What if I told you that your home could automatically turn devices on and off based on a hyper-accurate weather forecast? Too good to be true, right? Well it’s not only possible, it works amazingly well! Welcome to 2021 my friends.
Why do I need this, you ask…
I spent most of the Pandemic of 2020 shutdown adding a sunroom onto our house. This is something that we dreamed of doing for over 15 years and a big part of the dream was adding a deck and outdoor hot tub (which we had at our prior home and missed more than we anticipated). A hot tub on the deck sounded like a great way to spend winter evenings, but getting to the hot tub through 3 feet of Michigan snow sounded like less fun.
Enter the SummerStep system. SummerStep is a collection of outdoor floor mats that have electrical heating elements in them. They become warm enough to melt snowfall of up to 4 inches per hour, more than sufficient for our typical snowfall in Western Michigan. When plugged in and active during winter months, the mats provide a snow-free path from the sunroom door to the hot tub.
As you can imagine, these draw enough energy that you don’t want them left on 24/7. Our single mat draws 300 watts which isn’t too terrible considering what it does, but left on through an entire winter would add significantly to our electric bill. Not to mention the environmental impact.
Within a day of receiving the SummerStep mat I decided to create a system to watch the weather forecast and only turn it on when it was currently snowing or snow was forecast within the next couple of hours. Ideally it would also have a way to manually turn on the mat, and a buffer to keep it active for an interval after snowfall stops.
The system has been operational for about 3 weeks now and it’s so cool to see my visual indicator come on and have snow start shortly after!
- Hubitat or other smart home hub
- QNAP or Synology NAS, or a Raspberry Pi (NAS is more reliable for continuous operation)
- A smart plug that integrates with your smart home hub of choice
- The thing you want to control, like a SummerStep
- OpenWeatherMap.org API
How to Do It
Steps listed to break it down, details will follow:
- Create a free OpenWeatherMap account and create an API key (60 calls per minute on the free plan)
- Setup a Node-RED server on a NAS or other computer that runs 24/7 on your network
- Add the Hubitat palette to Node-RED
- Add the MyTimeout palette to Node-RED
- Pair smart plug with Hubitat if not already done
- Create your Node-RED flow and deploy
- Go to openweathermap.org and sign up for a new account.
More to come! In the process of writing this post…