Hey what’s up, Alex here! Time flies, and it
has been almost a year since my initial smart home tour video. That video is actually pretty
short and brief, I didn’t cover much about the renovation stuff and the smart home features
I put in place. So now I am planning to do a 2 parts video. The first part which is this
video, is going to be a full walkthrough of the smart home setup I have now.
Here are the
topics or areas that I will be covering in this video, I have put timestamps to them so feel free to
jump to any sections that you are interested in. Smart Lighting is one of the
main key aspects of a smart home. To achieve smart lighting in my place,
I have a mixture of smart switches, smart bulbs and LED light strips. Ok now I have
switched on all the lights, let’s have a quick rundown of which is which. I will point out those
that are a smart bulb or LED strip. For the rest of the lights you
see are powered by smart switches. ok for kitchen, all smart switches in the living room this is a smart strip for the tv backlight
a smart bulb for that standing lamp for the study room, each of the desk will be smart strip this is a smart bulb toilets don't have gym room don't have then for this room, again another light strip for the tv then…
Another one here toilets dont' have then for the masterbed room
is just these two smart bulbs for the bedside Basically for a smart switch, it just allow you
to control the on and off state nothing more. I am using all aqara wall switches but
a combination of different versions. Most of them are from these China version 2-gang
switches. A couple of the D1 single gang switches and one of their latest H1 single gang switch.
The reasons why I picked Aqara. I prefer rocker type of switches instead of the touch screen
type because I like that you need not press at a very precise spot and you can basically not
look at it. Design wise it’s pure white in color, the D1 and H1 has a more squarish look, the
feel of the switches are also different. Price is very affordable and the best of
all, it’s able to integrate with smartThings. Not an official supported integration
but it works perfectly fine for my setup. For smart bulbs, not only can you control the
on/off, you can also control the brightness, and even color if you are using an RGB
I have a combination of brands here. In my masterbed room bedside, these are very cheap
brandless A19 bulbs I bought from Shopee using the Tuya smart life. For my living room standing
lamp this is using the Yeelight E27 RGB bulb, scheduled on automatically everyday in the
evening. At the corridor area, I have this Kasa filament smart bulb. These look the best with
this kind of light feature that makes the light bulb visible.
I set this to 1% brightness, also
switched on automatically everyday in the evening, really love the look and feel of this. I have this
linked with my Aqara wall switch, configured as a wireless switch which is another great feature
for the Aqara smart switches. In smartThings, I can have one of the switches of my 2-gang
switch to be decoupled and set to unwired. The biggest problem of having a smart bulb that is attached to
a wall switch is whenever someone go and press it, the power is cut off. With this configuration,
you won’t have this problem anymore. For smart LED light strips, I have 2 brands here –
Yeelight and Govee. 1 Yeelight strip behind my living room TV, and 1 for each of my desk in
the study room. It can only display a single light at any time, comes with a switch for you
to on/off, and also for to change to some of the standard colors. Yeelight has an official
cloud to cloud integration with smartThings which works great. The other brand is Govee, I
have the Govee TV light strip that is installed on my entertainment room TV, able to
do multiple lights on a single strip and also able to change light according to your TV
color display with the camera attached on top of the TV.
Then I also have the Govee Lyra floor lamp
at the side to create some nice ambient lighting. For Govee, there is unofficial integration with
smartThings, if you are interested on how to set up Govee with smartThings, I have linked a
video guide in the video description below. Let’s be real, taking out your phone then going
to an app to access your smart home devices is not convenient at all. Fully relying
on voice assistant also don't sense all the time, for example you have tv
or videos playing in the background then your voice assistant is not picking up what
you are saying accurately, not to mention that it is going to take like at least 10s from saying
out the commands to getting the response.
So you want to make use of sensors or wireless button
triggers as much as possible to achieve quick immediate response on your smart home devices.
For sensors, I have motion and contact sensors in my setup. A combination of brands from Xiaomi,
Aqara and smartThings. At my main door, this is the Aqara contact sensor. Once the door is opened,
it will switch on the entrance light.
My kitchen has a Xiaomi motion sensor, after sunset once you
enter, it will switch on the main kitchen light. This is the smartThings motion sensor placed
in my toilet, automatically switch on the lights when motion is detected and automatically
switched off when no motion detected after 5mins. And lastly, smartThings contact
sensor for my bedroom wardrobe. Once opened, switch on the tracklight and once
closed, it will switched it off after 30s. The smartThings sensors are more expensive than
the Xiaomi and Aqara ones, besides natively integrated to smartThings platform, they actually
work better especially for the motion sensors. Next I have wireless switches or buttons.
I love these because they can be essentially placed anywhere in the house to easily trigger
smart home devices whichever way you want it. Again, I have a combination of different
shapes and sizes from different brands. This Xiaomi button I placed at the entrance to
easily switch on or off what I want when I’m going out or back home.
I have the Aqara cube right
beside me in my study room to control the aircon, fan switch and so on. An Aqara wireless switch
in my entertainment room to control the aircon and blinds. Then lastly, these small little
smartThings buttons in the masterbed room, whether it’s on the bedside table or stick it
somewhere totally up to you. Most houses will just have wall switches beside your bed which you can’t
reach them easily unless you kind of sit up right or stretch all the way for it. That’s what
make these wireless switches so convenient. So I configure this to switch on my bedside light
if I do a single press, double press will on/off the aircon, press and hold will open/close the
curtain. A very common question I got asked about is can you do a 2-way light switch. In the smart
home context there is no need to hardwire a 2-way switch because you can always do a 2-way, 3-way,
up to you using these kind of wireless switches. Yes these are battery operated but they
can last you a very very long time, not something that I will worry about.
Smart plugs or sockets are easily one of the easiest way to start building a smart home.
basic feature is to allow you to control the power input like an on or off switch. You can do some
scheduling and combine with the routines you set. These teckin ones powered by tuya are pretty
basic. But some sockets have additional features. Like the smart plugs from ikea, these can help you
to relay zigbee signals. Then I also have smart plugs from kasa tplink, that comes with energy
monitoring. I am using smart plugs with my indoor cameras, power strips attached to my study desk
and also the bunch of devices at my TV console area so that they will completely stop consuming
power when I don’t need them.
I use a smart power strip in my entertainment room because I want to
be able to control the socket individually. This is a brandless one, but at least has the safety
mark. Most of the brandless smart home devices are powered by Tuya smart life. All of these
are of course, centrally managed in smartThings. I can’t tell you how much I love a smart blind
or smart curtain solution. It really easily save you a lot of time and effort opening and closing
them multiple times everyday especially for those working from home. I have the Aqara curtain motor
with day curtains for my living room and blackout curtain for my masterbed room. Somfy motors with
blackout blinds for living room and study room. Soma smart shade for my gym room and the
Aqara Smart blind E1 for my entertainment room These two are retro fit solutions. It doesn’t make
sense to have multiple brands here, the reason why I am doing this is to just try out the different
Except for the Aqara smart blind, the rest of them I have actually done a separate
video if you like to check that out in more details. The Aqara smart blind is zigbee based and I like
that it has manual controls on the device itself which aligns with the principle of a smart
home. That is if you remove away the smart home component, all these smart home devices must
still be able to operate normally. This is a very new product from Aqara so no integration with
smartThings yet, hopefully that will come soon. There are more and more home appliance that are
starting to be natively smart and incorporating some smart features on them. In the smartThings
platform, you can add a bunch of these like air purifier, fridge, washing machine and robot
Of course, they must all be from Samsung. Unfortunately, I only have a Samsung
branded TV and their robot vacuum. Talking about robot vacuum, they are a savior,
one of the best inventions. I have been using the Samsung Jet Bot+ with the auto empty station
for the past 3 months. But I am going to start testing out the Roborock S7 and Deebot T9 for
the next 3 months. So expect a comparison review video of these 3 sometime in December.
If the home appliance is not natively smart but has a remote control for them, then
you can make use of a IR/RF blaster solution to control that remote control. I have a
combination of 3 brands here – Switchbot, Broadlink and Aqara. In my study room, I place
this Switchbot hub on my desk, that kind of looks like my company logo now.
This will control
my living room TV and aircon. Broadlink rm4 pro in my kitchen to control the laundry rack
and ceiling fans via RF. A Switchbot hub mini in my masterbed room to control the aircon and
lastly the Aqara m2 hub in my entertainment room to control the TV and aircon. Only the
Switchbot has integration with smartThings, Broadlink and Aqara hub links to my Google
Home directly. Broadlink is my least favourite because of their app but at least they can do RF.
So what happens if the appliance is not natively smart and doesn’t have a remote control. That
is when you can make use of the Switchbot bots to simulate the finger pressing action. For me,
I have these switchbot bots for each of our PC. I have this included in my Good Morning
routine, and also using it if we need to remotely access our PC.
I wanted to stick one
for my PS5 as well but doesn’t seem possible. One of the biggest selling points of staying in
Singapore is because it’s super safe over here. So there isn’t a huge emphasize on
home security unlike other countries. And also generally for apartment houses like a
HDB, there isn’t much you can and need to do. For smart doorbell, I am still using the same
which is the smart doorbell by RING. But instead of using the RING app, I have it integrated to
the SmartThings app instead and basically using it via SmartThings because somehow it is more
responsive rather than using their own app. So I have motion sensor set, whenever motion is detected
in the defined area that you set in the RING app, SmartThings will send a notification to my phone.
Here is a demo to show you how fast I will receive the notification. I also have an automation
set that whenever the doorbell is pressed, I also have an automation
set that whenever the doorbell is pressed, it will switched on my dining light and
automatically switch it off after 10seconds. This is very good because most of the time I
am not looking at my phone when I am at home, and especially if I am in an online meeting
then at least you have that visual notification. Samsung TV comes with the SmartThings app in their
I can switch on notification for the doorbell as well. If I am watching TV halfway, it will
pop up the notification at the side. However, I can’t have the RING doorbell integrated
to my google nest hub because RING is under Amazon while the nest doorbell is under Google.
Google just released their newest nest doorbell which looks really very nice and is also cheaper
than their previous version. So I might replace with that but you know, any new tech from Google
won’t be available in the Singapore Google store, so I have to import it from
elsewhere if I really want to get it. Next I am going to talk about the indoor cameras
I have installed. I have one placed in the living room, one placed in the kitchen and one placed
in the masterbed room to cover all the areas I like to monitor. And the only reason why
I installed these cameras is for this guy. So total of 3 cameras now, 2 of them is using
these cameras from Switchbot.
Their camera is positioned as a budget choice, selling at only 30
USD each. I like that the camera is quite small and I am pretty satisfied with the video quality.
For video storage, it supports local storage using the SD card slot behind, or if you prefer cloud
storage subscription it does come with this option as well. There isn’t like a directional
pad controller on the app to control the camera facing direction, you can only manually turn it on
the hardware itself, but hey this is only 30 USD, very value for money. I have them integrated to
Google home, so I can easily view the camera on my google nest hub or simply via the Switchbot
app. The other camera I have is the Aeotec camera, price of this is 119 SGD. It is a 1080p full-HD
camera that can rotate 360 degrees, with tilt and panorama function. No SD card for local video
storage but it comes with a free 24-hrs cloud storage. The biggest selling point of this camera
of course for me is that it is from SmartThings. Fully integrated in the smartThings app, so I can
have it automatically start recording when I am out for lunch, I can access the recordings
easily under SmartThings video after that. The last item I have under Home Security
is the Smart Door lock.
So I am using this Bluetooth xiaomi smart door lock which is the only
device left inside my mihome app. Like I said in my previous Q&A video, if I know that I
will be using the smartThings solution, I would have gotten a compatible supported lock in the
smartThings platform instead. Nonetheless, I can still set and manage user profiles on this lock
which is super useful. It also has a full log with timestamps on all the events going on. There are a
bunch of automation you can set but since I am not using mihome anymore, I can’t make use of them.
So this is the difference between a smart door lock and a normal digital lock, a smart door lock
will have all these software features you can set. Your home network is very crucial of
how well your smart home is going to perform. For any smart home setup, I will always
recommend you to get a mesh wifi system. It is the best and easiest way to get
strong wifi coverage and signal for all your smart home devices using a single
broadcast network ID.
At the same time, not powerful to the extend of interfering with
your neighbor’s wifi which is what you will want in terms of security and performance. What I am
using is the Netgear Orbi system. The specs for that is great and what I particularly like is
the app comes with analytics data on your wifi, you can even setup your home testing of the signal
and speed in the app.
I love that it comes with 4 ethernet ports on the main and satellite unit. So
I have my main unit placed inside the DB board. For the 3 wired connection, 1 is going to my
study room which is then connected to a switch that provides wired connection to the PCs, TV
and somfy hub. The other 1 is going to my gym room connecting to my laptop directly and last
1 is going to my entertainment room connecting to my satellite unit which also provide wired
connection to my PS5, TV and smartThings hub. Despite using many zigbee and zwave smart home
devices already, you can see that I still have over 30 connected devices which is beyond
the recommendation of my current orbi model. So I will most likely upgrade my equipment this
year end and move over to wifi 6 at the same time. There are basically only 2 choices for
me here since I am not an iphone user, that means Google or Alexa. One of the benefits
of using a central hub based smart home solution is – you are flexible to use any voice assistant,
or even both if you want.
For my case, I am using Google Home. There are basically only 3 ways
to trigger your voice assistant. 1 is of course with your mobile phone, the other 2 are using either
a smart speaker or a smart display device. I don’t have a specific brand preference in the
world of speakers, so I will always prefer those that comes with a voice assistant or integration
with smartThings. For me in my living room, I have the Bose 500 soundbar linked to Google
home. I turned the sensitivity to the max so that I can pretty much trigger google
assistant even when I am in the study room or even in the kitchen. Of course, that
will also depends on how loud is your voice. In my masterbed room, I now place my Google nest
hub display on my bedside table. Besides having voice assistant, these kind of smart
display also double as a photo frame, a clock, providing smart home controls and also
let you do video calls. What I have here is the 2nd gen nest hub, so one of the new features is
sleep sensing. Instead of wearing a smart watch to do sleep tracking, the Google nest hub can now do
that using sensors and sound.
I have been playing around with this lately, pretty interesting!
With these smart speaker setups, I can also do message broadcasting, like a PA system which I
find it quite cool and funny at the same time. My entire smart home setup is based around
the smartThings platform. Let’s take some time to talk about it. I feel that is a solution that
is able to cater to 3 levels of users. SmartThings have a long list of natively supported
devices, the best practice is of course going with these devices, that’s the easiest. So the
level 1 basic users will stop here. Level 2 advance users will be those that are able to
leverage on the smartThings developers community, follow some simple steps to integrate those
devices that are not natively supported. For example in my case, Aqara and Govee.
lastly at level 3 the super users will be those that will make use of smart apps to
set more complex and interesting automations So overall, it’s a hub-based solution that all
sorts of users can use, unlike home assistant or hubitat that are not very beginner friendly.
The smartThings hub retails at 199 SGD, supports zigbee, zwave, wifi. If you need to
extend zigbee signals you can get these very cheap repeaters from ikea, I have a couple of these.
It’s a smart home solution that I have been using and no regrets at all.
In case you are not aware, the
entire smart home industry will have a big change in the future – the big 3 Google, Amazon, Apple,
together with the alliance are coming together for this project call Matter. I will not go into
the details what Matter is about, you can go check it out at the website. The important takeaway
is smartThings is part of it. And they are also making lots of upcoming improvements like having
more local automations which are more reliable, here are some videos from the channel Automate
your life if you want to find out more. Again I need to reiterate that the reason why
I am using so many different brands is mainly because I just want to try out the different products,
and also because I know the smartThings platform is able to support it to a certain extend. Although
not every single devices are integrated, it’s not a really big deal.
Able to have about
80% of the devices consolidated on smartThings, I am pretty happy with that. There is no perfect
solution out there, as long as it works for you, you are benefitting from it and enjoying it on
your everyday life, then that’s good enough! That’s all for this first part video of
my 2021 smart home tour. The second part will focus only on the renovation aspect, also
covering some of the reno regrets which many of you are interested to know as well. These
videos really took me a lot of time and effort to do so to show your support, give it a like and
share this with your friends if they are trying to setup a smart home. Thank you for watching
as always and stay tuned for the next one BYE!