Smart Home Tech

ke4gde

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I haven't seen a topic on this and I know some of you out there have to have tried it out. Was curious who here also has jumped onboard the smart home tech train. I started off last fall with the Ring video doorbell and was hooked. I then got a few Ring cameras and the alarm system (cellular backup and battery). What was even better is that I got alarm monitoring for $100 a year (which includes unlimited storage for the videos generated from the several cameras). The alarm companies talk trash about the DIY systems, but they have to because they are losing to them so badly. The DIY systems really cut costs and are every bit as good as the ones sold way over cost.

I also got a few smart plugs, a Nest learning thermostat, and smoke & carbon monoxide detector that talks to the thermostat and shuts off the fans if an alarm is detected. The smoke alarm also doubles as a hallway night-light. The thermostat can be voice controlled and learns your usage. Also got some smart locks and smart garage door opener (so freaking nice to not have to carry keys anymore). Everything is logged and notifications are sent every time a door/lock is opened or closed so I have a full record of everything that goes on. I plan on getting a device that plugs into the breaker box that keeps track of power usage at every outlet and device. Allowing me to see if a device is using more power than it should (and going bad), or if something is causing an unusually high bill. With the price of energy going up, I figure its smart to make better use of it and not waste it.

Now, I know some of you will freak out about the next piece, but the security concerns can be mitigated. I also got a few Alexas to control everything. Which is super helpful as I can make timers, lists, play music everywhere, intercom different rooms, and set routines for shutting everything down and locking all doors with nothing but a single command (set condition 1 lol). Alexa has a guard mode now that uses the assistants as listening sensors when you leave and can allow you to listen in if something is detected. While Alexa does listen for the wake word, it only records when the wake word is spoken, and you can disable to option to send said recordings to Amazon and deleted anything that is recorded. For super-sensitive conversations, you can press the manual mute button so it won't listen for the wake word. Yes, it is probable that someone could still listen, but with proper network security you can make it more trouble than it is worth. For me personally, the risks are outweighed by the functionality and ability at your disposal. Using verbal commands for some things is awkward at first, but once you get into it it is very handy. I use the multiroom music ability to its fullest and love it.


This tech makes it simple and cost-effective to secure your home compared to what the same tech would have cost just 5 or 10 years ago using the same type of tech but without the smooth integration of today's offerings. Now the caveat to all this tech is you need a good network for it to function safely and securely. For those interested in getting on board, make sure you have a good network and internet connection. Personally, I wanted to go hog wild so I put in full shielded CAT 6 with shielded connectors and will have shielded keystones (the wall jacks) soon. You don't need shielded, but it helps to eliminate the possibility of interference from power cables in your home and ensures you keep a fast connection throughout your network. To keep things fast I went for the gigabit internet connection and bought my own router and modem (separate, never do a combo) so I don't pay any rental fees. Having your own devices saves you money in the long run and leaves you in full control of your network. They even have some amazing tools for you to control and lock down your devices. For those that are of course security conscious, I put all of the smart home tech on its own guest network with a shit hard password to crack. So if they get in through a security flaw, they aren't going to get into the home network without starting over. While I went for the Ring ecosystem, I do like Nest's security cameras a lot (probably better than the Ring ones but I am not sure yet). Though with the recent purchase by google I would wait a while before investing so they can sort things out. I even got some UPSs (uninterrupted power supplies) for the important devices so they aren't affected by short brown or blackouts. Though their connectivity when I am away is dependant on the internet connection being stable. The negative to all this tech is that you can't (in most cases) mix and match ecosystems. Where you can you better not mind having a dozen apps for everything. They are getting better with it though. Ring I think is compatible with over 60K IoT (Internet of Things aka smart home shit) devices, and the Alexa Echo Plus can be used a smart home hub for many ITTT devices as well.

Most Importantly, when I travel or have to leave my son at home to run to the store, I know everything that is going on at home from anywhere there is an internet connection. I can let family in remotely, I can lock them out, talk to them, see who keeps littering on my lawn (damn kids), or catch someone who is trying to get in. Keep in mind, all of this tech won't stop someone, but I want to make it as difficult as possible to either get in or get away with it.

What does anyone else have or use? I am interested in the Nest ecosystem and how well it works (security-wise). I know a lot of this sounds expensive, but if you keep an eye out for the many sales (Prime Day, Black Friday, and more) you can really get some great deals and cut your expenses almost in half. I figured this would be a good place to answer any questions for those that are thinking about it to those that have it and use it. This post went on longer than I anticipated, but I wanted to try an answer as many questions as I could think of to save time lol.

Edit: I use a Galaxy S9+, which works very well with everything I have mentioned. Also, I made sure to put my Wifi router in the middle of the house to ensure full coverage. I did a lot of running cables in the attic and down the walls but it was completely worth it and I would do it again. Some of the devices I have use PoE (Power over Ethernet) and required me to get PoE capable switches, but again, totally worth it and found for some decent deals. Where I could I use ethernet on everything. Where I can't I use wifi.
 
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Ooh-Rah

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Good thread; I long ago sold my soul to Apple so am interested in what works well with my phone/home pod(s).
 

Kraut783

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I have an Alexa, three pods and two plugs around the house for now...I am wanting to do the ring and get some compatible cameras around the exterior, as well as compatible air system controller.

A friend of mine has it where she has a geo-fence set up so when she gets within so many miles of home the AC kicks on, as she gets closer the garage door opens, lights come on, doors unlock...etc. It's pretty cool what you can do.
 

SaintKP

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I don't have anything security related installed, the town I'm in doesn't necessitate it in my eyes (yeah I know) or really anything super crazy installed like geo fencing. But I do have Alexa setup through out the house, be it lights, A/C, music, or TV. One of my favorite things I've recently started to use a lot is voice based shopping. A lot of times if I'm cooking or entertaining it's extremely convenient to just give out the command and leave it my 'cart' so I don't forget.

Overall I was hesitant to install a system like that with how Alexa/Amazon tracks and records data, but in reality if you're not living nigh off the grid or taking the extra steps that @ke4gde mentioned your data is already being tracked and recorded for commercial purposes. But the pure convenience of everything is worth it.

Bring on the sci-fi homes of the future.
 

Hillclimb

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I have Wyze cameras to check up on the dogs and yell at them. They run about 37$ a pop and havent given me any problems so far other than wire management. Then a digital/keyed deadbolt with pin. Last time the hurricane rolled thru, there was no power for 2-3 weeks. So i went to Fayetteville to buy a bow for silent stateside kills since technology failed the security of my house with the power outtage

Im with @AWP on networking the house. Im getting a home security to monitor doors/windows on the lower level, but really only to get the homeowners insurance discount. The wyze cameras really do everything i need to.
 

Brill

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It will be a cold day in hell before I network my house, ask Siri or Alexa in my home, etc. Maybe one day BIG DATA will force my hand, but for now they can eat a bag of dicks.

Keep your phone inside your house...with the battery in? Big data...and others...are already there man.

Love the Nest thermostat and have several WiFi lights (exterior programmed). Occasionally use the Google Speaker in the kitchen but meh, not really found it life changing. I’m not interested in the locks as don’t see the advantage over mechanical.

Anyone have appliances connected to the net? Curious to the “how are they more better”.

Super jelly of your network setup @ke4gde ! I’m rural so speeds and reliability are limited until 5G rolls in...prob 2027 when I move to FL!
 
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compforce

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It will be a cold day in hell before I network my house, ask Siri or Alexa in my home, etc. Maybe one day BIG DATA will force my hand, but for now they can eat a bag of dicks.

Yup, right there with ya. Smart tech is a double edged sword. You get convenience in return for an absolute loss of any privacy. Forget about the hackers, the companies are tracking your every move. That Nest thermostat? You should see all the information they are sending home. Ring doorbell? Yup, all video is sitting on Google's cloud. Alexa is sending every sound their mic can pick up back to home base (Echo does it too). BTW, that mic pics up a LOT more than you think...or that you can hear with your ears. Try recording with your cell phone, leave it in one room and walk around the house saying the room you are in at normal volume and then whispering it. Then go to your computer, turn the sound all the way up and play it back. You'll hear the whispers from most if not all rooms. That's what your smart devices are hearing and sending into the web.

I do have some smart devices in the house, but they are not networked to the outside world and are blocked at my firewalls.
 

compforce

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You are spending money to save money? Is the net difference worth it?

LL

Look into Annke security cameras, they only cost about $250 for the 8 camera setup with DVR. Turn off the cloud storage and file it with your insurance, you'll get back the full cost pretty quickly, maybe 2-3 years depending on your area.

Amazon.com : ANNKE 8CH Security Surveillance System H.264+ 1080P Lite Wired DVR with 1TB HDD and (8)×1080P HD Weatherproof CCTV Camera System, 100ft Night Vision, Easy Remote Access : Camera & Photo
 

Hillclimb

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You are spending money to save money? Is the net difference worth it?

LL

It was a difference of 300-400$ since they went off a % discount. There were plenty of home security plans ranging from 9.99 a month to 30.

Anyone know of any companies that will just offer a monitoring service off your DIY system?
 

Totentanz

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Yup, right there with ya. Smart tech is a double edged sword. You get convenience in return for an absolute loss of any privacy. Forget about the hackers, the companies are tracking your every move. That Nest thermostat? You should see all the information they are sending home. Ring doorbell? Yup, all video is sitting on Google's cloud. Alexa is sending every sound their mic can pick up back to home base (Echo does it too). BTW, that mic pics up a LOT more than you think...or that you can hear with your ears. Try recording with your cell phone, leave it in one room and walk around the house saying the room you are in at normal volume and then whispering it. Then go to your computer, turn the sound all the way up and play it back. You'll hear the whispers from most if not all rooms. That's what your smart devices are hearing and sending into the web.

I do have some smart devices in the house, but they are not networked to the outside world and are blocked at my firewalls.

Just one story on the matter: July | 2019 | Ars Technica there's a lot more of these out there (instances of smart tech listening to everything, even contrary to claims of the company) if you choose to search. This is just one within the last week.

I'll join the Luddite Brigade; I want nothing to do with wiring my life into this mess.
 

Florida173

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I'd maybe stay away from any wifi solutions if you were looking for something more secure. I have three nest cameras and it doesn't take but a second for me to deauth the cameras right off the network and make them useless. Plus the subscription service hasn't really been circumvented well enough yet. Only one good python library on github that I've been able to work.
 
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