Adding More Lighting to my “Smart” Home

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As I recently mentioned, I've been trying to find some lighting for my house. I'm still looking for lights, but as can easily happen a trawl of CataWiki resulted in me buying a lamp that wasn't on my shopping list! 

I got a very nice vintage chrome Anglepoise lamp. For now it's going to live as a side lamp in my dining room area, as it'll give a nice lighting effect that you can't really get from a central light.

Vintage chrome anglepoise lamp

Hooking it up to my "smart home" setup, however, means that I can do a few features that a "dumb" light can't manage. (As an aside, referring to anything as "smart" or "dumb" is a bit weird, but until somebody gives me a better way of describing them it'll have to do)

  • Voice control via Alexa (I've got an Echo downstairs which provides voice control over a variety of devices including lights, sockets and music)
  • Remote control using my Samsung Smartthings hub
  • Automated routines based on a variety of criteria (presence, time and more)

I keep a close eye on Amazon's "deals" so I picked up a bunch of smart plugs when they were on special offer. There's a lot of different makes and models on the market, but a lot of them will work with Alexa and with a bit of work you can hook them up to a Samsung Smartthings hub.

One of the reasons I got the Samsung Smartthings hub is because it supports a very broad range of devices straight out of the box. And if a device isn't directly available you can write your own connection scripts to extend its functionality. I'm not a programmer, but there are plenty of people in the Smartthings community who are and who have written scripts that you can use to add functionality.

The smart plug I chose to use with the lamp is a TP-Link HS100. I've no particular affinity with TP-Link's products, but it was on special when I got it. The TP-Link kit works with wifi and they have their own app and cloud based control. Once you've downloaded their app you can relatively easily configure the plugs, including updating their firmware. Once you've done that it's pretty easy to get Alexa to recognise the new devices so that you can get basic voice control. (Make sure you name devices with simple names or you'll spend more time arguing with Alexa than you will using whatever you've connected!)

You can also do some fairly funky stuff with TP-Link's devices if you add them to your IFTTT account.

Connecting it up with the Samsung Smartthings hub can't be done directly until you add the custom connector. This blog post gave a nice clear overview on how to do it using the code here.

Now that the lamp is available to control via the hub it's pretty easy to add it to existing automation routines or to create new ones. For example I have a simple little routine that checks if any of the lights or lamps are still on at dawn and if they are it shuts them down. Why? Because more than once I've gone off to bed and forgotten to turn off all the lights! I've also got a simple little routine running that turns on a couple of lights when it's dusk, though only if the system knows I'm in the house. 

I also configured another smart plug so that I can use it with my Anova sous-vide. Being able to pre-heat the sous-vide while I'm still in the supermarket is appealing! Being able to do so without having to leave the Anova powered on all day is even more appealing! 

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