I can easily understand how a complete novice to this sort of technology could get to the point where they would want to pull their hair out. It took numerous attempts for me to register the device. The way it is supposed to work is, after switching the device on by plugging it in, you open up the Amazon Alexa app on your mobile device. You then connect your phone to the Wi-Fi of the Amazon Echo Plus and then return to the Amazon Alexa application to continue the setup. I must have tried this four or five times before it finally registered the device over the Internet. It takes quite a lot of time to do this because you have to wait for two or three minutes for it to do its thing with every attempt. I knew I was doing it correctly so I just kept trying over and over until it did what it was supposed to do. Someone who hadn’t done it before and was completely new could have started to swear blue murder by this time. I was tempted too. There were a couple of times when I thought I had it set up because Alexa was talking to me, but when I looked in the list the Amazon Echo Plus was not there. These are just first world problems and I was prepared to persevere.
Setting up lights and accessories
The lights I already had set up with the Amazon Echo Dot were already in the Alexa application and were ready to use. I just bought extra Philips lightbulbs, five of them for the living room light. These are just the plain white light bulbs. It would be nice to have the full colour versions, but I’m not too bothered to be quite honest. The messing about continued with the Philips Hue application on my iPhone not recognising any of the lightbulbs. I made sure that the electric was turned on to the lamp sockets and tried again. One of the bulbs was recognised by the system. All of the rest of the bulbs needed me to put in the six-figure code found on the bottom of the bulb in order to have them recognised. Light bulbs which had been found by the Philips Hue application were also available in the Alexa application and in Apple Home.
I put the five bulbs into a group so I could switch them all on and off at the same time with one command. I did this in the Amazon application and also in Apple Home. I also just fitted Philips Hue wall plate switches as you can see in the previous blog post. I added the scene of the five bulbs together to be switched on using one of the available switches on the Philips wall plate. This turned the newly setup living room light on. Then I needed to go back in to the settings and use the other available switch to turn the same lights off. Job done.
Maintenance of the security and home automation system
The Elgato Eve door and window switches all require a battery. It’s an odd sized battery and I recently bought five of them to replace the ones that had run out of juice. I have now used all of those batteries and I still need one more as a battery in one of the windows which has got very low. The switches can be used for proper home automation along with motion sensors. I have a motion sensor in the kitchen which turns a light on for me after sunset. I also have a setting so that when motion is not detected it will turn the lights off. I’ve also got the Philips Hue wall plate switch so it can be switched off almost manually at the wall. Using these Wi-Fi enabled wall switches means the lights are still available for the home automation with Siri with HomeKit and Alexa with the automation settings inside Amazon and its app. The whole system is all coming together and I added another motion sensor by Philips Hue and so far I find it to be a better motion sensor than the one from Elgato Eve. It also has a temperature sensor and a light sensor. The light sensor gives me a reading in Home App. This light sensor can be used to turn lights on automatically when set from the Philips hue app. The automation with this sensor is not very sophisticated. When the ambient light goes below a certain level it will switch all the lights on in a room you choose. It doesn’t seem to be able to choose just a single light or group of lights from within that room.
Extending the home automation
I would like to buy a couple of room sensors and a weather sensor. The room sensors test and keep a log of temperature, humidity and air quality. With the sensors I would get more knowledge and with that information I could make decisions to keep things just right. With the air quality it able to sense volatile organic compounds. If you have too many of these then it can affect your health. Knowing the information means you can address the problem sorted out simply by opening a window. It’s one way to avoid the sick building syndrome.
The Eve weather is a wireless outdoor sensor which senses temperature, humidity and air pressure. I do have an old-fashioned thermometer on the wall outside already. What you get by having the electronic version is that you get records shown in the graph in an application on your iPhone. Some people are fascinated by the weather and suppose it could be interesting to see how the air pressure and humidity change over time. Low air pressure can signal coming storms and I wonder if it’s possible to set up alerts. This Eve Weather device works with HomeKit. It would be nice if automation could be set so that if levels went above or below a certain requirements appliances could be switched on or off. Something as simple as turning on a fan in a room or turning on the air conditioning.