A Simple DIY Smart Home

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Today I’m honored to say I have my first guest blogger, aka my husband, my main man, my best friend, my lover.. Josh! I’m really hoping he’s not going to be a guest blogger but actually regularly blog because there’s a whole side of our home that is completely him which you will start to see a glimpse of below.

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During the summer of 8th grade my family decided to take a vacation to Disney World. Every kid’s dream, right? Sure, the rides were fun but what 13 year old boy wants his friends back home to find out that he met Tinker Bell and Sleeping Beauty (and secretly enjoyed it)? Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast but I was looking for something a bit more.. exciting. And that’s when I found it. Epcot – The ‘House of Innoventions’. 

Photo courtesy of thedisneyblog.com

For those of you who know me, you know I can be a bit of a geek. I love technology. So when I stepped foot inside a house that looked like it was from the future (mostly because it was) I was in awe. Everything was ‘smart’ and it all worked like magic. I couldn’t believe my eyes. My mom reminds me to this day that all I could talk about was how how one day I would have a smart home… and a french door refrigerator.. strange, I know.

Over the years technology evolved and those things that were once considered futuristic became realistic. So when Katie and I moved in to our first home this time last year, the research began. And so did the jaw-dropping-eye-popping $$$ signs. Smart home technology does not come cheap (as should have been expected). The big player in the game is Crestron. And I will be the first to say that they have created some amazing technology that is simply unmatched in the market place. So as a techy who appreciates innovation, I applaud (and drool a bit) at their work. But as a couple that loves to save money and DIY, I couldn’t stomach it. I wanted something easy. Something that I could have fun with. Something modular so that I could build upon it over time. And something that didn’t require me to hire a contractor, rip out walls, run new wiring, and program the system.

I wanted a smart home for dummies.

So began my quest. – As you well know, consumer technology has not only become more functional but also more affordable. With devices like smartphones, tablets, and the endless world of apps it seemed like pretty much anything was possible. But how do I create a smart home? I knew that with my DIY system I wasn’t going to be able to control our blinds, turn the bathtub on and off, or have the house pickup my dirty clothes 😉 – so I decided to start by making a list of all the things I did want to control. Here’s how that vetted out.

1)Thermostat

2) Washer & Dryer

3) Garage Door

4) Oven (pre-heat functionality)

5) Music (with room selection)

6) TV

7) Lights

8) Family Calendar

We quickly realized that some of these *ahem*-the oven-*ahem* would be more costly than others and completely unjustifiable- for now. Here’s to wishful thinking that more companies catch on by the time we redo the kitchen and replace this guy.

As for the rest of our list, I’m excited to say that we’ve successfully found a way to implement each of these into our smart home system as well as a few other cool tips, tricks, and toys we found along the way.

So where do we go from here? Over the course of the next few weeks we’ll chronicle our ongoing DIY smart home journey and the tools, apps, and gadgets that make it all possible.

Next up? – Finding the perfect solution for a central controller aka Mission Control.

Have any of you set up your own DIY home automation systems? Got some good ideas? Lessons learned? We’d love to hear your feedback, experience, frustrations, and successes.

Don’t forget to subscribe for regular updates on our DIY smart home series as well as other home-y goodness. 🙂

See Also: Mission Control, Nesting, SmartThingsOrganization, and Lockitron

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