Smart Home Setup

For those of you still waiting with baited breath for the Smart Home blog post I promised you I apologize! Working at a Smart Home focused company you would think I’d be more eager to write a post but time flies when you are having fun (see travel section). So let’s start from the ground up with the different systems installed in 1 bedroom 900 soft condo - yes it is very much overkill.

Lutron Caesta

This is likely the big winner in my Smart Home experience & that is because it just works. That is a pretty low bar other smart home systems have set for reliability but legitimately the key differentiation for Lutron is that it works 100% of the time. Like all good things you get what you pay for & Lutron is far from cheap.

Caesta leverages a proprietary hub which communicates over the ~430MHz radio frequencies giving it long range & ability to pass through walls. While I wish the hub was POE it’s small form factor is an easy add to any networking closet.

Devices Connected:

  • Living Room Dimmer Switch
  • Entry Dimmer Switch
  • Outdoor Plug (for patio lights)

Phillips Hue

I don’t even want to try & calculate how much I have spent on Hue bulbs & accessories. But they are the best lights I have found - 16m colors, 25k hour lifespan, & 800 lumen output.

The lights are fantastic but also require a proprietary bridge to communicate. Like the Lutron hub the Hue bridge is connected via ethernet (I wish POE) but communicates on the ZigBee standard. ZigBee is on the 2.4 GHz radio frequency which had me worried about WiFi RF collusions. So far happy to report no issues & lights are very responsive to cloud based communications.

Devices Connected:
  • Office Lights
  • Bedroom, Living Room & Bathroom Bulbs
  • Kitchen under cabinet light strip

A few items on my wishlist that I haven’t pulled the trigger for yet are the gradient light-strip & HDMI sync box. At a crazy $400 combined these will probably stay on my wishlist.

Eight Sleep

Probably my favorite device I own but sleep is constantly underrated. The Eight Sleep mattress is connected to the Home Pod which communicates over 802.11g. The pod can set the bed temperature on autopilot throughout the night to optimize for the best night sleep across all 4 sleep phases (Bedtime, Deep, REM & Wakeup).

Home Assistant

The glue that sticks it all together! I have my instance running on a Raspberry Pi but not Smart Home software can match the HA integration suite. Everything under the sun can be added (follow the youtube videos) & displayed in the mobile app.

Home Networking

What better to dedicate my first blog to than home networking – something everyone finds so interesting. Truth is I honestly didn’t find it very compelling even while working for an ISP… The revelation came in a system architecture meeting where I really couldn’t contribute much (and couldn’t even follow what people were saying).

Let’s back up – my learning style is very different and unfortunately expensive. Some people read books, some people watch videos, some people listen to podcasts. After 27 years on earth, the only way I have found for true understanding is by doing. So if I wanted to learn networking than building a managed wifi network was really the only option. So as Marc Andreessen wrote - IT'S TIME TO BUILD

Assumptions

  • Hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) - There is a coax cable coming out of the wall
  • The only extra space is in my closet - shout out to Nicole for moving some clothes around
  • My apartment is only 850 sqft with thin drywall

Goals (other than learning how to build a managed wifi network)

  • What is worse than dropping a video conference call? Need to hard wire my computer/Xbox/Xfinity Flex
  • Managed networks need to support movement between APs so we are going to need multiple APs 

Planning

Network Diagram

I learned a ton - crimping cable, UniFi setup, cable management, and smart home.  I will write another blog about the smart home setup.   

Hello World!

Hello World! Did I really just setup a blog? Not something I thought I would say in 2020 but hey here I am. More to come!