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Thread: Wall sockets with built in timers - Preferences / opinions

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    Member tampinator's Avatar
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    Wall sockets with built in timers - Preferences / opinions

    Hey guys,

    In the market for a wall socket with built in timer for my heat exchanger and was hoping to get some advice on what to look for, potential risks to my machine etc..

    Firstly, will there be an issue with leaving the coffee machine switch in the on position and just switching the power off directly at the wall (forgive me if this is a stupid question)?
    Secondly, is there specific options to look for that's preferred?
    Lastly, has anyone used one of those WiFi smart plugs? The idea of being able to switch the machine on while driving home from work sounds like a great idea..

    Cheers...

    Jack J.

  2. #2
    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    Hey Jack,

    1. No, it's fine.
    2. This is all up to you. Simple is better for some, so some go with mechanical timers, for others like me, electronics are fun.
    3. Yes I've been using a Wemo Insight for over a year and it has been absolutely faultless. If you want one of those, they're ~$60 if you shop around.

    The issue you need to keep on top of is having surge protection to protect your machine's control board, and also ensuring whatever solution you purchase is actually reliable. Some people have enjoyed using the DLink options, I personally didn't consider them.

    See my reflections here: http://coffeesnobs.com.au/general-co...tml#post576665
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    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    One other thing to consider is that Belkin WeMo switches are Google Home compatible. Between Google Home and If This Then That I never have to use the WeMo app (which is a pos, pita and total woftam imo).
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    Quote Originally Posted by readeral View Post
    Thanks for your feedback.. also read your post - very clever!!

    Im tossing up between the D-Link wifi smart plug and WeMo... Will do some more reading and report back with the outcome!

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    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic_Matt View Post
    One other thing to consider is that Belkin WeMo switches are Google Home compatible. Between Google Home and If This Then That I never have to use the WeMo app (which is a pos, pita and total woftam imo).
    And a bimbo
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    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    Also I actually kinda like the Wemo app. All my schedules are still in the app ATM, although I'm moving them into NodeRED soon.
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    Thanks readeral.. just picked one up on evil bay, should have it by mid next week..

    Thanks again for your advice!
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    Another vote for WeMo here. Been using them for years for coffee machine, garden lights and EV charging.
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    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by readeral View Post
    Also I actually kinda like the Wemo app. All my schedules are still in the app ATM, although I'm moving them into NodeRED soon.
    You don't find it laggy and buggy as heck?

    I've also found that since getting WeMo Link lights (which annoyingly aren't supported directly by Google Home), there's a firmware update at least once a week, none of which never actually resolve the many persistent bugs 🤔

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    338
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic_Matt View Post
    You don't find it laggy and buggy as heck?

    I've also found that since getting WeMo Link lights (which annoyingly aren't supported directly by Google Home), there's a firmware update at least once a week, none of which never actually resolve the many persistent bugs 樂
    Matt I found the Wemos all of that and would take half a day to update firmware which is probably a few 100kb. The thing which changed mine was giving them fixed ip, upgrades are much quicker and zero dropouts. They should have it written on the back of the device in 10mm letters 'give me a fixed ip'.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 338 View Post
    The thing which changed mine was giving them fixed ip, upgrades are much quicker and zero dropouts.
    Hi 338, would you suggest fixing the IP address and stick with the wemo app or use Google Home? Does Google Home have the same options (i.e. schedule times and switch the machine on if I'm out of the house) like the wemo app??

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    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tampinator View Post
    Hi 338, would you suggest fixing the IP address and stick with the wemo app or use Google Home? Does Google Home have the same options (i.e. schedule times and switch the machine on if I'm out of the house) like the wemo app??
    Google Home is purely for voice control - and you'll need the actual speaker unit for best results. Android phones come with Google Assistant, which you can set up ITTT rules for, but you need to use an exact phrase so it's not a genuine 'interfaceless' voice experience like Google Home. I've also found ITTT pretty flaky and slow.

    You still need to install the WeMo app to have your ITTT account recognise the switch - so you have the option of using WeMo for rules and Google Assistant for manual on/off.
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    338
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    Matt's covered it but found the Wemo app adequate for the simple things I do with these, mainly timed on/off and occasionally to turn the coffee machine on before arriving home
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    WeMo
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    Senior Member readeral's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic_Matt View Post
    You don't find it laggy and buggy as heck?

    I've also found that since getting WeMo Link lights (which annoyingly aren't supported directly by Google Home), there's a firmware update at least once a week, none of which never actually resolve the many persistent bugs
    I have Philips Hue lights, so maybe the limit of my Wemo experience makes me like the app more...

    Also the fixed IP advice above was a must for proper firmware updates and stability issues.
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    Hey Guys, just the heads up my Wemo arrived today.. Haven't had much time to muck around with it but I've managed to connect it to my wireless and switch the machine on and off via my phone... I see what you guys mean about the Wemo app being a little buggy, but its bearable IMO.. So far I'm impressed and look forward to getting the rules / time schedule programmed in later tonight.

    Thanks again for the advice!!

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    338
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    Tampinator, don't know how but since the fixed ip ( and no new plugs added) the app is ok. The first software upgrade when you first turn them on seems to take forever and seems to go through the app. Good luck
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    Quote Originally Posted by 338 View Post
    Tampinator, don't know how but since the fixed ip ( and no new plugs added) the app is ok. The first software upgrade when you first turn them on seems to take forever and seems to go through the app. Good luck
    Ye first update seemed to install pretty much straight after I connected it to my wifi.. took about 5 minutes though, I've yet to make it fixed ip. When I finish work I'll give it a shot.

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    Senior Member GrahamK's Avatar
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    I make use of a WeMO Insight and so far, the only problem I found, is that if I re-boot or restart my router then it's a good idea to power the WeMo back on/off to allow it to re-establish its connection to ensure the remote access will work. It works fine after a router re-boot within my own local network, but when I use Remote Access it fails to find the devices. So far this seems to be a consistent issue for me, although may possibly be related to my technology and provider?

    GrahamK
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    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamK View Post
    I make use of a WeMO Insight and so far, the only problem I found, is that if I re-boot or restart my router then it's a good idea to power the WeMo back on/off to allow it to re-establish its connection to ensure the remote access will work. It works fine after a router re-boot within my own local network, but when I use Remote Access it fails to find the devices. So far this seems to be a consistent issue for me, although may possibly be related to my technology and provider?

    GrahamK
    That might explain the issues I've had in the past - previous ISP was hopeless so router resets were a frequent occurrence.

    Is there anything to do in the WeMo app after allocating a fixed IP address for the devices?

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    dmz
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic_Matt View Post
    That might explain the issues I've had in the past - previous ISP was hopeless so router resets were a frequent occurrence.

    Is there anything to do in the WeMo app after allocating a fixed IP address for the devices?
    This might be stating the obvious, but when setting a fixed IP on any device, make sure it's not in the range that your router is handing out.

    So, for example, your router might be configured to have an IP of 192.168.1.1, and to hand out addresses in the range of 192.168.1.100 - 192.168.1.200 (this would be listed under DHCP server settings on your router). You would want to set your fixed IP outside of that .100-.200 range. (In this example, valid options would be 192.168.1.2 through 192.168.1.199, and then 192.168.1.201 through 192.168.1.254.)

    The router has no knowledge of any fixed IP addresses you manually assign. And it will happily hand out your chosen IP to another device if it's in the same range.
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    338
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    Hi Matt, good advice from dmz (I think router dependent, the asus rt88 seems to know) but fixing the ip was all I needed to do to fix mine and the app. Previously would install wemo point, upgrade software, then next day find app and point out to lunch for hours with a message "updating software". This would go on and off for a month, fixed ip solved everything, actually made it an ok product.
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    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    Interesting; my Dlink router has an option for 'reserved addresses' on the DHCP settings page, it complains if the IP isn't within the DHCP range! I'll google it

    Just wanted to double check I didn't have to do anything in the WeMo app itself to let it know that the devices are fixed IP; sounds like that's not the case?

    Funnily enough I've been unable to set rules lately for a similar reason - on saving it just sits on a spinner until I kill the app. I'm using IFTTT as a workaround for now, but have found it flaky in operation and doesn't allow the same flexibility with the WeMo lights (eg you can't set a brightness percentage when turning a light on).

  24. #24
    dmz
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic_Matt View Post
    Interesting; my Dlink router has an option for 'reserved addresses' on the DHCP settings page, it complains if the IP isn't within the DHCP range! I'll google it
    I hope we're talking about the same thing. When I say "fixed IP" or "static IP", I generally mean where you set the IP in the device (e.g., Wemo) itself. What you're referring to above is a DHCP reservation, where you tell the router to always hand out the same IP to a specific device.

    The end result is mostly the same (the device gets an unchanging IP address), but the process is different. I mostly always use DHCP reservations, because it's easier to manage. But you have to be aware of how they work. The router is still responsible for assigning the address, and there can be instances where this can lead to problems. For example, when the power comes back on after an outage, the router may not be fully up-and-running by the time the Wemo switch requests an IP address. So even though you have configured a DHCP reservation, the Wemo might not get an IP address. I've also heard of people shutting their routers off at night, which can cause similar issues.

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    dmz
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    Quote Originally Posted by 338 View Post
    I think router dependent, the asus rt88 seems to know
    Easy for me to get in trouble by not being specific. When I said "the router has no knowledge", I really meant "the DHCP server in the router has no knowledge". Many routers (like your Asus RT-AC88) will show a summary of all client devices that are passing traffic through the router, including ones that have a manually set static IP. I do not believe this list will be considered when the DHCP server (in the router) automatically assigns IP addresses to other devices.

    So, best practice:
    - when manually setting a static IP, set it outside of the DHCP range
    - when using a DHCP reservation, you will often (but not always) have to choose an address inside the DHCP range

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    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    Cool, that makes sense, thanks.

    So is there a way to set a static IP in the WeMo app? I can only find the 'hardware settings' screen, which lists network settings including IP for each device but doesn't seem to be editable.

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    dmz
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic_Matt View Post
    Cool, that makes sense, thanks.

    So is there a way to set a static IP in the WeMo app?
    I don't actually know. I thought that's what people were referring to when they said "fixed IP". A quick google suggests the answer may be "no".
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic_Matt View Post
    Interesting; my Dlink router has an option for 'reserved addresses' on the DHCP settings page, it complains if the IP isn't within the DHCP range! I'll google it

    Just wanted to double check I didn't have to do anything in the WeMo app itself to let it know that the devices are fixed IP; sounds like that's not the case?
    I'm pretty sure that setting is so that the router won't give it those addresses to devices that attach, so that if you set the WeMo to 10.1.1.2, add that to the reserved list and the router won't assign that address to something else. It's so it knows what is not allowed to use. I think there's another page where you can set a device to a fixed IP from within the router instead of the device.
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    dmz
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    Quote Originally Posted by level3ninja View Post
    I'm pretty sure that setting is so that the router won't give it those addresses to devices that attach, so that if you set the WeMo to 10.1.1.2, add that to the reserved list and the router won't assign that address to something else. It's so it knows what is not allowed to use. I think there's another page where you can set a device to a fixed IP from within the router instead of the device.
    While you could use it that way, that's not really the intention. Every network device has a MAC address that's globally unique. When requesting an IP address via DHCP, the device (e.g., WeMo switch) identifies itself with its MAC address. When the router receives the DHCP request, it looks in its table of DHCP reservations (by MAC address) to see if there is a matching entry. If so, it responds with that IP address. If not, it just gives out a random address from its configured pool/range.

    If you set a DHCP reservation, you don't have to do anything at all on the WeMo switch. It doesn't know the difference. It asks for an IP, and it gets an IP. It's completely unaware that it always gets the same one.

    Hopefully I haven't gone too far down the DHCP rabbit hole.

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    All 5 Wemos at our place have always been on dynamic IP and never had an issue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dmz View Post
    While you could use it that way, that's not really the intention. Every network device has a MAC address that's globally unique. When requesting an IP address via DHCP, the device (e.g., WeMo switch) identifies itself with its MAC address. When the router receives the DHCP request, it looks in its table of DHCP reservations (by MAC address) to see if there is a matching entry. If so, it responds with that IP address. If not, it just gives out a random address from its configured pool/range.

    If you set a DHCP reservation, you don't have to do anything at all on the WeMo switch. It doesn't know the difference. It asks for an IP, and it gets an IP. It's completely unaware that it always gets the same one.

    Hopefully I haven't gone too far down the DHCP rabbit hole.
    Now I remember why I dropped networks for philosophy of mathematics at uni 🤣
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    338
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    Matt, just so there is no confusion, DMZ and I are talking about the same thing. On my my router it is called 'manually allocated' and the guide called it 'manually allocated fixed IP', meaning I allocate an IP on the router to this devices MAC and the two will evermore be linked. My apologies if my poor terminology is confusing people here. To the best of my knowledge Wemos can't create a fixed IP.

    By Herzog's post you may find your wemo and app works perfectly and don't need to do anything Would be nice if that is the case.

    What surprise me is these things are communicating on and off all the time (literally checked just now and they were) though total data for the day averages 220 to 280kb.
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    dmz
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    Quote Originally Posted by 338 View Post
    Matt, just so there is no confusion, DMZ and I are talking about the same thing. On my my router it is called 'manually allocated' and the guide called it 'manually allocated fixed IP', meaning I allocate an IP on the router to this devices MAC and the two will evermore be linked. My apologies if my poor terminology is confusing people here. To the best of my knowledge Wemos can't create a fixed IP.

    By Herzog's post you may find your wemo and app works perfectly and don't need to do anything Would be nice if that is the case.

    What surprise me is these things are communicating on and off all the time (literally checked just now and they were) though total data for the day averages 220 to 280kb.
    It's frustrating that most consumer routers try to dumb it down, but in the end just confuse things by using non-standard terminology.

    As for the regular communication, I believe the WeMo's continually "phone home" and stay registered with a central server. And that the remote access works through that central server.

    I don't have one right now, but I suspect that when controlling it locally, it responds quickly, but when you're outside of your home wifi, it probably has a bit of lag in the time it takes to register a command.

    I may pick one up and then I'll have a better idea of how it works. (I was looking at them, and that's how I ended up in this thread.)
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    338
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    DMZ, I have no idea how they work but if you are buying a wemo to test lag I can save you $50. Just tested now by turning wifi off on my phone then activating a wemo via the app (detailing the process in case you see another way it communicated). Wemo responded within 1 second, about the same as I could discern when operating via wifi. You may be right about it working through a central server, explains the ongoing communication.

    You are right about non standard terminology being confusing, I changed from a Draytek to an Asus router and both used very different terminology. It made me smile reading your screen name, that is one which I thought computer people had misappropriated, using it incorrectly and confusingly. In military terms it means no personnel, installations, equipment in that zone and the zone doesn't belong to either party. Turns out with regard to networking it means that zone does belong to the LAN and they view it as acceptable to put some lesser protection there! Who would have known!


    PS Matt, still stand by my earlier suggestion to make Wemos work, just use your router etc to apply what I now call 'DHCP reserved addresses' to each Wemo, makes life far more pleasant. Let us know if that works for you.
    Last edited by 338; 19th July 2017 at 06:07 PM. Reason: to add PS

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    Quote Originally Posted by dmz View Post
    As for the regular communication, I believe the WeMo's continually "phone home" and stay registered with a central server. And that the remote access works through that central server.
    You're correct in that the Wemo cloud servers are what allows you to control your switch when you're remote.

    However, for day to day timer based operation, there's no internet dependence. Once you have programmed a schedule into a switch, the switch will run to the schedule even when your internet is completely offline for whatever reason.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tampinator View Post
    In the market for a wall socket with built in timer for my heat exchanger and was hoping to get some advice on what to look for, potential risks to my machine etc..
    Just back to the original post on this because I am looking for a timer switch but to replace the GPO - not plug in, as this thread seems to have focused on. I have an ECM that does not automatically switch off if I forget about it.

    I do have a timer switch (from Aldi) that does a countdown, but it was bulky and bench space is at a premium. Plus you can't see the display because the GPO is too close to the coffee machine - and there is a sequence of 3 buttons you have to hit to activate it. In other words, I don't like it.

    I have hunted around and places like Bunnings stopped stocking items like this, but I did find this: Envirotouch - Products

    The TT-ET3L is the one I am now using. I bought on e-Bay for about $55 but it's out of stock now. It appears to be in-stock at Schnapp (for a lot more $)

    You can select four pre-programmed times from 15 to 120 minutes. An hour works for me, so I don't leave the machine on for hours. In general it does the job....but at the three minute mark, it gives you a warning by flashing the power off and on twice. I'm not keen on that because it doesn't do much for the circuit boards and relays in the machine. It's not an issue if I remember to turn the machine off, but then I wouldn't need this switch!

    I have contacted the distributor to see if anything can be done, but does anyone know of something similar?

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    Replacing the GPO is a job for a licensed electrician and, unless you find something like a CBUS-level of reliability, potentially problematic in the long term.
    Why don't you look at a smart plug - something like this: https://www.tp-link.com/au/products/list-5258.html
    They're easy to set up, have a great deal of flexibility in terms of setting up multiple schedules, can be integrated with smart speakers so you can ask Google Home or Alexa to turn on/off the coffee machine and you can also turn them on/off from your phone wherever you are. So, if you ever feel like having a coffee when you leave work and come home, you can turn on the machine so it's nice and hot by the time you walk thru the door.

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    There are switches available that are hardwired in. They could be mounted inside your coffee machine.
    No idea of reliability as I don't have one.

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    How much are you willing to spend? There are a couple of options. You could get a Z-wave in wall relay (~$100) that your electrician can install to switch the power point. You'll need a controller compatible with the switch, they can be full blown stand alone units that will do your whole house and can run over $1500, or they can be as simple as a USB stick and some software (I think <$100). These you can then control with an app. You can also have your electrician replace your power point with one with an extra switch in it (get a bell press mechanism, not latching but spring return), and that switch can be wired into the relay directly and you can program it to run for 1 or 2 hours when you press the button (and turn off again if you press it within that time etc). I plan to do most of my house with Z-wave in the not-too-distant future.

    The other option, which I haven't researched more than hearing about it a couple of months ago and 5min googling now, is Clipsal Iconic Bluetooth switch mechanisms and their ControlLink app. It works the same as the Z-wave above, except the extra such in the power point and the relay are combined into one. I think you don't need a seperate mastery controller for this either, you just set it up through the app. Worth investigating.

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    Quote Originally Posted by level3ninja View Post
    The other option, which I haven't researched more than hearing about it a couple of months ago and 5min googling now, is Clipsal Iconic Bluetooth switch mechanisms and their ControlLink app. It works the same as the Z-wave above, except the extra such in the power point and the relay are combined into one. I think you don't need a seperate mastery controller for this either, you just set it up through the app. Worth investigating.
    Thanks for this - it looks like the way to go. I had seen references to the mechanisms in my Google searches, but the information was a little vague. The first few things I looked at focussed on the look not the function, but after a bit more reading, it looks like an interesting system that could easily be retrofitted into a home.

    I suspect it will be just a tad more high quality than the one I have installed.

    Interestingly the electricians I have had doing work in the house recently did not know about it and neither did the electrical outlet. They only knew about the industrial switches, so I will have to ask specific questions. If I find a material cost, I will post. The electrician’s margins will vary, so I will at best get a retail cost. The face plates seem to be around $25 retail. From their marketing material, the installation cost should be close to a standard GPO.


    EDIT: After a little more looking at the Clipsal site, it appears the Iconic Bluetooth range is more aimed at lighting and fans, rather than GPOs. They do mention 10-amp and controlling heaters, but that is all hard-wired, not a socket outlet.

    I guess it would be possible to have the timer mechanism controlling power to the GPO - ie: a switch adjacent to the sockets, but I don't know if that is allowed in the regulations. I will have to find an electrician familiar with the Iconic range or see if Clipsal responds to punters.
    Last edited by steve7; 1 Week Ago at 10:16 AM. Reason: Updated info

  41. #41
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    If you have any issues let me know. I'm an industrial electrician in Sydney, so I can chase info from Clipsal if you need it.
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  42. #42
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    I've been using the Eve Energy plug in power point since purchasing my first machine recently, couldn't be happier as the machine turns on at 5am everyday I'm home and I then turn it off manually when I'm done in the morning via the iPad/iPhone. Very easy to schedule and I went with the Eve as it works with Apple's Homekit which I have other things in the house tied into.

    https://www.evehome.com/en/eve-energy

    Would have been nice to find one with a built in surge protector, but I have the Eve plugged into a surge protector then into the wall. Very nice to have the ability to turn the machine on when I'm out and expecting to be home in 30-40 minutes and keen for a coffee, also has a manual switch to turn on/off.

    Here's a quick screen grab of the last few days of use, heating up from scratch and then turning off an hour or so later, today I made a few extra shots dialing in a new bean as you see...



    .
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  43. #43
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    The Eve Energy plug looks interesting, but I was looking for something flush because space is at a premium - and I think that's what the OP was getting at too.

    @level3ninja suggested the Clipsal Iconic range because they had Bluetooth controllers. After looking through the Clipsal documentation I came to the view that this was all aimed at lights and fans with some hard-wired functions such as heater times.

    I emailed Clipsal and they had nothing but the industrial time clocks to offer. I went into one of the electrical retailers - Haymans and was told the Iconic range could do what I wanted. They suggested the following products, with the timer in the extra switch aperture, running the power outlet.

    https://www.clipsal.com/Trade/Produc...o=41E10PBT3SBM

    https://www.clipsal.com/Trade/Produc...l?catno=3015XC

    The alternative was to just put the timer in a plate and get it installed next to the existing power point, controlling power to that GPO. They assured me that was within regs. Material cost for the timer in the single switch is about $200 on the Clipsal website (plus installation) - cheaper elsewhere. It's configured by a Clipsal room app.

    This is a lot dearer than the Envirotouch switch, but that could be made up by blowing one component on the coffee machine because of its flicking off and on at the end of the cycle.

  44. #44
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    From their website there's no reason it couldn't control the coffee machine. Given its rated load it should probably only switch a single GPO not a double (as a double could have 20A is someone decided to plug two kettles or sandwich presses etc in at the same time). The fact that it's designed for lighting won't change anything. It has an inductive load rating of 10A but a resistive load rating of 15A. Your coffee machine will be >90% resistive.

    If you want it to switch two outlets at once you could have it switch a contactor at your switchboard that controlls one double GPO, or get a second unit to simultaneously switch another single GPO. All adds $$ though.

    Aassuming you have the machine and grinder plugged in to a DGPO at the moment, you could leave the existing DGPO with the grinder plugged in and have a second plate installed next to it with the Bluetooth module and a SGPO for the machine.

    What part of the country are you in?

  45. #45
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    I’m in northern NSW.

    The coffee machine is rated at 1400 watts and the grinder at 200w (Quamar Q50), so well under 10amps but I take your point about two kettles.

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