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What is Color Temperature, Anyway?

If you’ve purchased an LED or CFL lightbulb recently, you’ve probably heard of color temperature. And likewise, if you’ve talked to an older family member recently about their lightbulbs (and honestly, who hasn’t?), then you’ve probably heard about it as well, albeit in stronger language. So what is color temperature, anyway? Basically, it describes the color of your white light. That may seem counterintuitive; white light is, after all, white. It shouldn’t really have a...
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Testing the Phillips Hue Lux

For a while now, I’ve been using the fancy Hue system from Phillips. These are pricey LED lightbulbs which you can control remotely from your smartphone. Not only can you do standard things like turning lights on and off, but you can also change the color temperature on the fly (going from a nice, warm incandescent light to something suggestive of a 1980s office park), change all the lights in your house to your favorite...
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Tutorial: Using Python + Bidgely to Get Realtime Electric Usage Into Your Home Automation System

In a recent post, I wrote about using Bidgely to track your realtime electrical usage, using a little gadget that reads minute-by-minute data from your utility’s smart meter. I even made a video showing how to install the Bidgely Rainforest Eagle device and use Bidgely’s (very pretty) web dashboard. Using the native Bidgely hardware and dashboard is all well and good, but this website is do it¬†yourself home automation. Most of us are creating our...
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Wink Home Automation: Not There Yet

Happy New Year! 2014 was a big year for home automation products. It seems like pretty much everything is suddenly “smart”. You’ve got smart watches. Smart thermostats. Even the pinnacle of silliness: a smart egg tray, which pings your smartphone when you are nearly out of eggs (manufactured by GE, nonetheless). What was the real winner in 2014, though? Apps! Several companies have come out with smartphone apps–often with accompanying physical hubs–which are designed to...
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Beta Testing the Arduino Tre

Some time in 2015, Arduino will be launching a new board known as the Tre. Thanks to Michael Shiloh at Arduino, I got my hands on an early development version of the board, and got to participate in Arduino’s official Tre Beta testing. The Tre has some promising applications for home automation, which I’ll get into below. As I’ve explained in previous posts, prototyping boards like Arduinos and Raspberry Pis are fantastic for home automation....
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G7 Power: The Best Light Bulbs

Recently, I decided to finally bite the bullet and swap out the old incandescent lightbulbs in my home. Before you stop reading in disgust or leave nasty comments about the fact that I still have incandescents in 2014, let me take a step back and say that I swapped out the vast majority of my bulbs for CFLs a long while ago. I like the soft-white ones from Phillips; they draw about 22 watts for...
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Tracking Realtime Electrical Usage With Bidgely

I live in California, which is served by Pacific Gas and Electric. It’s one of the enlightened utilities which has installed smart electric meters in many of its customers’ homes, including mine. The meters monitor electrical usage continuously, and report back to PGE. Using the data, they can change how much they generate to keep up with demand, see when people are using the most energy, and (of course) bill you more easily! What’s enlightened...
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Home Security With the Raspberry Pi

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how home security intersects with home automation. In both home security systems and home automation systems, you’ve got a lot of the same things: sensors, servers, monitoring, alerts, etc. So why not merge the two together (and in a DIY way, of course)? Over at PrivateEyePi, they’re doing just that. The project uses the Raspberry Pi as a simple platform for creating your own DIY home security system....
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An Industrial Sensor System…In Your Home?

**UPDATE** After seeing this post, Monnit have been kind enough to offer a discount on their systems for readers of Diy HA. If you buy anything from them, just enter coupon code “diyha” at checkout and you’ll get 3% off.** On this site, I tend to focus on home automation projects that make use of DIY technologies like the Raspberry Pi, Arduino, X10, etc. That makes sense, of course; the title of the site is...
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Sparkfun’s Nest Protect Teardrown

With home automation startup Nest recently accepting a $3.2 billion buyout from Google, the company has been all over the news. That’s why I was especially excited to stumble on a great teardown of the Nest Protect from hobbyist electronics website Sparkfun. I love Sparkfun, and I’ve used their products for all kinds of things. They write extremely clear tutorials, and illustrate with pretty pictures, so I expected nothing less from their teardown. For those...
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