Friend of Automated Home, MarkB, covers his latest DIY smart home project as he converts his house to use Shelly modules…
There is no shortage of devices aiming to convert your house to a smart home. I have tried many devices over the years from major brands including TP-Link and Belkin to less mainstream manufacturers like Sonoff. I have dabbled in WiFi, Zigbee and Z-Wave ecosystems from Ikea and Devolo. I have also installed Efergy to get insights on my energy consumption at home and my EV. All have their good and bad points and I never committed much to any particular platform or manufacturer, instead opting for unification under the Alexa umbrella as a lightweight home Automator.
Recently I came across a range of devices from a Bulgarian company called Allterco Robotics, they use the Shelly Cloud branding and produce a range of products including relays, power monitoring, lights, motion sensors and a host of add on’s. They also have a growing ‘Pro’ range that includes Din mounted 4 way relay and energy monitoring.
What Will Shelly Do?
So far I have added 37 Shelly devices to my home and I can find plenty of more uses that I plan to add as time and budget allows. Here is what I have added and what they do:
- 12x Shelly Duo RGBW GU10 – used for outdoor building and landscape lighting
- 8x Shell 1 – used for lifting control, electric gates, garage door control and Electric Vehicle charger control
- 6x Shelly 1PM – used for power management of major appliances including dishwasher, washing machine, tumble dryer, boiler and water heater
- 4x Shelly Button1 to remotely switch Shelly relays
- 2x Shelly Uni – used in alarm control panel to give smart outputs and isolate sensors to allow remote access to garage without disarming alarm
- 2x Shelly Temperature AddOn – used for more precise control of water temperature, now have 3 temperature probes on water tank to determine how much hot water is available
- 2x Energy Monitors – used with 4 CT Clamps to monitor overall power usage from the grid, Electric Vehicle charging, solar PV production and main Ring circuit
- 1x Dimmer 2 – used to dim 12 down lighter GU10 in the lounge
It’s fair to say I have gone all in on Shelly, from removing previous devices to implementing lots of other new little projects.
So Why Shelly?
I have made a bigger commitment to Shelly than any other device manufacturer and here are my reasons in no particular order:
- It’s Wifi based so no need for hubs or gateways. I have good wifi coverage indoors and out provided by 3 TP-Link Deco X20 and 3 Deco M5, which is capable of managing 150 network devices.
- They have a great range of products that cater for multiple use cases, from plug and play bulbs to the Uni which could be integrated into many appliances or devices.
- There are multiple ways to control the devices. You can use the Shelly app and cloud control, use your favourite voice assistant or you could have them on local control via other systems like Home Assistant. They also support OpenHab, iBroker, Hubitat, Homey, Domoticz and MQTT. You can make it as simple or complex as you like or need. Each device has an embedded web server.
- They respond fast when on the cloud. Pressing the button on the app or a door opening or light coming on is near instantaneous.
- They are great value for money. A Shelly 1 costs around £9-12.
- The amount of tailoring or customisation is fantastic, allowing multiple options as to what hap pens when you flick a switch.
- They are invisible, not literally but the end user doesn’t know they are there. The Shelly 1 can be installed to utilise the existing lighting wiring and switch. This means lights can be switched on and off with the familiar convenience of the traditional switch.
- A Shelly 1 can run on a wide range of voltages from 12v DC to 240v AC, it also has a set of volt free contacts on the relay, making it an ideal device for smart switching of things like gates or garage doors
- There are plenty of resources like the support forum and other users with lots of experience to leverage.
- They have power monitoring function to help identify areas of load and potential optimisation. This could be at a device level or a circuit level.
- They are small enough to fit inside most back boxes
- They have a relay that works without a neutral wire, important in the UK as most lighting switch plates are only supplied with live cable.
- So far they have worked flawlessly
How Easy is it to Deploy?
As already mentioned, there are lots of uses for Shelly devices. Just how far you want to go with them probably comes down to your competency and comfort level working with electric. Many of the installations involve mains voltage (230v) which could cause death, serious injury or damage. Only undertake work you are capable of doing safely and in line with local legislation.
Many deployments are similar to wiring a plug. For example I have converted a small dumb light to a smart light, I have illustrated the process below. Other applications involve modifying your lighting circuit wiring so additional knowledge is needed to keep yourself and your property safe.
When installing on lighting circuits I have removed the traditional junction box and used a Wago connector box which neatly and safely accommodates the wiring, connectors and the Shelly device.
I will post some follow-up articles over the coming weeks, covering how I installed our devices and what they are used for in the future but to get you started here is a simple introduction.
Making a Dumb Light Smart
A Shelly 1 can be combined with a Shelly Button to make a smart light switch. The Button is a custom made moulding that accommodates a Shelly 1 or Shelly 1PM. Previously I have used smart sockets to turn lights off and on. This works fine until a human is introduced. To turn these lights off someone typically had to bend down to the socket to turn the light off via the smart plug, simple, right? Wrong! What typically happened was someone pick the most convenient option and would turn the light off via the in-line switch rendering the smart plug useless.
The answer has been to deploy Shelly buttons. This does away with the smart plug and makes tuning the light on and off more convenient than finding the smart plug or fumbling for the switch on the bulb holder or the in line switch. It couldn’t get any more simplistic.
This isn’t the only way to solve this problem. Shelly produce a WiFI button that could be used in coordination with one of their lights or a series of lights or a light switch could be equipped with a Shelly and used to switch remote devices. This shows the great flexibility of the Shelly ecosystem.
Follows the manufacturer instructions and warnings
1. Unbox the Shelly 1 and the Button. The 5 wires in the button have already been stripped, connect these to the Shelly 1.
2. Make sure the light is unplugged before the next steps
3. Cut out the in-line switch on the light if fitted or cut the wire close to the lamp to insert the button
4. Connect the power in to the Shelly Button terminals
5. Connect the lamp to the Shelly Button terminals
6. Route the cables and screw the button closed
7. Plug in and power up the Shelly
8. Ensure you have downloaded the Shelly Cloud App and created an account
9. Go into settings on your device and search for available Wifi connections, the Shelly device should appear with its own unique SSID, connect to it.
10. Open a browser and go to 192.168.33.1, this is the IP address of the Shelly device web server
11. Go to internet and security setting button
12. lick on connect client and add the local Wifi SSID and password and click save. The device will now connect to the local network.
13. Open the Shelly Cloud app and ‘discovered devices’ will appear. You can create a room via the menu on the left and then click on discovered devices to add the device to the room, following the prompts.
14. You will be prompted to enable cloud functionality and once the device is ready open the settings and if necessary update to the latest firmware version.
That’s enough to get you started with a smart light.
There are many other things you can do in the settings of the device for example change what the Shelly device will do based on a long button press, or have the lamp turn off after a set time interval. You can also use the available schedule function or setup a routine. You can add the Shelly skill to Alexa for voice control too.
Look out for Part 2 coming in the next few weeks where I’ll take a look at moving more of my house to the Shelly smart home system.
Last update on 2021-10-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API