Kjellerstue/Basement Living Room

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Basement Living Room

On this page, I present the actual solutions installed in the basement living room of our smart home, with links to specific products used and how these have been set up

This room contains solutions for the following systems (notice that on phones, the table might only be displayed in landscape mode):

System Type Components
Lighting
  • Aqara human presence sensor

  • Aqara smart light switch

  • Philips Hue E27 smart bulb

  • IKEA Trådfri magnetic, wireless switch (only sold in kits with a smart plug)

  • 2 IKEA Trådfri control outlets

  • Philips Hue bridge

Climate Control
  • Heatmiser neoStat-e thermostat

Home Entertainment
  • Apple TV HD

  • Logitech Harmony Hub

  • Logitech Harmony Ultimate remote control

Security and Alarm
  • Meross smart hub

Pet Care

None

Control and Automation
  • Athom Homey

  • Aqara M2 Hub

  • Eero 6 satellite

  • IKEA Trådfri Gateway

  • IKEA Trådfri range extender

  • Netgear Orbi satellite


Description of the solutions in this room

The primary solution for lighting consists of a ceiling lamp which had a traditional E27 socket bulb, now replaced with a Philips Hue E27 bulb, see picture below. For a long time, this light was controlled using a Philips Hue motion sensor, but this is a room where the cats of the house often play and thus triggering the sensor despite no people being in the room. It was hard avoiding this, despite adjustments to the placement of the sensor, but then Aqara launched a so-called human presence sensor, which was installed, shown in a picture further down. A couple of things are worth mentioning about this sensor, though:

  • Partly this sensor works somewhat differently from a traditional motion sensor. The latter responds more quickly in turning on the light when someone enters the room, but with the mentioned drawback that it can respond to pets as well as turning off the light if people are in the room, but stay still. The presence sensor has the advantages that it is much less sensitive for pets and also that it understands that someone is present in the room even when motionless, but with the drawback that it takes a little longer to respond when someone enters the zone.

  • Another issue with this very sensor is that at least toward the end of 2022, it was only available to purchase from Chinese online stores. Aqara products are region-locked, which means that this sensor will not appear as an option in the Aqara app when adding a new device if the base station in set to a non-Chinese region. This can be easily solved, though, by first pushing the front button on the base station three times (this sets it in pairing mode), then pressing the connection button the sensor for five seconds.

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Ceiling lamp with Philips Hue smart bulb (and on the wall, Trådfri motion sensor, now moved to a different room)

Dette er programmert i Home-appen slik at detektert tilstedeværelse slår på taklyset og det slås av igjen når ingen lenger er til stede, se skjermbilder under.

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Simple programming of the ceiling lamp

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Furthermore, we had several other light sources in this room; a floor lamp, a wall lamp, a table lamp, a “cat lamp”, and a china cabinet lamp, see pictures below. Since we rarely use this room for anything but as a passageway to the laundry room, we had for a long time not invested in smartening up these lights and they could only be operated using their respective “manual” switches. However, first IKEA lunched their inexpensive smart plug (called control outlet) and later a set containing a smart plug and switch, where a mounting bracket can be installed wherever you like and then the switch itself put onto the plate where it is held in place by a magnet. The switch can control different devices, both control outlets and bulbs, so we have now set up a solution where the these light sources are connected using two smart plugs. The switch is, as shown below, mounted on the wall inside the door and turns on/off all these lights as well as the ceiling lamp.

When achieving smart lighting using smart bulbs, there is one challenge–if someone turns off the physical light switch, be it a wall switch, cord switch, or switch on the actual lamp, the smart bulb loses its connection and not be remote controlled. Two possible solutions to this is replacing the physical switch with a smart switch or installing a smart relay switch behind the old switch (both solutions of course only works for wall switches). The solution chosen here was a smart switch from Aqara, see picture below. So even if someone inadverdently turns off the switch, it is possible to turn the light on again using the relay.


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Top left, floor lamp controlled by a smart plug

Top right, a couple of lights

Bottom left, yet another couple of lights

Bottom right, various control devices, from top to bottom; Philips Hue motion sensor (now moved to another room), Heatmiser neoStat-e thermostat, wall switch for the underfloor heating, IKEA Trådfri magnetic switch, and smart switch for the ceiling light

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As mentioned, the “programming” of IKEA’s bulbs and control devices is quite different from other ecosystems. It is not possible to define routines of triggers and actions, one must define which light source is to be controlled by a given control device simply by placing them in the same room in the IKEA app. This is the reason why we had to move the Trådfri motion sensor that used to be in this room, otherwise detected motion would either turn on all the lights in the room or the magnetic switch could not have been set up to turn off all the lights.


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The setup of the Trådfri devices in the Trådfri app, where the “programming” is done by placing control devices and light sources in the same group/room

The electrical underfloor heating, underneath the pine floor, is controlled using one of many Heatmiser neoStat-e thermostat in the house, also shown in the picture on top of the page. Also here, there is a separate floor temperature sensor, and this solution works well.

A product now removed was a Mi Air Purifier 2S. It was originally located in the living room, but startet making so much noise after a while that it was moved to a less used room. Eventually it got so noisy I returned it.

Next, there are some base stations located in this room, first Athom Homey here, see picture below to the left. This is a base station with support for many different protocols, originally acquired partly for testing and partly as a possible replacement for the Homebridge server, see more detailed description under Athom Homey in the product pages. The usage of this has gone somewhat in cycles since we got it, but now many devices are connected to it, including a lot of IKEA components since these became very unstable in HomeKit. Normally, though, the “screen saver”, which makes nice colors, is turned off so as not to have a disco in the basement living room.

Furthermore, we have a Netgear Orbi satellite for the mesh network, shown below. This serves the basement floor of the house, while the Orbi base router and a different satellite serves the upper floor, and another satellite covers the garage.

The picture in the middle also shows a Philips Hue Bridge, which is a very recent acquisition. We had for a long time had some issues with both Hue motion sensors and dimmer switches. Without any discernable pattern, intermittently it would happen that a motion sensor detected motion or a button on a dimmer switch was pressed, but with the programmed response not running. In the Home app, I could see that the signal was registered, but nothing happened. Sometimes it would help restarting the Hue base station or the Home hubs, but sometimes only patience would help; after some hours or up to a couple of days, things would work again by itself. In the end, I did what I should of course have done sooner, namely contacting Hue support. They informed me that each Hue Bridge is only meant to handle ten control devices, while we have thirteen, and this could cause the issues. We bit the bullet and invested both the money to buy a second bridge and the effort required to remove a number of devices from the original bridge and add these to the new one and re-program them in the Home app. So far it seems to have been worth it; the problem has not appeared since and the motion sensors seem to have become snappier in triggering the responses.

In the picture below to the right, one can also see an IKEA Trådfri Gateway. This is Gateway no. 2 and it was acquired since we gradually saw more and more problems with having just one base station. It varies from source to source how many devices a Gateway is said to support, numbers mentioned are 50, 60, and 100, and we had turned 60. We had issues where devices that had already been connected would disconnect and would be difficult/impossible to reconnect, and new devices just would not pair with the base station, no matter how many troubleshooting tips I tried. There were also conflicting information online whether running two Gateways would work, but this works quite well. In the IKEA Home Smart app, one can only be connected to one Gateway at a time, so you must either have different base stations connected to different phones/tablets or switch between them as needed. Luckily the devices from both base stations are exposed to HomeKit without any problems. Installing a new Gateway solved all our issues; new devices could be added and it responds much faster than the old, so with time I might do the work of moving some devices from the old to the new one to see if the reduced load on the old will increase its responsiveness as well. Sadly, there is sometimes a need to reboot the Trådfri Gateways, so an IKEA Trådfri smart plug (see picture below, which is connected to the other Trådfri Gateway) has been installed so that this can be done from anywhere.

When installing a Meross smoke detector in the garage, an attached smart hub was required, and this fit perfectly in a small gap in a lamp here, see picture below.

Finally, we have resumed use of an Apple Time Capsule, which extends the 2.4 GHz network that another such unit in the office creates.

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Picture 1, the Athom Homey, discretely placed on a shelf

Picture 2, Orbi satellite and Philips Hue Bridge

Picture 3, Trådfri gateway and Aqara human presence sensor

Picture 4, Meross smart hub for smoke detector

Picture 5, Trådfri smart plug, to reboot the Trådfri Gateway, and an Apple Time Capsule

It is somewhat of a coincidence that these base stations have ended up in this room, but it is also a matter of unused power outlets as well as the fact that the lady of the house doesn’t find all of these device to be very good-looking. Therefore our Aqara M2 Hub is a little hidden away here, see picture below. Originally we had a different type of base station, an M1S, but due to some problems with responsiveness we upgraded it to an M2, which can be connected to ethernet.

The reason why the Aqara hub was placed in the book shelf os that there is an Eero 6 satellite in the window nearby. This was at first placed against the back wall of the room together with other base stations, but was moved to the window, see picture below, to give best possible coverage by the front door, where the doorbell from Netatmo is located. That made it logical to connect the Aqara hub to it.

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Aqara hub connected to the Eero router in the window

There is also an Apple TV 4 (now rebranded to Apple TV HD) here, but this is just used to watch TV in this room and is well hidden behind the TV (which is not smart in any way). Just after installation, it was part of the HomeKit system in the house, which was possible to do. It took some time, however, before I realized that this generation cannot function as a fully fledged HomeKit server, which caused some programs not to work anymore, so it is now taken out of the HomeKit setup.

After the living room remote was upgraded (because Logitech sadly has decided to stop making universal remote controls and we got a new one in the hope that it will last a long time), the old one, a Harmony Ultimate with a corresponding Harmony Hub, was moved down here. It serves no other purpose in the smart home than controlling the TV set and the Apple TV.

The Home app’s screenshot for the devices in the basement living room

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