More Home Automation Equipment Reviews!

I have been hard at work integrating more stuff into my Internet of Things. Behold, and bear witness to my cool new set of crap.

Amazon Echo

This is seriously the coolest thing ever. I was skeptical at first, but I heard so many good reviews that I had to try it. It’s great. And you should get it.

So what is it? Alexa is her name, and she’s basically one of those computers from Star Trek: TNG. You tell her to play music, set timers, read you the news, fetch the weather, turn off the lights, lock the doors, and more. She isn’t as smart as Siri, but she’s a whole lot easier to deal with.

Pros: Links to some of the popular automation hubs. No buttons to press. Capable of answering many questions, and pretty funny sometimes.
Cons: Not as smart as Siri, doesn’t support ISY hubs (yet) without Hue emulation, Skills Kit is limited in verbal capabilities, no way to make Alexa speak on her own (without crazy hackery).

Philips Hue

This might be my favorite so far. Once I bought the 3 pack and realized how cool it was, there was no going back. I put these suckers in 80% of my house, and man is it cool. You don’t realize how much lighting affects your mood until you try it yourself, and it’ll really make you feel good. Until you realize you
spent $2k on light bulbs.

Pros: It’ll seriously impress your friends. Integrates with Echo and other hubs. Compatible with some 3rd party Zigbee bulbs. Have I mentioned how cool it looks?
Cons: Price. Zigbee range kinda sucks.

Insteon Doorbell Kit

This kit includes an Insteon I/O and a circuit board to attach to your doorbell. The installation was easy (luckily I was able to run the wiring through the attic with just enough wire to spare). Programming the ISY was actually the tricky part since it was triggering the event twice, but I figured out a workaround.


This gadget attaches to the ODB-II diagnostic port on your car and provides repair codes, analytics, efficient driver training, GPS, business trip logging, crash alerts, and more. This isn’t a home automation gadget per se, but it connects with IFTTT to trigger events. Therefore, you can do things like have it unlock your door when you arrive home, lock it when you leave your property, turn on the AC when you leave work, ETC.

Pros: No monthly fees. Every car should have these features built-in.
Cons: Doesn’t track in realtime (get Mojio if you want to do that). IFTTT events don’t always seem to trigger. Parked car finder is useless.

Insteon Door Sensor

These are pretty huge compared to the usual magnetic door sensors, but what makes these things great is how hackable they are. If you open it up to change the battery, you will notice there are terminals to manually wire in your own microswitches. What is this good for? Well I used it to place a switch on my mailbox, so that I can receive alerts when the mail arrives.

Insteon Hidden Door Sensor

These are a great alternative to the ugly, blocky magnetic sensors that Insteon sells, and seem to work fine.

Insteon OutletLinc

I wired 7 of these into my arcade, and they work great so far.
Pros: Easy installation.
Cons: Should use screw connectors instead of me having to use wire nuts. Takes up a ton of space in the gang box.

Insteon 8 Button Remote

Works everytime I press it. However, keeping it synced and programmed with the ISY has been a little less impressive, but I’m not sure whose fault that is exactly. But still, it works well enough that I’ll probably buy one to control the arcade and bedroom.


This is an automatic sliding door kit, to turn your sliding glass door into a supermarket door.
Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to make it work yet, and support has been difficult to get in touch with, so I can’t currently recommend this product.

Global Cache WF2IR

This wifi box is supposedly able to translate TCP commands to IR signals. It works great from the ISY (with network module installed). However, I haven’t been able to get most of my commands working. For instance, the AC can turn on and adjust up, but not down. My Boxee can channel up, but not down. My TV doesn’t do anything at all. Meh.

Pros: Opens up a world of control options. Automate an AC, TV, media box, audio amp, and more.
Cons: Pricey, uses raw TCP instead of a REST API, kinda flakey with capturing some signals.

Add-A-Motor Model 80

A simple device that motorizes any drapes that rely on pull-cords or chains. Integrates with any home automation device based on on-off signals.

Pros: Reliable.
Cons: LOUD. Very loud. Because of the way it works, you cannot query its state.

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