Home automation using Alexa and Hive

Posted by under Electronics, on 20 January 2018 @ 3:10pm.

This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and for Christmas I was fortunate enough to get an Amazon Echo Dot and some smart Hive bulbs.

There are different combinations of systems out there including Google Home and Google Assistant to compete with Alexa, and Philips Hue to compete with Hive, and they all have their pros and cons (something I’m realising now). Alexa does a very good job at serving my needs so far, and Google Assistant which I can use on my phone supplements that.

At the moment I am able to control 2 lights in my flat using Alexa, an Android app and Google Assistant. I mostly use them on a timed schedule to turn on and off at set times, but I do have the option of controlling via Alexa and Google Assistant as well. It’s surprising how often you may want to turn your light on and off but never realise that you do it. You take it for granted when you flick the switch on the wall.

Something I find nice with the Hive bulbs is that you can dim them from 5-100% in 10% steps (5% for the first step). This is nice if you want to leave a light on overnight or late evening but dimmer so that you don’t hurt your eyes if you need to get up for the toilet. Personally I have my hallway light dim at 11pm to 50% and then again at midnight to 5% until 1am when it turns off. It also helps me to keep track of the time.

The bulbs don’t dim gradually, they just jump straight to that setting. Philips Hue bulbs on the other hand apparently don’t do this, but they’re also much more expensive (about twice the price). So you get what you pay for in that respect.

You can also get RGBW bulbs; these are multi colour with a separate white so that you get a true white not a mixed colour white. I don’t have any of those yet but I have seen examples where they can give some great results to the ambiance of the room. The cost of those is also quite high!

So besides bulbs what else can you control? Well, anything that can be internet connected in theory. That could be a toaster, microwave, kettle, washing machine, a roomba vacuum cleaner, anything really. Hive do some other sensors such as door and window sensors, cameras, motion sensors and moisture detectors which would be useful to those that are very security conscious. I was considering a door sensor in the future but not at the prices they are currently sold for. They’re just not worth that kind of money (£25+). A white only bulb alone is £16 from Hive at the moment.

Hopefully in time the prices will drop or I can get some good deals when they’re on offer.