Getting a Head Start with HomeKit

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As we all know, HomeKit will finally get an official Apple app with iOS 10.

It's shocking that it took this long. 

And frankly, it's shocking that anyone made HomeKit-compatible devices with no centralized way to control them. 

Well, the past is past.... and finally, we can move forward with our iOS home. 

But who wants to wait until fall?

Let's jump the gun, and get our HomeKit ecosystem started early....


The list of available HomeKit devices isn't great right now.

It's almost the opposite of the typical Apple paradigm.... everything is slightly less stylish than its Works With Nest counterpart. 

I expect that the number of HomeKit devices (and their design quality) will increase dramatically over the summer, now that Apple is finally releasing the Home app. 

So this list is subject to change. But for now, what devices should we be looking at?

Thermostat

We currently have a Second Generation Nest thermostat. It's been great. 

But... it's not HomeKit compatible. 

And Nest seems to have fallen out of favor at Google. 

And even if Nest WERE to release a HomeKit thermostat, my 2nd Gen wouldn't be compatible.

So, for now, we're looking at the ecobee3. 

The ecobee3 isn't as stylish as the Nest. 

But it has one major differentiator - it comes with a remote sensor. (And can support up to 32.)

With the remote sensor, the thermostat will know to start the AC if it's 80 upstairs while we're sleeping, even if it's still only 75 in the dining room with the thermostat. 

This change has one additional benefit - we get to demote our Nest to the condo in the city, which will be on the market next spring. 

Lighting

I'd like to install a whole-house HomeKit lighting system.

One dealbreaker - the lighting system MUST be fully controllable with standard on-the-wall light switches.

I'm not going to go with a Hue-like "smartphone only" control, and I'm not going to get into a position where we're covering our existing switches.

The smartphone functionality needs to be an "add-on", for remote access and for complex scenes.

In order to meet that requirement, we can't really use "toggle" or "rocker" style switches - if the wall switch is physically set to "off", there's no power, and Home app can't turn the lights on.

Instead, most of these systems use "push button" style switches - one button for on, another for off, and they can be "switched" physically or remotely.

We have 2 immediate lighting projects that need to be addressed. 

First, I'd like to get the outdoor lights to automatically turn on at sunset, and off three hours later.

This trigger is available in the Home app, so it shouldn't be a big deal. Replace that switch with a HomeKit-controllable one, and set the trigger.

The question is - which switch? Right now, our choices are Lutron's Caseta, and Insteon.

Lutron has the brand name, and there's the possibility of adding Caseta-based automated shades later. 

But... I haven't been crazy about the look of their Caseta switches online. I'll keep an eye out. 

I'd also like to replace our current kitchen undercabinet lighting. 

First off, it's not even LED. It's xenon., which runs hot and eventually overheats and flickers out. 

But more importantly, one of the lighting pucks can't stay connected to the cabinet and is just dangling there.  

The Philips Hue lightstrips would be great. We could subtly change the color in our kitchen whenever we wanted, and I like the idea of "strips", rather than "pucks".

Sensors

I'm going to be installing quite a few different types of sensors in our house. 

As we discussed above - temperature sensors are going to be very important - but that really fits under the "thermostat" category.

We have a "one-zone" HVAC system, so the temperatures can vary pretty wildly between the main floor, the upstairs and the basement. 

Temperature sensors, such as the ones that come with the ecobee3, can ensure that we keep all three floors comfortable. 

Water sensors are even more important. We just invested quite a bit into our basement, and we need to ensure that it stays dry. 

If we have a sump pump overflow, or a water heater breakdown, or any other kind of water leak situation, I want to know immediately. 

I've looked at a number of water sensors in the past - I don't see ANY of them on the HomeKit list, however, so we'll have to wait and see. 


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