15 ways to automate your home

With extra sensors and scripts you can make the equipment you already have at home just that little bit smarter and more extensive. We give 15 ways to automate your home.

Domoticz as control point

Those who want to make their home smarter usually opt for a central control point, for example a base station from a specific manufacturer or a Raspberry Pi or server with smart software such as Domoticz. A major advantage of a software solution is that you are not tied to one standard. With the help of some peripherals, you can connect almost all your switches and sensors. You can even install a lot of software on a Raspberry Pi. Domoticz has excellent alternatives such as Home Assistant and OpenHAB, but most are not so user-friendly. With Domoticz you can set up almost everything via the graphical interface and the support for peripherals is very broad.

1 Powerful transceiver 433MHz

The Rfxcom RFXtrx433E transceiver (read: transmitter and receiver) for 433 MHz is not very cheap (about 110 euros) but very flexible. The device supports a very large number of sensors at 433 MHz, such as door contacts, motion detectors, temperature sensors and smart sockets. As a rule, these sensors are much cheaper than those of their counterpart Z-Wave. The transciever firmware is continuously updated to accommodate new protocols and thus new products. And Domoticz can also handle it very well.

2 Start with KlikAanKlikUit products

You have probably heard about the widely available KlikAanKlikUit products. Using remote controls, wireless wall switches and smart sockets, they make manually switching lamps and other devices on and off a lot easier. The manufacturer now has a wide range of home automation products. Most operate on 433 MHz and the protocol used is supported by the Rfxcom transceiver (tip 1). If you already have KAKU products at home, this is a good starting point for experiments in Domoticz.

3 Weather Data from Weather Underground

The weather is a handy trigger for home automation. Think of folding shutters when there is too much wind or a warning in case of night frost. You can set up a complete weather station, but you don't have to. Thanks to Weather Underground, you can consult the weather data from numerous weather stations, including in your area. For each weather station you can see what equipment is used, which gives an idea of ​​the accuracy. Home automation software such as Domoticz can also use the weather data (see tip 4).

4 Virtual weather sensor in Domoticz

Thanks to Weather Underground's free api, you can record weather data from any weather station in your home automation system, for example Domoticz. First create an api-key (key) via the free options Stratus Plan and Developer. In Domoticz you go to Settings / Hardware. Choose at Type in front of Weather Underground and enter your api key. Bee Location enter the Station ID of the desired weather station. For personal weather stations you have to go here pws: for moves, for example pws:IUTRECHT60. The more advanced weather stations are more accurate and also report much more details, such as air pressure, wind speed, sun strength, visibility and precipitation amount.

5 A temperature sensor everywhere

If you want to measure the temperature in every room in the house, the temperature sensors can be a nice cost item. Fortunately, you will find plenty of sensors for less than ten euros in Chinese web shops that also work well. Most transmit both temperature and humidity and can be used with, for example, the transceiver from Rfxcom (see tip 1). If there is a (small) deviation in the measured value, you can have it adjusted by Domoticz. It also immediately shows all measured values ​​in graphs.

6 Smart meter energy consumption

An up-to-date overview of your energy consumption is useful if you want to save. And with solar cells, you naturally want to see what you have returned. Many households have already switched to smart meters. A simple interface cable, also known as a smart meter cable, is enough to read the data with, for example, Domoticz. You can buy such a cable on the internet for about 20 euros. That cable isn't that long; the server with Domoticz must therefore be located near the smart meter.

7 Pair Hue Bulbs

The Philips Hue Bridge links Hue lights to your network, so you can use the Hue app on your smartphone or tablet to control them. You can also link that Hue Bridge to Domoticz, so that you can add more logic, for example switching on lights via a motion sensor or when it gets dark. Version 1.0 of the Hue Bridge is fine for many applications, you can pick it up second-hand for little money. Version 2.0 is also compatible with Apple HomeKit, so you can also put Hue to work via Siri.

8 Control Hue via commands

The Hue Bridge contains a special interface that allows you to control Hue lamps via commands. This way you can control lamps much more specifically, from a self-written program or script. In the developer area of ​​Philips Hue you will find an accessible Getting Started section. For example, with the tips you can request numbers of lamps and then switch a specific lamp on or off and adjust the brightness. In Domoticz you can record the commands in a script and link them to a sensor, such as a motion sensor. A nice detail is that you can even change the color of a lamp (see tip 9).

9 Color your Hue lights via commands

If you have a Hue lamp with color, you could use it as a status lamp. For example, is your nas no longer responding? Then you quickly make that clear with a red lamp. To adjust the color you have to specify a certain hue value in your command. On various websites (for example //hslpicker.com) you can calculate a so-called hsl color code. The hue value (h) is then multiplied by 182. For dark pink (h=327) you enter a hue value of 59514 in your command.

10 Window/door sensor and motion sensor

Nice applications are possible with a window/door sensor or motion sensor, from burglary protection during the holidays to switching on lighting when there is movement. You can find such sensors for a few euros on Chinese web shops. Most use the PT2262 chip. Some sensors only report the opening of the door with an on signal, not its closing. It is best to add such a sensor in Domoticz as a motion sensor with a switch-off delay of, for example, 1 second, so that the sensor is set to 'off' again after 'signaling'.

11 Domoticz app on Android

In addition to using a browser, you can also operate Domoticz with various apps, such as the official Android app (5.99 euros or free Lite version). With the app you can easily control your switches but also go a step further. A good example is geofencing, with which you can switch on the lights as soon as you get close to your house. You can also turn on switches via nfc tags by pressing your smartphone against the tag. There are also specific apps for working with NFC tags.

12 Domoticz accessible from outside

If you want to be able to access Domoticz from outside, for example for switching with a link from IFTTT (see tip 14), you must set a port-forwarding rule in your router for the desired port. It is also wise to set a strong password. To do this, go to the Domoticz settings. Here you can also specify one or more local networks, you do not have to log in when accessing from those networks.

13 Switching via a URL

In Domoticz you can also perform actions such as switching a lamp via a link, for example with a browser, self-written program or IFTTT (see tip 14). The Domoticz wiki shows which commands are available and gives examples of the links you can use. Those who like to make internet applications or scripts can also use links to read status information, such as the value of a temperature sensor.

14 Linking with IFTTT

Not only does IFTTT contain a lot of standard actions, you can also add manual actions, including the so-called webhook. That is a link that is executed on a certain trigger. The trigger is, for example, receiving a text message or entering a certain area (geofencing). The link can then be a certain action in Domoticz (see tip 13). You create the link in IFTTT via the IFTTT website by creating a so-called webhook in the section Applets.

15 Tinkering with the Raspberry Pi

Those who are somewhat handy with the soldering iron and electronics can experiment with the gpio ports on the Raspberry Pi. These are digital inputs and outputs that can be controlled via software. Domoticz can also handle it. You can hang a simple push button on it, but also, for example, a motion sensor or a relay. It is useful if you learn a little bit of programming, so that you can add logic through scripts. If you want to go one step further, you can also make an RFLink Gateway for wireless applications (also on 433 MHz), as a cost-effective alternative to the Rfxcom transceiver.

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