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DIY Home Automation / Alarm System

DIY Home Automation / Alarm System

Buying a full security system and home automation system isn’t cheap but buying and installing your own DIY version should give you more functionality, better value for money and sensors that will be moveable to newer systems in the future.

Here is a list of the products we use, they all work fairly well together but best of all they get updates which increases functionality in the future, something traditional security systems generally don’t get.

Price wise it will vary on the amount of automation and sensors you require, for a standard motion activated alarm system with 3 sensors it would cost £218+, we’ve got a list of the best bundles at the bottom of this article.

Samsung SmartThings HubSmartThings

The SmartThings hub is the center of our current system, think of it like the brain of the system. The app is great. The ability to control and add new ‘things’ is great but the rest of the sensors we’ve tried to get from 3rd parties, the point of this is in the future if a better system comes out (hard to see but you never know) then we could move all of our existing sensors to this new system. If we purchased Samsung sensors then we would probably be restricted. We purchased the full starter pack but soon realised we would need more than just the sensors that are included in the pack.

Multisensorssensor

Aeon Labs Multisensor 6 – These monitor motion, temperature, humidity, light, UV & Vibration (physical movement of the device).
The most comprehensive unit on the market, syncs with SmartThings really well. You will need batteries or it can be powered via MicroUSB. We use these to turn on lights when there is motion

SmartThings Motion Sensor – We have just one of these as it came with the SmartThings Starter Pack, the Multisensor 6 is far superior so don’t bother buying this SmartThings version.

Lighting
phillips-hude

The Multisensors & Wemo Motion sensors are an integral part of the lighting systems but to control the actual lights you need the following:

Wemo Plugs – A little on the big size but does that job well, now integrates with SmartThings well. I would probably consider going for a smaller unit such as the Samsung version as it’s a lot more compact but the Wemo’s are generally £10-£15 cheaper.

Aeotec Dimmer – Goes behind your dimming light switch, often a pain to install but once installed will allow you to control existing lights from your phone or via SmartThings scripts. They do more simpler on/off switches as well if you don’t need the dimming functionality.

Phillips Hue Starter Set (Light Strips or Bulbs) – These bulbs / lightstrips allow you to control individual bulbs from SmartThings or use the Phillips app to setup custom patterns/disco style effects etc. You can buy the bulbs without the Phillips Bridge, however, they’re notoriously difficult to remove from your SmartThings hub once sync’d, so if something was to go wrong with your SmartThings hub you might have a bulb that doesn’t do anything… For that reason the Bridge (£49.99) is needed in our opinion, the bridge is however included in the starter sets.

Phillips Hue comes in three varieties White, Colour & Strips. The white ones are effectively dimmable white smart bulbs whilst the colour & strips have 16 million colours options. If you can afford the colour versions go for those. These all integrate very well with SmartThings.

Alarms / Security
window

Aotec Siren – a small plugin siren that can be controlled by SmartThings, you will need an EU > UK adaptor annoyingly. Remember to hide it well.

Samsung Multi Sensors – Although we tried to keep the sensors all from 3rd parties we purchased these at the time we purchased the hub. These sensors know if a door is opened or closed, if a knock happens & the temperature.

Window Sensors (pictured) – We’re waiting for this unit in the UK, instead we currently use the Samsung Multi Sensors (above).

Fire / Heating / Doorbell

nestNest Protects – Internet-connected Smoke & CO2 alarms. If one goes off the others do, mobile notifications and links to other home automation system to turn on sirens and text message family/friends.

Nest Gen3 Thermostats – A learning thermostat that controls the heating & hot water for your home, it knows when you’re away + will sync with your home automation system, this will save you money eventually.

Ring Doorbell – A video doorbell that you can see on your phone (anywhere in the world), also syncs with home automation system to say “someone is at the front door” on the Sonos Speakers.

Speakers
speaker-sonos

Sonos Play 5 speakers – Superb sound from a fairly compact unit, expensive upfront costs though mean that the smaller versions (Play:3 & Play:1) are more popular. All of the Sonos speakers integrate with SmartThings, allowing you to send out warnings to intruders or read out the weather/news in the morning etc.

You can also play/pause music from the SmartThings app or via a script. The Ring doorbell (above) integrates with it as well, albeit via IFTTT.

Security Cameras

cameras-cctvFoscam HD FI9831P interior camera – Decent all-rounder camera with night vision, around £90

Foscam 1080p exterior camera – Fixed position full HD camera

Foscam FI9821P – Cheaper than the 9831p and 720p

Sighthound Software to record and send alerts to IFTTT & SmartThings

Presence / knowing who is at the house or office

SmartThings have a presence sensor that you can add to your keys which is ideal if you don’t want someone in the household to have access to the app.

SmartThings mobile app allows you to track the location of the phone it is installed on, as soon as you arrive at home (you can customise the exact location on the map) the system will enable/disable modes/security etc.

Control systems

smartthings-softwareAlthough you can control all of the above with your smartphone, sometimes it’s nice to have a physical object to control them.

SmartTiles.click is a service that integrates with SmartThings and a cheap Android tablet.

Solar
immersun

Immersun Unit – Takes excess power from solar panels and heats up your hot water tank or other heaters in the home. Although this technically can’t plug and play with the other home automation systems in the house there is an API that could be linked with some custom software.

What should I buy?

Of course, this will vary on each home but this gives you a rough idea of what we would buy for each price point.

A basic home security system & home automation kit £218.85 (or £264)

This setup would alert you via the app of any intrusions + is a great foundation to start with + give you temperature, humidity, light, UV & Vibration of your home. The optional plugs increase the security of your home by turning on and off your interior lamps when away/home.

A middle of the road home security system & home automation kit £384.27

The addition of the siren creates a more physical deterrent, the addition of the Samsung &/or Wemo plugs massively increase the effectiveness of your system as a deterrent. The Samsung Multi Sensors allows your system to listen out for knocks and will alert you if you leave your doors open. Adding a Sonos speaker at this point opens your system up to alerts around the home and/or further deterrent by playing music when you’re away, motion is detected or there is a knock on your door. Consider installing a DIY home security camera system using an old phone.

Advanced home security system & home automation kit (£1230)

More of the Aeon Labs Multisensor 6 will allow you to monitor more rooms, more plugs to control more lights, an additional siren to put the other side of your home. Nest Protects & Nest Gen3 Thermostats gives your system the ability to control heating and monitor smoke remotely (ideal if you leave your house unattended for long periods during the day/year). The addition of more Sono speakers & an Android tablet to control the system turns it into something that really does feel like something from the future.

Visual advanced home security system, home automation kit & mood lighting  (£1935+)

You’re now fully covered around the house with video recorded to the cloud & locally. Hue lights increase your relaxation and offer better functionality due to colours/dimming etc.