Home Automation Setup with Apple #HomeKit

I’ve been asked to blog out my current home setup and this is an attempt to do that. As well, I’m also posting some video reviews of different HomeKit accessories. Work in process, but I’ll do the short version here.



Apple HomeKit


I chose to use the Apple homeKit framework as the base for my home automation journey for a few reason. The biggest one is that I already owned a couple of Apple TV (gen4) devices which fit the home automation hub role. These devices are a homeKit hub and are the always-on/always-present devices that are used to perform orchestration/automation actions when I’m home or away. These also tie directly into Apple’s iCloud which allows me remote access to my homeKit gear without having to VPN into my home network.


Home Setup Room-By-Room

There’s a lot to talk about here, but I thought I would just do a quick description of what’s going on room-by-room with any specific features or automations that I’ve got setup. 


Front Entrance (outside)


I’ve got a Ring Pro Doorbell which is NOT HomeKit compatible yet. They’ve been promising for a couple of years and have assured me, both publicly and in DMs, that they are committed to updating the Ring Pro for HomeKit support. Small issues with the wiring of my house, but I was able to eliminate the doorbell chime itself and get the Ring Pro up and running. The Ring Chime Pro was a nice addition as well which I’ve got setup in the living room. 



For the lights, I’ve got the front entrance lights tied to a Luton Caseta light switch in the house which is setup with an automation to turn the lights on at Sundown and turn them off at Sunrise. This is nice in that the system automatically checks the internet to see exactly what time those will be everyday. Living in a Northern country, Sunrise/Sunset can vary pretty wildly throughout the year. This automation lets me get the benefits of a timer system but without the hassle of changing the timer every month as the times change. 

The one thing I haven’t automation yet is the flood motion light.  I would really like to get a ring floodlight cam but I’m not investing any more money into Ring until they deliver on their promise around the doorbell. 

Front Entrance (inside)


I decided to not replace the whole deadbolt system and just use the August lock which fits nicely on top of most existing locks.  I particularly like the August iPhone App feature which automatically unlocks your front door as you pull in the driveway. Really nice to not have to mess around with keys. 🙂



In addition to the lock, I also installed an Elgato Eve Door & Window sensor on the front door. Just because it’s locked, doesn’t mean it’s closed. 🙂 Yes, I found that out the hardware. 



In the mud-room, I’ve got a light which is connected to the same Lutron Caseta which controls the outdoor lights. Once you’re in the house, I’ve got a Philips Hue motion sensor which turns on a Philipps Hue GU10 light bulb at the bottom of the stairs. Unfortunately, the Philippe Hue motion sensors are not exposed directly to HomeKit, so I was forced to setup an on/off automation pair for a Lutron Caseta switch which controls 6 GU10 lights in the ceiling. 

Living Room


I’ve got a Elgato Eve Degree for tracking general room stuff ( temperature, air pressure, humidity ). 


I’ve got a Dlink Omna 180HD camera which, at the time of this writing, is the only camera on the market with official HomeKit support. I was unsure about it when I first installed it, but it’s started to grow on me.  The device is billed as a 180 degree camera which gives me full view of my kitchen/dining room/living room areas ( open concept ) and also provides night vision.  The one feature that seems to get used the most though is the 2-way audio which lets me talk with someone in the living room without having to be physically present.  

Parent note: Also handy to check in on the kids discretely to see what’s happening when you hear things starting to go sideways. 



The living room definitely has the most complicated light setup in the whole house. I’ve got GU10 ( recessed lights.) through the whole upstairs which can be quite expensive with the Philipps Hue systems. So the living room is the only place I used the GU10 in mass. Typically, I would use a Lutron Caseta switch to power a bunch of GU10 bulbs ( anything over 2 bulbs and the Lutron is cheaper!!!), but for the entertainment area, I really wanted to have the ability to set different scenes.  Philipps Hue has a bunch of different models available and for the living room, I decided to use 

  • Philipps Hue GU10 lights ( both coloured and white )
  • Philipps Hue Bloom ( accent light )
  • Philipps Hue Light Strip

The combination of these products let’s me go from regular family to chill movie watching with the touch of a button.  I’ve also got a coupe of IFTT automations setup to help manage the kids schedule.

At 8:10pm, the coloured GU10 lights go purple which is a visual signal for them to stop what they’re doing and get ready for bed. If they are quick, they can come back and finish whatever they are doing. At 8:30, every light in the living room flashes to let them know it’s time to go to bed.  To be honest, the flashing light is pretty rough, but it is definitely impossible to ignore, even for a kid who’s deep into a Minecraft session. 


The other thing I added to the Living room is a Logitech Pop button with the HomeKit Bridge.  Voice control with Siri is great and all, but it’s also nice to be able to just tap a button to set the scene.  You can set three different scenes with the button which I’ve chosen as follow

  • Single Press – Turns on the Living Room lights bright scene. This is “normal” mode
  • Double Press – Turns on Movie time Scene. Dims lights and turns on the Philipps Hue lights for accent lighting.
  • Long Press – Turns on Good night Scene which turns off all the lights, locks the doors, etc… 

Dining Room


Dining Room is pretty simple. I have 6 lights controlled by a Lutron Caseta light switch. I also got a couple of Ikea Accent Light Boxes which are hooked up to an iDevice plug. This gives me a candle-light vibe without the fire. 


The dining room opens directly onto a small deck. This is an entry point with I wanted to add a bit of security to. I used the Elgato Eve Door & Window sensors

To let me know when the door opens and closes. This is really nice when you’re leaving the house for a quick “Hey, Did I close the back door?” check.  It doesn’t tell me if I locked it or not. Still haven’t found a solution to that problem.



Kitchen lights are also pretty simple. Overhead is 6 GU10 bulbs controller by a single Lutron Caseta switch. I’ve got under cabinet lighting as well that I’m planning on adding another Lutron switch to control.  Idea here is to setup a motion sensor to turn on the under cabinet lighting at night. No need to blind anyone, right?


 I have an iHome iS550 5-1 sensor in the kitchen. No particular reason to be honest. I originally bought this for the master bedroom but it didn’t work out at all. Constantly lost wifi signal and the fact that it’s a wall-powered device makes it difficult to hide. 

Hallway to Bedrooms


In the hallway to bedrooms I have a couple of Philipe Hue GU10 bulbs with a motion sensor setup. This automatically turns on the lights as you walk down the hallways. I have young kids ( 6 -10 -11) who need to get up at night, so I also setup a rule that turns the lights in to a “nightlight” mode if motion is detected after 9pm. Keeps the blinding of the children down and makes sure that they can still hit the target in the ‘wee hours of the morning. 

Kids Bedrooms


Lutron Caseta Switch for the ceiling lights. I also setup a Philipps Hue bloom with the sunrise scene turned on to help him get out of bed in the morning. His room is in the basement, so I also got a fibaro window & door sensor as his room is in the basement. 


I’ve got a Philipps Hue color light bulb paired with the Philipps Hue Light switch.  He’s also got a colorful “moonlight” which is connected to an iDevice plug. This is connected to a time-of-day based automation which turns it on at bedtime and off at midnight ( after he’s fallen asleep). The Philipps Hue color bulb is also setup for the sunrise scene


Of the three kids room, this was the hardest. We had legacy fluorescent light that simply didn’t work with the Lutron Caseta light switch. I ended up replacing the light fixture completely as I REALLY like the Lutron switches. I also have a Philipps Bloom setup with, you guessed it, the sunrise scene.

Master BedRoom


No ceiling lights in the master bedroom, so I use a couple of different lamps. One lamp I’ve used a Philipps Color bulb, and then other large lamp I use a Lutron Caseta wall plug.  The large lamp uses small candle bulbs ( not sure the exact model ) and it was far easier to just grab the Lurtron Caseta wall plug. The Caseta wall plug also acts as a repeater extending the range and reliability of the Lutron automation. ( Luton uses a protocol called ClearConnect, not wi-fi or bluetooth).   There’s also a Philipps Go light in the master bedroom as well. The Philipps Go is great as it’s got an internal battery. This came in handy recently when we got hit by a power outage. 🙂 


 I originally used the iHome iS550 sensor in the master bedroom, but it just didn’t work out. Iswapped it for the Elgato Eve Room Sensor which has been working great. The Elgato Eve Room sensor is a bluetooth device and is power by batteries, so no issues with disconnecting wifi networks or losing the device completely during a power outage.  The Eve room sensor gives me temperature and humidity. I then use this measurement as a trigger to either turn on the humidifier if the air is too dry. 

The room also measures VoC ( volatile organic compound ) or air quality. As allergy season is about to hit, I’m going to get an indoor room air-purifier and use the VoC measurement to turn the purifier on or off. 


The humidifier is a generic Honeywell humidifier. I got lucky in this is an analog switch based unit. This means that if it’s in the ON position and you plug it in, it just starts working. I use an iDevices wall plug (with Nightlight!) to control whether or not the power is turned on to the humidifier. Basically, if it gets to dry, as measured by the Elgato Eve Room sensor, a trigger is sent to the iDevices wall plug to turn on and start pumping a little moisture into the air. 

Air Purifier

 I don’t have the air purifier setup yet, but planning on this as my next purchase. Same basic principal as the Humidifier, but replace with the purifier. If the air quality is poor, as measured by the Eve Elgato room sensor, then the power to the plug turns on and the air starts getting clearer. 

Home Office


 The home office lights are using the Lutron Caseta switch. I also included an Elgato Eve Motion Sensor to automatically turn on the lights when I walk in the office. The Eve is Bluetooth based and doesn’t have the response that the Philipps Hue motion sensor does, but the 2-3 second delay doesn’t bother me at all when I know I’m going to be in the office for awhile.  The Eve motion sensor also turns on some desk accent lighting which has been plugged into an Eve Elgato Energy wall plug.  In a nutshell, the lights turns on when I walk in the office and the lights turn off when I’m no longer there ( after a 15 minute period of no movement detected ). 


In addition to the Eve Elgato motion sensor mentioned above, My home office is in the basement, so I also included a couple of Eve Elgato Door & Window sensors to make sure the house is secured.  Living in a northern country, leaving the window open can have consequences. 

Laundry Hallway


This was my latest addition. I noticed that when I walked downstairs with the laundry basket in my hands, I had to put it down to turn on the light. I know. The horror!!!!   I installed 2 Philipps Hue GU10 bulbs with a Philipps Hue Motion sensor to automatically turn on the lights as I carry my basket.  Kid1’s room is also at the end of this hallway, so I also setup the nightlight ( 5% light.) to trigger if it’s after 9pm. No need to blind the kid, right?



I have a single iDevices outdoor plug which I use to plug in my electric lawn mower. Although this is a dual-plug unit, both plugs are controller simultaneously meaning that they are both ON or OFF.  The plug is set up to be off during the week and power on at 9pm on Friday night. Just enough time to get a full charge to mow the lawn on the weekend.  

As the season gets colder, I’m planning on using this to power the Christmas lights as well. Plan is to setup a time-based trigger to turn on the lights at Sundown to save a little electricity. 



I have a single Philipps A19 bulb with a Philipps Hue motion detector installed to run on as motion is detected in the garage. I also had a spare Koogeek Smartsocket that I plugged a regular A19 light bulb into. I’ve setup an ON/OFF trigger pair to turn the Koogeek light to match the Philipps hue light.

The one other thing to note in the garage is a time-of-day automation I setup to prevent me from banging my head until the wee hours of the morning. At 11pm, the lights go into nightlight mode reminding me to go to bed and work on it tomorrow.  

Boiler Room

This is really just a small closet which contains the hot water tank and my furnace. I installed a Fibaro flood sensor in here to detect any leaks before they become a big problem. The hot water tank is a little bit older. Installing the leak sensor just gives me a little peace of mind. This sensor also includes a temperature sensor which is super important for a water tank in a northern country. If it starts to get cold, bad things can happen. Not a bill I’m interested in seeing. 

Downstairs Windows

There are a few different windows in my basement that I installed the Elgato Eve Door & Window sensors on. Peace of mind to make sure that we’re all locked up when we leave at night. Already mentioned, but also important when you live in a Northern country. Bad things can happen when the inside of your house goes below freezing temperatures. 

What’s next?

As you can tell, I’ve really developed a passion for home automation. I currently only have two projects I’m planning, but as new HomeKit enabled devices come out, I expect this list to grow. 

HomeBridge Nest Thermostat integration

The Nest thermostat is not currently Apple homeKit compatible. The Homebridge project exists to let non-Homekit devices participate in a HomeKit ecosystem. I recently purchased a RaspberryPi3 for this purpose. My goal here is basic thermostat integration into the rest of my smart home. 

Soma Smart Shades

Soma has recently announced a HomeKit bridge for pre-order. I’m pretty wary about ordering any products without the HomeKit certification. Too many companies which have announced HomeKit support and never delivered. Soma is an after-market device which connects to your existing shades and allows you to control them as part of your smart home.  Combine this with the different temp sensors and we can do some interesting things such as 

  • Shut Blinds at 12pm every day
  • Shut blinds when outdoor temperature exceeds desired indoor temperature
  • Open blinds at 4pm
  • Shut blinds for Movie Time scene


Hopefully this was interesting. If you have any questions or want more information, feel free to post in the comments below or to reach out on twitter 



SmartHome Makes School Mornings Easier

One thing all parents can agree on is that anything that can help to get our kids out the door to school on time is a good thing. 

Anyone who’s done any reading on parenting is familiar with the idea that a routine is the best thing you can do for your kids. So I decided to put together a smart home routine to give my kids some visual cues to get out the door on time. 

In an effort to make getting out the door just a little bit easier in the morning, I’ve setup a home automation trigger that causes the living room lights in my house to go to a specific color at 7:20am.  I then told the kids that when the lights go purple, it’s time to brush teeth and get their school bags ready because it’s almost time to go. 

It’s such a simple thing, just a light changing colours and yet I’ve already seen a difference my kids behaviour in the first week. I can’t promise it will work for your kids, but hey, it’s worth a shot right?

The Pieces

You’ll need the following pieces to get this working. 

  • AppleTV gen4
  • Philipps Hue color bulb

To be honest, you could probably pull this off with just IFTT and the Philipps Hue Light bulb, but I’ve got the AppleTV and this IS a HomeKit focused blog right?

Setting HomeKit Automation

I’m assuming you’ve already got the Philipps Hue coloured light bulb and the Philipps Hue bridge already available as an accessory in your Apple Home app. 

The Scene

The first thing we’re going to do is to setup the desired scene that we want to trigger upon our condition. In Apple HomeKit speak, that means setting up a scene.

We’re going to open up our Apple Home app and click on the + sign in the top right corner. Then we’re going to tap on the Add Scene button.


We’re now going to name our new scene Time for School. Making it clear and  descriptive is always going to be helpful not just when we select it during the add automation step below, but also in the future when you decide you want to modify the colors. Next we’re going to tap on the accessories button.


Now we’re going to scroll through the available HomeKit accessories to fine the specific lights we’re looking for. Remember, we want to use the coloured lights so I’m going to select the three coloured lights I have in my living room.

You have assigned all your HomeKit accessories to Rooms right? 

Once you’ve picked the lights you want, you tap on the Done button.


We can see that the three accessories are now selected and assigned to the Time for School scene.We need to make sure they are selected so that when the scene is activated the lights will turn on. Looking good! But we’re not quite finished yet. Remember we want these lights turn to a specific colour, right?  So for that, we’re going to tap and hold each of the lights to set the colour.



You’ll be presented with the accessory page where you’ll be looking for the color button. Of course, you’re going to want to tap on this button.


You can now select from one of the options shown, or you can tap on the edit button in the middle to select your own custom colour. When I discussed this with my kids, they wanted purple as the heads-up colour. So I’m going to tap on the edit button to bring up the colour wheel and select the appropriate color.


This might not be obvious from the picture, but this is as easy as just dragging your finger to the specific color that you want your lights to appear. Then you click the Done button. Repeat the colour steps for the lights that you’d like to use for this scenario.

Hint: You’ll want to test this out while watching your lights. The color on the app is not always the color of the bulbs. Make sure you’re happy with it. The good news is you can always come back and change it later!


Once you’re done, you can select the Test this Scene button to make the scene is what you want it to be. Once you’re happy, select the Done button.

Hint: I usually don’t select the Show in Favourites selector for scenes which I’m going to automate. I want to set it and forget it. No point in taking up valuable screen space on a scene which I’m automatically triggering, right?



The Automation


Now that we’ve setup the scene, we need to add the automation. For this, we’re gong to tap on the Automation icon at the bottom of the Apple Home app. We’re then going to scroll to the bottom of the list and tap on the Create new Automation button.


Next we’re gong to select the A Time of Day Occurs trigger option. 


We need to leave at 7:30am in the morning, so I’m going to give my kids a 10 minute warning. So we’ll set up the time of day trigger to occur at 7:20am only on weekday mornings. Once you’re happy, tap on the Next button.


Now we’re going to scroll through the list and select the Time for School scene that we created above. See how helpful it is when we use good descriptive names?  Once the Time for School scene is selected, tap on the Next button.

Hint: We could have skipped the scene step above completely and just assigned the accessories directly to the automation. In my experience, this makes it hard in the future to figure out why things are happening in your house. I’ve found it much more useful to add the scene with a descriptive name which I can then edit and change in the future as my heart desires. 


Now is the last step, we simply verify that the automation is happening at the right time and that the right scene is assigned. As you can see, the Time for School scene will activate weekday mornings at 7:30am. If you’re happy tap on the Done button.


People tend to meet your expectations

I’m a firm believer that people, even little people, tend to meet your expectations. As long as they understand what those expectations are. In my house, the lights go purple and the kids understand that I expect them to start getting ready to get out the door.  We’ve only had this going on for a week, but I can tell you that we’ve certainly had better mornings since I put this in place.

Interested in trying this yourself? Reach out and let me know how it goes!

Lutron Caseta – Let there be Light!

The Lutron Caseta is my go-to standard for lights. It’s easy to get up and running. It’s blends into the house and it’s supports a lot of other partners so I’m not worried about moving to another SmartHome ecosystem if I decide I don’t like what Apple HomeKit is doing.






 Lutron Caseta Lights System + Lutron Smart Home Bridge Pro  In-Wall, Plug for Lamp NewImage



  Lutron Clear Connect RF + Wifi/Ethernet  4/5

From the product webpage

You can build your smart lighting system with as few or as many products as you’d like. A kit is the easiest way to begin, but you can also purchase products individually and mix and match them. And you can add more products to your system at any time. The products listed here are available online, at select retailers, your local electrical or A/V distributor, and lighting showrooms. Get inspired! Whether you are just starting out or adding to your Caséta set up, explore the Caséta Advisor for ideas on using Caséta in different rooms throughout your home.


Product Specifics

You can see the entire line of Lutron Caseta product here. The specific products that I have installed in my home are the following

Smart Bridge with HomeKit technology L-BDG2-WH

This component is what makes the Lutron Caseta system Apple HomeKit compatible. Exactly as the name implies, the Smart Bridge plugs into an RJ-45 port on your network to create a connection between your IP network and the Lutron Caseta Clear Connect RF environment.

In-wall dimmer for wall and ceiling lights PD-6WCL-XX

The Lutron casita in-wall dimmer replaces the switch in the wall. Some basic electrical knowledge is required for this installation. Be warned.

Plug-in lamp dimmer for table and floor lamps PD-3PCL-WH

The Lutron Plug-in lamp dimmer is also exactly what you think it is. You plug this device into the wall, then you plug the lamp into this device.


Lutron has been in lights for a long time and it shows with this product line. I already had Lutron light switches through most of my house so the installation was amazingly straight forward. They also looked like they belong and there wasn’t a visible difference as I gradually installed more and more of these throughout the house.

The main reason I really like the Lutron is the cost savings. These are definitely one of the most economical ways to turn whole rooms into SmartZones while saving a few dollars. We did a bunch of renovations a few years back and I have a bunch of in-ceiling lights.  (GU10 bulbs).  A single Lutron Caseta in-wall switch can drive 8 of these GU10 bulbs for a cost of about $60 dollars.

I have probably 40+ of these bulbs spread out throughout my house. Although I love the Philipps Hue solution as well….

Philipps Hue Bulbs 

White GU10      Cost: $25 each       Total Cost:  $1000

Color GU10.      Cost: $50 each.      Total Cost: $2000

Lutron Light Switches

(5 switches):    Cost: 65$.   Total Cost: $325

As you can see, the Lutron comes in a lot lower than the Philipps Hue bulbs when the quantities start to add up. There’s definitely some sacrifice in flexibility as each switch controls a zone of 8 bulbs as compared to the Philips Hue system where you have individual bulb control.


The Lutron system was really easy to setup. The setup guide was easy to follow and with a little help from Youtube and a HomeDepot home improvement book. I had the light switches installed in no time. As you can see in the video, connecting the bridge and adding the switches to both the Lutron App and the Apple Home app was a breeze. This is one of the places where Apples attention to user experience and  app interface is REALLY appreciated. As you can see in the setup videos above, discovering the bridge was simple and I was easily able to create all the rooms and put the light switches in the appropriate room.


The Lutron Caseta lighting system looks like it belongs. This is where Lutron’s pedigree really shines through in that this has been their core business for years. During the conversion between the old Lutron switches and the Caseta  Smart switches, no one really noticed that there was anything special about the caseta versions. Personally, I want my SmartHome to be invisible. It’s there when I need it, but I wanted the smart aspects to fade into the background and only become apparent when the magic is happening. The Caseta definitely scored high marks in this regards.


The Lutron Caseta system IS a light switch. Using the casita in-wall switches feels exactly like a light switch should feel. Unlike the bulb and light socket options, you don’t ever have to worry about turning off the switch and losing power to the light socket or bulb.

Note: If you’re using the light socket or bulb lighting systems and you flick the switch, you end up turning off the power to the light which leaves you just talking to your self with nothing happening.

The Lutron app is pretty good and the system integrates seamlessly into the Apple Home app available on iOS 10. There are the occasional minor naming mishaps upon first discovery ( see the video ) but once it’s up it’s incredibly stable.

The one major place where Lutron loses marks for me is the lack of available motion sensor to trigger the lights. This is a major oversight on Lutron’s part and should definitely have been part of the system. I did contact Lutron on twitter and was given the following answer

You can either:
1.Use the LRF2 sensors with the Caséta Wireless dimmers or switches, and not have them as part of the bridge/app.
2.Use the Caséta Wireless dimmers or switches with the bridge/app, and not work with the LRF2 sensors.

There’s still no great HomeKit motion sensor (Elgato Eve has a 2 second delay!) so this is kind of a big deal. I was able tie together some HomeKit triggers using a combo of the philipps lights and the philipps motion sensor, but I just don’t feel like I should have to hack a solution into place for something that should be there.

I also have one lamp which I used with the Lutron Lamp Dimmer and it just worked. I didn’t realize this when I bought it, but the lamp dimmer also acts as a bridge/repeater extending the range and reliability of the Lutron Clear Connect wireless system.  Based on the size of my house, I have no idea if I actually need a repeater, but I can tell you that I haven’t had a single problem with my Lutron lights responding.


The Lutron Caseta system is really flexible and can be leveraged in a bunch of different use-cases. My kids grandmother recently remodelled her apartment and they wired all the light switches to a central location near the front door. Of course this resulted in some bruised shins trying to navigate the new apartment at night. We installed a Caseta Wall switch with the Pico remote and suddenly she could turn off the lights to the kitchen once she got to her bedroom. Avoided running the wiring and also scored points with the baby sitter which is ALWAYS a good thing.

The Lutron Caseta system is also compatible with various other ecosystems and platforms inclusion: SmartThings, Nest, GoogleHome, Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa as well as others. If I decide to move from the Apple HomeKit platform to another SmartHome ecosystem, I’m not worried that I can take my light switches with me.


The Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge Pro has an “SDK”. I use that word in quotes as there “API” uses Telnet. Not exactly a secure protocol. It’s nice to know that it’s not only networking that still seems to use screen scraping as the method to access gear remotely. I haven’t coded anything using this API yet, but I also don’t really want to as it uses Telnet.


The Lutron Caseta has a lot going for it

  • Cost-Effective
  • Looks Great
  • Flexible Deployment options
  • Good HomeKit Integration


The Lutron is not a perfect product, but the negative can be worked around.

  •  No Motion detector
  • Telnet “API”

Final Thoughts

The Lutron Caseta is my go-to standard for lights. It’s easy to get up and running. It’s blends into the house and it’s supports a lot of other partners so I’m not worried about moving to another SmartHome ecosystem if I decide I don’t like what Apple HomeKit is doing.  The usability is seamless. It’s just like using a light switch so there’s no frustration when the kids turn the lights off. It’s not as flexible as the Philipps Hue lighting system but it just works.

Comments or Questions? Please feel free to post below.