Home automation … automation of the home, housework or household activity. Automate activities in home to make your life more easy, conveniënt. When writing this early in 2003 when I did my first steps in home automation it was a true art to have a light switched on remotely.

Today -2020- switching a light in home sounds easy and lots of homes have this capability built in some way of the other. From out of the box click-on-click-off to sophisticated script listening to your voice and acting upon it. We’re just started here it feels! When does your system responds to you just when you think of an action….I guess within 10 years!

Home automation may include centralized control of lighting, heating, appliances, security locks and other systems, to provide improved convenience, comfort, energy efficiency and security. Home automation can begin with easing up your daily activities and expand to providing increased quality of life for persons who might otherwise require caregivers or institutional care. The popularity of home automation has been increasing greatly in recent years due to much higher affordability and simplicity through smartphone and tablet connectivity. Nowadays, with the Internet of Things popping up as a big buzzword, more and more people are interested in home automation.

A home automation system integrates electrical devices in a house with each other. The techniques employed in home automation include the control of domestic activities, such as home entertainment systems, garden watering, changing the ambiance “scenes” for different events (such as dinners or parties). Devices may be connected through a home network to allow control by a personal computer, and may allow remote access from the internet. Through the integration of information technologies with the home environment, systems and appliances are able to communicate in an integrated manner which results in convenience, energy efficiency, and safety benefits.

In this chapter you will find my reasons for working with Indigo as home automation system, and some plugins I worked on to get Indigo even more customized and better suited for my situation. Since these plugins might be beneficial to others as well, you will find them here explained.

Using Indigo

I did extensive research on options to improve my home automation system back then:

  • The Z-wave support for my previous home automation system, HomeSeer (Version 2), was running behind on the market backt then
  • The upgrade to HomeSeer Version 3 was relative expensive
  • Homeseer Version 3, which I’ve tested for some weeks, did not live up to its promise for the Z-wave world
  • A music server was on my wish list as well. A Mac could perfectly do that
  • Indigo was already promising in the past, but lacked Z-wave support. From Version 6 onwards they solved that with native Z-wave support
  • Indigo can be extended relatively easily with plugins. Scripting and extending Homeseer is also possible but has a steeper learning curve, and also important, most plugins are not for free.
  • MacOS is known as rock solid, and a Home Automation system is something you want to rely on every minut of the day.

Just counting quickly I am running Indigodomo today with > 20 plugins active. I have about 175 devices running in it. Stopping Indigodomo makes our home quiet. Lights and shutters will not open or close anymore, the sprinklers in the garden will be quiet, and most important we will not be warned for smoke, door/window alerts and lots of other topics.

Homegrown Plugins

Indigodomo has a great store for plugins. But that will never be enough. It would not be a true hobby if it was finished and complete 😉 So that is where I will try improving my system a little bit. Perhaps it helps you as well. The following plugins are written by me. Thats a hobby, not a profession. So here and there it might not be written in the most fancy or optimal way. But they do their job for me. If you like them, use them. If you have suggestions to improve them, be my guest!

P1 Meter Plugin

The P1 meter plugin is designed for the Dutch market but might be useful in other European countries as well. It reads the smart meter information for electricity and gas consumption and shows this information as an Indigodomo device.

Weerlive Plugin

The Weerlive plugin shows weather information for today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. The data is retrieved from KNMI, the Royal Dutch Meteological Institute. You are free to use it from any other country but it might not give expected values. Next to that it is extended in the latest version with the possibility to retrieve UV index (current and forecast) information from the website.

Also the Dutch “Buienradar” information is included, showing you the amount of expected rain the coming 2 hours. Last but not least the moon phase is calculated and put in a device.

GardenWater Plugin

The GardenWater plugin extends Indigo with a smart sprinkler system. It automates the watering of your garden and uses the weather and evapotranspiration information where available to decide how much water is needed. You can do that by enabling your valves and pump in Indigo, e.g. by using smart switches.

Weather forecast, rain precipitation, actual rain and evapotranspiration can be retrieved from KNMI (Dutch Royal Weather Service), OpenWeatherMap or Buienradar (Dutch). The plugin can also use any other device state or variable in your Indigo system which contains this information. For instance if you have your own rain meter, you can use that.

The use of the Evapotranspiration information is quit specific for the Netherlands. For other countries there is a fallback with a more generic approach. Other types of information can be retrieved global.