Q&A: Home Automation - June 2017 - Mesh Networking and more!

Q&A: Home Automation - June 2017 - Mesh Networking and more!

Mesh networking, whether it’s Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, seems to be the question of the month from multiple viewers, along with HomeKit multi-user capabilities and how to get started doing smart home consulting.

Housekeeping stuff (you should really watch it) starts off the Q&A as always, and then I share a bit of my story to answer this first question:

(Questions and basic answers & links are here, full answers are in the video below.)

From Krisham Ray
Starts at 6:35
How do you start being a Smart Home Consultant, I'm really interested.

Other than web and YouTube learning / research, CEDIA is a great place to start for training and certifications. My own story of becoming a smart home consultant and authority on the subject is one of many years of learning, trial-by-fire and it started because I had certain goals I wanted to accomplish with automation.

From Michael D.
Starts at 17:31
I have a Verizon router in my basement where the cable comes into the house.  All of my wireless devices are upstairs. It has both 2.4 Ghz and5.0 Ghz channels. Periodically, the 2.4 network drops and requires a router reboot to “repair”.  I can do this via the computer by going to the router setup website or doing a power off reset at the router itself. The 5 Ghz network works flawlessly. Verizon gave me a new router, but the same problem exists.

Do you think a range extender or mesh network hardware would fix this problem? If so, do you have a recommendation? Since it is only the 2.4 Ghz network that fails, would I need a 2.4 and 5 Ghz extender?

My single family house is about 2500 sq. ft. and some of the range extenders on the market cover 10,000 sq. ft. Would that interfere with my neighbor about 40+ ft. away?

A lot of question marks here, but it is really annoying when the 2.4 network fails and some of my devices only “speak” 2.4.

Answer: Sadly, there’s a definite lack of Wi-Fi extender / mesh systems at Smarter Home Life because of the very small nature of our worldwide HQ at the tiny smart home. But there have been some great articles and comparisons of the options that are out there, like Eero, Google Wi-Fi, Netgear Orbi and others. Here’s an article from the Wirecutter on this very topic. A new entry into the mesh Wi-Fi market is Samsung Connect Home, which includes an embedded SmartThings hub. Some Wi-Fi analyzer app suggestions: iOS | Android.

From Aaron W
Starts at 28:29
Love your content and I'd love to get a consult sometime. This question is about my new Kwikset Premis.  The install went well and the app works fine. Apple HomeKit will control the lock as long as I'm in BT range outside of whichis my Apple TV home hub. The lock is not talking to the Apple TV I think because it's out of range.  Do I need some kind of extender to make my automations work? Is there a better solution?

Answer: The longer explanation in the video can be boiled down to this: Bluetooth Mesh networking is launching now and will start to spread to many devices both old and new over the next 6-12 months. It has the capability of relaying signals between Bluetooth devices to avoid the range issue that Aaron is experiencing. Sadly, right now there are no universal Bluetooth extenders that exist, which operate similarly to Wi-Fi extenders. And while both ConnectSense and Elgato announced such devices at CES 2017, they still haven’t yet hit the market. But as soon as this technology starts to land in the marketplace, Smarter Home Life will be there to evaluate it!

From David
Starts at 37:41
Hey Joe - love the channel! It has helped me get started on making my home the "smarter" home :)

I do have a question after I watched your home tour - my wife is a nurse and is home with our daughter a lot of days that I leave the house. I use Philips hue bulbs in the house with a couple smart outlets and will soon be setting up a nest thermostat and (with wife approval) a smart door lock & garage opener. 

My question is... How do you suggest or recommend setting it up so that when i leave the house and my wife is there, it's not putting the house in "away" mode? Do I need to download the apps and replicate settings for homekit onto her iphone as well so that it knows someone else is in the home? I'm kind of at a loss as to how to handle this situation.

Appreciate any insight you can offer!!

Answer: This is a great question, and dealing with multiple people in home automation routines has been getting easier over the years. SmartThings supports it via “Presence Devices” such as smartphones or their dedicated Arrival Sensors, but it can potentially be tricky to setup. Apple announced during WWDC 2017 that HomeKit would get upgraded to handle multiple users for automations in iOS 11. And, after our look at the latest beta, they are indeed integrating it right into their Home app. So the good news is that it will be easy to setup once the general release of iOS 11 arrives in September. Once you share your HomeKit “Home” to your wife’s Apple ID, which you can do right now to let her start playing with the HomeKit stuff, the new multi-user automation stuff will be available (in iOS 11).

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