Home Automation

I’ve been playing with a number of products to do home automation updates to my new home. Here are a few of the products I’ve used and a quick blurb about whether I’d use them again or not.

Just a heads up, I may earn a few cents from any qualifying purchases through the Amazon Associate links below.

Smart Garage Door

There are a ton of relatively expensive options out there, but in the interest of keeping things cost reasonable I bought the AGSHome Smart Wi-Fi Garage Door Opener. At $25.99 it’s significantly less than the brand name controllers. This one uses the Tuya Smart app to control it which is easily integrated into Alexa (and presumably Google). This runs only on a 2.4GHz signal but connects easily and consistently. The wiring works great with any standard garage door opener that uses a normally open (temporarily closed) push button switch, but is known to not work with openers that use only a wireless wall switch that changes codes each time.

Wiring it up was straight forward with the exception of the magnetic switch to show when the door is closed. The unit is USB powered and comes with a single point usb transformer. The wires are long enough for just about any setup; almost too much on the power side as most garage doors have the power plug right at the unit.

The downside to this unit is the magnetic reed switch used to show when the garage door is closed. There are several brackets, zip ties, cable holders, and screws / nuts / bolts as part of the accessories bag, but for my installation, there just wasn’t a good way to mount the reed switch. I believe that if you mount the reed switch to the top of the garage door and the sensor to the bracket against the wall, it may work, however I was hoping for a slightly cleaner install on the track itself. I ended up 3D printing a small carrier bracket that bolts to the track that allowed me to mount the sensor and magnets where I wanted.

Testing of the unit went smoothly once installed and integrating it into Alexa was a piece of cake. Compared to some of the other devices I’ve installed, this went very smoothly. Overall 4.5 of 5 stars!

Light Switches

I have a number of light switches throughout the house where I didn’t want to convert the bulbs to smart bulbs. Instead, I just replaced the wall switch to a dimmable wifi connected switch from KASA. Once installed and set up, they work great, but getting them installed and set up was much more of a pain than I had hoped.

Coming 3 to a box at $75 per box makes them relatively expensive (Note, these are currently on sale at $59/box of 3) but in the long run will be cheaper than smart bulbs. They come with a standard 1-gang cover panel but the switch itself fits into a decorator / rocker panel slot so you can easily incorporate these into banks of switches. Unfortunately, the switch itself is rather large making the fit with wires EXTREMELY tight in most boxes.

Wiring them up is relatively straight forward, however you MUST have a hot / neutral / ground coming into the box as well as the switched hot/neutral going out.

Once installed the switch will be in pairing mode (or set to pair with the reset switch built into it) which requires setup in the KASA app. The app is well designed and relatively intuitive, like all the other home automation apps, you need to sign up and create a log in for it.

The switch signal is on the 2.4GHz band which is normally not an issue, however for whatever reason, while both the 2.4 and 5 bands were active (and on the same name because of ATT’s router) I could not get the switch to work. Once I turned off the 5GHz signal the first switch connected and I could get through setup. After the initial switch setup, I was able to turn the 5GHz bands back on and subsequent switches were much easier to set up as the KASA app had apparently figured out how my network works. Shouldn’t have been that hard, but with some fiddling all was finally set up. Once set, integration into Alexa was very smooth and the is now easily controlled by voice.

The tactile feel and dimming features (as well as the adjustable high / low set point depending on whether you’re using LED or incandescent) are very good and I like the light blue dot on the switch making it easy to find at night… if Alexa isn’t working for some reason.

Overall, I’m only going to give the switch a 3.5 of 5 because of the setup issues I had connecting the switch to my wifi network. but I may upgrade that after using it for some time.