Case Study - Andrew Grady
Andrew Grady’s end goal is to have a truly automated house. He never wants to press a button for anything as he wants the house to work around its occupants, not the other way around.
"The end goal is to have a truly automated house"
Some people might think this is easier said than done, but Andrew is well on his way to make it a reality.
So how does the house think for itself?
The heart of Andrew’s home automation beats around the MiCasaVerde VERA 3 Internet Gateway, which he is able to use to track or make changes for a variety of tasks around the house.
Andrew wanted control of the home via his iPhone so the VERA 3, with its easy to use app, was the answer he was looking for (Android app is also available). Another plus of the VERA 3 was the wide variety of plug-ins available to reach his goal of no touch home automation
Andrew’s System Details
Heating and Hot Water
First off, Andrew set up a number of Passive Infrared (PIR) sensors in his home to detect if anyone was home. This helped the VERA 3 to determine if the heating or hot water was needed and if not, turn them both off..
Andrew also has his iPhone able to track location via GPS and when he is a certain distance from home, the heating & hot water automatically turn on. He also set the phones for the rest of his family in the same manner as to not leave them shivering in the cold.
Andrew set the minimum temps for his heating to a low threshold so it will not turn on unless it is close to freezing temperature. The VERA 3 is able to monitor this via Z-Wave along with the StellaZ Radiator Thermostat and the Secure Boiler Receiver. Using a graphing and logging plugin, he is able to look at data over a certain period of time and make adjustments if he sees fit.
He did the same for hot water when it reaches a set minimum temperature or if the water is being used, it automatically heats back up to the desired temperature and level. Having a StellaZ Radiator Thermostat in almost every room in the house has already saved him a lot of money (that he will use to further expand his system).
In the utility room, the boiler is controlled by a Z-Wave Secure Boiler Receiver. This boiler supplies the radiators and the hot water storage tank. After installing the StellaZ TRV’s and the Secure Boiler Receiver and setting up my logic for heating, his heating bill dropped from £1000 from the previous winter to £300 this past winter. The amount of Kwh used was reduced by over 60%, which enabled his new equipment to pay for itself in 4 months!!!
A Fibaro Universal Sensor along with temperature probes monitors 4 points on the storage tank in the utility room. He can determine (and graph) heat loss and based on the rate of heat loss, make the necessary adjustments.
He also set up Tenvis security cameras so when motion is detected and he is not home, the VERA 3 will tell him where in the house and send him texts and images. These push notifications help him determine if someone is in the house that is not authorised.
He has also set up his neighbours and friends to get a text message with images from VERA 3 if he or the family is out of town. They can easily determine if anything is wrong and see if a trip over to the house is warranted.
If Andrew forgets to set the alarm and there is no motion during a set amount of time, the alarm will set automatically.
If a door is opened or one of the family is on their way home, the TV will display a pop up. This is accomplished using the PLEG plugin for Vera, which allows you to program events and have notices appear when the event occurs.
Similar to the heating & hot water, the lights are set to come on when motion is detected and off when there is no motion in the room for a certain length of time.
In each of the 4 bedrooms, a Z-Wave Aeon Labs Multisensor can not only detect motion but also the temperature, humidity and light level.
Andrew liked the LightwaveRF products as he wanted a uniform look for all the switches and sockets. He was able to integrate LightwaveRF with the VERA 3 by installing a RFXtrx433E USB 433.92 MHz transceiver.
He started with LightwaveRF 1-Gang Dimmers in the majority of the rooms and 2-Gang Dimmers in the larger areas. He also installed a LightwaveRF 1-Gang 2-way Dimmer at the bottom of the staircase and another at the end of a long corridor leading to the master bedroom.
Investing in 2 LightwaveRF Hand Held Remotes, one for each side of bed in the master, not only leads to a happy marriage but also the ability to control all the LightwaveRF devices at the push of a button.
The wall outlets were not ignored as he replaced those with the LightwaveRF 2 gang 13 amp Socket (12 of them…so far). They were easy to install and synced up nicely with his VERA 3 and the rest of his varied home automation products.
Andrew wants to find a solution for the 12 Velux windows so that the blinds open and close based on schedules. He can then retain as much heat as possible in winter by closing them as the sun goes down and opening when it comes up.
He is also investigating installing solar panels or slates, and if that goes well he will look at underfloor heating for certain rooms.
Putting additional sensors in the bathrooms for temperature and humidity as well as applying Aeon Labs smart film for the windows downstairs as they are too small for blinds.
Another twist in Andrew’s story is the recent addition of 4-legged family member who could potentially reach 40kg. It might present an issue with his PIR sensors but just like any challenge so far, Andrew will find a solution.
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