Thinking about home automation again…

I like the idea of home automation. I like the thought that the lights, the alarm system, the thermostat and other sundry techno-toys can interact in a meaningful way.

In practice however I am a cheap fellow, and don’t want to spend a gazillion dollars on what is little more than a fancy gizmo.

I’ve done a bit of reading on this, and the leading contender is the ZWave system which offers a dizzying array of toys, er…devices, and integrates with my alarm system.

The benefit of the alarm system integration is that it allows the home automation computer to use the devices and status of the alarm system to operate lighting and temperature inside the house (system armed to “away”, kill the lights and drop the temperature a bit – fire alarm in the house? Turn all the lights on.).

I’m going to tread carefully here, I’ve already got a few Wifi light switches which don’t work with the Zwave system, and before I have to replace too many brand new toys I want to be sure Zwave is going to do what I need.

I’ll throw some updates as I try this stuff out.


  1. Sigivald says:

    I have a “SmartThings” hub and a Z-Wave lock, and they work together very nicely.

    I’m getting a Z-Wave outlet, too, and expect it to “Just Go”.

    (If, as you suggest, you’re using a home automation computer, rather than a dedicated hub, there’s no reason in theory your software solution can’t talk both ZWave and 802.11 [and ZigBee and anything else], with the right antenna dongles…

    I went the SmartThings way because I had no initial investment – and they’re likely to add 802.11 device support anyway, since it’s already a network device – and all the research on other hubs and software solutions made me think that I’d prefer not to have a full-time job playing Automation Sysadmin.

    YMMV, natch.)

  2. Merle says:

    Can this system shut off water and/or gas? Or is it just for electrical devices?


  3. Madeye says:

    Reasonably comprehensive technical write-up at

    Merle … Z-Wave water valves available from outfits like FortrezZ …

    Likely the same technology could be used for gas, but messing around with gas lines is not for amateurs ;-)

  4. Merle says:

    OK, thanks for the feedback & the link. I quite agree about gas lines!


  5. Sigivald says:

    (Update: I hate wire nuts, and my house has psycho wiring, so I can’t even get power to my Z-Wave outlet on the first try. New wire nuts and maybe an electrician should fix that.

    Seeing this post made me look up more Stuff, and how I have a Z-Wave linked Smoke/CO detector, too.)

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