use geofencing on your home. When your phone gets beyond a certain distance
from your home, or any location you set, a series of routines can automatically be triggered. For me, when both my phone and my wife’s
phone are detected leaving the house, the home switches to Away mode, which then triggers
routines to make sure all of our lights are turned off, the door is locked, garage door
is down, our security cameras are turned on, and our HVAC system changes it’s temperature
and fan settings. It’s like having a virtual butler check
things to make sure you didn’t forget to turn a light off or lock a door. If either one of us is detected returning
back to the geofenced zone, the house runs the “I’m Back” routine, flips back to
Home mode and the temperature gets set back to our normal settings and the cameras get
turned off. And if it’s after sunset, we have several
lights that automatically turn on to make sure we can see walking up to the front door
and into the house. You can create trigger events around motion
detection, to something opening and closing, to people arriving or departing. There’s a lot of customization available. This is the area that I think most people
will focus on because it’s the easiest place to start. It’s how I ended up going down this slippery
slope into home automation town. I started with Philips Hue for a few lights
in my living room, which started multiplying like rabbits around my house. There are now a couple dozen lights, spotlights,
lightstrips, and switches all over the place. From my experience Hue is truly a set it and
forget it system … it just works. It does require it’s own hub to get all
of the perks of the system, but you can stash this away pretty much anywhere. I’ve got my hub stuck to the wall behind
the books on the shelf behind me. By itself the hub will usually cost you about
$60 in the U.S., but you can get better deals buying one of their starter kits (
that can range from $70 to $120 depending on the kit. It varies with the types of included lights
and switches. And the lights integrate with just about everything. If you don’t want to use the Philips Hue
hub, the lights and switches are using the Zigbee wireless standard so you can link them
directly to another hub like the Amazon Echo Plus. A great use case for this type of system,
not just Hue, is adding bulbs into an area that doesn’t have any kind of light switch
control available. I have a small closet located under some stairs,
which I affectionately refer to has the Harry Potter room, that doesn’t have an easy way
to add a wired light switch. I dropped a couple of the cheaper, white Philips
Hue bulbs in there and attached a Hue switch just outside the closet door, and now we have
what feels like a typical wired switch setup. But you can take this kind of setup one step
further, which I of course did … because I have a home automation problem. I also added a motion sensor above the closet
door, so the closet lights will turn themselves off after a few minutes with no motion. For my wired light switches I landed on using
Lutron Caseta ( switches for most of them. Just like Philips Hue, it requires the use
of another tiny hub that you can tuck away pretty much anywhere. You can usually find a Lutron Caseta starter
kit for between $80 – $90 that includes the hub, an in-wall switch, and a remote. And just like Philips Hue, it integrates into
just about every major service from Google, Amazon, Apple, and Smartthings. The downside is that it’s a proprietary
wireless technology, so you have to use the hub. You get the benefit of traditional wall switches,
but with the added smart controls. That means with the exception of about 3 standard
lights in my home, every other light in my house can be tied into smart home routines. Like I said, I’ve got a home automation
problem. I put out a review on the Logitech Harmony
Elite a little while ago, so I won’t rehash what I spoke about there, but I have hub based
Logitech Harmony remotes setup on each of our televisions in the house. These all tie into Smartthings, Lutron, Philips
Hue, Amazon and Google as well, so it makes it very easy to tie home theater activities
to other smart home routines. Switch to “watch a movie” and have the
lights automatically dim, or turn them on if it’s after sunset. We also use Amazon and Google voice assistants
to turn on our TV with voice commands, control the volume, change the channel, and more. I’ve touched on this in other episodes like
my Sonos Beam Review, Google Home Hub Review, and the Logitech Harmony Elite Review, which
I’ll include links to in the description. I also have Arlo Pro security cameras (,
which integrate with a lot of different services including Smartthings. The systems cost between $200 and $800 depending
on how many cameras you want with it. They’re great cameras with good image quality
and have been rock solid for me. Their rechargable batteries last for months
at a time, which makes them easy to place almost anywhere without needing to worry about
wires. But … having cameras in and around your
home can feel a little creepy. I only have my cameras focused on doors and
entrances into my house to make sure people in my home feel comfortable, but also have
these tied into Smartthings routines. As I mentioned earlier with the Home and Away
modes, the cameras are turned off in Home mode and only turn on in Away or Vacation
mode. They can also be used as part of Smartthings
Smart Home Monitor system, which acts like a home security system. If the cameras detect motion while we’re
away, Smartthings can trigger a warning notification on your phone to let you know, and activate
things like sirens, locking doors, and also have the cameras start recording for specific
amount of time. If you have something like the Google Home
Hub, you can actually watch live feeds from Arlo cameras. It’s not a feature I’ve used too often,
but I can see how that might be useful in some situations. On the outside of the house I have a Ring
video doorbell (, which is usually around $100, and Ring Spotlight
Camera (, which is usually around $250. These are also tied into the Smartthings system. If motion is detected after sunset, outside
lights will turn on. You can do the same thing for a doorbell ring. At the end of last year I had my water heater
die and leak a lot of water. After that I purchased a couple Smartthings
water leak sensors ( that can send alerts when water is detected. They usually run about $20 each. I actually got to see these work in action
when they detected a leak from the brand new replacement water heater. It was good times. But it worked and the notification allowed
me to shut off the water and get ahead of things so the leak could be contained. I’ve been looking at some motorized water
valves that I could tie into this to automatically shut of certain water lines if one of the
leak sensors gets triggered. I also have some multipurpose sensors (
that you can add to doors, which I have tied into the Smartthings security center. They’re also about $20. If a door opens and closes when the system
is on, it sends me a notification and triggers the cameras around the house. And I also have Nest Protect smoke alarms
( throughout my house and tied into Smartthings as well. They’re more expensive than a typical smoke
and carbon dioxide alarm at about $100, but they have a great battery life and the integrations
are worth it in my book. I have a routine setup to turn off the HVAC
system if a fire is detected, which can help to slow down the spread of fire. It will also turn on all of the lights in
the house to help wake you up and find your way out. We have an Ecobee smart thermostat
controlling our HVAC system, which is a fantastic device. Depending on which model you’re looking
at you can typically pick one up for between $150 and $300. Nest thermostats are another good option,
but when I was shopping for thermostats Nest didn’t have the option for additional temperature
sensors. The Ecobee came with additional little temperature
and motion sensors you could drop in key rooms around your home. It uses those separate temperatures and knowledge
if someone is in a room or not to adjust the homes heating and cooling to make it comfortable
where people are in the house. It really works. And again, I have this tied into Smartthings,
which allows me to flip the Ecobee between different modes depending on what mode the
house is in. I work from home, so if I’m home alone and
it’s during the work week, the house flips into Work mode. This gives priority to the upstairs, and more
specifically my home office, where I spend my time for temperature settings. Our finished basement can get very cold in
the winter, so we have a space heater down there that is plugged into a smart outlet
rated for high energy use. Smartthings turns the heater on and off automatically
depending on the room temperature, and based on what mode the home is in. If it’s Night mode or Work mode, the heater
is basically off. If it’s Home mode it’s set to a more comfortable
temperature. We have something similar with humidity control
in our garage, which can get very damp, so we have a humidifier on a similar smart outlet
that automatically turns a dehumidifier on and off depending on the garage humidity level. And the one I get asked about a lot … flashing
lights in the house when the washer or drying finishes a load. I’ve attached a couple of Smartthings multipurpose
sensors to the sides of my washer and dryer. Smartthings has a smart app that then detects
the vibrations from that sensor, which has controls for minimum cycle time and tub fill
time. When the motion has stopped for that allotted
time, the routine gets triggered and it looks like a dance party in the our living room,
kitchen, and bedroom. And as ridiculous as it sounds, it’s kind
of awesome … the notification … not the dance party. And another fun, crazy, little routine is
with our Roomba vacuum cleaner. I’m using services like IFTTT and Stringify
to make this one work. If nobody is home and Smartthings is in Away
mode, and the Roomba hasn’t run in a two days, then it gets triggered to do a cleaning
cycle. Necessary? No. Fun and convenient. Yes. I really did that one just because I could. This isn’t every little thing I have setup
because the video could easily be an hour long, but I wanted to share some of the more
useful setups that I have and get the most use out of. Hopefully these help to spur some ideas for
what’s possible, and keep in mind, this is only scratching the surface. Everything I walked through is pretty simple
to setup in a service like Smartthings, but you can achieve most or all of it on the other
major platforms too. As I mentioned earlier, I’m planning on
shifting things to a self hosted service for better data and privacy protection, but I’ll
still be able to take advantage of all the same gear and services. I’ll most likely be putting together a video
on that later, as well additional videos on specific setups. And there’s a very interesting aspect to
smart homes that I haven’t seen talked about much at all, and that’s smart home tech
used as assistive devices for people with disabilities. I’m working on a video for that too. If you liked this video, be sure to give it
a thumbs up and be sure to share any gear, setups, and routines that you’re using in
the comments. What are some of your favorite smart home
routines? And let me know which aspects of my system
you’d like me to do a deeper dive into. If you’d like to support the channel, there
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and I’ll see you in the next one.

63 Replies to “My Smart Home 2019”

  1. Biggest problem with the Philips Hue motion sensor is the limitations in the software settings. software hasn’t been updated in three years. It’s impossible to set more than two schedules. I want to set different light colors to change after 8pm and again after 10pm and again after midnight. This is not possible. Software is too restrictive. They could add so many creative options but they won’t. I wish the software development department at Hue would listen to its customers. What do you recommend as a work around solution?

  2. Matt I enjoy your videos, which I discovered after I got my M3 dual motor in December (which I love). I am currently building a net-zero solar house and aim to make it as smart as possible. After watching this video I looked into Hubitat and I like the local control aspects, but I am a little worried it is a little more rudimentary than SmartThings. I used to be a programmer before becoming a physician back in the 90s, so I have some sense of how to write code and how computers "think". Do you have any thoughts as to whether Hubitat would be workable for a relative novice with home automation? Thanks

  3. Awesome video! Thank you very much. I´m really looking forward to watch the video of an smart home configuration for people with disabilities.

  4. Hi mate! Loved the video! Just bought a new build house so looking for inspiration. Which sensors do you use on your washing machines??

  5. Follow the Money. The only company/system I'll trust is Apple. They do loads of money on the products, not on your privacy!

  6. I love your vids. You have convinced me to get a Samsung Smart Things hub. I do have a question. What do you use for a modem and what type of WiFi router do you use? Or do you have a combo modem/WiFi router? I'm looking to upgrade and would like your recommendations.

  7. Which roomba model do you recommend? As much as the new i7 looks awesome (auto empty!!) I really cannot justify or afford dropping $1000 on a vaccum

  8. Is it "smart" to have amazon,google, nest, smartthings lurking on everything going on in your house ?
    I have hue/harmony, the rest is controlled by esp8266 based devices with custom firmware, all talking to node-RED. Wyze cams, excellent quality: $20 bucks. Sonoff's $6, you can make this stuff yourself while keeping a lot of money in your pocket. Even an old roomba can become "smart" for $5.

  9. Good video. I just want to ask did you get over the problem where you can’t link multiple harmony hubs to Alexa or google home?

  10. Good sir, what kind of wifi do have? How fast? Which router? A video on these questions would be amazing! Something that covers everything wifi related for your smart home:)

  11. I would look into zwave also. You have sensative strips that’s a hidden door and window sensor. Much higher WAF then multipurpose sensors that’s big and clunky

  12. Great video, nice setup! I started in January building a system based on Home Assistant. Works great, and the community is awesome. There’s virtually a solution for everything. And it just *works*. I’m now looking for an alternative solution to Philips Hue. In Brazil it’s impossible to pay the price for those items. Would you recommend any? Thanks 👍🏻

  13. I got my google home and farther more made be buy all the google products and Philips hue which made me buy a smart things hub and harmony hub and much more i am now 5k into this.

  14. If you think you have a home automation problem… then I PITY you the day you decide to migrate to Home Assistant, you'll drive crazy. There's just sooo much you can do.

  15. I love the hue bulbs. Automates plugs are also awesome. Great for bathrooms where you use straighteners, laundries for irons, heaters etc. Saves you coming home to turn something off.

  16. Great video Matt! I have one question for you, I also have Arlo with the Arlo smart subscription and sometimes notifications just don’t come through on my iPhone (I do get the email notifications which is how I know I’m missing notifications), all of the settings are correct on the Arlo app and on my phone. Do you ever have these issues?

  17. Matt, all of your videos are great! I have always found them informative, practical, and unbiased. Keep up the awesome work.

  18. I love your video, it offers everyday useful cases not just but of "look what my house can do" devices. We have lost sight of the purpose of this devices – automate routine processes but have rather just gone for I can do this from my couch. Definietely implementing the heater plugged to a smart switch use. Home assistant is a better option. I have had smartthings since Samsung acquired them. Over the years, I have found out that their device compatibility is limited and those that are compactabile with them are usually expensive product. For example, I have a bunch of TP link smart switches(20bucks) that do the excat same as Wemo(50) but smartthings does not support it. I also generic brand Ip cameras around the exterior of my house. Home assistant is a better option if you want to keep cost low and be able to use cheaper product with the most compactibility. Although it requires a bit more configuration than Smartthings. If you want something that 's plug and play and just works go Smartthings but be ready to pay the premium prices of their compatible partners. Now my smartthings hub only acts as my ZWAVE hub for my zwave switches and interfaces to my home assistant.

  19. Hi Matt, I just came across your channel and have already subscribed. I'm very new to the whole home automation lifestyle and only got a smartthings starter kit a week ago, so I hope you don't mind me asking you but did your s/t come with the 5 modes? I've only got home, away & night, and am wondering is that because things are slightly different for where I live (Ireland) or is there a way to add extra ones?

    Thanks for any help / answers you may be able to provide, kind regards, Mark.

  20. Great video Matt! As a first time home owner, I have been playing with creating a smart home. So far we have some google hubs and mini's along with some lights, a nest doorbell and two cheap wyze cams. For the cameras, how happy are you with the Arlos system? Would you still purchase now in 2019? That's for this very informative video, i'm sure my wife will LOOOVE all the changes i'm going to be making lol

  21. Very useful video. I just realized that stringify is not on the app store anymore. Do you know of any other similar apps that allow to set multiple trigger conditions in IFTTT ?

  22. I’m a bit confused. Your using Samsung smart things with the lutron caseta? Can’t smart things run light switches by itself?

  23. Hi Matt, What are you going to use when Stringify shuts down? haven't found any viable options yet.

  24. I just noticed that this video came out around the same time Lowes' Iris platform died. A LOT of people were looking at Hubitat, Hass, HomeKit, SmartThings, Madam A, etc.

  25. My system runs on Insteon, and I absolutely love it. I love the app, very easy to use, I love that when I buy an instean module I know its going to work with everything else in my system, there no 3rd party software or hardware to wonder if its going to be compatible with, its kinda of like an Apple ecosystem, it just works. (Plus I can always replace the Hub with an ISYi99 if I really want to take it to an extreme)

  26. I’m growing not to like home assistance like hassio or other ….. they work good but anyday it might give u errors … unless you know how to homeassistance work it’s very hard going on forms and trying to finger it out

  27. Cool video – I'm about to switch from HassIO to OpenHab due to all the breaking changes lately in HassIO – it is like they have focused more on features than on usability and now they have recognized that geeky features is sending the whole user community to a exclusive island only for extreme geeks who thinks that javascripts and yaml files is the way to get the system wide spread. But it is a poor environment for common users and it is necessary to include Node-red to try to simplify setting up the rules and devices. From my experience it is a poor and too complicated system if it needs special tools to manage the setup. OpenHab has a Rules Engine (experimental it says) and this is for setting up the same features as Node-red is doing in HassIO. By comparing HabPanel to Lovelace it is obvious that OpenHab has been thinking more about the common user than HassIO has. The fun thing is that both system are born in the Netherlands – OpenHab is very popular in Germany and US.

  28. Awesome video! How did you set up the notification for the washer and dryer? I've been playing with the SmartThings app for awhile now and can't find it..

  29. Would really like to see an in-depth video no matter how long… Their are many videos on smart home automation but would really like to see yours. Hoping you can take out time to make it..

  30. Did you ever make the assistive devices video? I am in the process of creating and educational lecture for our senior citizen and disabled community. I work for a hospital and we provide free community education programming designed to help improve life, health, and safety. I think the smart home tech could be huge in this segment to improve life and allowing for people to age in place.

  31. Use vibration sensor for laundry and dryer is such an awesome idea, I often left the wet clothes in washer for days before realizing that and ended up rewash everything again.

  32. What is the name of the high energy plug you mention for the space heater? I’m looking for something for a window AC unit. I bought a Wemo plug for a lamp but I’m not sure if it’s ok to use for something like an AC unit. New to this smart home thing so I’m doing a lot of looking around and seeing what’s convenient. Your channel is a big help

  33. Greetings, what's the brand name of the high energy usage smart plug please? Also is there a smart plug that'll make a dumb oven smart & do you even recommend that usage? Thanks.

  34. I wish I've seen your videos sooner. I recently had my home burglarize, and now looking into buying a home security system. I'm leaning towards the arlo ultra security cameras to start and add door and window sensor later on. I really enjoyed watching your Channel. Thanks for giving us newbies a starting point.

  35. Love your video and I am a new subscriber. My daughter has dyslexia and I would like to have the audiobook play and orally ask the question in order for her to get the answer from google search. I would like to set up the auto vacuum and notify the laundry is done as well. any more detail about it?

  36. Wireless camera/security systems should be removed from the market ASAP due to known security deficiencies. Spoofing/Jamming are their common weakness-failure.

  37. Matt this is great. Plan to get some of those things for my home and would love to see more of smart things you use in your house, advice etc

  38. Take from your brilliant vid: washing machine notification lol. One question though… Do you have like a battery change day or any notification whenever a sensor needs battery changed? I suppose that you haven't had the sensors long enough yet to have had them all replaced though. But this seems to me like an issue to know whether or not a sensor is working properly or not since we're more and more giving those little thingies our trust

  39. I love everything about your videos. Your background music is perfect your editing is clean crisp With great transitions. Thanks for your content!

  40. As I am now almost blind I am quite interested in the assisted technologies. A big one is the GE Wi-Fi microwave. Once I can no longer see the keypad I will then purchase is microwave and use my Google home Mini to specify the power level and times

  41. Do you lose any functionality of the Nest Smoke Alarms if you don't have a Nest thermostat? I currently have 3 Nest Smoke Alarms but I installed them after installing my Nest thermostat. At the time I was using Amazon Echos all over my house. Since I have switched to Siri, I can no longer voice control my Nest thermostat so I am thinking about switching it to an Ecobee 3. Just didn't know if I would lose any functionality with the smoke detectors. Thanks!

  42. Wow! I love the integration with your smart home automation. I’m currently invested on HomeKit using HomePod, Philips Hue lights, LifX, Eve motion sensor and just updated my universal remote from the old Harmony to the the Harmony elite hoping to utilise voice assistant Siri for my home entertainment automation. What other suggestions/ ideas you have with this setup? Thanks to your videos, it gave me a bit of direction in building my smart home automation.

  43. Only found this channel today and I’ve watched a fair few of the videos. I’m around 18months into my smart home journey. (The free Phillips bulb with an echo plus triggered it) I’ve since bought other bulbs, numerous plugs, wired switches, a couple of Vacuums (which are amazing) but I’m going to go out on a limb and say the AppKettle is my Best Buy. Next I’ll be moving on to security – probably ring and hopefully a lock.

    I’ve found found this inspiring.

  44. Hey Matt really enjoying these videos, you've finally made me bite and get a Logitech Harmony Elite. Trouble I now have is I'm also planning to get a Philip's Hue HDMI Play Sync box in the new year but I'm not sure how the Logitech Harmony will deal with controlling up to 4 end devices via one HDMI port on my TV.. any advice? It'd be cool to see a review of the Hue HDMI Play Sync in the future!

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