What’s hub with that?


Hubs.  Everyone’s got one, and you’ll need one (or twenty) of these things at some point in your home automation ventures.  Why? because apparently it’s expensive to build all the compatibility for the newer automation ecosystems like Nest (Google) and Homekit (Apple) into hardware like lightbulbs, and easier to build it into a separate hub, where all of these emerging standards can more easily (and cheaply) be packaged up.

Unfortunately for you, this means if you want to use Phillips Hue, you need their hub.  If you want to use Lutron switches, you need their hub.  Oh, you want to use GE Link bulbs? Guess what, no worries, they have a hub.

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“Computer, engage forward lighting array”…


I actually use Siri quite a bit, and while I’d love to pretend I’m Picard from TNG, Siri hasn’t quite caught up yet… or has he/she/it? I’ve been experimenting with automating the lighting around the house, and a key ingredient is going to be using Siri.  A couple of use cases I had which I wanted to tackle included:

  • Dimmable lights where you normally wouldn’t have them, for example with the pair of lamps in my bedroom.  I was also curious about the very cool mood lighting you could achieve with Philips Hue, giggity giggity goo 😉
  • I wanted to be able to use Siri to turn off the outside landscape (or Christmas) lighting.  It was all setup on a timer, but I wanted to be able to easily override this without venturing outside to the bitter cold.  Lazy? Maybe.
  • We have pot lights on the outside of the house, already controllable / dimmable inside the house.  Cool.  However, I was interested in having these turn on only when I arrived home, and turned on/off at a set time, which changed with the seasons automatically.  I knew I could do this with IFTTT or the right app, but needed those lights first to be appropriately “connected”.
  • Additionally, I had areas inside the house that I similarly wanted to automate either by some event (eg arriving home), at a specific time, or with a simple command (like “Good Night”).   These areas included the overhead cabinet lighting in the kitchen, pot lights around my reading nook/desk, the living room, etc.


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