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I've got the automation bug bad - in search of new ideas!


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#1 chedemefedeme

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Posted 30 October 2011 - 08:18 PM

Thanks to you guys (and before, to the people at the elk forums) for keeping me informed and excited about home automation. I've got the bug bad. I really enjoy making little (and not so little) tweaks, modifications, and improvements to my home to enhance convenience, comfort, and quality of living.

That said, my home already does a lot..but I'm interested in ideas for more. I'm wanting to poll the brains of this community. Here's what I've got. I'm hoping you can tell me what I'm missing out on that enhances your life. It can be new hardware or simply a script/scene/mode I'm missing that can be done with my existing stuff.

My home currently has the following major systems and hardware:
- Fairly comprehensive security driven by Elk
- Control of 80% of lighting and fans via Insteon
- Elk connected thermostat
- Integration with garage door and doorbell
- Detection of human and vehicle traffic approaching the house
- Basic presence detection via a custom script that pings our iphones
- Some integration with my ZoneMinder (http://zoneminder.com) security camera system via custom scripts (example: texts me an image of whos at the front door when doorbell rings)
- Windows Media Center 7, HD ATSC tuner, Polk audio 5.1 surround sound system
- Somfy shades controlled by the elk on most windows

Examples of software functionality I have:
- Modes for away, home, sleeping, and even bathing that set up lights, fans, shades, and HVAC for the situation
- Alerts sent to iphones only when applicable thanks to presence detection
- System knows when TV is turned on thanks to a pinging script
- the iPhone app for elk is freaking awesome (ekeypad) and i use it all the time
- Programmed buttons on my harmony remote to tell my media center PC to turn on and off lights and fans relevant to comfort during TV watching


I don't list all of this to brag one bit. I have a lot of this because of the help of the community and will gladly answer questions anyone has about how to implement anything I have. Rather I list this so you know what I already have...and hopefully spot what I'm missing.


What do you have in your home that would enhance my daily life? I don't have unlimited funds but I do enjoy doing this as a hobby and don't mind investing in ideas that will improve my home.

Tell me about your favorite parts of your system that I don't have on mine. Tell me software rules and scripting tricks I may not have thought of, no matter how little or big.

Tell me, cocooners...what should I do next?

#2 Neurorad

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Posted 30 October 2011 - 08:28 PM

Wow, very impressive.

How about HVAC control, and flood detection? Floods can cause serious damage. Maybe some water sensors behind the dishwasher, washing machine, and near the water heater?

#3 chedemefedeme

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Posted 30 October 2011 - 08:45 PM

I have HVAC control (just didnt quite call it that..though if anyone knows about zoning it or making it more efficient i'm all ears).

As for flood control...hmm..color me interested. Are you thinking one that sets off an alarm or one that automatically cuts water?

I cut water to my home when I go on vacation but I guess it could easily be a problem when I just go to work or whatever.

#4 heffneil

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Posted 30 October 2011 - 09:28 PM

There is a product that a local vendor sells here. It isn't like a water cop where it detects water but it monitors how much water passes through it in a given period of time. It is VERY VERY interesting since you could have a flood and not pool water until it is too late or after the fact. I forgot the name but it is something like flood logix or something. I will google and try to find out...

Work a look...

Here it is:

http://www.flologic.com/

I don't have one of these in my house. One note is that if you have a party or fill your bathtub or run a lot of laundry you could falsely trip it. But it doesn't sound like anything is perfect... I have no affiliation with the product and I Don't even know if you can do a DIY install...

Neil

Edited by heffneil, 30 October 2011 - 09:31 PM.


#5 GadgetBoy

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Posted 30 October 2011 - 09:30 PM

I just found these wet leaf sensors at Hobby Boards (http://tinyurl.com/5wfuar8). I have been soldering them to DS10's to detect moisture in the basement (sometimes I get water in the basement). You may have a way to connect them to your Elk...

#6 chedemefedeme

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Posted 30 October 2011 - 11:37 PM

http://www.flologic.com/


Wow..it seemed alright until i read "In the "Home" mode, the System is pre-programmed to allow up to 30 minutes of uninterrupted water flow before the shutoff valve is activated. The "Away" mode allows 30 seconds of uninterrupted flow."

That is pretty slick. If it could mirror my elk's home and away statuses that would be amazing. Too bad the price of this thing is that of the damage from a small to moderate water leak in your home...but I bet this could be DIY'd. I feel like i've heard of a water flow rate sensor and I know that you can get your own motorized ball valves. The elk's built in rule system could be used to re-create the intelligent functionality and it would already know when I was home or away.

Only kink in the plan: what if you start your dish washer or washing machine, leave home, and it refills for the rinse cycle...would have to think of that.

Anyone know of an inline flow sensor? I JUST had a plumber redo my whole water main in the garage cause the one I did myself last year leaked. Dang..should have had him put something like this in when he was redoing it cause ittl cost me to have him redo it.

#7 Work2Play

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 12:07 AM

There was mention of DS10a's - I like having a W800RF32 tied into my system so I can use the cheap-as-dirt X10RF remotes and motion sensors for automation.

If you have kids, there's more automation that comes into play... for instance, I have motion sensors on most interior doors - it would help in the event I was verifying an alarm condition, but more importantly, if my kids get up in the middle of the night, I know about it - and the system knows to turn on the bathroom lights for them.

When I get home, the house lights a path from the door I enter to the main area of the house (kitchen) where we tend to unload.

If the door is opened or doorbell is rang when it's dark out and lights are off, it turns the lights on for 30 mins (for getting home late or letting guests out) - get home late and lights are off? Ring doorbell then you can see to get your keys out.

Lots of useful features around alarm condition - depending on if home or away (if screamers come on; lights flash to disorient; etc).

Turning off water as mentioned above.

Ultimate garage door detector - check BSR's writeup to know what position your door is in.

When I leave, the house shuts down on its own... no need to turn off lights.

Gas Fireplace automated (see my signature) - easy to turn on; adds a safety so it doesn't stay on too long; etc.

Outdoor automation - you can tie in hot tub, pool, watefalls, landscape lights, etc.

Look around your house - what do you find yourself manually controlling?

#8 patentesq

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 11:51 AM

Can you drain your water lines, flush toilets, and replace the water with RV antifreeze, including the drain taps -- all with the touch of a button on your iPhone? It's a project that I'm planning for my vacation home.

#9 chedemefedeme

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 01:08 PM

- When I get home, the house lights a path from the door I enter to the main area of the house (kitchen) where we tend to unload.

- If the door is opened or doorbell is rang when it's dark out and lights are off, it turns the lights on for 30 mins (for getting home late or letting guests out) - get home late and lights are off? Ring doorbell then you can see to get your keys out.

- Ultimate garage door detector - check BSR's writeup to know what position your door is in.

- Look around your house - what do you find yourself manually controlling?


I definitely do the home after dark, light the path thing. When I go to a house without it now I feel confused for a moment as I walk into a dark home.

Haven't thought of light up the front hall way if the doorbell is rung after dark. I think I'll do that one!

Why on earth do I need to know if my garage door is more than either opened or closed? I presently just have a weatherproof magnetic switch on it that tells me opened or closed. I have the Elk blink a light on my master bedroom keypad if the door is open so I can always know at a glance if I've left it open. Press that blinking button and the door closes as I've tied a relay into the garage door button circuit.

It is a good thought to simply sit back and think of what you manually control. Some are silly and some might be new ideas.
- I mean..i manually flush the toilet..that could be automated i guess? haha
- My master shower is all the way across (not terribly far..only a 1800sqft house right now, but land to build new wing in future) my house. It takes up to 60 seconds to get hot water there sometimes. Not the end of the world but if I don't remember to turn the shower on a minute before I step in I'm not a happy camper. Is there some silly, simple solution to this I'm not thinking of?
- Pantry light. I don't want to use a sensor in the door because we often leave the door open on it. Perhaps I should go the simple route here and do one of those motion detecting switches. I can't think of why this needs to be tied into the greater automation system..just flick itself on when you reach inside it. The switch position is inside and well aimed for this possibility.

Can you drain your water lines, flush toilets, and replace the water with RV antifreeze, including the drain taps -- all with the touch of a button on your iPhone? It's a project that I'm planning for my vacation home.


Holy cow. I live in Texas so winterizing is not really too much of a concern here but do they really have systems for one touch winterizing? That'd be epic.

I know some homes down on the coast here have one touch storm-prep and have for years, before computerized automation. At the press of a button concealed metal window shields roll over all exterior windows and doors and lock down. Saves your home from being ravaged by wind and rain since the windows and doors are always what break or leak first in hurricanes. More modern systems could go beyond this, I imagine, cutting off water, electricity..and perhaps even natural gas? That would be pretty cool.

No considerable natural disasters here in Central Texas other than the occasional severe storm. These can contain tornados but they are not usually the epic, house destroying variety you see on tv so nobody here justifies window covering solutions or anything.

#10 znelbok

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Posted 31 October 2011 - 06:39 PM

Think of the things that you do routinly and then automate them.

I have the arm alarm that turns off the whole house (garage doors, lights, AC, TV's etc), and the lighitng it up when disarming at night - pretty standard stuff.

The bedroom TV is turned down to 4 when the alarm is armed when I leave in the morning. This is a comfortable level when we go to bed. Nothing worse than finding it set up high becasue I had it on while getting ready in the morning when the hosue is noisy.

- Detect your phone to alert the house to your presence so lights come on automatically.
- Fire alarm turns on all bedroom lights and lights a path to the front/back door and all external lights are on.
- Monitor the leterbox for new mail.
- Irrigation
- If you have kids, monitor when they get up and turn the TV on for them automatically.
- Pets, automatic feeding, watering (I water the horses automatically. Trying to find a feeder for them now).
- Hot water system
- Monitor power usage and calculate billing etc.
- Caller ID. put callers name on screen, or on media center while watching a move. Know who's calling an wether or not to pause the movie
- Turn the TV on and change to the outdoor cameras when motion detected - or use the PIP funtion if available.

A couple of examples of my place
A/C - when the A/C (8 zone system) is turned on the, the ceiling fan for that zone is tuned on as well - this allows a setpoint of approx. 1.5 degrees higher to be used.
If the outside temperature is lower than the setpoint temp, then the system is told to switch to outdoor air and it turns off the compressors and just runs in vent mode - saves a lot of power. This can be over-ridden if required.

Electric fence is monitored and if it has a short (voltage below a set level) I get an SMS alert, voice alert and message on the screen.
Turn electric fence on and off via iPhone (SMS or CQC app) when in paddocks working on them.

Pump run time is monitored (no town water for me). Over 20mins alerts us and we either look for a tap left on or tell the kids to get out of the shower. If the alarm is armed, I get an SMS and I can then send a reply to turn of the pump to prevent a potential pipe failure etc.

As for the Flologic thing, just get a flow meter with a pulse output and you should be able to do it all in the elk and next to nothing compared to the price of the meter. If the elk wont do it well enough there is a great little PLC from Automation direct called the clickPLC for $70 and is expandable.

Mick

#11 jwilson56

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 05:23 PM

I just found these wet leaf sensors at Hobby Boards (http://tinyurl.com/5wfuar8). I have been soldering them to DS10's to detect moisture in the basement (sometimes I get water in the basement). You may have a way to connect them to your Elk...



I use those leaf sensors with NX-650 wireless Elk sensors. They work much the same way but are probably a bit more reliable. I have switched over all my DS10 uses to NX-650. I like the long battery life as well as the seamless integration with the Elk.

#12 Work2Play

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 11:09 PM

- My master shower is all the way across (not terribly far..only a 1800sqft house right now, but land to build new wing in future) my house. It takes up to 60 seconds to get hot water there sometimes. Not the end of the world but if I don't remember to turn the shower on a minute before I step in I'm not a happy camper. Is there some silly, simple solution to this I'm not thinking of?

Yup - it's called a recirculating pump - installed at the furthest fixture normally or can be installed near the shower. Basically it pulls the water from the "Hot" and circulates it back though the "Cold" line until hot water reaches the destination. This conserves water and energy as well... most are triggered with a basic momentary button, so they're easy to hook into any automation system by simple contact closure.

Electric fence is monitored and if it has a short (voltage below a set level) I get an SMS alert, voice alert and message on the screen.

I sure wish we'd had that as a kid... sure beats the method we had - we had to test the fence nightly, and if we lost the tester, my father just didn't care... we had to just grab it and test... picture my brother, sister, and I standing in front of the fence for 30 minutes arguing over who's turn it was to grab it - until finally someone gets annoyed and just grabs it...

#13 GadgetBoy

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 02:18 PM



I use those leaf sensors with NX-650 wireless Elk sensors. They work much the same way but are probably a bit more reliable. I have switched over all my DS10 uses to NX-650. I like the long battery life as well as the seamless integration with the Elk.


John, did you open the NX-650 and hard wire the wet leaf sensor to the transmitter?

#14 DELInstallations

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 08:24 PM

Besides using relays and the lighting projects and connecting anything that can put out a dry contact or an analog value within range,
I've tied the Elk into zone dampers installed on the HVAC, then via rules based on temp and window/door status to turn off zones of HVAC because it "sees" the room as having windows/doors opened and out of spec of the temp control of the room.

Also have automated generator excercising as well as snow melting/geothermal hardware with multiple stages, with fail to flows, and logic built in.

#15 jwilson56

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 11:43 PM


John, did you open the NX-650 and hard wire the wet leaf sensor to the transmitter?


The NX-650 supports external contacts so I just wired the leaf sensor where the contacts would be. The NX-650 is a pretty versatile sensor.




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