The power for our garden lights is provided by a socket on the inside of our house. A timer installed by the previous owner turned the lights on and off at a specific time. Unfortunately the lights are powered by 12V and directly soldered on this timer which acts as an adapter as well, so Removing this timer wasn’t an option.
At the local hardware store there was a discount of 20% on everything so I bought my first 433Mhz switch which was compatible with Domoticz: the KlikAanKlikUit APA2-2300R. This bundle contains 1 two-channel remote and 2 power socket switches.
The brand KlikAanKlikUit is often abbreviated as KaKu. The international name is ClickOnClickOff or COCO.
As described in my previous article the combination of a Rpi and a Rfxcom usb tranceiver is very versatile. But what about the software to control all the sensors, switches and scenes? For me Domoticz was the way to go.
What I really liked about Domoticz was its simplicity. You can download a SD-Card image for a Rpi which made it so much easier to get things up and running. I just downloaded the Rpi image, followed their detailed installation manual which explains for example how to set a static ip address. Then I plugged the Rfxcom in the free USB port, powered the Rpi and done. Note: The default username is pi with the password raspberry
I must emphasise that I was so happy with Domoticz and the ease of use, I didn’t try any other platforms yet. In the future I want to test other platforms as well.
When it comes to home automation there are a tremendous amount of solutions to pick from. Picking the right one could be a tough job. Therefore I made a shortlist for the most important features:
Affordable price — if you need many sensors it all adds up
Can read wireless sensors — I am unable to wire every device
Extendable — you never know what you want next
Wide range of sensors / switches supported — perhaps a sensor is not available anymore in the future
Energy efficient — most will run 24/7
Home Automation server
I needed a computer to run the home automation software. This computer will run 24/7, so energy efficiency would be nice. To process some sensors and run a database to show energy usage is not quite CPU intensive. Combined with my wish to stay affordable, the Raspberry Pi was a very interesting option. This computer is tiny, cheap, has GPIO pins to connect a LCD screen or custom sensors (more about this in a later post). Out of the box the Rpi lacked one important option: communicating with wireless sensors, especially the 433Mhz ones. More about this in the next paragraph.
Please keep in mind WIFI is not supported out of the box when you have a Rpi1 or Rpi2. The Rpi3 has WIFI and even Bluetooth out of the box.
When ordering a Rpi make sure you but at least a 2.0A adapter, otherwise it does not provide enough power to use USB peripherals.