Vinterhage/Conservatory

Løsninger for dette rommet/Solutions for this room


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Conservatory

On this page, I present the actual solutions installed in the conservatory 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 smart switch

  • Eve Energy smartplugg

  • LED light strips with battery

  • Philips Hue motion sensor

Climate Control
  • Heatmiser neoStat-e termostat

  • Nexa RF-controlled smart plug

  • Velux Active with Netatmo motorized control for skylight with wall switch

Home Entertainment None
Security and Alarm
  • Arlo smart camera

Pet Care None
Control and Automation None

Description of the solutions in this room

One of the light sources, see picture below, required some investigations before arriving at a solution. The lights in question are a string of spotlights stretched across the room under the ceiling, using small halogen light bulbs (which have no smart versions). These were controlled using a manual wall dimmer switch, but with a special twist in that the spot lights were connected to power plugged into a wall socket, i.e., not directly connected to the dimmer switch. The initial solution was to replace the old dimmer with a Koogeek smart dimmer, which worked well for a couple of years. Sadly, it turned out that the quality of this dimmer was quite poor and it broke, which also caused the transformer for the spotlights to almost “explode”. That is when I discovered that transformers for this type of spotlights are almost impossible to obtain anymore, which meant the spots had to be replaced with LED versions (the downside of these is that very few are dimmable, so now we can only turn them on or off, and at times the light is too bright than what we would like). The spots are controlled by an Aqara smart wall switch.


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Row of spot lights underneath the ceiling, controlled by an Aqara smart wall switch (above this, a “remote control” for the skylight has been mounted, see description below)

The second light source in the room, controlled using the Eve smart plug, is a floor lamp with a halogen bulb, see picture below. This lamp has a built-in dimmer, while the smart plug of course only can turn on/off the lamp. Both solutions work very well and both light sources are programmed to turn on automatically when it starts to get dark, as part of a HomeKit scene called Evening Lights (and off as part of the Good Night scene).


Eve Energy smart plug with connected floor lamp

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In the Eve app, more detailed information from the smart plug can be accessed, see screenshot below.

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More detailed power consumption data for the lam connected to the smart plug shown in the Eve app

In addition, a Philips Hue motion sensor has been installed at a suitable spot in a window, see picture below, to that is doesn’t register motion unless we actually are in the room. This is used in a routine that turns on the light at motion and if the light level is below a certain level, since there are so many windows in this room that extra light is only required when it is fairly dark. The light level measurements are also used in a routine to control the lights in the living room.

Hue sensor that registers both motion and light levels

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After a simple LED light strip with a built-in motion sensor was taken out of use from somewhere else, it was installed in a book case, see picture below. This gives some extra light when looking for a book, but the batteries don’t last that long.

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LED light strip in a book case

The electrical floor heating underneath the laminate flooring is controlled using a Heatmiser neoStat-e thermostat, which strictly speaking is placed on the wall in the adjacent kitchen, see picture below. In this room, there is a separate floor temperature sensor and the thermostat can be set to take its temperature readings from either a floor sensor, room sensor, or the built-in sensor. This set up works very well, the thermostat has never had any issues, and it is easy to program and control from a smart phone/tablet or from the display on the thermostat itself. Notice that this this is the 2nd generation of this thermostat, after about 3.5 years the first one broke down and had to be replaced.


Heatmiser thermostat that controls the under-floor heating in the conservatory

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In a house in the middle of Norway, it is far more often a need for heating than cooling, but during warm summer days the house can get very warm. In such cases, we can of course reverse the heat pump for cooling, but this uses some electrical power and it not very effective. The other solution is to open doors or windows, but to date we have had to do this manually by physically opening a knob/handle. Now we have installed motorized opening/closing of one of the Velux skylights here in the conservatory. These skylights were installed back in 2007, but Velux sells motor control also for older windows and this was quite easy to install, see pictures below.

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Left, skylight with motorized control installed, middle, rain sensor for automatic closing, and right, contra unit for the motorized control, which unfortunately is rather big, and we have partly hidden it behind/underneath a chair, and on top of this, the base station for the Velux system (see description below)

This basic solution makes it possible to control the skylight using an old-fashioned remote control (as well as automatic closing based on a rain sensor), but no app control. This can, however, be achieved through a fairly recently launched product, Velux Active with Netatmo, which includes a base station, a combined sensor that measures temperature, humidity, and CO2 level, as well as a "departure" switch (which can be used to close and lock windows when leaving home). This last component is something we have not bothered to install, but we have added a manual wall switch to open/close the window manually. Unfortunately, we have seen that the base station frequently loses connection, either completely or with HomeKit, so a Nexa smart plug has been installed to allow rebooting it easily.

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The multi sensor, which we have simply placed on a window sill, but which can also be mounted using attached brackets

This solution makes it possible to operate the window either using a dedicated Velux Active app or HomeKit, as Velux Active with Netatmo supports that, see screenshots below.

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Screenshots from respectively the Velux Active and Home app

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Both the Velux app and HomeKit gives opportunities for defining automated opening and closing, based on temperature or other parameters, and on defined weekdays/time periods, or the skylight can be opened manually as needed. We have so far not tested this during a whole summer, but the first impressions of this combined motor and app control of the skylight are good and makes it possible to open the window no matter where we are to air the house.

As part of the Verisure alarm system installation, we also got an Arlo smart camera, and it has been placed on the window ledge here in this room, which has so many windows, so that the camera shows both the room and the area outside. It is connected to HomeKit via a base station, which is placed in the living room, and can be accessed through the Arlo app, the Verisure app, and HomeKit. This camera is arguable the “weightiest” we have and the image quality is good. It also has a built-in motion sensor.

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The Arlo camera

In the Home app, the devices are shown as in the screenshot below.

The devices in the room

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