I bought a set of five Elgato Eve door/window sensors from the Apple Store to set up homekit accessories for home security on my house. They arrived late yesterday afternoon and I couldn’ t wait to get started with them. It was a simple job to set them up. The first job was to insert the battery and open up the Eve application on my iPhone. You open up settings in the app and tap on ‘Add Accessory to (Name of Home)’. I have my home named as Winterfell. The next screen will do some searching and find any new accessories.
There is a code printed on each of the accessories and the application scans this code as part of the setup procedure. In the instructions it recommends you keep the codes safe somewhere. These sorts of things I would normally keep in 1Password, but this time I kept it in the Notes application. I added the name of the place where it was fitted, typed in the code and also took a photo. If I kept just the bits of paper I would surely lose them. Things to remember when you set up homekit accessories.
What’s in a Name?
Have the accessory near to your phone to add it to your system. It’s a good idea to change the name of the accessory to something meaningful. So instead of having the accessory named as Eve Door 6A16 it could be called ‘Front Door’ or ‘Office Window’. This will help it to make more sense when you’re seeing these devices/accessories in the Apple Home App. Has to be a name that Siri will understand and is easy for you to remember. It’s all very simple and works well together. Information you add in third party applications like Elgato Eve or the Philips Hue applications will come across into the Home application. The funny thing is, you can see the Philips Hue lightbulbs in the Elgato Eve application. I suppose this is handy when you’re in one application doing something with one set of your home kit devices. You can do something with an accessory from another manufacturer while in the same place. No need to swap applications either to the application from the manufacture connected to the device or to the Apple Home app. The Apple Home App is the one with the best looking and most intuitive interface. It’s easy to set up homekit accessories.
I have it set my system so I say “Goodnight” to Siri and she turns the lights off. She also switches off the Television and the office heater with the same command.
Fixing the Elgato Eve sensors to the doors and windows – Set up homekit accessories
I was a little worried about how well the two parts of the sensor needed to line up. The thickness of the door meant that the little magnet wasn’t exactly level with the sensor part with the battery in it. So I first did some testing with the Eve accessory not stuck in it’s final position. After I’d determined it was going to work okay and I’d got the parts of the sensor positioned well, I removed the strip and stuck them on. I did a little bit more testing – Opening and closing the door or window a couple of times. When there is any sort of movement a little red light shows on the Elgato Eve door/window accessory. This happens whether you’re closing the two parts together or moving them apart. I had the iPhone in a position where I could see it and make sure it was showing open or closed correctly. I was checking this in either the Eve application or in the Apple Home application. One or the other, it didn’t really matter! The Apple Home application is prettier to look at.
Pairing a Elgato Eve Door Sensor
The nitty-gritty of using a home kit set up
So now I have seven accessories added to my home kit automation and security setup. It all started off with security being the primary requirement. I am enjoying the home automation part of the experience too. I have five door and window sensors and I have another three coming. I also have two Philips hue light bulbs. I’d like to order some more of these, but I have to find a way of making sure they are going to get fully used. The problem with the lightbulbs is that is too easy to switch the light off using the analogue wall plate light switch. When that’s been done you can’t control it using your phone or Apple watch applications. If it isn’t me who forgets about using Siri or an application to switch the light off or on, then it will be my wife. You get to see in the application that the device isn’t in responding. So you have to go to the wall switch and switch it back on again. It may be the case I’ll have to use freestanding lamps plugged into sockets in order to get the best used out of the lighting home automation. I might have to glue the switches in the on position.
I’m using the Apple TV as my home automation hub for my set up homekit accessories. This means I can control controllable Homekit devices even when I’m not at home. I could be any number of kilometres away from the house and switch on the lights. Automation is more useful if it’s just happening and gets out of the way. So I’ve set up in the Home application and automation where the lights will turn on when I arrive home. I’ve actually set up two ways for this to happen. One is a geolocation-based automation and the house knows when my iPhone and I arrive home. The other one is set to turn the lights on when the front door is opened and the Elgato Eve door/window sensor is the trigger.
I have added my wife to the system by sending an invitation from Home Kit. My wife should also be able to set up a geolocation trigger for the lights to come on as she arrives home. I’ll probably have to set it up for her. It’s not difficult to do it’s she just won’t think about it or get around to it. If I’m having visitors staying at the house then I can also add them to the system while they are visiting. When my mum comes to visit next time I’m sure she will be quite amused by HomeKit automation.
Information collected and viewable in the HomeKit system
In the Apple Home application on the homepage you have your favourite scenes and favourite accessories. You can swap to the Rooms tab, from there you can see what you have in terms of devices room by room. The third tab is for automation and this is where you set up things to happen. You only have one thing as a trigger which could be a time of day, when your location changes or is controlled by an accessory. It’s a little too simple in some ways. If I set up an automation for the lights to turn off when I leave, that should only take place if it will leave the house empty. If my wife is still in the house and doing something she could be a little bit miffed if the lights suddenly go out on her. If the automation is based upon the time of day you can use a specific time of day or use either sunrise or sunset. Make it repeat on whichever day of the week you want it. Then you decide which scenes or accessories you want to connect to the trigger. Again it seems quite simple – I could have the good night scene which turns all the lights off at a specific time. That’s not going to be too useful if I’m staying up late for something like watching a late film on the television. To do a really good job of this it would be handy if you could have arguments in the automation which would look at other things rather than one simple trigger. Think about what you want before you set up homekit accessories in your house.
If I press and hold down on the tile within the Home application for the front door sensor I get taken to another screen with more information. This is basic information such as whether the sensor is open or closed, the location and the type of sensor. There is a switch to include it in favourites and I can have a look at the status and notifications. There’s not much in there, basically there’s just one switch which will put it in to the overview items listed at the top of the Home tab. To get more information about the accessory you need to open the manufacturers application. Going to the Elgato Eve application there’s information like how many times the door or window was opened. You can then look further into that to get more information and see the times and dates of when the sensor was triggered. There is a timeline view to scroll through to see the data. When a door or window was open or closed. You’ll see how long it was opened for.
Use Cases for Home Automation
- Making sure things like heaters get turned off and don’t waste energy.
- Energy not wasted by the vampire type devices which suck power even switched off.
- Being able to walk into the house and have some lights come on to welcome you home.
- Scenes set up to have a number of devices be set in a specific way – Get the lighting right for home theatre night.
- Home security – Automation of lights when you are not at home to fool the casual thief.
- Motion detectors to sense when someone is at the house. Switch on cameras to see who it is.
- The cameras can record stills and video to help catch thieves.
- Door Window sensors to let you know if someone is getting in to the house.
- Have lights and other stuff turn off when you leave the house.
- Save yourself having to get out of bed when you can’t remember if you closed a door or there’s a light left on and you want it off.
- You left in a hurry and can’t remember if you left something open. Look at the app and see.
- Coming back home from a vacation, at the airport switch on the house heating so It’s warm for your arrival.
- Have the heating set the temperatures based on what the system has learned about your behaviour.
- When ‘Game of Thrones’ is on – Make the room dark and have the accent lights go blood red.
- If someone presses the doorbell you get notified on your phone. You speak to whoever it is even if you are away.
- When you get up in the middle of the night you can have the lights turn on to a low brightness. Maybe set them red so your eyes don’t get blasted with white light.