Speaking of expensive hobbies. One of the things that I do to stay busy is work on making my house a smart house. It all began about 8 years ago, when I installed a SmartThings hub. Our house is automated. I use our cell phones as presence sensors, and the house changes modes when we leave, come home, and go to bed.

My wife was very understanding, and has now come to love the automated features of the house. When we go to bed, the thermostat changes to make the house cooler, the lights turn off, and the smart locks on the doors all lock themselves. The landscaping lights change colors depending on the season. There is purple, gold, and green for Mardi Gras; Red, white and blue for Independence Day, that sort of thing. The hot water heater turns off when we go to bed or leave the house. It’s geeky, fun to do, and pretty bad ass.

But 8 years has gone by, and technology is evolving. I have always been bothered by the fact that SmartThings is a cloud based processor. I want local processing, and now that we are thinking about moving next fall, I have a chance to try it.

I am thinking of switching to Home Assistant. I just bought an Odroid N2+ processor and a 128 GB eMMC card to use as a server. Now I am going to learn how to program it and integrate it with all of the devices I am planning on using. So I will spend the next few months playing with it. I am planning on using smart switches that can control scenes as well as individual lights.

It’s good to have a tolerant wife.

Categories: Me


Joe Blow · January 8, 2023 at 7:02 am

While I get the allure, I have avoided all things ‘smart’ very deliberately. Seeing the grid operator take control of peoples thermostats reinforces those feelings. Having hacked into other peoples baby monitors over the internet with a few clicks has also made me wary of this technology. Its the same reason I don’t google. You are their product, dontchaknow?

    Divemedic · January 8, 2023 at 9:24 am

    1 The people whose thermostats were controlled signed up for it. The electric company gives you a discount on your bill in exchange for them having the ability to shut off your HVAC, water heater, and other high consumption appliances during periods of high demand.
    2 The system I’m switching to is run on a small processor and is locally controlled.
    3 Even the older, cloud based on has manual overrides built in. I can shut down the smart features and still use most stuff in a conventional way by flipping a hardware switch.

It's just Boris · January 8, 2023 at 7:17 am

Interesting. I set up some modest home automation (lights, thermostat, seasonal lighting control) using Mi Casa Verde and Vera. Two of my criteria were local data, and no subscription fees.

I’ve been thinking of upgrading as, among other issues, Vera is a little limited in supported protocols. I will need to check these out. Thanks!

    Divemedic · January 8, 2023 at 11:12 am

    Smart Things doesn’t have subscriber fees, but cloud server latency makes me want local control.

Bad Dancer · January 8, 2023 at 7:45 am

Cloud based services and such things are what kept me away from the sleek effiency I wanted. Would rather go analoge than have some company poking through my data but this might be the alternative I’ve been looking for.

Thanks for the info on this

Michael · January 8, 2023 at 8:16 am

Why would you allow any more technology in your home than required?

The 3 letter folks have gotten amazingly creative in using that “extra Tech” to their advantage.

But then again I don’t even have wi-fi in mine. My fridge cannot tell me my milk is getting old etc.

    It's just Boris · January 8, 2023 at 6:57 pm

    I can only speak for myself, but, it’s nice when returning late at night to be able to turn on some lights (inside and out) from the car. And to have something that monitors for, say, water leaks when one is away from home for an extended period.

John Fisher · January 8, 2023 at 8:46 am

Please update us on this from time to time.

Richard · January 8, 2023 at 9:51 am

I’ve had good success with Hubitat. Look er up. Simple, standalone. Versatile.

    Divemedic · January 8, 2023 at 12:12 pm

    I’ve looked at that one as well.

D · January 8, 2023 at 11:05 am

There’s nothing wrong with a “smart home”.
There’s plenty wrong with a “smart home that gets its control from servers controlled by not-you in the cloud”.

It’s one of the reasons I like Philips Hue. Expensive as all get-out, but you can retain local control of your devices. Don’t enable any of the cloud access stuff. Sure, it means you might have to have *your own* little server sitting somewhere (like a $20 raspberry pi) and do some programming on your own, but no one will be monitoring and tracking your lights, switches, etc….

I haven’t found a locally-controlled “smart thermostat” yet, but I really haven’t been looking.

I know there are various open source projects out there that will go all the fancy “voice” features without uploading it to the cloud. Some day I’ll get around to playtesting and maybe introduce that to my house.

    Divemedic · January 8, 2023 at 12:16 pm

    I have HUE. It ties in with my SmartThings devices nicely. There are just some things that you can’t do with HUE, which is primary for lights.
    Controlling other things like water heaters, ceiling fans, smart irrigation, thermostats and the like require other systems.

Control Grid Matrix · January 8, 2023 at 12:20 pm

It’s for your convenience, comrade.
One day there will be no shirking and every home will have a telescreen and be connected to the Control Grid Matrix.
Alexa, what is the penalty for shirking? BOOM!
At last, everything is done for you in mandatory peace and safety.
Forward! Yes we can.

Ben C · January 8, 2023 at 4:48 pm

I am very much looking forward to updates on this. My 2 personal sticking points on smart-home stuff has always been internet requirements and lack of local control; and the cost vs compatibility risk of different items/systems working together.

Cameras with local control and storage, with the option for remote backup; lights as you you have noted; and locks that have absolutely no internet connection even with local wireless locking control are on the radar.

One comment on the power company tweaking the thermostat or AC, most of those companies offer a large one-time bill credit to sign up and the a small ongoing reduction. If a person buys a used house that already has that stuff in it, they are not under the same obligation as the person who originally installed it. I personally would remove it since I didn’t sign up for it, and I didn’t get paid.

It's just Boris · January 8, 2023 at 6:59 pm

Just curious, DM, why did you go for a eMMC vs sd card? They don’t quite douboe the system cost, but close to it. I get the speed increase, but wouldn’t have thought it’d be that noticeable a difference in this application.

    Divemedic · January 8, 2023 at 7:17 pm

    SD cards don’t appear to last as long because they aren’t designed to be written to as frequently as the processor will be writing to it.

      D · January 9, 2023 at 9:36 am

      One alternative to SD cards and eMMC is a SATADOM.

      They’re a bit spendy, but they’re sorta like a SSD on a small chip that has a SATA port. Think quarter-sized. They typically have spectacular read life and good write life.

        Divemedic · January 9, 2023 at 10:29 am

        That looks cool. Right now, I am running an Odroid N2+, which doesn’t have a SATA port and it’s my understanding that they don’t do well with adapters. It’s twice as fast as a Raspberry Pi, so I don’t think Home Assistant will be too demanding on it.

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