Smart Home – Eunos Road 5, Singapore

5 Room HDB Flat | Eunos, Singapore | 2 Adults, 2 Young Children

This is a full-home smart lighting project complete with sensor automations, air-conditioner control, and home monitoring. Our clients are a young couple with very busy lifestyles – one is a pilot and one works for a multinational American company. With an infant only a few months old, and a preschooler, our clients wanted to automate their home, and be able to check on their children when they’re in their rooms.

They’re both iPhone users, and like many iPhone users, they had an older iPad lying around, which could be used as an Apple Home Hub. They also have a Sonos Beam + Sonos Sub for their living room TV, plus a few Sonos Ones in the other rooms. Their Sonos equipment has voice controls and were running Google Assistant.

The Setup

To get their home lighting smart, it was a matter of changing their switches throughout the home to our Aqara D1 Smart Wall Switches. There were a few places with two-way lights, and these were easily converted into smart two-way wall switches.

Motion sensors were placed in the entryway and kitchen to automatically turn the lights on and off when people are detected.

Our clients also set up their Aqara G2H cameras in the living room and children’s’ rooms. The Aqara M2 Hub was placed in the living room to control the air-conditioner.

Lastly, they put an Aqara Wireless Mini Switch by the bedside table to turn the bedroom lights on and off easily from bed.

A Pain Point Solved

In particular, they had a pain point that was solved by the smart switches. At the kitchen entrance was a two-gang smart switch – one for the kitchen light, and the second switch for their automatic laundry rack. The laundry rack was usually left on, but our clients found that many times, visitors exiting the kitchen will switch the laundry rack off since they didn’t know what the switch does. Even our clients themselves sometimes inadvertently press the laundry rack’s switch.

The problem was that the laundry rack made a few high-pitched beeps every time it’s turned on at the mains, and our clients found this annoying, especially when the children are napping or sleeping.

We configured the smart switch to disable the button pressing, effectively nullifying that gang. Now, the laundry rack is always turned on, and pressing the switch won’t turn it on or off. They still have the option to turn the laundry rack on and off using their phones or voice, if they wanted.

Smart Switch in the kitchen – right gang is set so pressing it doesn’t turn off the power to the laundry rack.

Noteworthy Mentions

Complex Living Room Lighting

Our clients had beautiful living room lighting with a great mix of different lighting types. There was a false ceiling with two boxes – one over the living area and one over the dining area – for mounting a ceiling fan and pendant lights respectively. Down lights were installed into the false ceilings on the perimeter of the living area box, and cove lights were installed in all the perimeters.

With such extensive lighting, our clients had 9 gangs of switches in their living room, on three switches. This meant that by simply swapping out their switches, they were able to gain smart controls for 9 different sets of lights, in total controlling 19 bulbs and 18 metres of LED strips!

Switch 1 – three gangs

  • Dining area wall-mounted fan
  • Dining area cove lights
  • Dining area pendant lights

Switch 2 – three gangs

  • Living area ceiling fan
  • Living area down lights – front and back
  • Living area down lights – left and right

Switch 3 – three gangs

  • Living area cove lights – front and back
  • Living area cove lights – left and right
  • Hallway down lights

This gave our clients a great deal of flexibility in choosing the lighting appropriate for the mood, or for the ambience they wanted to achieve. This was also a main draw of smart switches – having all 9 gangs smart would mean the possibility of creating one-tap scenes. These scenes can be triggered at certain times, by voice command, or with just one tap on the Aqara Home app or Apple Home app. Instead of walking up to the switches and flipping them manually on and off (and they have to remember what each switch does!), it’s now possible to set the scene with Google or Siri.

After changing out all the switches, we helped our clients create a few scenes.

Scene name: Time for bed
  • Hallway down lights – turn on
  • Living area cove lights – front and back – turn on
  • Dining area cove lights – turn on
  • Dining area pendant lights – turn on
  • Everything else in living room / kitchen – turn off

This is set to run everyday at 9.00 p.m. (if someone is at home, using geolocations) to signal to the children that it’s time to get ready for bed. Having most of the bright lights turn off, while retaining the softer, gentler lights gives them an immediate, impactful indicator – one that guides them with visual cues that correspond to the actual event – it’s getting darker, go to bed!

Scene name: Time for bed for adults
  • Hallway down lights – turn on
  • Dining area cove lights – turn on
  • Everything else in living room / kitchen – turn off

This is pretty much the same as Time for bed, except it’s aimed at the adults. On a time-based automation that triggers at 12 midnight, this reminds our clients on the importance of their sleep, lest they were carried away by work (or by leisure). As we didn’t foresee this being actually used in a voice command, we gave it a descriptive name.

Scene name: Good night
  • All lights in living room and kitchen – turn off
  • Hallway lights – turn off
  • Living room air-con – turn off
  • Master bedroom lights – turn off

This is a scene that was created to be voice-controlled. Saying Hey Siri, Good night or Hey Google, Good night is easy and has a pleasant ring, plus the voice assistants always reply with their own good nights to you. It’s easy to trigger from bed, either from the Sonos One by the bedside, or from their iPhones.

Scene name: Movie time
  • Living area cove lights – left and right – turn on
  • Everything else in living room / kitchen – turn off

With their 55 inch Samsung TV complete with a Sonos Beam soundbar and Sonos Sub, our clients enjoy the occasional movie (did you know the Sonos Beam has a “Night Sound” mode to make dialogue more audible, but tones down loud sounds like explosions? Perfect for those with kids!)

When watching movies at night, it’s better to have a little bit of ambient light, instead of it being completely dark. This gives less strain for your eyes (to soften the contrast to your TV’s backlight), and lets you walk around and grab chips and beer. In our testing, we found this scene to be the most appealing, as there are no bright lights in the field of view from the sofa, and no reflections of any kind. It’s the perfect balance between darkness and light.

Existing Home

Aqara D1 Smart Wall Switch on left, old Honeywell switches on right

Our clients were living in the home when we installed smart switches for them. They whole installation took only around 3 hours, and the children were at home the whole time.

The Result

This project became a hybrid Apple Home / Google Home setup, due to the owners’ use of iPhones and Sonos Speakers. Both systems worked in tandem and they were not mutually exclusive – they can turn a light on with Siri, and turn it off with Google Assistant. They can also set a scene with their Apple Home App, and then say Good night to Google to turn everything off.

Being able to achieve such flexibility means that there is very little barrier to setting up a smart home, because our clients’ existing hardware could be used and integrated. They didn’t need to buy new smart speakers, nor change their phones. Simply by setting up their smart home with our products, they could realize, with very little effort, a fully-fledged smart home that works with the technology already in their home.

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