June 28, 2017

Automating your home with PowerHome2

When I first entered the world of Home Automation, it was at the request of one of my security customers. They had their home fully automated with Insteon and many aspects directly tied into their security system. Their HA provider moved out-of-state and they needed someone to step in and take over maintenance of their system.

Their system revolved around a combination of different technologies and used a software package called PowerHome2 for controlling the Insteon portion of things. PowerHome was written in Sybase by David Howard and when I was first introduced to it I found it provided many features that other control software lacked like:

  • Control lighting, audio, video, security, and cameras in your home or business.
  • Control using everything from any PC in your home, via the internet, using your smartphone, or even via email, keyboard, mouse, IR, voice
  • it’s perfect for Insteon as well as, UPB, and X-10
  • It’s highly customizable – use with your Elk M1 system, to control your HVAC, it includes Caller ID, and can even interface with Weather systems
This is the main screen for my installation and I have 3 windows open.

This is the main screen for my installation

 

Macros, Formulas, and Triggers

The overwhelming benefit to using PowerHome2 is its ability to hook into the command structure of your Insteon devices and build any type of response needed. Using the PowerHome Explorer you manage all aspects of you installation like:

  • Software Setup
  • Adding devices to your installation
  • Global Variables
  • Macros
  • Formulas
  • Building your own web control center
  • Timed Events
  • Triggers
  • Voice recognition control
  • Music
  • And video

Here is a screen shot of the PowerHome Explorer

 

Macros are a sequence of commands issued by PowerHome2 to control devices, groups of devices, and features in the software. As an example, my main entry door has a contact on it that is connected to an Insteon I/O device. If the system is in “Away Mode” as mentioned above and the door is opened there is a trigger set up that runs the “Email Me” macro that sends me an email message that someone has entered my apartment while I was away.

Formulas use conditional statements take the form of; If (condition) Then (action when true) Else (default action or when condition is false). Lets say that you have a conditional statement attached to the above trigger. It could read something like this:

If the garage entry switch is turned on, and it’s after sunset then turn on the hallway, foyer, and kitchen lights otherwise do nothing.

An example of a formula may go something like this:

case(ph_getinsteonlevel( "M_MSTR_BDRM_SWITCH" ) when 140 then (
ph_insteongroup ( "MSTR_BEDRM", 17, 1 )
) else (
ph_insteongroup ( "MSTR_BEDRM_FADE", 17, 1 )
)
)

While that all looks rather daunting it really isn’t hard to get the hang of once you try it. There is exceptional documentation related to writing formulas that hook into Insteon and in no time at all you will be an expert at it!

Triggers are usually started by a device changing state but could also be associated with a date, time of day, or a day of the week.  Lets say for example you always enter the home from the garage entry and there is an Insteon switch there to turn on the lights. You could have a trigger that turns on other controlled lighting based upon that switch being turned on. Triggers are generally used to run macros but can also be used to control devices and software features directly. As an example I have the switch at my main entry set up with a “Fast Off” (two taps of the off paddle) trigger. When the controller receives a fast off from that switch, it runs a macro to turn off all non-essential devices and puts the system into away mode.

The next step…

In all, I am very impressed with the power and performance of Powerhome2 and would recommend it to anyone serious about home automation and control. There is an active user base and support is readily available through the PowerHome2 support forum. Why not see what it can do for your next HA project!

Editors Note: I am not an affiliate of PowerHome2 and in no way have I received any compensation for this post, I simply feel it is one of the better software packages available for home automation.

 

Comments

  1. I use a product called HomeSeer. You might like it since you seem to be a power user. Welcome to the addiction of Home Automation.

    • I’ve heard of it but never tried it. I may have to look into a new platform soon as PH2 doesn’t “officially” support the newer I2CS devices.