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HomeKit

We are "attempting" to roll out a somewhat fully functional HomeKit-enabled home — garage doors (MyQ by Chamberlain); Door Locks (Premis by Kwikset); iAqualink Pool controller; Lyric T5 thermostats by Honeywell; Eve light switches by Elgato — and maybe some other neat "stuff".

Some of these accessories are WiFi and integrate well (most notably the garage doors), but several (like the Premis door locks, the Eve light dimmers and the Lyric thermostats) are Bluetooth-only.

We have an Apple TV 4K in the main living area as the HomeKit hub — it works well, but all the Bluetooth items then have to be in Bluetooth range in order to be remotely controlled — or even locally controlled (or you can walk to them and use your iPhone - sort of kills the "remote" in remote control).

Well, that does not work well in a large home at all. Elgato "announced" the Eve Extender over a year ago, but it remains vaporware. They even admit as much — with no expected when, or even if, it will ever be released.

ConnectSense also announced an extender; but it is still "Coming Soon", which I suspect is maybe never.

The only solution I can find at this time is to add additional Apple TV units (at $149 + tax a pop) as hub extenders. I suspect that it may even be impossible to keep an Apple TV awake without a display, but that is another unknown.

So.... the big question is: Has anyone come up with a solution to extending Bluetooth coverage for use with HomeKit devices?

Thanks
 


Tom M, How large is your house? Construction materials?

In my home (about 2000 sq ft, built 4 years ago of basically concrete block outer walls and wood/drywall interior framing, my bluetooth covers the entire home.

Unrelated to Tom's post, I'd like to mention a really good, Mac-specific home automation app: Indigo, by Preceptive Automation. It supports a wide eco-system of home automation devices natively and through plug-ins developed by a vibrant user base. I like that it does not depend on an internet connection in order to simply turn on a light. I'm not affiliated with the company, other than as a satisfied user.
 


Tom M, How large is your house? Construction materials?
In my home (about 2000 sq ft, built 4 years ago of basically concrete block outer walls and wood/drywall interior framing, my bluetooth covers the entire home.
Unrelated to Tom's post, I'd like to mention a really good, Mac-specific home automation app: Indigo, by Preceptive Automation. It supports a wide eco-system of home automation devices natively and through plug-ins developed by a vibrant user base. I like that it does not depend on an internet connection in order to simply turn on a light. I'm not affiliated with the company, other than as a satisfied user.
Jeff,

The house is just over 4100 sq. ft., two floors - about 2/3 sq. footage on the first floor. Construction is wood frame and sheet rock inside. Outer walls are brick over cement board and wood frame. The garage entry door (the small one) is about 45 ft from the hub, so is outside of Bluetooth range. The upper thermostat is 25+ ft. away with a floor (partially open area as well) and a wall in between. This one is spotty to the hub. The front door is 32 ft. away, but with three walls in between, so it is spotty also.

Thankfully, the garage overhead doors and the Rinnai tankless water heater are Wifi, so connection is solid. Also, the new Aqualink pool controller system will either be WiFi or hardwired. It is these d*** Bluetooth devices that are troublesome.
 


We are "attempting" to roll out a somewhat fully functional HomeKit-enabled home — garage doors (MyQ by Chamberlain); Door Locks (Premis by Kwikset); iAqualink Pool controller; Lyric T5 thermostats by Honeywell; Eve light switches by Elgato — and maybe some other neat "stuff". So.... the big question is: Has anyone come up with a solution to extending Bluetooth coverage for use with HomeKit devices?
You'd think a WiFi to Bluetooth "bridge" would be on the market.

Then, since my ancient X10 system dims and controls lights, and has done so reliably for longer than I like to admit I've been around to use it, I'm only interested in "home automation" as something to know about for the sake of knowing.

Did find a "homebrew" DIY bridge. Other than that, the vaporware ConnectSense device Tom mentioned is the only gadget I could find.

Simple-WiFi-to-BLE-Bluetooth-Low-Energy-Bridge

Recently, Noah on the "Ask Noah" (Linux-centric) podcast discussed his experience as a professional, commercial-grade, IT installer working with connected switches, locks, etc., and recommended relying on commercial-grade hardware where possible. He mentioned that at least one model of smart lock was unreliable because of plastic tumblers... probably want to check to be sure yours isn't.

Ask Noah Episode 67

It's early days in Home Automation. This IoT blog recommends devices compatible both with Zigbee and Z-Wave, which means Samsung's "SmartThings" or Wink. Both have iOS apps.

Stacey on IoT: Why the smart home hub market is largely a two horse race

"Know How" on Leo LaPorte's TWIT "netcasts" has just started a twelve-episode focus on IoT. Co-host Megan Morrone (iPad Today, too) admitted to having only one HomeKit device amidst very many in her home.

First Episode of "Know How" Series on "Smart Home"
 


The weird thing is that the home automation market has been a niche for at least 20 years. People have been fiddling with various X10, etc. based solutions, but the prospect only really appealed to a small subset of dedicated users who were willing to brave the wiring needs in particular.

Seems to me that there has been a gradual shift in the marketplace, where people are becoming more comfortable with home automation, starting with simple stuff like the Roomba that does a specific task reasonably well. Now, thanks to much lower integration costs, a lot of marketing, etc., the market is a lot more attractive, because more people are looking for home automation features.

Because the market is so fragmented, there is ample opportunity for someone to come in and integrate. However, as users, we should keep in mind that the main impetus for OEMs to "serve" this market is not to sell us hardware (as it was in the old X10 days) but that they want to extend/defend their ecosystems and likely mine/resell consumer data.

But, for this market to really tale off, three things likely have to happen:
One, the (many!) related industry players have to stop playing the zero-sum game re: inter-connectivity. Two, it has to be a plug and play solution that "simply works". Three, there have to be more tangible consumer benefits (i.e. Demand Response savings, better home experience).

Ideally, the industry would also figure out security-related issues, but past experience suggests that's not as important for the mass market as the first three (Hello Alexa, Siri, and so on).

One cautionary example is residential HVAC, where all OEMs got excited to varying extents about next-gen command and control systems. They all use similar hardware (serial communication), and the technology allows much better climate control opportunities (real PID control vs. bang/bang on/off signalling), in addition to savings opportunities (trivial Demand Response integration, economizers, true modulation control, and so on).

But three large HVAC players created walled gardens for their platforms with proprietary software protocols. That likely killed the market, because the necessary mass-market scale couldn't be achieved. Attempts at industry-wide alliances (i.e. ClimateTalk) appear to have foundered. Ecobee doesn't even want to admit on their web site that they used to sell a ClimateTalk-compatible thermostat. It's like it never existed.

Even if I were into home automation, even if the market takes off, etc., I'd be leery of investing anything beyond play-money into the technology for my home within the next 5-10 years. I expect much of the home automation market to fold, morph, etc. before a standard emerges (see the many dead ends in the lighting business, for example). After all, Sonos taught me how owning the hardware is irrelevant when the OEM can effectively disable it post-sale through a software command.
 


Update:

Elgato still has no time frame for their "Eve Extender" nor even if it will ever be released.

ConnectSense tells me that the "Bluetooth Extender" project is still alive but expect end of the year -- at the earliest.

I'm breaking down and getting a second Apple TV 4th gen to solve the issue for now.
 


Update 2:

Well... this has been a very interesting project. My objectives for the HomeKit side of the automation have included garage doors (2); home entry doors (3); thermostats (2); standalone light bulbs (1 outside, color, and 1 inside, white); and light fixture with multiple bulbs (see my original posting above on 7/6).

The non-HomeKit additional, controlled items include the iAqualink pool controller and Rinnai tankless water heater. BTW, it is cool to sit in south Florida and turn the waterfall on and off in the pool in Texas from my Mac Pro or iPhone!

I should have a fairly good assessment of both the system and devices within another month or so (2 Apple Airport Extremes for WiFi and 2 Apple TV Gen 4's for bluetooth hubs - with 1 actually acting as an Apple TV; the 2nd has a dummy HDMI plug and acts as a bluetooth extender). The learning/testing process has been very interesting.

The only firm negative conclusion I can pass along right now is the disfavor I have with the Eve (Elgato) light switch. The setup for this Eve switch, especially for timed lighting control, is horrendous (although advertised otherwise) - their tech support did not even know how to program timed operation. Additionally, it does not provide any dimming control, yet is priced the same as others that do. I am pulling the Eve switch and am ordering a Leviton Decora dimmer for replacement. Same price, much more functional, and also is WiFi and not short-range Bluetooth (doesn't even need a hub to integrate with HomeKit).

I will update on all these devices once I get some more hours under my belt with the overall system and test the new Leviton dimmer switches.
 


I am pulling the Eve switch and am ordering a Leviton Decora dimmer for replacement. Same price, much more functional, and also is WiFi and not short-range Bluetooth (doesn't even need a hub to integrate with HomeKit).
Make sure you update the firmware on the Leviton Decora switches. I have had six set up for a few years now, and they would constantly lose connection (there was an issue staying connected to a wifi network with 2.4GHz and 5Ghz sharing the same SSID) until they released a firmware update in June, which for me at least, has fixed the issue.
 


Make sure you update the firmware on the Leviton Decora switches. I have had six set up for a few years now, and they would constantly lose connection (there was an issue staying connected to a wifi network with 2.4GHz and 5Ghz sharing the same SSID) until they released a firmware update in June, which for me at least, has fixed the issue.
Austin, thanks for the heads up. I think I remember seeing issues like this with other controllers as well and will surely check each one on a frequent basis for updates (for this evolving technology).

It was quite interesting to talk with the Eve (old Elgato) tech 'expert' in Tier 2. He had no clue as to how to program the Eve switch for timed operation. After checking with other tech staff, the answer remained elusive, and he stated he would need to investigate further and get back with me. He did do so several days later via email and simply referred me to a blog site at evehome.com. BTW, the process was convoluted -- add a 'timer'; add a 'scene' for that 'timer' (yep - need to define the 'scene' first); add the switch to the 'scene'; pray. Had to do so several times in order to get this to work properly. Conclusion: Eve switch not ready for prime time.
 


Update 3 (HomeKit Devices and results of tests)

Door Locks:
Kwikset Premis 919 Homekit Lock


Upside:
  • Code, Siri or app control
  • Homekit integrated
  • Bluetooth connection
  • Works well (see below)
  • Easily programmed (you can add codes controlled by times and dates)
  • Lock/unlock remotely, even a thousand miles away.
Downside:
  • Bluetooth only; must be within 30-40 feet of Apple TV or iPad Homekit Hub. I needed to add a second Apple TV to cover all locks in a large home
Notes:
  • One unit started failing after several months, exhibiting greatly reduced bluetooth range. Dropped off network, would only work locally with keypad or iPhone when right next to unit. Call to Kwikset resulted in replacement unit.
Satisfaction Level:
  • Satisfied with products and performance and support

Garage Door Controller:
Chamberlain MyQ (with Bridge)


Upside:
  • Work with almost every make automatic garage door (seems Chamberlain/Liftmaster might make them all); check the compatibility on the web site.
  • Homekit integrated
  • Button, Siri or app control
  • WiFi connection
  • Open/Close doors remotely; even a thousand miles away.
  • Tech support excellent (but the senior-most agent had to leave company with outside issues).
Downside:
  • Really a bear to program and integrate properly, especially when needed to repeat with two doors.
  • Units kept failing to integrate properly after 1-2 weeks, randomly. Eventually Chamberlain replaced the MyQ Hub and door sensors. They have worked well since replacement approximately 5 weeks ago.
  • Seems to be a work in process but there really is not an alternative. And, they have made extensive improvements in the setup procedures as a result of my working on these issues with their senior support person and engineering (have not tested these procedures).
Satisfaction Level:
  • Generally satisfied now, after some very big frustrations over several months.

Thermostats:
Honeywell Lyric T5


Upside:
  • Worked like a champ out of the box - flawless.
  • Homekit integrated
  • Local, Siri or app controlled
  • WiFi connection
  • Set all thermostat parameters from anywhere
  • No tech support has been needed
  • Very nice appearance as well
  • Easy replacement connection of thermostat
  • Numerous scheduling capabilities including day/hour and 4 time periods, as well as programmable "vacation" capability
Downside:
  • None
Satisfaction Level:
  • Extremely satisfied; all devices should setup and work as well

Individual Light Bulbs:
VOCOlinc L1 (white) and L2 (color)


Upside:
  • Worked like a champ out of the box - flawless.
  • Homekit integrated
  • Siri or app controlled
  • Available in White (temperature and brightness tunable) or Color
  • WiFi connection
  • Set all bulb parameters from anywhere
  • Fully programmable as to temperature. brightness, on/off times, 16.7 million colors (L2)
  • Great for any light that has an individual bulb
Downside:
  • None
Satisfaction Level:
  • Extremely satisfied

In wall light Controls/Dimmers:

Elgato EVE Light Switch

Upside:
  • None
Downside:
  • The light switch is only on/off, and does not dim.
  • Programming the on/off times is way too complicated and not intuitive at all, unlike other units.
Satisfaction Level:
  • Extremely dissatisfied - removed product from service and returned several units.

Leviton DZ6HD-1BZ 600 watt for HomeKit

Upside:
  • About same cost as the EVE light switch it replaced, but programable on/off, dims, and very easy to program
  • Homekit integrated
  • Siri or app controlled
  • Available in White or Almond, both cover plates included
  • WiFi connection
  • Set all lamp parameters from anywhere
  • Works with virtually any type of light bulbs.
  • Fully programmable as to brightness, on/off times, even can turn on lights X minutes before dusk, etc.
  • Great for any light that has an multiple light bulbs
Downside:
  • None
Satisfaction Level:
  • Extremely satisfied

As an aside, here are several non-HomeKit devices that I have also added to my new automation complex:

Riaani Tankless water heater with Control-R WiFi integration

Allows remote (from anywhere) temperature setting of hot water temperature as well as full interrogation of all parameters of the electronic control systems of the water heater. WiFi connection. Possibly will be added HomeKit integration at some point.

Zodiac Aqualink RS/iAqualink pool control system
  • WiFi or ethernet (I chose hard wired eithernet) connection.
  • Simply the absolute best pool control system, period.
To sum it up, I can sit in South Florida and turn on my waterfall in South Texas (on my Mac, iPad or iPhone, and just about anything else in my pool there), as well as program any and all operations of all the various equipment.

Zodiac is working on HomeKit integration, and I hope to see that soonest, but the iAqualink app is excellent.
 


I have several HomeKit devices:
  • Ecobee & its sensors,
  • Kevo Kwiset lock,
  • Chamberlain Garage Door,
  • El Gato Eve light switch and motion sensor
  • El Gato Eve Degree temperature sensors
  • El Gato Eve Room
I tried an August lock and had to return it. Its battery lasted only a couple of weeks, was huge, and drained the batteries of our phones with its GPS active in the background.

I really like the Ecobee and the ability to place several sensors around the house. This helps with the hallway being at the correct temperature while the rooms are either too hot or cold. Whenever prompted by HomeKit or Ecobee App, it responds quickly. The HomeKit app or Ecobee app will tell you when the sensors are low in battery or require a firmware update. Adding sensors to the Ecobee is pretty simple. It also gives you a plot of the times the AC was active and how it compares to other users. The Ecobee main unit will detect when someone is in front of it and display the outside weather.

Chamberlain Garage Door is OK, but not great. It takes a several seconds (20-30 sec.) for the command to actually reach the door and start opening or closing. I find most useful to check if I remembered to close the garage door when I left the house. Now the kids do not need to carry (and lose!) a clicker to get back into the house, just use their phones.

I have enjoyed the Eve Degree temperature sensors. You can easily see their measurements. However, they depend on Bluetooth, and sometimes I the accessory cannot be reached when using the app. The Eve app also shows all the other HomeKit devices and is much better than Apple's HomeKit app.

The Eve light switch and motion sensor work fine, once programmed. It is a little complicated to program them: you have to create a Scene, say 'front porch light on' and 'front porch light off.' Once the scenes are available, then you use rules to activate the scenes. Say, at sunset run 'front porch on' light scene. You can add a trigger to the rule, like 30 minutes after sunset, to trigger the scene. I also have another rule for front porch motion that runs the 'front porch on' light scene. This rule has a trigger on motion and a condition to be active after sunset and before sunrise. Other rules turn off the light with a trigger 30 minutes before sunrise. Once the devices are programmed, you do not need to have a good connection. What's interesting is that the light switch always responds to queries, but the Eve Segree next to it might not.

El Gato Eve Room is interesting. Its display of air quality has shown us when we needed to open the windows due to stuffy air or some collection of gases due to cleaning, kids crafts/paints, or too many people in the room. The only drawback is that you cannot see the temperature or humidity without a phone. The new version is similar to the Eve Degree that offers temperature on the device itself.
 


Chamberlain Garage Door is OK, but not great. It takes a several seconds (20-30 sec.) for the command to actually reach the door and start opening or closing.
I've been using the 828LM LiftMaster Internet Gateway with their app for the last 4 years, and it responds in a second or two every time. I suspect the delays have more to do with HomeKit than their service.
 


I have several HomeKit devices:
  • Ecobee & its sensors,
  • Kevo Kwiset lock,
  • Chamberlain Garage Door,
  • El Gato Eve light switch and motion sensor
  • El Gato Eve Degree temperature sensors
  • El Gato Eve Room
The Eve light switch and motion sensor work fine, once programmed. It is a little complicated to program them: you have to create a Scene, say 'front porch light on' and 'front porch light off.' Once the scenes are available, then you use rules to activate the scenes. Say, at sunset run 'front porch on' light scene. You can add a trigger to the rule, like 30 minutes after sunset, to trigger the scene. I also have another rule for front porch motion that runs the 'front porch on' light scene. This rule has a trigger on motion and a condition to be active after sunset and before sunrise. Other rules turn off the light with a trigger 30 minutes before sunrise. Once the devices are programmed, you do not need to have a good connection. What's interesting is that the light switch always responds to queries, but the Eve Segree next to it might not.
.
Pedro, I did leave out one of the more important downsides I saw in the Eve Switch (versus the Leviton device I ultimately used): the Eve line is all Bluetooth, and this is a huge potential downside, especially in a larger home. Considering that the Eve switch is connected to AC power, I couldn't for the life of me figure why they did not design for WiFi (as did the Leviton designers). Add in the fact that Elgato (Eve) has never produced their vaporware Bluetooth extender promised 18 months ago, and I certainly favored WiFi devices after this exercise. Bluetooth is fine (even required) for battery devices - there is really no reason for it in any powered device.

Your description of the very convoluted Eve "complicated to program" process is spot on and is directly opposite the extremely easy programming ("automation") process for the Leviton device - within the Home app, select 'automation', choose what you want to control and set what and when - all very simple when compared to the Eve process.

Additionally, I had a really poor experience with Eve tech support when discussing things with them. Although I am pretty knowledgeable, I really should not be more educated than their senior tech staff. The last one I spoke with admitted to me that "these things are really new to us and we don't know much about them". Ummmmm...
 


I've been using the 828LM LiftMaster Internet Gateway with their app for the last 4 years, and it responds in a second or two every time. I suspect the delays have more to do with HomeKit than their service.
I previously had the MyQ Chamberlain ethernet gateway before replacing it with the MyQ Wi-Fi HomeKit gateway. The ethernet-based gateway also took 20-30 seconds before opening the door, mostly because the command went to their web server, got acknowledged, transmitted to the gateway, then the gateway issued the homelink command to the garage door. I thought that having it all in the local network, the HomeKit version would be faster, but it is not.
 


Pedro, I did leave out one of the more important downsides I saw in the Eve Switch (versus the Leviton device I ultimately used): the Eve line is all Bluetooth, and this is a huge potential downside, especially in a larger home. Considering that the Eve switch is connected to AC power, I couldn't for the life of me figure why they did not design for WiFi (as did the Leviton designers)...
I agree, I was surprised that El Gato would not use Wi-Fi for always-powered devices. I can see the use of Bluetooth with its range and data transfer speed limitation as a necessity with battery-powered devices, but not for a light switch!

I was also surprised about the complication of programming the light switch. This seems to come from Apple's Scenes approach to HomeKit. This should be a lot easier....

El Gato used to have great support - it is sad to hear that they could not answer how to program their devices when they had a blog about it....
 


Update 3 (HomeKit Devices and results of tests)

Thermostats:
Honeywell Lyric T5


Upside:
  • Worked like a champ out of the box - flawless.
  • Homekit integrated
  • Local, Siri or app controlled
  • WiFi connection
  • Set all thermostat parameters from anywhere
  • No tech support has been needed
  • Very nice appearance as well
  • Easy replacement connection of thermostat
  • Numerous scheduling capabilities including day/hour and 4 time periods, as well as programmable "vacation" capability
Downside:
  • None
Satisfaction Level:
  • Extremely satisfied; all devices should setup and work as well
I have had nothing but trouble with my Honeywell Lyric T5. It worked well for almost a year, but now it seldom interacts properly with HomeKit. I'm constantly getting "Lyric T5 Thermostat Not Responding" messages from the Home app and need to resort to the Honeywell app to make changes. Not acceptable. Tech Support is absolutely no help as they just tell me to:
  • Reset Homekit (done several times)
  • Reset WiFi (done several times)
  • Factory Reset (done twice)
It works intermittently and I can not recommend this product.
 


I have had nothing but trouble with my Honeywell Lyric T5. It worked well for almost a year, but now it seldom interacts properly with HomeKit. I'm constantly getting "Lyric T5 Thermostat Not Responding" messages from the Home app and need to resort to the Honeywell app to make changes. Not acceptable. Tech Support is absolutely no help as they just tell me to:
  • Reset Homekit (done several times)
  • Reset WiFi (done several times)
  • Factory Reset (done twice)
It works intermittently and I can not recommend this product.
Update: I once again contacted tech support about the problem - they reviewed my case file (extensive, as the representative said) and have agreed to replace my thermostat in 14 -21 days (they are currently out of stock).
 


Update: I once again contacted tech support about the problem - they reviewed my case file (extensive, as the representative said) and have agreed to replace my thermostat in 14 -21 days (they are currently out of stock).
Steve, that's good to hear; as it certainly appears that you have a defective device. Unfortunately, with a huge company like this, it more often than not results in less than stellar tech support, or really long wait times. I always give them just one chance to rectify something, then demand that they escalate to a supervisor. Usually saves a ton of time (and frustration) and those "wash, rinse, repeat" explanation of the issues over and over again.
I have, however, noted that 'occasionally' the Honeywell site does not respond and it reports that there is a connection issue - seems to be a server issue at their end. Has only happened to me 2 or 3 times over the last three months. However, the HomeKit control still works fine when this occur,s as it appears that the commands go direct from iPhone to the HomeKit system.
 


I previously had the MyQ Chamberlain ethernet gateway before replacing it with the MyQ Wi-Fi HomeKit gateway. The ethernet-based gateway also took 20-30 seconds before opening the door, mostly because the command went to their web server, got acknowledged, transmitted to the gateway, then the gateway issued the homelink command to the garage door. I thought that having it all in the local network, the HomeKit version would be faster, but it is not.
The type of gateway doesn't matter. It's a cloud service, so it will always phone home before it activates the door.

I don't know why you are experiencing the long delay. You might want to take a look at the MyQ wireless link or your network. Chamberlain tech support might be able to assist.
 


HomeKit generally works as advertised for me, but sometimes Automations simply stop working. The surefire cure for this is to reboot the AppleTV that is serving as the hub. But... last time this happened, I was on vacation so was unable to reboot the Apple TV until I got home. This meant a dark house for many days of our vacation. Not exactly ideal when it comes to home security.

It would be great if there was a way to remotely reboot an Apple TV, but I can't find one.

Is there a reasonable solution to this problem?
 


HomeKit generally works as advertised for me, but sometimes Automations simply stop working. The surefire cure for this is to reboot the AppleTV that is serving as the hub. But... last time this happened, I was on vacation so was unable to reboot the Apple TV until I got home. This meant a dark house for many days of our vacation. Not exactly ideal when it comes to home security. It would be great if there was a way to remotely reboot an Apple TV, but I can't find one. Is there a reasonable solution to this problem?
Unfortunately, there is no way to reboot your Apple TV (which is the HomeKit hub), but I suspect that it may be Bluetooth devices not responding instead of WiFi devices. (Bluetooth devices need Apple TV; WiFi devices do not need it for connection.)

I would suggest placing critical lighting devices on WiFi (Lutron or Linc), and thus the issue of a dark house will disappear (the devices will still operate even if WiFi is lost).

[Re earlier Chamberlain notes]: Chamberlain tech support is essentially useless unless you get a senior agent. Unfortunately the senior-most experience agent left several months ago for personal reasons, thus the experienced agents are few and far between. You should always ask for escalation and get a senior sgent before troubleshooting any connection issues. Having spent numerous hours (> 5) with them, I learned a lot about the systems.
 




Ironically, one solution might be to use an old-style mechanical timer to power down the Apple TV for ½ hour each day!
Long ago I used a remote power switch to turn on the office computer over a good, old-fashioned, dial-up phone line. Dial the number, the switch powered up. Disconnect. Wait a few minutes as the Windows 98 system took a while to boot. Dial back from LapLink through the fax/modem switch to the computer, and, zing, connected. Pretty slick, and in many ways, remote access has gone downhill since.

The remote telephone initiated switch still exists. Putting in a link to one on Amazon:

Another site to check is: SmartHome.com. SmartHome reminds me how happy I am with my decades-old X10 gear that's still sold there (and on Amazon, but without SmartHome's clarity). X10 is entirely local, removing the security and personal data exposures of IoT.
 


Thanks for all the interesting suggestions. One thing I failed to mention is that I live in Thailand, which uses 220 volts, so my selection of HomeKit compatible devices is extremely limited. However, I do actually have a WiFi Outlet from Kankun that I'm using with HomeKit via Homebridge. I can control it via WiFi independently of HomeKit. I'll repurpose it to reboot the Apple TV, as needed.

George mentioned X10. Back in the 90's I lived on Saipan and had fitted out my home with X10 devices. Although programming it was a bit clunky, I really miss its flexibility. The ability to randomize events seemingly gave the house a more lived-in look when we were away. (Whether or not that was really effective is up to debate.) I find it disappointing that HomeKit doesn't offer something similar.
 


Or plug your Apple TV into a WiFi HomeKit plug, such as the iDevices Switch. (Full disclosure: I read this tip in another forum.)
That would work, but one problem with this is how do you then turn the device back on?

I use Indigo (by Perceptive Automation) for all my Home Automation needs. It has the significant benefit of not relying on an internet connection to function. No need for a command to go out to the internet just to come back to a device in your home a few feet away. Great eco-system of developers with various plug-ins that can control almost every HA device you can find. Easy to set up schedules to re-boot devices as needed.
 


That would work, but one problem with this is how do you then turn the device back on?
The WiFi outlet operates independently of HomeKit and does not need the AppleTV as hub. The Kankun outlet that I have runs a version of Linux and has a web server, so it's a trivial matter to set up a web site through which you can control the GPIO pins and thus the relay state of the device. I've assigned the web server a unique port and, with port forwarding, am able to control the outlet from anywhere. I've been using it since long before Apple introduced HomeKit.

Is it secure? Probably not, but at least it doesn't phone home or use anyone's cloud.
 


Interesting thoughts here about HomeKit reliability, and resetting a hub. Last month I evacuated my home due to the Camp Fire in Northern California, after losing power and the ability to pump water to defend the premises. After nearly a month, I was allowed to return, but I noticed that two weeks prior to that, I was able to use the Home app to check status of several devices and see them respond to on/off commands. That was my first clue that power had been restored; a neighbor that stayed visited the house a few days after the fire and telephoned to let me know I still had a home to come home to.

Anyway, when I finally walked in the door, the first thing I noticed was that all the Philips Hue lamps were on at full brightness. Apparently that's a known bug, and they'd been on for nearly two weeks. The status of the Hue lamps wasn't accurately reflected in the Home app, and trying to turn them off once I was in the house gave no response because the Hue hub was no longer communicating with the WiFi router. Toggling power to the Hue Hub and the router didn't resolve the issue, and a laborious dialog with Hue tech support revealed that the router needed to come online before the Hue hub started or the Hue hub would not work. Their tech support also considered the full intensity on power up to be a safety feature. I see it as just the opposite, as fully powered lights in an unattended home for almost two weeks presents a fire hazard.

All that aside, it does illustrate the need for manufacturers to plan for unanticipated power outages, and an unpredictable return of that power. The Hue folks, especially with their hub, have not. Apple itself is lacking in this area, as their hub currently does not produce any indication of its power state, whether or not it was unexpectedly interrupted, or when power was returned. It would be very handy indeed if the return of power could be configured to autonomously run a script that could check the status of various HomeKit accessories and power cycle them to ensure that they achieved a known, hopefully working state. But alas, there is no scripting capability within HomeKit, either.

I, too, am a past X10 user, via the Xtension application, and well recall the availability of a telephone controlled power strip sort of thing. That wouldn't have worked in my recent situation, though, because the poles carrying the telephone wires were also burned and the circuit was interrupted. Internet service here is via satellite, cursed in many ways, but in this case, it was robust enough to survive the flames. The best work around I can come up with is to install HomeKit wall plugs between the Hue devices and what they plug into so that power can be toggled to hopefully put them into a known state. At forty bux a pop on top of the already high cost of the Hue devices, it's a shame to have to do that when the devices themselves should have been made fault tolerant by the people that designed them. I'm at something of a loss on how to toggle the power on the WiFi router to reset it, though. I can remotely turn off the power to it, but once the WiFi network goes down, how can the AppleTV I'm using as a hub tell the HomeKit power plug used by the router to come back on?
 


Anyway, when I finally walked in the door, the first thing I noticed was that all the Philips Hue lamps were on at full brightness. Apparently that's a known bug, and they'd been on for nearly two weeks.
FWIW, it appears that they finally fixed this bug with the latest iOS app.
App Store said:
Philips Hue
Version 3.11.0
Dec 13, 2018
- Out now, the long awaited option for your lights to return to their previous state when you experience a power loss. Go to "Power-on behavior" settings to configure.
 


Interesting thoughts here about HomeKit ...... I'm at something of a loss on how to toggle the power on the WiFi router to reset it, though. I can remotely turn off the power to it, but once the WiFi network goes down, how can the AppleTV I'm using as a hub tell the HomeKit power plug used by the router to come back on?
Scot, I solve this problem at one of my locations with the use of EZOutlet2. It is an independent network-connected device and needs only a functioning internet connection. A simple push of a button on my iPhone and it toggles the power on the device(s) connected to it. I have one each on two computers in my office in case something is amiss when I am traveling and no one is there. A simple restart to the computer(s) fixes the issue.

They are a bit more (~$70) than the HomeKit outlet solution you are considering but without the dilemma. Considering that they automatically toggle power after the command is issued, you could use the EZOutlet2 to reset an AirPort base station or an Apple TV, as well.
 


Update 3 (HomeKit Devices and results of tests) ...
Update 4: Houston (and just started a new home in the Florida Keys last week, moving in in 2 weeks)


Door Locks: Kwikset Premis 919 Homekit Lock

Still highly satisfied and have already installed two in the new house in Florida (I really like the ability to re-key myself as well). I do however, need a solution for the sliding glass hurricane impact doors (2) by PGT. I hate having to carry a key these days. Units in Houston (3) are working perfectly.


Garage Door Controller Chamberlain MyQ (with Bridge)

Yet to install - issue with two garages some 45 feet apart (the drive units) with two block-walls in between. Will most likely need two MyQ controllers and two hubs. Bummer. Units in Houston 'generally' work well, but sometimes exhibit "sensor" issues. Looking for firmware update from them.


Thermostats: Honeywell Lyric T5

Installed two days ago and working flawlessly. They also now come with a 4-wire-to-5-wire converter/adapter for those that do not have a common wire to the existing thermostat - needed to use at one of the two locations for my AC's.
As an aside, we have two Gree split-unit AC's on first level (at 26,000 BTU each) with two air handlers each. One from each main unit will usually be on to some degree (and the other two normally off, don't really need to air condition my garages!). I just ordered a Honeywell Lyric (like the thermostats) D6 controller made to remotely control IR-type split AC units via WiFi. This will give me Homekit access to control as many of these as desired. Downside: they are expensive (~$132 each), but saving in electricity over the long haul will mediate that, as we run AC year-round here. Will start with one unit and see how that works out, but most likely only add one more. Units in Houston (2) are working flawlessly.


Individual Light Bulbs: VOCOlinc L1 (white) and L2 (color)

None installed in Florida yet - jury is still out on these. Units in Houston (4) periodically fall off of WiFi (but still work and run their programmed functions). Good communications with developers - many firmware updates over last 6 months or so, and they are aware of the issues and working the problem.


Leviton DZ6HD-1BZ 600-watt for HomeKit

First units ordered and shipped. Will use extensively in the Florida house (some 4000 sq. feet on two levels). Unit in Houston works perfectly with no issues in over a year.


Zodiac Aqualink RS/iAqualink pool control system

How would you ever live without this if you own a pool? Works perfectly and is a godsend, especially in Houston where you can have a year-round pool but huge temperature swings. Savings in heating, maintenance (with salt generator) and pump(s) run times has been huge. We literally have free electricity there from 9PM to 6AM, 7 days a week (electricity is deregulated in Texas), so everything is programmed and reprogrammed as needed to take advantage of that.

Will install the same system in the new Florida home within a month or so, when I get caught up with everything else. Not Homekit-compatible but runs on any browser or any iOS device. Zodiac says Homekit is coming....
 


Update 4: Houston
...
Update 5: First report on new installation in our new Florida home.

Door Locks:
Door locks (2) are again Kwikset Premis 919, and have been operating flawlessly since installation in early July. I even get greater range than expected with a lower floor lock some 40 feet horizontal and 10 feet vertical (through a steel reinforced concrete slab no less) from the Apple TV Bluetooth hub.

Garage Door Controller:
I have one of the two garage doors operating so far (short on install time, what with the move and all); and it appears to be 'generally' working well. But I still see an occasional "sensor" issues and need to manually cycle door. Will do second door as time allows.

Thermostats:
Installed two Honeywell Lyric T5 thermostats right away after closing on new house. Working flawlessly once again, and the new models even include a solution if there is no "common" (24vac) wire on your current installation. I had this situation on one of the two AC units, and their solution worked perfectly.

Individual Light Bulbs:
Have four bulbs total installed (2 each L1 and L2). Firmware now at 3.123.2, and this latest firmware update appears to have fixed all of the previous issues I had on our other home. I no longer get any permanent drop-outs of lamps which had previously required power cycling the units. Once in a while a lamp will report "No Response" in Home but will come back on-line with no intervention (something the developers promised that they were working on- looks to be fixed now).

Dimmers: (Leviton DZ6HD-1BZ 600-watt for HomeKit)
I have numerous units installed around the house, mostly replacing previously installed dimmers. Working perfectly and very pleased with them.

Switched Outlets: (WEMO SmartPlug)
Something new I added in Florida. Have four units controlling some table lamps, working flawlessly with no issues setting up. I will be using a few more of these for another unique project when time allows and will report on that outcome.

Home Security: (Honeywell Lyric Security System)
Something new added to the Florida project. As there was no previously installed alarm system here (as there was in Houston), I wanted to install a new system that would also interface with Homekit. Honeywell has finally gotten their Lyric security system operating properly with Homekit, so it was my selection (after some extensive research and calls to Honeywell). Local alarm company installed the system. They knew little if anything about Homekit integration (like, "what's Homekit"?). They also tried to 'sell' the Honeywell extra monitoring service (subscription), telling me it was required for Homekit remote control. Once the Homekit function is turned on (by Honeywell tech support in conjunction with the installer), nothing else is required, it "just works". Bedtime: Me: "Siri, arm the alarm, stay". Siri: "The alarm is armed, stay. Your castle is secure Tom,"
Slick!

Pool Controller: (Zodiac Aqualink RS/iAqualink pool control system)
Installed the same system in the new Florida home. Works perfectly, but still patiently waiting for Homekit integration.
 


If you're going to play with Linux, and especially if you're considering tricks like a prior post about using a Raspberry Pi to serve as an AirPrint proxy for non-AirPrint devices, there's a slick piece of software out there called HomeBridge which knows how to talk to all manner of home automation devices and present them as HomeKit-compatible even when they're not.

I've been using it for a couple of years to access a bunch of smart outlets alongside my other HomeKit-compatible devices. When installing the software, it'll put a QR code on the screen to scan with your phone like other HomeKit devices, and once that's done, you're set. Now you can install a non-compatible device, configure it with the vendor's native app, then go over to the Home app to finish up.
 


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