Anyone here doing home automation?

For years I have been using Homeseer with a number of different devices to do my home automation which has meant having a PC running 24/7 and the recent Windows 10 setup reboots itself when Microsoft decides it wants to update even though you said DO NOT. Time for a new system.

I recently discovered from a friend in the UK with a blog (ESP8266 Home Control 2016) on his attempts to get a reliable system. I purchased small modules from Peter many years ago and I ran hundreds of meters of 4-core alarm cable all over my home to control the lights and sockets etc. Not wife friendly.

With the introduction of the ESP8266 to the market, a low cost wireless home automation system became possible and using Node-red running on a Raspbery Pi3 I now have a low powerful solution and easily expandable with low cost switches etc. Peter and his good friend Aiden have done a lot of the donkey work with the ESP8266 and their open source code allows the use of MQTT to send and receive updates etc. The response times are amazing with this. Node-red and MQTT were made for each other. It is based on a publish and subscribe based system so you don’t have to poll for inputs etc. The ESP code from Peter sends out an MQTT publish on button input changes etc. You simply setup an MQTT subscribe to the topic and you will receive the topic and payload when it arrives.

One of the biggest issues for me has been how to switch things on and off. A tablet or other touch interface is fine but it needs a power source and running wires again is a no no. I recently found the Enocean PTM210 switch modules. They use energy harvesting to power a small radio transmitter on 868 or 912Mhz and with having no battery at all, I can locate anywhere in the house within range of the receiver (using Enocean PI module on the PI) and a driver for Node-red and I have a way to switch things on and off wirelessly. I’ve design a switch cover that fits over the existing light switch thereby making sure it remains ON all the time to power the Wemo Lamp modules and this switch has 2 buttons. A very wife friendly setup it is too. :slight_smile:

I am just rebuilding my system and hoping to shutdown the old Homeseer system soon. Node-red is easy to configure with Javascript and all of the modules available and provided as source so you can easily customise them as needed.


Did you set your update option to “Notify to schedule restart” ?

That ostensibly prevents any restarts without your permission.

But your project sounds cool. How do you use the battery-less switches? I mean, can you give an example of what you would use one for (to turn something on off) and where would you locate the switch?

@ Dave McLaughlin - thank you! I saw Node-RED months ago and remembered everything about it but the name… We’ve been playing with some simple automation at my office and I’ve been racking my brain for about a month trying to remember what tool that was. :smiley:

I’m just starting to buy a few components for automation around my house but none of the commercial hardware really gets me excited. I’m interested to learn more about your ESP8266 solutions. Did you build something custom for the switches or find something? If custom, are you planning to share? Sounds like a great blog post.

@ mtylerjr
The switches are little modules that you need to fit with a custom rocker. They provide the 3D files for these or you can go and buy complete stick on the wall ready to use ones from Nodon. You then need something to switch them with. Belkin have the Wemo lamps and Switch Modules that work with the Node-red modules you can install. You setup the logic to handle this but is dead easy to do.
Also works with Phillips Hue and for a really cheap option, check out the reply to Ian below.

@ ianlee74
There are some nice modules from Itead Studio called Slampher for light controls and there is Sonoff for other control. These have a custom firmware but Peter on the blog shows how to get them up and running with Node-red and MQTT.

I have some crappy Everspring units that are Zwave but don’t like low voltages and switch on and off when the supply mains drops too low so I am developing a replacement PCB that will have the ESP8266 modules and run Peter’s software on them.

Most protocols have been supported by the community so have a look on the Node-red website for a list of them in the flows menu.

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Indeed very cool!

BTW Leviton has EnOcean based receivers and switches/sensors as well.

$73.39 per switch from Leviton is crazy. I used X10 switches and receivers before, they are a lot cheaper, about $50+ cheaper per switch.

Lutron (which works with my XFinity infrastructure) is around $50 per switch, and is really easy to gateway to homebrew’d hardware.

X10 was cool - especially the way it would mysteriously turn on at night or save energy by refusing to listen to commands. Dad would start his table saw and the random on-off effect throughout the house was great! Nothing like a noisy open-loop control system. I used to sell them in Radio Shack … in 1977. After a couple false “all-on” signals, I was told to evict X10 from the house.


They are expensive, but those are the energy harvesting switches. No wires saves a lot in my book.

@ mcalsyn - I used X10 for more than 5 years and did not had any issues. Sounds like you had some issues with transmitter.

@ Architect - I don’t care if they are energy harvesting switches. What I know is that I have at least 35 switches in my house and Lutron will cost me over $2600 just for the switches.

Sounds like you were lucky. My experience was exactly like @ mcalsyn described. :wink:

That’s a lot of switches. ;D

Ever looked at these ones:


or if you have loads of money to waste and are into reusing your existing installation and nice apps:


or maybe this for the trekkies amongst us:



Broadlink RM PRO from aliexpress looks good.


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Had X10 myself in the UK for many years and some locations just didn’t work reliably. Not SWMBO friendly at all. I switched to Zwave but that too is a bit hit and miss. The ESP8266 based units work as long as there is WiFi coverage and you can easily expand this with mains network extenders and additional WiFi access points. You don’t need high speed so this is a way to get a reliable system.

This Node-red system with the Enocean modules has worked 100% since I setup the system this week and tonight I finally got my Amazon Echo to switch on some Wemo lamp modules without having to use an external system (IFTTT) so now the response is pretty much instant when you ask her to switch on or off a light. I moved the Echo HABridge to the Pi so now Node-red, MQTT and HABridge are all hosted on the Pi. I even have a Pi LCD running Iceweasel in kiosk mode to show a simple dashboard directly from Node-red-dashboard.

Ian, if you get into this, you will be impressed at how easy it is to expand things. Check out MQTT as this just works. There is plenty of drivers for almost all platforms and there is even a NETMF one in Codeshare.

And lastly. Tonight I also got an Adafruit Cap Touch TFT display to work on a Wemos D1 R2 board so I can add a touch interface to the system through MQTTT running on the Wemos D1. :slight_smile:

You didn’t tell us you lived in a mansion? :slight_smile:

My home here would need 8 switches and each one would be 2 on/off per unit.

@ Dave McLaughlin - 8 switches for the whole house, I have those in one room :open_mouth:

And no, I don’t live in a single room house, it has 3 stories and a total of more than 50 switches … this is going to cost … :’(

3 bedroom house…

I run Mosquitto on a Raspberry PI and there is a version for Windows. There are command lines to test your setup to publish and the subscribe to topics. For example, -t test -m hello world will publish to topic test the payload hello world. If you run another cmd line window with mosquitto_sub -t test you would see this message as you post in the other window.

For Node-red there is a Windows version too.

Why not get a Raspberry Pi or other small cheap Linux board and run it from that. Much lower power than having a PC running all the time. My whole house is almost setup on the Pi now and reliability compared to the PC is 100% and something that makes this WAF. :slight_smile: My old PC will be shutdown this week once the rest of the modules are built and installed. The great thing is that the Pi can run off a 600VA UPS for hours but it is not an issue if it shuts down during power outages as the lights can’t work anyway but the UPS which also runs the Ethernet switch and Router allow it to send an email on the loss of power.

I fitted the first Enocean switch module over the existing switch today and it works great. The labels are temporary until I get proper engraved covers made. The Itead Studio 3D printing it just superb and the surface finish is very smooth. It passed wife testing today too. :slight_smile:

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Anthony, go and check out all of this from a friend of mine who originally supplied me with a wired system about 20 years ago.

His video’s on Node-red and MQTT should help out a lot. The guy is good at explaining it all and his blog is well worth having a trawl through too.