In this post I am going to introduce you to how I use Homekit at my house. In future posts I’ll look at the HomeKit devices I have in more detail, but let’s first look at what HomeKit is and how it is being used at my home.
The first question you may have is ‘what is HomeKit?’ HomeKit is an Apple technology that allows you to automate your house using Siri and the Home app on your iPad and iPhone. You can automate lights, locks, garage doors, switches, ceiling fans, shades, and more. Are you curious if you left the garage door open? With a HomeKit compatible garage door opener, you can just ask Siri if it is open. If it is, tell Siri to close it. Want to dim the lights? Just ask Siri to dim the lights.
You can also create scenes which will set several automation steps in motion. Want to turn off the lights and turn the thermostat down at bed time as well as turn off the Christmas tree lights? Create a bed time scene that turns off the appropriate lights and turns down the temperature. You create and set these scenes up through the Home app on your iPad and iPhone.
A side note, if you want to be able to control these devices from outside your home, you’ll need a 3rd or 4th generation Apple TV.
So now that we know what HomeKit is, how do you automate your house? Well anything you want to automate will need to be a HomeKit compatible device. As an example, you want to use HomeKit to automate your garage door? You’ll need a HomeKit compatible garage door opener. If you want to dim the lights, you’ll need to buy HomeKit compatible lights or HomeKit compatible light switches. This is why it’s taking me a while to automate my home – I need to replace my current devices with HomeKit compatible devices. This takes time and money, so it’s slow rollout for me, but I am getting there.
So what do I have? I am using Philips Hue lights and switches, an Ecobee thermostat, Lutron Caseta switches, and an iDevices outlet switch. In the future I’ll be replacing my garage door opener and my door locks, but like I said, that will come later.
So how am I using these in my home?
The Ecobee thermostat replaced my Nest as the Nest is not HomeKit compatible. It’s pretty basic, it controls the heat and air conditioning at my house. I can ask Siri what the temperature is, I can have her raise and lower the temp as well. I also have a scene set up, which turns the temperature down, being its winter here, when we go to bed or leave the house.
With the Philips Hue lights, I can ask Siri if any lights are on such as the light next to the couch, I can dim them as well as turn them on and off. With the Philips Hue lights I do not have to replace my current in-wall switches, I just replace the lights. I have my living room lights come on automatically at sunset. What about the Philips Hue switches? I use these to control the lights and scenes as well. I use the Philips Hue motion detector to control the outside lights so if someone approaches the house, the lights come on automatically. I also have HomeKit set to turn the outside lights off automatically after a few minutes. So I can use the Home App, Siri, the Philips Hue switches, and the motion detector to turn my lights and off.
I recently also bought Lutron Caseta in-wall switches to control my existing lights. With this HomeKit device I do not have to replace my lights, I can use my existing lights, but I do have to replace the light switches in the wall. This works well in situations where you have a in-wall switch control several lights. Now instead of replacing each light with a HomeKit light, you just need to replace one switch. Again, I can ask Siri if the lights are on and dim or turn them on/off if needed, just like the Philips Hue Lights.
Lastly I have an iDevices outlet switch. This simply plugs into an outlet and then you plug in what you want to control to the iDevices switch. I can then turn on and off anything that is plugged into the iDevices switch using Siri, the Home app, or control it with scenes. I use this for a fan in the summer and my Christmas tree lights in the winter.
What’s nice about all these is they work well together even though they are different brands. They all talk to each other through Apple’s HomeKit. It all just works.
So that’s a quick look at how I am using Apple’s HomeKit at my house. Again, in the future I’ll be looking at these devices more closely. So far I am really liking it. I’ve used other home automation devices in the past, X10 and Smarthome in particular, and in my opinion home automation is maturing. It’s not perfect, but everything seems to be working well together and I love that I can just ask Siri to turn on and off the lights, dim lights, and set the temperature of my home. I am looking forward to adding more HomeKit devices in the future.