4 eco-friendly benefits of smart home automation

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Smart home automation is the latest and greatest in home design today. Thanks to modern technologies, we have the power to control every aspect of our homes remotely from our smartphones. From temperature control to lawn irrigation, smart homes are becoming the next big thing in home improvements.

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Connected home centre stage at IFA

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The connected home may be nothing new, but at this years IFA consumer electronics exhibition, it seemed as if every manufacturer was keen to push its smart home credentials. From Samsung and Intel to Panasonic and Sony, the big electronics companies joined smaller startups in jumping firmly on board the smart home band wagon. Smart locks that keep out intruders but can be opened with your smartphone, smart cameras that watch your every move, and smart appliances that can be activated via your home network could all be part of your future home.

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How Apple HomeKit is going to homogenise smarthomes

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Apple HomeKit is going to hit the mainstream with the release of iOS 9 – coming to an iPhone or iPad near you very soon – and it’s going to turn the smarthome segment on its head. Some people may refer to connected devices, connected appliances, smart appliances or home automation, but we use the umbrella term smarthome to cover everything that’s happening in your home with this newfangled internet of things.

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Smart apartments may be the next big thing thanks to NWP – Fortune

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Homeowners are increasingly forking over the money to buy Internet connected gadgets like “smart” door locks that they can open by pressing a button on their smartphones. But renters have been mostly frozen out of the emerging smart home technology because they can’t change their locks or mess with the wiring in their apartments.

That may change. NWP, a company that provides smart metering and billing services to apartment complex owners, is getting ready to test connected lights, locks and thermostats in properties in California and Florida, according to Ron Reed, the company’s CEO.

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Hands-On Review: D-Link WiFi Water Sensor

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When it comes to security, people often overlook smart meters such as water sensors. Leaky pipes and faucets don’t wear a dark mask and come creeping around your house at night but they’re lurking. Thankfully, water sensors have become as affordable as just about everything else in the security category.

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Wiring a 4-way circuit using Z-Wave switches from GE/Jasco (Model 45609/45612 Primary & 2-45610 Auxiliaries)

GE Jasco Z-Wave Switches
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OK, here is an oldy but a goody – as they say – How do I wire a 4-way circuit using Ge or Jasco Z-Wave switches? I get this one alot so thought I would get a post about it up on the blog to see if this will help some of you stuck on how to wire these in properly. Here we go…

You need one master (45609 or 45612) and two slaves (45610) to control a circuit with one light at three switches. This is called a 4-way circuit.

You start by determining which switch box has the load in it – that will be where you wire in your Primary or Master switch (either a 45609 or a 45612), and will also need to have a neutral present if you are using a 45609, but not for a 45612 as it doesn’t need one. You also need a Line wire, a Load and a Traveler as well.

At each slave box, where the 45610 goes, you only need a traveler wire going back to the 45609/45612 and a neutral. The line wire is not required at the slave box locations so you can usually cap it off unless it is in the middle of a circuit and is needed for continuity.

That’s it for the wiring. Now just make sure everything works locally, and then you can continue with adding the master or primary to your z-wave network (aka “including” them or completing the “inclusion” process). Only the master switch needs to be included as the 45610’s do not have a z-wave radio in them, all commands are received by the master and sent over the travelers.

Multi-ways are tricky so the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to use a tester and identify every wire’s purpose in every box BEFORE you even begin. You only need specific wires at each box as above, NOT as we used to wire 3-ways with standard switches in the past. To reiterate…

  1. The Master Switch
    1. For a dimming 4-way circuit using a 45612 as your Master –
      1. You need a Line, Load & Traveler at the primary box where the master 45612 is installed.
    2.  For a non-dimming, on/off (relay) switch using a 45609 as your Master –
      1. You need a Line, Load, Neutral & Traveler at the primary box where the master 45609 is installed.
  2. The Slave Switches
    1. The 2 other switch boxes are the slave switches where you install the 45610’s, you ONLY need a traveler and a Neutral. NO LINE, NO LOAD.

Wire colors are not dependable – they are quite often at the sole discretion of the previous electrician or “handyman” who last worked on your wiring.  For this reason, I do not refer to the colors, and neither should you, except as a starting point. I am not saying that you should ignore the colors altogether because if you’re looking for a neutral wire and there is a white wire bundled with one or two others and shoved into the back of the box, chances are pretty good that those are neutrals, and I am sure you will be fine to pigtail another chunk of white wire into that bundle and off you go.

But, if you test first and find that one of the black wires (or pink ones! Oh No, now what! to make my point about colors) does not seem to have 120 Volts running through it, you can still adjust what the “actual” purpose of that wire is (its probably a load wire in this scenario) and save yourself some time and aggravation by not frying the switch, or even worse, electrocuting yourself.

Multi-way circuits can be difficult to get your head around, although HA multi-way circuits are easier to do, imo, then the old ones, but if you follow my advice as above, I hope it will help you make this important jump in changing your mindset when wiring 3-ways, 4-ways, or 20-ways!  And, remember…

IF ANY OF THIS SCARES YOU, OR YOU THINK IT MAY BE A BIT OVERWHELMING, THEN PLEASE CALL AN ELECTRICIAN!

Thank you for letting us, “automate YOUR world”!

Kelly R. Foster – HA World

HA World now sells Insteon!

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HA World is now an Insteon dealer! Our first order of Insteon Switches, Dimmers and the new Insteon controllable LED bulbs just arrived this morning. We have the Insteon hub in stock as well. Give as a day or two and we will be listing the new line from Smarthome at our usual great prices and as always, the best customer service on the planet. Fast and Free shipping too!

What is Home Automation – Applications of Z-Wave (Blog Post 6)

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Hi and welcome back to the HA World Online Blog!

To continue the story of my foray into HA, last time I was humming and hawing over the cost and labor of all this new wiring to add in these new lights for my remodel. Over the next day or two, I happened to read an article in a magazine I had just subscribed too. It was an article in “Old-House Journal” magazine about how Black and Decker was getting into the remote lighting control market with a new product they called the “Freewire” system. These devices were supposed to be able to give you remote control over plug-in lights and appliances, no wiring needed!

Wow, I thought, wouldn’t that be a great solution to my problem. A subsequent advertisement in the magazine said that the Freewire products were supposed to be sold at Home Depot – so I headed to my local store to check them out. However, to my chagrin the salespeople at Home Depot did not know anything about the product, except for one fellow who told me about a company he had heard of that made something similar called “smarthome” products. He told me to google the word “smarthome” on the Internet which I did and as I am sure most of you have already guessed what came up, was, you got it – Smarthome. The next day I called up their customer service department, learned a bit about “X-10” and had an inline module, a transceiver and a wireless wall switch on order.

Bottom line is this, I never did have to run that crazy amount of switch leg wiring, in fact, I installed another pair of lights (dialed into a different unit code of course) and used X-10 to control both pairs of my new lights, remotely and very easily!

That was my first experience with home automation and remote lighting control.  In this instance I used X-10 instead of Z-Wave. Each of the different protocols have quite a few similarities, you just use combinations of the appropriate devices to solve similar problems. There are even bridges between some of these different technologies, HomeSeer and Mi Casa Verde each make a software solution, and nowadays there are becoming alot more options in terms of a central controller or gateway that can “talk” to all the protocols, but that’s a topic for another day, and, although I do want to get into the differences between each of these protocols, for the next couple posts I want to delve into some of the more common applications of the Z-Wave protocol.

Please join us next time as we do just that, we look forward to having you as a reader and as always, thank you for letting us “automate YOUR world”.  Please also visit our store for great deals on Z-Wave and X-10 products.  Oh btw, we are running a great sale on the MiCasa Verde Z-Wave, Insteon & X-10 Home Controllers right now, just click on either the following  links, Vera3 or VeraLite, and you will go direct to the product page for each of them – the coupon code for 10% off is added automatically, free shipping too!  All you have to do is pay!

Kelly R. Foster – HA World