Washing Machine Notification (Smart Energy Sensor & Indigo)

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As part of my recent dive back into home automation I decided it would be cool (and once again practical) to be able to receive an alert that the washing machine has finished washing a load of clothes.

This wasn’t something I blindly jumped into. There is plenty of information on the Web documenting how others have already done this with various home automation setups. As it turns out, at least with our washer, Indigo 6, and an Aeon Labs DSC06106-ZWUS – Z-Wave Smart Energy Switch it can be remarkably easy.

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Replacing X10 Motion Sensors (MS14A) with Insteon Motion Sensors (2420M)

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The Short Version: The Insteon motion sensors cost nearly ten times more than the X10 motion sensors but they are very reliable (as long as you have the necessary APs to send the signals over a reasonable distance or through several walls).

Ever since I started using home automation devices I’ve relied on X10 motion sensors for several different tasks. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed consistent communication problems between the X10 devices and the computer. Due to the manner in which Insteon devices communicate I haven’t noticed issues with those devices. Some of the X10 light switches don’t respond from time-to-time. That’s not as big of a concern as having problems with the motion sensors.

Reluctantly (because of the cost), I ordered Insteon motion sensors to replace the X10 sensors. I paired the sensors with the PLC and then added them to the device information in mControl. Communication problems seemed non-existent. Sure, they cost considerably more than X10 sensors, but what good are X10 sensors if they don’t work as needed?

The Insteon motion sensors also have a red LED that pulses at a regular interval. However, unlike as with the X10 sensors, it’s very noticeable. Fortunately, it can be disabled, which I did with one of the sensors.

Updated 12/12/2011: Don’t forget to link your motion sensors to an AP or the controller itself.

Humidity and Wood Floors (With a Vented Crawl Space)

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We’ve been in our home for a couple of years. We’ve had various issues (this seems to be a common theme for new home owners regardless of the age of the house). The home was built in the 1920s so almost everything is wooden.

This year we’ve noticed a change in the wood floor in many areas of the home. Specifically, more boards creak and some even seem to give more than they used to. Part of this may be caused by the shifting of several sets of jacks used to provide additional support to the floor joists. Until I go back under the house I won’t know if the jacks have shifted – this is very possible if they weren’t set on a solid base such as concrete or blocks.

Regardless, I believe I’ve narrowed down one other cause. The amusing aspect of this is that it turned out to be the opposite of what I expected.

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