The Smarter Home Life Tiny Smart Home Tour
You've seen some of the portions (sets) of the Smarter Home LIfe "home studios" used as backdrops for various videos, demos and news updates. But what does the rest of the place look like? How do the various automations work? What kind of products are actually used in the day-to-day life of Joe Dugandzic, Exec Producer of Smarter Home Life? This video is your exclusive ticket to see not just how all of the tech stuff works together, but how life in a tiny home works in conjunction with connected-home devices.
While my own tiny home adventure began in late 2014, I've been working with home automation and lighting for several decades. Taking on the challenge of squeezing my life into less than 400 sq ft and automating most of it without making it impractical was a challenge. As I preach to others, I lived without any automation or specialized lighting for six weeks in the new place. This allowed me to understand what it was like to live in this micro-home without any automation or helpful systems. It gave me the time to plan out where smart switches and dimmers should be, what should be automated and what shouldn't, what lighting scenes made sense and what kind of changes I could make electrically and (nearly) structurally to make my tiny smart home a reality.
Designing the main space's functions was the most challenging aspects of making this tiny home comfortable to live in. As I've always been used to have separate, or somewhat separate areas for working, living and preparing meals, putting all of it in one room and figuring out the separation was tricky. Instead of trying to "block" areas out with furniture and objects, the layout was ultimately designed using color as a major way to separate the spaces.
Two facing walls visually (and diagonally) split the room between living/working space and kitchen/meal prep space. And a plethora (35) of lighting fixtures, all adjustable individually or controlled with home automation scenes, give focus to each of the four quadrants of the room. A "quick prep" area complements the kitchenette, housing a microwave, toaster and coffeemaker for, well, quick meals, drinks and snacks. An appropriately-sized refrigerator physically separates the two spaces. A minimum amount of storage in the home necessitated use of floating shelving units for "hiding things in plain sight."
The small bath space was also a concern, primarily with lighting as there are only two built-in overhead lights with heavily-frosted lenses. Using high-brightness LED lamps brightens the space and overcomes the dimming effect of the fixture lenses. But without a balanced light source from another direction, shadows can be cast and the room still felt dim at night, and even somewhat during the day with sunshine. A secondary light source, situated on the floor was the solution: An IKEA Fado globe light with a LIFX color-chaning smart bulb brightens the space and adds some drama and ambiance during evening hours. All of the lights in the bath are controlled via an Insteon 8-button keypad dimmer with scenes and even individual color control of the globe light is possible, without the use of a smartphone app.
The Smarter Home Life tiny home is carefully lit with all-LED lighting from Philips, Soraa, Cree, Insteon, LIFX, TCP and ilumi. Both traditional and "smart" lighting is used throughout the home. All lighting, both interior and exterior is controlled by home automation and adjusts automatically, by schedule, sunrise/sunset or via scene / individual control.
While the "red alert / self-destruct" and jabbering smart speaker devices were definitely a joke in the Tiny Smart Home Tour video, the rest of the demonstrated technology is 100% real and in-use every single day. The "automation alarm clock" system works backwards from the desired wake-up time to adjust the various smart home systems and initiate a gentle lighting sunrise effect. (And yes, pressing the "big red button" is really fun!) The vast majority of what is accomplished with the automations in my home is possible with today's popular smart home products from vendors like SmartThings, but the real "brains" of the Smarter Home Life home automation technologies is Indigo from Perceptive Automation. Indigo is a Mac-based automation server that works with nearly every type of system and device available. In my case, it interfaces to Insteon, Philips Hue, LIFX, HomeKit, Nest, SmartThings, NOAA Weather, iTunes and a geofencing app called Home Remote. Coming soon to the tiny smart home: automated mini blinds via FlipFlic, a unique close "door" and additional video security devices.
The following technologies / brands are used in the Smarter Home Life tiny smart home: Insteon, Philips Hue, LIFX, ilumi, SmartThings, Zigbee, Z-Wave, HAMBridge, HomeBridge, HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, iDevices, Kwikset, Elgato Eve, Cree, Soraa, TCP, Perceptive Automation, Philips Lighting, Apple and Fibaro.
This piece will be updated with more detailed information on the Smarter Home Life tiny home in the coming days and weeks, so please check back! And coming in June, detailed information on how everything works, for all the technically-curious!