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What Do I Need for a New House?


Okay, broad topic, I know. Let me try to narrow it down.
  • As I approach the house, the automatic gate opener recognizes I'm near and opens the gate.
  • As I approach the house, my phone receives and alert that my wife has (or has not) picked up the mail.
  • After pulling through the gate, it automatically closes.
  • As I approach the house, the security system recognizes it's me and disarms whatever is armed.
  • As I approach the house, my garage door opens.
  • Some exterior lights come on every evening at dusk (corner floods, garage flood, barn floods, etc.)
  • Some exterior lights come on as I approach the house (garage interior, breezeway, house side entry, etc.)
  • As I approach the house from the garage, the deadbolt recognizes me and unlocks the door.
  • As I approach the house, if not already on, the mud room, kitchen, and family room lights come on.
  • After entering the house, the deadbolt recognizes I am inside the house and re-locks the door.
  • After entering the house, the garage door closes, and the exterior lights breezeway, side entry, etc.) turn off.
  • All of this should happen roughly in reverse when I leave in the morning, but the setup should be smart enough to deal with family members leaving at different times.
I call this my "coming and going" routine. Basically, I'd like access control, security system, and lights to recognize A) who I am and 2) where I am, and then respond accordingly (perhaps with some home-baked IFTTT or other control added in - i.e., IF it's before 8am on a weekday THEN IF I am the last one out of the house THEN arm the security system).
Then there's my "around the house" routine.
  • When I go to bed, I can put the house "to sleep." Lights turn off, except for stairway, nightlights, etc. (Exterior security lights stay on). Hallway lights dim for a few minutes, then turn off, giving everybody time to get to wherever they're headed.
  • It would be nice if there was a way to override the "sleep" mode - i.e. if my kids are in their rooms and up later than I am, I don't want their lights to turn off when I put the house to sleep.
  • If not already armed, the security system arms itself - everything but the motion detectors.
  • When somebody gets up to use the bathroom, a nearby nightlight automatically illuminates for several minutes. (I think Nest's new smoke alarms do this, and I know Ube's smart dimmers light up when they are approached, but I don't know if it's bright enough to be used as a nightlight.)
  • When a room is empty for some specified length of time, if the lights are on, they should turn off.
  • I should be able to turn on all (or most) of the interior and exterior lights quickly and easily (i.e. panic mode or similar).
  • Would prefer not to have to control all of this from a phone or remote control. I don't want to have to re-learn the light switch meme I've spent my whole life using. Improve it without replacing it.
Some of this I already have a solution in mind for. I plan to use Goji smart locks or similar for deadbolts, which operate as mentioned above (I think). I plan to use Canary or Scout for security, both of which will, I think, operate as mentioned above. My two biggest questions/concerns are location-aware access control (i.e. front gate, garage - both of which are likely out of range of house WiFi) and lighting control. I'm looking at Ube, Lifx, and Hue (prefer a DIY solution, as opposed to Elan's g! or similar) but am unsure of their capabilities with respect to my wishes above. Frankly, I don't think Lifx or Hue are appropriate solutions based on my wish-list above, although they're both neat.
I'm a semi-competent do-it-yourselfer; I did all the low-voltage stuff at our last house (except the hard-wired security system) and everything pretty much worked (although, admittedly, I made a few mistakes that I'm planning to correct this time around). I like the "portability" of the self-contained systems mentioned above (Goji, Canary/Scout, Ube/Lifx/Hue) so I can spread the cost of the systems among my next couple of addresses if necessary.
Please fire away with any questions / comments / suggestions / mockery you might have. I was a custom builder for years, but I've been out of the business for about 6 or 7 years and need to get back in the game before we start building early next year. All the solutions I mentioned above are new since I got out of the biz, and I'm sure there are other possibilities I've not stumbled across.


Senior Member
Honestly nothing mentioned sounds too unreasonable - a good security/automation system will take care of the lighting and all that - the automatic recognition of the vehicle I'd do with RFID or a license plate cam - easily fooled if someone knows how you're getting in; even a Flash2Pass could be integrated into an automation system as could driveway sensors.  Knowing which car helps of course.  The opening of the deadbolt is easy with the Goji... Mail - a rule, if your car arrives and the mailbox has not been opened since 9:00AM, then send a text message to your phone or a pushover alert or IFTTT via some method... 
I don't do as much with motions, but if I enter a dark house, the security system knows the door opened and can turn on the lights for me; if I open the garage door, the overhead lights turn on too - eases pulling in since we back in.  I have security sensors on the doors so if the kids get out of bed at night, the lights automatically turn on outside their doors and in their bathroom - when the doors are closed, lights turn off again.  Hallway nightlights are photocell LED's that are just always on at night - they use like 1W so it doesn't matter. 
If you want DIY, I'd say easily 90% of this is doable with an Elk and Homeseer with a little bit of Z-Wave mixed in or even occupancy sensors if you have the liberty of running wires.  Most of these are bolt together pieces that talk together... like my UPB lights will do everything you described above based on timers and triggers from my security system.  Tying in HomeSeer should give you even more trigger options.  The way my system is now, upon first entering the first floor on a cold morning, if weatherunderground says it's raining or even a certain temperature outside and below a certain temperature inside, the fireplace can come on as we walk in the room.  As we arm the house as we leave, all the lights turn off; it's all pretty easy.  I haven't checked all their plugins but I'd bet there's RFID or Bluetooth options available too so you can tighten up the integration even more.