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HomeKit and Home Automation at the End of 2021

The last couple of years have been kind of a mess for everyone. We moved into a new house, and then immediately got locked down in it.  

Here's what we've been up to on the HomeKit front.

It's been tough to get excited about new technology and gadgets - we've spent most of our time on old-school renovations and repairs, and just keeping priorities straight in last 2 years of pandemic. 

In the meantime, a lot of the stuff that was avant-garde home automation stuff when we started AAAD has become old news - or superseded by newer technology. 

I've got a HomePod and love it - but Apple has abandoned it. 

We have three Ecobee thermostats, and they work pretty well - but everyone's got smart thermostats now, right?  

We cord-cut a long time ago with PSVue and then YouTube TV... but basically everyone is doing that now. 

While Apple and HomeKit feel like the most secure automation standard, going with HomeKit excludes a wide range of brands... and some devices that are supposed to work with HomeKit struggle to do so. (August wi-fi lock, I'm looking at you.)

As it stands right now, we have a few HomeKit projects "in progress", and a few acquisitions ready to go.

Project 1 - August WiFi Lock HomeKit Failure

All in all, it's been a good upgrade. The WiFi Lock is a better product, physically - it never "slips" and fails to spin the deadbolt. 

At the same time, its HomeKit integration is absolute trash. 

Our primary "family" account is the owner of all HomeKit devices, and for devices on that AppleID, it works OKAY. (There are sometimes issues with the Lock trying and failing to connect via Bluetooth.)

For all other users, the Home app shows the Lock as "Setup Needed". Based on Reddit convos, this appears to be a known issue. 

Factory resetting the Lock doesn't work. Resetting the HomeKit connection doesn't work. Now... I've READ that, if you connect the Lock to HomeKit via HomeBridge, instead of directly, it works.

So, that leads to....

Project 2 - HomeBridge on our QNAP NAS

I've been looking at picking up a HOOBS hub. It certainly makes HomeBridge simpler. 

But... it's $200, and it's another hub. And I've already got this huge QNAP server, running in the basement, basically doing nothing but Plex movies. 

Adding Homebridge would allow us to control a wide range of non-Homekit devices over the Home app... and it would be free!

And if we could get HomeBridge running, we could also...

Project 3 - Integrating Ring Alarm Security AND ADT in HomeKit

We have a Ring Doorbell Pro on the front door, and a Ring Battery Stick-up Cam on the back door. 

The Ring app is nice, but I'd really prefer to build out this Ring system (adding security) AND to integrate it with the Home app. 

HomeBridge could solve that problem. Our Ring cameras would be visible in Home. 

ALSO - Our house is equipped with a wired ADT Pulse security system, which is very elegant, but extremely expensive to operate. Sensors are embedded in the door frames. Invisibly.

AND, it's equipped with an XFinity wireless security system, which is NOT elegant, and has external contact sensors visible and in various states of disrepair. 

Adding a Ring Alarm Retrofit Kit would be the best of all worlds. We could use our ADT sensors, add some Ring sensors to replace some XFinity sensors, and run it all through a (cheap) Ring subscription. 

Even better - HomeBridge would bring this into our HomeKit ecosystem! 

In theory, opening a door at night could automatically trigger our Caseta lights to turn on in that room. An alarm event could cause Vue lights to turn on, and turn red. 

Project 4 - Powerline Internet - MyQ Garage

Our "new" house has a detached garage. That makes it a little tricky to use our MyQ garage door controls, as the internet doesn't QUITE reach out there well enough for the keypads to stay online. 

At least not when the doors are closed.

The garage does have power outlets, though - maybe a powerline adapter could extend our internet to the garage and get those MyQ doors online. We'll have to see - it's a admittedly bit of a shot in the dark.

Anyway, that's what we're trying to automate in the last quarter of 2021. There are some smaller projects - adding more Caseta light switches, and so on - but the HomeBridge project is Job One at the moment. I'll update as soon as I can.  

(UPDATE - We got all of these things done. They're in other posts, but the powerline internet has the MyQ working... the HomeBridge has Ring and August working in HomeKit, and the Retrofit Kit has the Ring Alarm reading all of our existing sensors.)


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