Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Home Improvement Projects

After staying in our current home for over a decade, the time has come for us to do some home improvement works. What started as a not-so-major project limited to the kitchen soon grew to something a little more major. While we’re at it, I started to think about home automation.

Our government has been pushing for smart homes, smart nation, smart everything. It’s sort of right up my alley too. I’ve been thinking about some of these projects in the past, but it isn’t useful to do small isolated projects that aren’t connected together in a bigger scheme of things. For example, I’ve a dust sensor (you know, because of the haze), but it doesn’t do anything than reporting and producing graphs for me.

A renovation project presents an opportunity to future-proofing our home. Some things are inconvenient to do on my own, like if I had to install new wiring for smart controls, or a new smart door lock, or other works that require skills from a carpenter or electrician.

There seems to be quite a bit of things for me to learn too! I may be familiar with IP networking, but Z-Wave and ZigBee protocols are new to me. How annoying it is to learn that Z-Wave has region-dependent radio frequencies. It adds some complexity when buying stuffs from overseas.

Then, there are other things to consider. Should I prefer one protocol over another? Which controller should I get? What sort of wiring modifications are most convenient? What are the security issues that I need to deal with? What contingencies are there during failures.

I need a system design, and there’s a lot more to a smart home than I had anticipated. There are people who’ll be happy to go buy a smart door lock and be done with it. It doesn’t bother them if it’s pretty much a standalone system. To me, I’d like to see how it integrates with other components of a smart home. There should be some programmable access. I would like to be able to build other things on top of it. A smart door lock that simply has Bluetooth that talks to your phone isn’t quite good enough. That’s my gripe with, say, Igloohome’s otherwise really very attractive priced smart door lock.

Of course, one could argue that as long as there’s some sort of interface, it’s always possible to hack together something to bridge anything-to-anything, so that anything and everything can be connected together. It’s just extra work though, and things tend to get more fragile this way.

I’d expect for a bit of time moving forward, I’ll be writing about smart home projects.

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