The road to a smarter home

First smart appliance was a vacuum robot, and that was taken into use in September of 2017. November of 2019 a Google Nest Mini smart speaker was added to the mix. Second appliance was added when our new washer/dryer was connected to the home network in January 2020. Fourth thing was a Google Nest Protect, that was installed in November 2020. Now, the next thing has been taken into use.

The addition is smart lighting. As chosen brand was Ikea smart lighting.

As there was need of new lightbulbs at home, I seized the moment, and took the step I have been thinking of for some time already. The rooms I’ve wanted to implement at the first phase was living room and master bedroom. Our master bedroom ceiling bulb died a little over a week ago, so this was a good time to start. The reason I chose Ikea’s smart devices was largely because I’ve heard good things about it, partly because it was supposedly easy to install and to use, but mainly because it works with Google Assistant.

After the initial purchase I returned home to start the setup. Before this I had to come clean of my purchases to my wife, who was blissfully unaware of my plans and actions. To my surprise she just smiled, and looked at me in the “oh dear, now he’s on to something new again”, the way she so often does when it comes to technology and me.

All those light switches.

All packages open, check the instruction book from Ikea’s homepage (I like it that all the booklets can be found there) and then started to set up the base unit. To my surprise it was very simple.

  1. Plug the ethernet cable between the modem and base unit.
  2. Plug the power cord between the outlet and base unit.
  3. Download the app (IKEA Home smart) to your phone or tablet.
  4. Register/login to the app.
  5. Pair the app and base unit.
  6. Pair the first remote control with the base unit.
  7. Install the first lightbulb.
  8. Pair the remote control and lightbulb, and done!
    After this, either redo steps 7 and 8, or 6, 7 and 8.

The setup at the moment is Living room (1 bulb), Master bedroom (1 bulb), Entry way (3 bulbs), Kitchen (4 bulbs) and Dining room (3 bulbs). During the setup no problems or issues occurred. Even the connection between Ikea’s app and Google was made easy and smooth. Noticeable is that the setup shall be made like in the instructions. First connect to the Ikea’s app, then add and organise them in the Google Home app to avoid problems.

Rooms are easy to set up, and can be named to one’s liking in the Ikea’s app. You can even rename the bulb’s themselves. Once the bulb is installed and added to the network, they automatically fetch updates. Once you’ve paired the bulbs to the Ikea app, they automatically shows up in Google Home. What they don’t do is get their association to the correct room, from the Ikea app. So you need to assign every lightbulb in the Google Home app. Therefore I recommend that when you are setting up your lights, is to set one room ready from start to finish. Not install all lightbulbs in all rooms, and then start to organise the bulbs into the rooms.
Although you give the bulbs names in the Ikea app, the name does not appear in Google Home. So if I would have set up all the 12 lights first, and the started to assign them to the correct rooms in Google Home, I think it would have been pretty annoying.

I’m impressed on the ease of setting everybody up, and how well it works. Now as everything’s connected to Google Home, voice commands are available, and they work well too. I only have one days experience of this, but already yesterday evening, when I was the last one up, everybody else was sleeping, it was very convenient when I was about to go to sleep to just say; “Hey Google, good night“, and then getting up to go to bed and among other things, the lights turns off behind you. Specially when Google responds with “Good night Andy!”. 🙂

I’ve set up and used routines already earlier, so when I say “Hey Google, good night!”, Google goes thru the following:

  • Set my phone to silent. (this doesn’t work now as I have a iPhone) 😦
  • Google tells me tomorrows weather forecast.
  • Google tells me about my first calendar event.
  • Google asks if I want to set an alarm for the morning.
  • [New] Google turns off all lights.
  • Google tells me my phone battery level.
  • Google plays a sleep tune.

There are still things I think should be changed. For instance, I don’t like that you need to have a light switch for every single room. I think the optimal would be, that you could use for instance your phone as the light switch.
One can add several lightbulbs to one remote, but if I opt in to use one physical light switch, I don’t want to turn on two separate rooms always.

Another improvement I see possible is the Ikea Smart home app. I don’t like that I can’t remove the “Introducing Scenes” window on top of the app. I understand it’s there to help me out get started, but once or twice seen, there’s no need for it anymore. Now it’s just there on top, on the prime place of the app, taking up screen real-estate. If I want to build up routines, I definitely use Google instead of Ikea’s service, because it’s much more versatile.

Hey Google, turn of the lights. 🙂

If you are interested of the security side of Ikea Trådfri, you can check out this site. Their conclusion below.
https://www.iot-tests.org/2020/02/update-ikea-home-smart-tradfri-in-the-security-test/#:~:text=The%20app%20data%2C%20which%20includes,the%20KeyStore%20provided%20by%20Android.

Conclusion

The Swedish furniture giant has not cut back on the budget for the security of the product, despite its low price. The actually secure product is compromised by downloading the firmware via HTTP, even though the potential danger in private households is probably not worth mentioning. In households with increased security needs, we recommend using a separate network/VLAN.

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