The world of DIY smart home automation is surging in Australia with new products, even new brands, are released every week. We are still a long way from vast amount of control, measure or monitor products available in Europe or the USA.
From my research the majority of DIY home automation space is retrofitting existing houses. And this market is growing with larger online inter web pages/sites focused on group learning of how to extract the most from your chosen DIY path.
Not to be a killjoy – PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING – if you are not a qualified electrician you should not be going near any 230V AC power services. No access to light switches, GPOs, the water heater, HVAC, pool pump, etc. Use only professionally trained and qualified electricians for this work.
Bring the on the nay-sayers with industry protection comments regarding my callout to use electricians. Your house could have many different wiring standards and various wiring types. Who knows what has gone on in your walls, roof space and underfloor over 20, 30, 50 or more years. Hopefully this has convinced you!
If not and you do unqualified-DIY electrical and have an electrically-induced house fire, good luck in trying to convince your insurance company it was not what you did (directly or indirectly).
So, DIY with a qualified electrician terminating and connecting all the 230v AC services you require is the safest route. Once the 230V AC controllers/monitors/receivers are done, you, as a DIYer, can get to play with your setup and configuration for as long as you want or need to. Let’s look at this seriously, the configuration is where the magic really happens.
So what is the upside of being a DIYer?
- You get to control and administer what you need when you need it, and possibly how you like it.
- Choose from a large variety of products where you can select cheapest, best suited or combination
- Not rely on one transmission medium for your house, mix it up with Z-Wave, Zigbee, WiFi and physically terminated
- Try to get all devices under one App interface so there are less Apps/screens/ buttons to administer
- If you really get to know your platform and trust it, automate the really mundane tasks as set-and-forget.
- Control of your world (for periods of time anyway)
And the flip side to DIY home automation?
- You need to read, understand and select wisely – platform, product, options – it takes time to research and define what works for you and your family.
- It is not a matter of simply getting a bargain online that looks too good to be true – all products must have Australian Certification, read above re insurance coverage in case of a fire or you flood your house.
- Your house is in your hands, if it goes wrong, or stops working, be prepared for the questioning from your partner and family
- What is simple to you may not be to others. Your household may not want to use a tablet with an operating system they are not familiar with
- Try not to make it too simple or too complex – this is harder than you think!
- Re-sale – yep, one day you will sell your house. So, do you write a manual in hope that the next owner can use it or do you strip out the smarts and take it with you – that is time and cost you must way up
- Too customised – that is a rabbit hole that some projects go down and all of a sudden you need to be a software expert to change or upgrade – back to points 3 and 5.
If you want to give DIY a try without any electrical wiring interaction you can limit yourself to lighting. There are many options out there that retrofit into light receptacles to make your home more efficient and smarter. This can be a good project to customise your children’s bedrooms and have them configure colour/time/alarm – it is localised and low-ish cost.
If you want to tinker, and still keeping away from 230V AC, I would start with garden lights. Sure, it’s not the sexiest of topics, but you know what, get it right and you might find your self using your yard a lot more especially on the upcoming long summer nights.
- Stay away from 230V AC unless you are a trained electrical professional
- Research well and start small
- Keep it simple
- Use only Australian Certified products
- Have fun, learn and seek out what could be next on your agenda.
To be really clear on the 230V AC warnings, even as a qualified electrical engineer I am not permitted or ticketed to work on my own house. I am comfortable with that so I focus on the design and automation configuration work to get the house humming along.
Stay Safe. Be Smart!