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Which home automation gadgets do you have and like?
Old 11-01-2012, 08:54 PM   #1
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Which home automation gadgets do you have and like?

I just installed a sprinkler controller called Irrigation Caddy.

The controller itself is just a plastic box on the wall in the garage, there are no buttons, dials, or other input devices. The controller is connected via wi-fi to my computer. To set up the system you go to a dedicated web site for the device and it automatically finds the controller. You then set up your system however you want it to run.

You can name your zones so no more generic zone 1, Zone 2. Instead mine are named Front yard flower bed west, Front yard flower bed east, etc. And no more having to get annoyed at hubby because he's piled stuff in front of the controller in the garage right when I need to get to it to make a seasonal adjustment.

Also, the software connects to Yahoo weather, so if it's raining in your zip code the system won't come on. Of course you can override the system in case it didn't rain on your patch of lawn.

Took about 15 minutes to install and get running, so super easy set up...oh, and it has an iPad app too

I'll be playing with it this weekend as I convert a couple of zones to drippers and run tests...but I think this will be a keeper.
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Old 11-01-2012, 10:11 PM   #2
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This probably isn't what you had in mind. A few years ago, my husband made the mistake of giving me an electric jar opener for my birthday.....and now I find myself using it more and more. I never thought I would need it, but there are times I now appreciate having it.
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Old 11-02-2012, 01:14 AM   #3
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I suspect you may also need a wired connection from the "plastic box on the wall in the garage" to the solenoids controling the sprinkler valves?
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Old 11-02-2012, 05:42 AM   #4
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I hope your garage has relatively constant temp/humidity. I would have thought a location within the living space would be more conducive to longevity of that kind of electronics(?)

We have a doorbell that works even when the power is out. It seconds as a security alarm whenever anyone tries to steal the garbage (like those men in the big noisy truck).
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Old 11-02-2012, 06:38 AM   #5
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Thanks for posting. I'll have to check irrigation caddy out in the spring. I have some work to do on my system. My controller has one zone that will not work, so the irrigation caddy could be the answer. I also have another zone that doesn't work regardless of where I have it wire to on the controller - probably a bad valve. I also have a few sprinkling heads to be replaced.

The only home automation gadget I have is my ipad xfinity app that controls the dvr remotely. It's great, but I do not use it much.
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Old 11-02-2012, 06:49 AM   #6
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Old 11-02-2012, 06:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kumquat
I suspect you may also need a wired connection from the "plastic box on the wall in the garage" to the solenoids controling the sprinkler valves?
Yes, the wiring from the solenoids wire into the controller box. Common, master and each of the valve wires go into the controller box in the garage. You wire it up just like a normal controller, but the programming is done from a computer.
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Old 11-02-2012, 06:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyro
I hope your garage has relatively constant temp/humidity. I would have thought a location within the living space would be more conducive to longevity of that kind of electronics(?)

We have a doorbell that works even when the power is out. It seconds as a security alarm whenever anyone tries to steal the garbage (like those men in the big noisy truck).
The instructions specify to install 'indoors' but it has to be connected to the existing controller wiring so it has to be in the garage. There are commercial versions used to water golf courses so the technology should be pretty well tested.
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Old 11-02-2012, 07:14 AM   #9
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The first thing that comes to my mind is a can opener. Guess I'm going to have to buy an electric one as I can't find a manual one that works. In looking closer, I find that the cans are being designed differently. Guess there is no standard for this. Anyway, I cannot find a manual can opener that works.

Also, speaking of irrigation systems and controllers, I wonder if those "rain sensors" actually work. I've never had one that does. I talking about the device that automatically turns off your watering day if it is raining.
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Old 11-02-2012, 07:34 AM   #10
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An irrigation system is my next years project and I never even knew this wireless function existed.

At the moment I'm researching whole home audio and can't believe how much it costs to have just 6 zones with wall mounted keypads. Some of these home automation stuff isn't cheap.
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Old 11-02-2012, 08:51 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisa99 View Post
I just installed a sprinkler controller called Irrigation Caddy.

The controller itself is just a plastic box on the wall in the garage, there are no buttons, dials, or other input devices. The controller is connected via wi-fi to my computer. To set up the system you go to a dedicated web site for the device and it automatically finds the controller. You then set up your system however you want it to run.

You can name your zones so no more generic zone 1, Zone 2. Instead mine are named Front yard flower bed west, Front yard flower bed east, etc. And no more having to get annoyed at hubby because he's piled stuff in front of the controller in the garage right when I need to get to it to make a seasonal adjustment.

Also, the software connects to Yahoo weather, so if it's raining in your zip code the system won't come on. Of course you can override the system in case it didn't rain on your patch of lawn.

Took about 15 minutes to install and get running, so super easy set up...oh, and it has an iPad app too

I'll be playing with it this weekend as I convert a couple of zones to drippers and run tests...but I think this will be a keeper.
This is a good application for automation. We installed a new Hunter controller last year that has a wireless rain sensor, but I still intervene with the controller manually at times so I can see this as a real benefit. I wonder if Hunter offesr an interface like the one you mention? Will have to do a google search. Thanks for posting.
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Old 11-02-2012, 09:31 AM   #12
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We switched our alarm system from ADT to Alarm.com (through FrontPoint security) and have been super happy with it. The new system uses a cellular connection, so a) you don't need a landline and b) the master controller is wireless (well, it needs a power plug) so you can move it around. You can manage everything from anywhere via a web site or a mobile phone app. It can text/email you alerts on any events you choose, ranging from the alarm going off, to the system being armed/disarmed, all the way down to each time a contact is opened/closed.

Since we travel extensively, it's been great to be able to go to the website and enable/disable the code for our neighborhood housesitter and to get emails each time he comes in to take care of the house and dogs. It's also great for knowing when the folks who clean our place are done and we can return home.

Oh, and it is cheaper than ADT + landline was.
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Old 11-02-2012, 09:57 AM   #13
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Have tried several home automation gadgets, like X10 (which is primitive tech, and fails for many reasons).

The one item that has worked well for many years is a motion sensor switch for the ceiling light in our utility room. From time to time it gets confused, but is easy to reset.
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Old 11-02-2012, 10:31 AM   #14
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Have a programmable controller for the sprinkler system, a programmable thermostat, an alarm system, and some miscellaneous x10 components, none of which talk to each other or my computers/tablet/cellphone.

Would be neat to have all that stuff integrated, but the cheap bastard in me ain't doin' it!
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Old 11-02-2012, 11:47 AM   #15
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Since we are "on-the-road" for about half of the year, and we no longer have a relative living close enough to "check up," I have seriously been considering this:

Amazon.com: Schlage FE599NX CAM 619 ACC 619 Home Keypad Lever with Nexia Home Intelligence, Satin Nickel: Home Improvement

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Run Your Home from Anywhere

Nexia Home Intelligence is a new way to run your home, from wherever life takes you. Everyone is busy, on the go, and being pulled in a hundred different directions, which makes staying on top of what's happening at home especially hard. But Nexia brings together home automation technology with a simple way to manage it from a distance, enabling you to do things like unlock the front door, adjust heating and cooling, and even manage home security and energy use--right from your Internet-connected smartphone, tablet, or computer.
We do have a 16 camera REVO Security System that we use to monitor our home when on the road. This, however, is not a very good solution since it only shows the "past" and gives no real way to correct anything other than cut the trip short and drive (fly?) home. (It does record three months of activity to a DVR, however.)

The only other automation we have besides a Digital Thermostat is SageTV to operate our Home Entertainment System -- that way we come back from the trip to all (that we selected) of the programming that occured while we were gone... even "new" shows we didn't know about before leaving.
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Old 11-02-2012, 11:58 AM   #16
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Old 11-02-2012, 12:21 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by target2019 View Post
Have tried several home automation gadgets, like X10 (which is primitive tech, and fails for many reasons).

The one item that has worked well for many years is a motion sensor switch for the ceiling light in our utility room. From time to time it gets confused, but is easy to reset.

I've had an X10 system for about 20 years for my light switches. For my house layout (colonial), it is really convenient to be able to shut off all the lights just before I go to sleep with one button push. I use the basic control, nothing fancy. Over 20 years I've worn out a few light switches, but it has been reliable for me. Nice to be able to do an all lights on, too, to scare the boogey man.

Agree on the auto light in the utility room. My hands seem to be full when I enter and it beats walking in the dark or fumbling for a light switch.
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Old 11-02-2012, 12:39 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by RonBoyd View Post
Since we are "on-the-road" for about half of the year, and we no longer have a relative living close enough to "check up," I have seriously been considering this:

Amazon.com: Schlage FE599NX CAM 619 ACC 619 Home Keypad Lever with Nexia Home Intelligence, Satin Nickel: Home Improvement
If you're primarily interested in the climate control part of this bundle you can get that with a NEST thermostat. We installed two this week and love it.

The NEST was designed by some of the engineers that designed the iPad so at first glance it is super simple, but the features are impressive.

You set it up with a minimum and maximum temperature and then set up some pre-sets and you're basically done. It will switch automatically between heat and cool and is smart enough to know to shut off the system when you've left the house for more than 30 minutes. The unit will then come back on if it hits either the preset high or low while you're still away.

It will also learn your habits, so if you regularly turn down the thermostat in the winter before bed, NEST will learn this and turn it down automatically for you. It also has a "Cool Wave" feature where it will shut off the compressor a couple of degrees before it hits the minimum temp but will leave on the fan to blow the cool air around.

It's also iPad and iPhone enabled so you can keep tabs on your house temps while on the road.

It's a little pricey at $250 but the 'auto turn off when away' is something that even programmable thermostats don't have, so I'm eager to see what kind of savings we get due to the device. Anecdotal evidence shows as much as a 30% savings on the air conditioning portion of a summer bill which for us in TX can be a chunk of money over time.
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Old 11-02-2012, 01:10 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RonBoyd
Since we are "on-the-road" for about half of the year, and we no longer have a relative living close enough to "check up," I have seriously been considering this:

Amazon.com: Schlage FE599NX CAM 619 ACC 619 Home Keypad Lever with Nexia Home Intelligence, Satin Nickel: Home Improvement

We do have a 16 camera REVO Security System that we use to monitor our home when on the road. This, however, is not a very good solution since it only shows the "past" and gives no real way to correct anything other than cut the trip short and drive (fly?) home. (It does record three months of activity to a DVR, however.)

The only other automation we have besides a Digital Thermostat is SageTV to operate our Home Entertainment System -- that way we come back from the trip to all (that we selected) of the programming that occured while we were gone... even "new" shows we didn't know about before leaving.
I have a neighbor that lives in Europe half the year and he has a zwave based setup in his house that controls his lights , motion sensor and front door lock. He can do things like set up an access code on the lock for me to check on something in the house via his phone.

Google "mi casa verde" . He can also have text messages sent to various phone numbers when certain events happen like the door being opened and motion detection in the house.
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Old 11-02-2012, 01:26 PM   #20
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If you're primarily interested in the climate control part of this bundle you can get that with a NEST thermostat.
No. My primary interest is in remotely unlocking the door and being able to Lock-up after the admitted person leaves.

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I have a neighbor that lives in Europe half the year and he has a zwave based setup in his house that controls his lights , motion sensor and front door lock. He can do things like set up an access code on the lock for me to check on something in the house via his phone.

Google "mi casa verde" . He can also have text messages sent to various phone numbers when certain events happen like the door being opened and motion detection in the house.
Yes. This is exactly what I am considering. Thanks for the Google link -- now I have something to compare with.
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