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General => Vacation & Rental => Topic started by: mtf on November 04, 2010, 12:45:16 pm

Title: Who is doing what and what do you have?
Post by: mtf on November 04, 2010, 12:45:16 pm
I guess my first question would have to be what are people doing with the Vera in their vacation homes, but perhaps an easier starting point is to give eachother an idea what hardware we are using.

We have 3 vacation homes, all located in the Disney World area and each vacation home has:

1) A Vera
2) 2 HomeSeer Z-Wave Multi-Sensor HSM100's (one upstairs and one downstairs)
3) 2 Intermatic HA01C Home Settings Wireless Wall Receptacle (one for the TV and one for a lamp near the door)
4) 2 Trane Remote Energy Management Thermostats (one upstairs and one downstairs)
5) 3 (or 4) Hawking HomeRemote Pro HRDS1 Door/Window Sensors (on exterior doors)

As discussed on a thread elsewhere we use the Vera system primarily to maintain control of our thermostats, but we are open to other ideas!
Title: Re: Who is doing what and what do you have?
Post by: grybrd on November 04, 2010, 06:29:13 pm
Which Vera and UI are you using?
Title: Re: Who is doing what and what do you have?
Post by: Les F on November 04, 2010, 07:52:32 pm

I started out a long time ago just wanting to check doors , motion and temperature.  Bought an APC environmental monitor off ebay and to monitor them all.  Using an ELK metal cabinet I put that, small UPS, dsl modem, asus router (yeah same as the vera1), and also a linksys router.  The asus served as openvpn server so I could tunnel in to the cabin network and check everything.  The APC also could email out if something went out of the norm.  Linksys is used for guests to have internet access and isolates them from the cabin network devices on it. 

While looking for an ethernet thermostat I thought there had to be a better (and cheaper) way. X10 was off the table. I had X10 there years ago and it did not play well with CFL bulbs.  Zigbee was getting no where, Insteon was too limited in selection but looked interesting.  Somewhere while looking at Zigbee I found Z-Wave.  Saw the schlage link, but refused to pay a monthly fee for the service.  Continued to search for another Z-Wave solution and stumbled onto Vera.  Wow!  Read the forums for a good 2 months before diving in with a UI2 Vera2 at home.   Once I got that going I was hooked.   Within the month I bought another Vera2 for the cabin.   

At this point the cabin still has the APC, but Vera now has a hawking sensor on the sliding door, schlage deadbolt, Trane thermostat.   I am manually setting the thermostat remotely for guests before the arrive and they love it.  Will replace the APC wired motion sensor, temp sensor, door contact with more Z-Wave devices in the next year.  And like I said in an earlier posting will put in an external IP cam as well.

I need to start digging into luup to do some fancier stuff like the bit to 'turn off A/C if door is open for 15 minutes'   that code was posted a while back in the vera setup category.   Lots of stuff to do so little time between work and everything else.

Basically I test things out at home and when happy, install them at the cabin.  Home is Vera2 UI4. Cabin is vera2 UI2.  Still waiting for a final UI4 release before upgrading the remote vera. (I will be there to upgrade it, will not try a remote upgrade).

Thats about it for what I am up to.
Title: Re: Who is doing what and what do you have?
Post by: mtf on November 05, 2010, 10:04:24 am
Which Vera and UI are you using?

We use UI4 on the Vera2 and it is the only version we have ever used because it came as standard when we bought in August.  I now realise we were sort of using beta software but it wasn't a choice we made!  Actually the main disappointment was that we apparently bought all 3 of our Vera's just a day or so before MiCasaVerde announced their offer of the energy monitoring power cable thing (whatever they call it), so we missed out on getting any of those, not that it was obvious until they wrote back to me and said we didn't qualify.  I guess to be fair they did offer to sell me one at a reduced price though.
Title: Re: Who is doing what and what do you have?
Post by: Les F on November 07, 2010, 09:51:16 am

Thermostat control amounts to:

1) The Vera regularly checks with our online booking system and knows when guests are due to arrive and automaticallys set the AC to a reasonable temperature prior to the guest's arrival, but then also sets it back to something higher when there is nobody in the villa and the villa hasn't been booked
2) Detecting recalibration of the Trane thermostat by the guest (unfortunately you can't change the calibration back remotely and this does happen)
3) Configuring the range of temperatures that are user selectable (adjusting that range if the guest recalibrates thermostat )
4) Setting the default temperature if it is during the day and nobody is home (again allowing for any thermostat recalibration)
5) Switching off the thermostats and resetting them to the default settings if any of the exterior doors are left open
6) Switching the AC back on when the doors are shut again
7) Detecting AC units that are running continually but unable to change the temperature, or worse still cases where the temperature is going the wrong way.  Also adjusting the target temperature accordingly as it probably indicates open windows or a Freon leak that could damage the compressor
8) Automatically adjusting the AC settings so that changes upstairs impact on settings downstairs and vice versa where applicable (ie you can cool downstairs without cooling upstairs, but you can't cool upstairs without cooling downstairs as well and you also can't heat downstairs while cooling upstairs)
9) Keeping the thermostat in Fahrenheit mode to avoid the Vera problems that arise if the guest changes the setting
10) Making sure the fan isn't left in continuous mode if there is nobody home
11) Graph the energy use of the thermostats using the Energy Monitoring plugin (required a minor rewrite of the plugin code)

Quoted from other category but related to rentals...
Would you be interested in sharing any code snippets for setting ranges, turning off constant fan.. etc...


Title: Re: Who is doing what and what do you have?
Post by: Anthony420 on November 09, 2010, 05:55:40 pm
I have a vacation / second home that is 750 miles away.  I get there whenever I can, but not as often as I like.  I had experience with z-wave from my primary residence where I have an Elk alarm / Home automation system running for a few years.
I was comfortable with z-wave being reliable, and Vera seemed adequate for my intended use i.e. making the house look "alive" when I'm not there, and monitoring the HVAC operation.
My Vera 1 ran for a long time.  The only had problems when I tried to do too much with it.  The WD Tstats (2) work well-enough, and the eight or so lighting controls are enough for me to run a complex set of lighting scenes.  I also installed two Linksys webcams that work well-enough.
I upgraded to Vera 2 / UI4 without any pain and suffering, and recently tried to add some notifications for temperature should it go outside a reasonable range.  That was a small mistake as Vera obviously cannot be relied on for this purpose.  In all fairness, I guess it is possible that the WD Tstats are reporting the wrong temperature (35deg F in South Carolina in the Summer) but it was not a big deal to forgo that feature for now.
All-in-all, it is doing the job that I need Vera to do.  I'm often chiming in on the features wish list stuff, but if it performs the basic functions I need, I can live with what I have.
Title: Re: Who is doing what and what do you have?
Post by: lmrowen on November 13, 2010, 11:41:40 pm
A few months ago I installed a Vera 2 and 4 Trane thermostats in a vacation rental 600 miles away.  My primary purposes was to control HVAC but now I'm thinking of using lights to make the home looked lived in when vacant and maybe add some security features.

Any recs on security devices?
Title: Re: Who is doing what and what do you have?
Post by: mtf on November 15, 2010, 07:50:25 am
In all fairness, I guess it is possible that the WD Tstats are reporting the wrong temperature (35deg F in South Carolina in the Summer) but it was not a big deal to forgo that feature for now.

I haven't used a WD because we have the Trane, but I assume you know that the guest hasn't set the thermostat to celsius rather than fahrenheit.  I found that our thermostats worked just fine when a guest did that once, except that any commands we sent to the thermostat were treated as being in celsius.  Net result was that our system was telling the thermostat to go to 76F and it was trying to set itself to 169F.  Not sure if you have found a similar sort of bug with the WD as 35C would be about 95F.

I am currently fiddling with sending email directly from the Vera as the notifications we get through MiOS are pretty poorly formatted and there is no simple (ie well documented) way to do one in Lua anyway.

I note Les's request for code above and I will try to put together a plugin that covers most of the things we do with our Vera equipment.
Title: Re: Who is doing what and what do you have?
Post by: phototravels on January 08, 2011, 10:43:47 pm
Because it is 1000 miles away from our principal residence, we are not able to fly down to our Florida vacation condo for extended periods, maybe only for a long weekend in a typical month. Other family members will use it a few additional weeks a year, but we do not rent it out. The condo is vacant much of the time, so we like to be able to monitor conditions there, especially when maintenance and delivery people are allowed access.

The main automation system is a Vera (1) installed in a central closet. It, a router/wireless AP, and a cable modem are protected by a UPS, and the breaker box has a whole-house surge protector. The condo’s lighting and ceiling fans are controlled by 42 Insteon switches and modules. There are also a few Z-wave switches. Walk-in closet lights and vent fans are on wall-switch timers, and are not remotely controlled. I do not have lights programmed to activate while the condo is vacant because all windows are covered by closed storm shutters.

There are also two Trane Z-wave thermostats controlling the two zones of the condo.

The Vera also controls a Schlage latch and deadbolt on the front door. The Schlage locks are programmed to send an e-mail to my mobile phone when a (correct or incorrect) PIN is entered, or the deadbolt is locked or unlocked. I am not using UI4, so I can still schedule and change access codes from my mobile phone. Each family member or user has a different access code, so my mobile e-mail might read something like, “Event-PIN CODE ENTERED UserName=”Maintenance” Device-Front Door Deadbolt Room-Foyer Date-2010-12-01 15:21:14”. This status message is usually received within 30 seconds of the event’s occurrence, but is not 100% reliable.

I am using a Panasonic wi-fi PTZ camera homed in on the inside of the front door. It can be monitored from my mobile phone, so I can visually verify who is entering the door and follow their activity in a limited space after receiving the notification of a door event. A sensor at the front door turns on a light there when the door is opened, and the activation of remote camera monitoring turns on additional lights.

My mobile phone, iPad, and laptops all have control ability for the various switches, modules, thermostats and locks.

The Vera system has been very reliable for 15 months now. The system radiates well through metal-stud walls over a 100x35' area. On a single occasion, a power interruption caused the Vera's Insteon modem to lock up, so I lost all remote control of all those switches and modules until I was able to travel to the condo and physically reset it. I have now installed a Z-wave relay module controlling the Insteon modem so I can remotely do a hard reset.

The condo’s burglar alarm system is a GE product, but I plan to eventually change it out for an Elk system, which I have used in our other homes because of its reliability and flexibility to interface with Vera. Activation of the alarm calls my mobile phone.

I have also installed a Sensaphone 2800 wireless monitoring system as an independent backup to the other systems. It has two wireless temperature sensors, a wireless motion sensor, a wireless humidity sensor, and a wired humidity sensor. If any of the sensors go out of limits, the Sensaphone will seize a phone line and call a list of phone numbers until an acknowledgement code is entered. It is also possible to call the condo’s phone and enter a PIN to hear a report of sensor values or change limit settings. The 2800 also has a microphone for loud noise detection and has a battery backup to allow it to call if it detects a line power failure. Sensaphone now has a new model which uses the web for notification.

In the future, I want to find Z-wave switches capable of controlling eleven sets of electric storm shutters. The switch must fit in a wall box, and control 120 VAC via SPDT, preferably with the equivalent of center off – or power up, power down, and power off. The Somfy blind controller products are close, but not ideal.

I have also considered putting Z-wave actuated valves on the main water supplies (in our case, both cold and hot from a central boiler).