New Smart Home Design

We just had an offer accepted on a great little lake front house!!

Extremely excited for the move but I’m also really excited to turn it into a full smart house!

**What recommendations do you have for hardware/software, general things to think about in the process? **

Would love to hear your experiences.

Here are some more details of our situation.

We are moving from an apartment (this will be my first house). The apartment had several hue lights including light bulbs, indoor strip, outdoor strip and play bar. We have 5 or 6 echo devices that will be used in the new space. Because it was an apartment was not able to fully convert the more unique lights because I wasn’t going to install light switches.

The new house was completely remodeled. It was a fix and flip type property. It has some really nice built in lighting, and lots of it so I’m looking to switch out the light switches as a way to make the lighting smart. My partner is significantly less tech savvy. There will need to be a seamless integration for this little house to be a happy home. She has gotten used to calling out to Alexa for some basic actions.

I’m looking to add automatic black out blinds, lots of outdoor elements (we are building a deck and hoping to extend lighting out to the dock), and I’d like to install a Home Hub in the kitchen, probably run off an iPad and shortcuts so if I’m not there Julia can easily run the entire house.

What else am I missing? I’m ready to make this a tech lovers dream home.

If you want/need more details on the space to give good recommendation (or just want to see a pic :slight_smile: ) let me know.

I also run a YouTube channel and plan to document the entire process including turning half the garage into a fully decked out live streaming and video production studio.

I’d definitely recommend HomePod minis throughout the house. Both for the intercom feature, but also they’re a much better home hub than an iPad.

Light switches: if you can get them, Lutron Caseta. Very user friendly, add some motion sensors to the hallways and stairs and you’re in business!


Very helpful. Also just relistened to your recent home automation episode. Great one!

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What I have done is to change the switches from upstairs in 2 rooms to 3 way zigbee switches. I have managed to do this on my own, but do it only if you know what youare doing.:slight_smile: I got in both rooms a switch with 3 buttons. The reason is you can technically have one button to turn on/off the light in the room and use the other 2 for other things like, blinds, lights and other things. Technically I only connected L and L1 in the switch so I can use the other 2 for other things via the app. You can technically have other routines for the other 2 like turn off all the lights downstairs, motion sensors or maybe you can create a night routine and a morning routine… etc sky is the limit. the switches are not homekit compatible and for zigbee devices you need usually a hub. I got a hubitat, because you run everything locally and setup a simple rule for the switches to turn on in the morning at the same time. Technically you can have motion sensors, but I tried to avoid that for now because with this stuff it needs to be a WIFE approved device:))


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Hello @shiftjam,

Which Zigbee switches did you purchase? I have seen a video on YouTube of someone using a 2 or 3 gang switch, using only one of them to control the lights and the other(s) to run smart home automation. However, the ones they used were WiFi, and these often need a neutral wire which many UK light installations do not have at the switch. I am aware there are now WiFi plugs that do not need a neutral wire at the switch but I am just curious to know which Zigbee option you used. I would like to look at several options before I take the plunge and order the switches.

Darran West

In the UK LightWave seemed to be the only option for ages. Now there’s Aqara too, but I don’t see those available in many places so I just went with Hue bulbs and covered my light switches.

Hello @RosemaryOrchard,

Using the Hue bulbs and covering the switches is what I have done for the last few years as well. In conjunction with the wireless dimmer switches mounted to the wall visitors can still operate the lights without any problem.

What I am looking to do by replacing the normal light switches elsewhere in the house is run additional, none lighting automations. By not connecting the second gang in the switch to a lighting circuit it essentially becomes a button to control other smart home routines. For example, with a two gang light switch I can use one of the connections to turn on non Hue lights but the other switch can be used to control any other automation(s). This could be a simple routine such as controlling a smart socket to power power up a device, or a more complex routine such as turn on/off a number of lights, close a blind and power on a smart socket, all from one button. Once the routine is setup in HomeKit, Alexa, etc. the additional button on the light switch is all that is needed to activate the routine.

Darran West

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Hi @darranwest

I am based in UK as well (Manchester) so I am aware of the problem. However, more and more switches dont need the neutral. I have only attached 2 wires to the switch to L and L1. Can’t tell you which one was which because they were both red. This are the switches that I got. Keep in mind that you need a zigbee hub like hubitat, samsung or the maybe amazon echo, but not the dot version.

From my perspective they have a design problem. Normal switches are tactile in the sense that you have a button, you press it and boom… light. On these switches when they are off, there is no indication where to press There is a symbol that turns blue when on but the blue light is only visible when its on, not off. My suggestion is, do not try to turn the light on if you had loads of wine or beers. :)) A wi-fi switch which I tried first had a red light when closed and blue when on which was much better. Nothing you can’t get used to, but it might be a bit annoying at times. Hope it helps.


I really like that idea of using the other switches to run automation and other scenes. I’m likely going to go with the Lutron switches but need to do more research to see if I can use the additional button on them to control other devices and routines.

I finally went ahead and ordered my first HomePod mini. It arrives today!

While we won’t be able to fully make the switch from an Alexa run apartment to a Siri run home right away I’m excited to be building off of the HomeKit platform.

there is also flic if you want to go that route, but they are kind of expensive. you can use that instead of a switch. here is a link for the flic stuff. You can run automation and more at the push of a button and if you buy the hub you can control them from anywhere. I was tempted to get some to test them out, but they are more on the expensive side. On the other hand hue are as well:)

That’s sort of my idea as well when I installed 3 gang switches. Not related to switches, but with plugs, you can now get one of these in case you want to control coffee machine, crock pot or things like this.

Hello @shiftjam,
My apologies for not replying sooner but for some reason I did not get (or just did not notice) that there had been any replies to this thread.

Thank you for passing on the details of the switch that you use. It is similar to some of the other ones that I have looked at. The lack of any physical buttons is a bit of a downside with the one you have linked, as well as others that I have looked at. The colour of the switches/buttons when they are on and off is not something I had considered. However, as this switch would be by my front door it is would probably not be that big of an issue.

Thanks again for sharing the link to the switch.

Darran West

Hello again @shiftjam,
I had seen both the Flic buttons and the plug sockets you have linked to on Paul Hibbert’s YouTube channel. He is a big fan of the Flic buttons and from the automations he has setup I can see why he likes them. However, like you I was put off by the cost.

The things I am looking to automate with the light switch are in various locations around the house, and a couple of them are in smart plugs which are in a four gang extension. While I could move things around a bit so that things were not powered through the extension leads I do not really want to start replacing sockets. The last time I had to replace a socket the wires in the ring main were only just long enough to long enough to to connect to the terminals on the replacement. As the terminals were in slightly different places to the old socket (and the electrician had left no slack on the ring main cables) I could only just get it wired back up. This has put me off replacing plug sockets unless I absolutely have to do it.

Thanks again
Darran West