Setup

If you haven’t already read my Intro to Home Automation post, check it out as it defines some things to look for when starting to build your system.

OK let’s get started! As mentioned previously, I had decided the route of the Staples Connect platform. I was biased in my decision but the initial cost was very affordable and so far it has proven to be an excellent platform. It was recommended that I purchase the D-Link hub instead of the Linksys unit. This was due to upcoming support for Zigbee devices which the Linksys unit would not support. The Staples Connect D-Link hub typically retails for $80 with the connected accessories ranging from $30 to $350.  For a limited time (10/26/14 – 1/3/15) you can get a free D-Link hub with the purchase of two accessories retailing from $30 and up. Jump on the deal while you can. Where else can you get started in home automation for only $60? Worst case, you resell it on ebay and recoup your out-of-pocket cost.

The combination I chose was a D-Link DCS-5020L pan-tilt camera and an Aeotec water sensor. A water sensor you ask? In four years time, we have suffered two basement floods which were quite unexpected. The second of the two caused a good deal of damage to personal property. Ideally I would liked to have been notified of a potential flood condition. As for the camera, we were looking for additional property security when shady people come knocking on our door throughout the day.

Getting started was a breeze. After unboxing the D-Link hub and plugging in power and ethernet, all that was left was to install the Staples Connect application on my Android phone and create an account. In addition to the first set of accessories, I stopped by my local Home Depot and picked up a Leviton Plug-in Lamp and Appliance modules to control timed lighting of my Christmas trees. Even though the Leviton modules were not listed on the compatible hardware list they seem to work flawlessly. These modules utilize the Z-Wave a 900MHz wireless protocol with an approximate 100ft range. Within minutes I had both trees on daily schedules.

The next order of business was to setup the above mentioned water sensor. The unit is powered by 2 AAA batteries and small enough to tie-wrap to the sump pump plumbing. Once the water sensor module was paired to the hub, I created an automated activity to notify me when water comes in contact with the sensor probe. Upon dipping the end of the probe into the water, I was immediately alerted via an in-app push notification and email that water had been detected by the sensor. This test alone has already made the whole home automation endeavor invaluable.

There is much more to come, stay tuned for additional updates to my home automation project.