- Lester Chan's Website - https://lesterchan.net -

The Start Of My Smart Home Journey

I think I came across Automate Asia [1] in the local news. So when I needed to make my house “smarter”, I decided to engage their services.

Note that this is not a sponsored post, I paid for their services. Just wanted to do a shout out to Mike and the team at Automate Asia for the awesome service with the answers to my noob questions.

After playing around with Z-Wave devices, I realized it is so fragmented. If you bought a Z-Wave hub from SmartThings, Vera [2] or Fibaro [3] from US or even Hong Kong, you can’t use it with Z-Wave devices bought in Singapore beause of mismatch frequency.

EU is using 868.4MHz while US is using 908.4MHz. Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Hong Kong are using 921.4MHz. Singapore follows EU and hence we are using 868.4MHz.

That is the reason why I can’t use my SmartThings Hub [4] which I bought from Amazon and I have to get a new hub which supports local frequency.

Mike recommended me getting the Fibaro Home Centre 2 [5] (S$980 [6]), but it was out of my budget, so I settled with the Fibaro Home Center Lite [7] (S$490 [8]) instead.

So happen that Mike has the Fibaro Starter Kit in stock and hence I ended by buying that. The Fibaro Starter Kit which cost S$750, consist of Fibaro Home Center Lite, Wall Plug, Motion Sensor, Door/Window Sensor, Flood Sensor and Smoke Sensor.

Changing Light Switches
I also bought MCO Home Touch Switches [9] to replace all my existing light switches so that they can be controlled by Fibaro Home Center.

I bought three MCO Touch Panel (1 Gang MH-S411) at S$130 each, three MCO Touch Panel (2 Gang MH-S312) at S$160 [10] each and three MCO Touch Panel (4 Gang MH-S314) at S$190.00 [11] each. The only light switch I didn’t change is my bomb shelter one.

MCO Touch Panel - 1 Gang (MH-S411) [12]
MCO Touch Panel – 1 Gang (MH-S411)

MCO Touch Panel - 2 Gang (MH-S312) [13]
MCO Touch Panel – 2 Gang (MH-S312)

MCO Touch Panel - 4 Gang (MH-S314) [14]
MCO Touch Panel – 4 Gang (MH-S314)

Installation is done by Mike’s electrical contractor named James. Installation is charged at S$30 per point and an additional S$30 per point if wires are needed to be pulled to the switch.

If it is your first time doing smart home, most probably you will need to pull another wire to the switch because most houses have only two wires which gives you the state on or off. A third wire is needed to always power the switch. Because it is a smart home, the switch needs to be always powered on. And the actual state of the light will depends on the switch controller. So the installation alone cost me 9 * S$60 = S$540.

Fibaro Home Center Lite

Fibaro Starter Kit - Box Front [15]
Fibaro Starter Kit – Box Front

Fibaro Starter Kit - Box Back [16]
Fibaro Starter Kit – Box Back

Fibaro Starter Kit - Box [17]
Fibaro Starter Kit – Box

Fibaro Starter Kit - Box Open [18]
Fibaro Starter Kit – Box Open

Fibaro Starter Kit - Box Open [19]
Fibaro Starter Kit – Box Open

Fibaro Starter Kit - Box Contents [20]
Fibaro Starter Kit – Box Contents

Fibaro Starter Kit - Door/Window Sensor [21]
Fibaro Starter Kit – Door/Window Sensor

Fibaro Starter Kit - Door/Window Sensor [22]
Fibaro Starter Kit – Door/Window Sensor

Fibaro Starter Kit - Flood Sensor [23]
Fibaro Starter Kit – Flood Sensor

Fibaro Starter Kit - Flood Sensor [24]
Fibaro Starter Kit – Flood Sensor

Fibaro Starter Kit - Smoke Sensor [25]
Fibaro Starter Kit – Smoke Sensor

Fibaro Starter Kit - Smoke Sensor [26]
Fibaro Starter Kit – Smoke Sensor

Fibaro Starter Kit - Wall Plug [27]
Fibaro Starter Kit – Wall Plug

Fibaro Starter Kit - Wall Plug [28]
Fibaro Starter Kit – Wall Plug

Fibaro Starter Kit - Motion Sensor [29]
Fibaro Starter Kit – Motion Sensor

Fibaro Starter Kit - Home Center Lite Top [30]
Fibaro Starter Kit – Home Center Lite Top

Fibaro Starter Kit - Home Center Lite Bottom [31]
Fibaro Starter Kit – Home Center Lite Bottom

Fibaro Starter Kit - Home Center Lite Front [32]
Fibaro Starter Kit – Home Center Lite Front

Fibaro Starter Kit - Home Center Lite Back [33]
Fibaro Starter Kit – Home Center Lite Back

The Fibaro web UI is pretty ok but the learning curve is pretty steep as compared to SmartThings but of course you can do much more stuff with Fibaro Home Center.

Home Center Lite - Devices [34]
Home Center Lite – Devices

Home Center Lite - Room [35]
Home Center Lite – Room

Home Center Lite - Scenes [36]
Home Center Lite – Scenes

I am not a fan of Fibaro mobile app UI because it is kinda ugly and the UX is horrible. In this area, SmartThings app excels!

Fibaro iOS App - Home [37]Fibaro iOS App - Rooms [38]
Fibaro iOS App – Home / Rooms

Fibaro iOS App - Devices [39]Fibaro iOS App - Scenes [40]
Fibaro iOS App – Devices / Scenes

Siri/Amazon Echo
I managed to integrate Fibaro Home Center Lite with Siri and Amazon Echo. And hence I can use Amazon Echo or Siri to off and on my lights as shown in the video below.

Siri integration is done by homebridge [41] and homebridge-Fibaro-HC2 [42] running on my Pine A64 [43].

On your iPhone or iPad, you will need a Homekit App and I recommend MyTouchHome [44] for S$2.98.

Amazon Echo integration is done by habridge [45] running also on my Pine A64, you will just need to enter your Fibaro Home Center on/off URL of your light which looks like

http://username:password@192.168.1.1/api/callAction?deviceID=[id]&name=turnOn

and

http://username:password@192.168.1.1/api/callAction?deviceID=[id]&name=turnOff

Conclusion
In total, I spent S$2,730 on my smart home hobby which I think is expensive. I guess that is the price to pay to be a first mover.

Smart Home will probably be the trend for the next few years and I am glad I did it at the start!