Since I’ve started writing a weekly article about HomeKit, one of the most common questions I’ve gotten is exactly what HomeKit products I own and how I use them. I’ve spent years building out each room over time, and I love how easy HomeKit is to manage from any of my devices (including HomePod). If you are starting from scratch on HomeKit, you’ll like this article because it’ll give you a starting point. I am going to explain my “HomeKit home” a room at a time.
HomeKit Weekly is a series focused on smart home accessories, automation tips and tricks, and everything to do with Apple’s smart home framework.
Building a HomeKit home outdoors
In the outdoors, we’ve got a pretty neat setup that is all operated by HomeKit. In the front yard, I have a floodlight that has two Philips Hue Outdoor Lights that are paired with the Hue Outdoor Motion Sensor. At 7:00 PM, the motion sensor becomes active and automatically turns on the floodlights if it detects motion. It turns off after ten minutes. The idea here is to create a pathway if I come home after dark to go in the front door. If it’s not someone in my family, the hope is that the floodlights will deter whoever is coming to our door.
Our front door has an August Smart Lock Pro. You can read my review of it here. I love being able to open and close the door remotely, and it has auto-unlock as I walk up.
In my backyard, I have two more Hue Outdoor Floodlights that are set to automatically come on at dark if the back door is opened. It will shut off after 15 minutes.
I have an Abode Alarm System, and all of the doors are exposed to the Home app. Thanks to this feature, I can use the back door as a trigger. I also recently added a new floodlight that I wired into an outdoor HomeKit plug. I mounted the floodlight near my gutter, ran the outdoor electrical cable behind the gutter, and under my screened-in porch. I then pulled the wire through the deck near the wall, put an outdoor plug on it, and plugged it into the outdoor HomeKit plug.
The outlet is also connected to an automation where it comes on at night for 15 minutes if the backdoor is opened. I could have wired the floodlight into a light switch, but that would have required an electrician as I wouldn’t have been comfortable completing that task. I was able to do all of this thanks to about $40 in supplies from Home Depot.
In my living room, we rely on lamps for most of our lighting, and they are controlled via either smart switches or Philips Hue bulbs. I have an automation set up where if my Abode motion sensor detects motion after 5:00 AM; it turns on a single lamp near where I have my morning coffee. In this room, I also have a HomeKit carbon monoxide detector as well. This room houses my only HomePod. I am waiting for a hardware refresh before I expand HomePod to other rooms in my home.
Like our living room, I have several lamps connected to smart switches that are connected to HomeKit. I have them all grouped a single lamp so we can quickly turn them all off and on via the Home app or Siri. In the future, I want to add a HomePod to this room to be used for music playback while putting away laundry, etc.
In our kid’s bedrooms, we use smart switches to control their lamps and sound machines. While I’d like to create some automations around these items, it isn’t straightforward with kids because their schedule on bedtime and time to wake up can vary so much. I argued a few weeks back that Apple should allow selective access to HomeKit so I could let my kids control their HomeKit products in their room without having access to our alarm, front door, etc.
In our laundry room, I have the Eve Water Guard connected to an Eve Energy switch. The Water Guard cable is snaked in front of our machine, and the Eve Energy switch is set to cut off water is detected. The idea behind that is that we’d have less water to clean up in the event of a problem. Our laundry room is off our living room, so a leak could be costly.
In our kitchen, the only HomeKit enabled item we have is the Fibaro Flood Sensor. Since it’s battery-powered, I have it under my sink. If there is a leak, it will sound the alarm and send me a push notification. We had a leak under our sink a few years back. The only reason we didn’t have a lot of damage is because of some towels that were already under the sink. I am thankful to have this product because I had gotten in the habit of checking under the sink daily.
Both of my garage doors are connected to HomeKit with the iSmartGate Pro garage door opener. As I mentioned in my review of the product, one of the things that drew me to it was that it was hardwired into my existing openers vs. RF connectivity. As someone who always forgets if I shut the garage door, I love getting notifications when it opens and shuts.
I have two smart thermostats in my home. Our downstairs unit is an ecobee SmartThermostat. Our upstairs unit is a third-generation Nest. It’s connected to HomeKit via the Starling Home Hub since Nest doesn’t offer HomeKit support. If you’re curious about the Starling Home Hub, you can read my review. In short: it’s a turn-key solution for adding HomeKit support to all Nest products.
Like I mentioned earlier, I use the Abode alarm system with HomeKit support. Their motion sensors and doors are all exposed to HomeKit. You can also arm and disarm the alarm right from the Home app. I also use the Neato D7 with Siri support to keep our downstairs floors clean. With Siri support, I can trigger it to run a cleaning session from HomePod or the Shortcuts app.
From a HomeKit hub perspective, we have five Apple TVs acting as a HomeKit hub on top of a HomePod. For anyone building a HomeKit home, a home hub is essential so you can control your home remotely.
HomeKit Video and HomeKit Secure Video
On my front and back porch, I have a Eufy 2 camera kit. I have had this running a couple of weeks now, and I am really happy with it. I’ll have a longer review in a few weeks, but the HomeKit Integration is top-notch. I love the promoted 365-day battery life, and I am on track to get that has well as it’s only dropped a couple of % points in my time having it. While it doesn’t support HomeKit Secure Video yet, I do know that it’s coming very soon. While it’s not HomeKit compatible, the Eufy doorbell is on my list to try. I’ve been so happy with the Eufy cameras, that I think I could be okay not having the doorbell on HomeKit. It comes in a wired (requires existing doorbell wires) and wireless option.
My indoor camera is a Netatmo indoor camera. It just received compatibility with HomeKit Secure Video, but I am still testing out how it works, so I will have a longer review soon. So far, it’s worked as expected.
As you build out your HomeKit video environment, I do want to recommend HomeCam as a dedicated app for monitoring your cameras.
Wrap-up on HomeKit home
At this point, I am pretty satisfied with our HomeKit home. All of the lights we regularly use are on HomeKit. Our alarm is on HomeKit. Our front door is on HomeKit. My outdoor floodlights are on HomeKit. Even my garage doors are on HomeKit.
HomeKit makes our lives easier, and I know that I can trust the security. As Apple continues to build out the HomeKit platform, I’ll continue to purchase products that are compatible with it. If I could have my dream HomeKit devices looking ahead, I’d love to have a HomeKit compatible washer, dryer, and refrigerator. I’d love to be able to monitor and control these devices as well as create various automations around them.