Monday, 19 June 2017

Now, the light switches

Now that I can control my TV,  AIRCON, CEILING FAN, YEELIGHTS , I want to control more/all things in my house using a combination of talking to Google home and the various sensors.
That brings on the numerous number of light switches I have at home. I must have like 20 of these switches installed in all parts of my house.

There is a complexity, all the popular switches sold in the US are designed based on US standards. They need a neutral wire on your switch to function properly. For most of us living in areas whereby your EU standard switches are just about opening and closing the circuit for the "Live" wire,  options are very limited.

I came across this GR-HOME ZWAVE switch  when I am out looking for a solution. It costs USD35 each and comes in option of 1,2 or 3 ways in one switch module, doesnt sound too expensive as compared to the USD90 Fibaro switches that requires the neutral wire. Their switches comes in EU or US Zwave frequency, so depending on the version of SMARTTHINGS hub that you have purchased, you will need to select the version properly.

Like all things where you buy cheap(esp from China), I felt feel skeptical at first if it will work for you. It was a USD35 risk with potential amount of opportunities to learn more from it, I went ahead and placed the order.

Once it arrived. It comes in two separate pieces of the switch(see above) and the bypass load. The bypass load is just a small little sealed box like the size of a small black pack of Wrigley chewing gum with 3 wires sticking out. It serves the purpose of allowing a very small current to pass through the circuit so that your ZWAVE module on your switch can function without the batteries.

Now, the bad news. The bypass load needs to be wired on near your light bulb or appliances. You will need to assess properly on where it is possible for you to install this bypass load and where it is not possible. Some appliances are just too concealed for you to conveniently install this bypass load. Only one Bypass load is required on a 3-way switch.  Note: The Bypass load can only be installed for the L1, so do swap your Live wires accordingly. A good way to assess is to look for a location whereby you can stash a  small pack of Wrigley chewing gum with access to both the Live and Neutral wire near the Bulb/Fan.

After all things installed, you should be able to switch on and off using touch switch control. The lights will reflect the switch status (red = on, blue = off). If turning off switch L1 causes the other two switch to switch off automatically and a "tick" sound, something is wrong and do review your connection again. This ever happened to me when my LED bulb consumes too little power. Once I switched it to a normal Florescent bulb, it worked normally. Once all is fine, you are ready to pair your Zwave switch with SMARTTHINGS.

1) Turn on and off on one of the switch 3 times, literally on-off-on-off-on-off, that should put your Zwave switch into pairing mode.
2) Go to SMARTTHINGS app on  your phone and add new devices, they should detect a ZWAVE switch. It will only detect one switch instead of the 3 switch you are expecting.
3) On SMARTTHINGS app, go to "Automation" -> SmartApps and then "Add a SmartApp". Select "More" and then "Multi-Channel Control". Name each of your switches and there you go, all switches appearing on your SMARTTHINGS.

There appears to be some limitations on the ZWAVE switch itself where it takes a couple of seconds to refresh its status on the SMARTTHINGS APP. This is due to that the switch does not have an instant update function built in. Should not affect you much as long as you do not manually turn on and off the switches using SMARTTHING APP.

This switch turns out to be a great buy indeed. Works like a charm !

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Adding Xiaomi sensors into SMARTTHINGS

You will need all kinds of sensors and switches to fully automate your house to exactly how you want it to be.

Sensors aint cheap.

Then, there is this Xiaomi who saved the world of home automation with very reasonably priced sensors. These sensors don't work out-of-the-box with your Smartthings, but it is not difficult to get it working. Once you get the hang of it, it's a piece of cake.

Motion Sensor - RMB59

Window/Door Sensor - RMB49
Wireless Switch - RMB39

Zigbee Power Plug - RMB69

You can order them through your favorite channels of buying from the China market.
According to Xiaomi, the batteries in these devices(apart from Power Plug) can last for 2 years.

In order to pair them with Smartthings, first, you will need to be as close to the Smartthings hub as possible with the sensor, your notebook and your phone.

1) On your notebook, login into your SMARTTHINGS IDE on a web browser ->       login.

2) On the IDE web browser, select "My device Handlers" from the top and then click on "Create New device Handlers". Give it a name and click create, then paste the entire thing you have copied from the following. Take note that you will need to create one device handlers for each of the type of devices.

You can get all your device handlers from here  

3) After you have added all the Device Handlers you are trying to add, click "My Location" from the top and then, Events .

4) On your Smartthings App on the mobile phone, go to "My Home" , under the "Things" tab, scroll all the way down and select " + Add a Thing".

5) Each of these sensors comes with a small hole, which you will need to poke it for 5 secs either with a tooth pick or the pin that comes with it to reset it and put it in a pairing mode. You can see the device reacting with its LED light when you have successfully done that.

6) On your IDE, refresh it and look for an entry that says "Catchall", it should appear seconds after you reset the sensor. Once you find that entry, mouse over the entry and you should have a String of Hexadecimal numbers that don't make much sense to you. Look out for the 4 character which I have highlighted in yellow, note that down. It should be on the 19th -22th character of the string.

7) Once done, one the IDE, click "My devices" from the top and then "+ New devices", key in as follows and click Create. Your devices should appear on your Smartthings.