Note: Please, be aware that this post may contain affiliate links.
Hey, Everyone. I may as well publish this project as a work in progress.
In this project, I’ll take each part of the smart home ecosystem, and try to look
- at what people are paying for
- at any data-breaches or security hacks that have happened
- what alternatives there are that puts the data back in our control
How realistic is “off-the-grid”?
With the latest of privacy scandals affecting users of Ring doorbells and cameras, A greater argument can now be made for ‘local only’, or ‘off-the-grid’ devices: that is, devices that work without connecting to the cloud/internet.
It seems to us common folk as if the big companies that make millions, or even billions from us, don’t want to take the steps to protect their customers. For instance, with the recent Ring debacle, it would be very easy for them to check when a person logs onto the system where a user is. If a user logs into their account from an IP address in Germany and they are already logged into their account from an IP address in the US, it doesn’t take much to simply confirm the identity or that user.
When things like this happen, it affects the whole internet, as trust is whittled down little by little. The ever-growing chorus of local-only users grows bigger each time and better solutions are created, mainly from the user communities themselves.
Just one example
This tweet highlights just one example of something that would make people think twice about cloud subscriptions.
Each time I’ve watched this video it’s given me chills.— Jessica Holley (@Jessica_Holley) December 10, 2019
A Desoto County mother shared this Ring video with me. Four days after the camera was installed in her daughters’ room she says someone hacked the camera & began talking to her 8-year-old daughter.
More at 6 on #WMC5 pic.twitter.com/77xCekCnB0
Note: I have not looked into either the Ring or Swan security issues: I am simply using them as examples. They are both examples of how peoples perspective of these issues can persuade them to distrust cloud accounts.
As followers of my blog and my Youtube channel will be aware: I am a huge fan of Home Assistant and its local-only ethos. Naturally, that ethos can only be forced upon us when we first start to use the software, with its default settings. After that, it’s up to us to add the services that we want and need to integrate into the system.
Quite often these integrations force us to use the cloud and some 3rd party service, which we don’t control.
That, there, ladies and gentlemen is the topic of this – the first in a series of posts. Namely, how much can we get away from using the cloud accounts and services, while still keeping the functionality that we know, love, and have come to rely on?
So my task over this series of posts and videos is to see what services and products I can make use of, while not giving too much information away.
There are a few rules that we should put in place for the services and products that we… well, I… will be using.
- Only the most essential of paid-for services should be used
- External storage should be under our complete control, for example
- located within family members home
- on physical media, at a place we control
- Ideally, there should be no need to register our personal details
- The products should be located
- within their own subnet of or our network
- preferably, on a separate network, without access to the internet
- Nothing should invade on other people’s privacy, eg
- logging number plates from CCTV systems
- logging facial recognition data
- Lastly, if you embark on this project with me, it goes without saying that we should all follow the laws and statutes for the locality in which we reside
As is befitting this series, I shall not be employing things like targetted ads. I will instead place adverts from companies that will be generously willing to provide me with equipment and services.
Any links in the tables below will contain a mixture of non-affiliate and affiliate links. If this means nothing to you, it just means that with affiliate links I get a small percentage of the booty if you buy anything.
Rest assured, however, that I will in no way prioritise a link just because it is an affiliate link.
These are the must-haves; the things we definitely need to have in order for our smart system to be viable, and they should preferably be set up before the rest of the stuff.
|Instead of…||You could use…||Remarks|
|Broadband provider||BT||Zen (UK)|
|Router||BT Home Hub||??? (with OpenWRT)|
|Smart home software||???||Home Assistant|
|Off-site data backup||Google Drive||Nextcloud|
|Email Provider||Gmail||ProtonMail||Read the dedicated article|
Almost must-have products/services
A step below the above, these are the things that I would not consider my home complete without.
|Instead of…||You could use…||Remarks|
|CCTV||Swan||… using (Motionye)||Read the dedicated article|
|Lights||Philips Hue||TP-Link Kasa Bulb||TP-Link has published information on what to do if you don’t want your devices managed in the cloud, and they actually give you the option to log in to the app as a guest 🙂|
View their article
|Smart Plugs||TP-Link Tapo P100 Smart Plug||As above|
|Socket (the in-wall type)||???||BG Smart Socket||* Read my review|
* Read how to control these with MQTT
|Voice Assistant||Amazon Echo||???|
|SSL Certificates||Ionos (1&1)||???|
|Remote Access||Log me in||???|
|Doorbell||Ring||Byron Wifi Video Doorbell|
Nice to haves
These are the 2nd to the lowest tier of products and services/ I could live without them, but it’s always nice to have access to them, and they may, of course, be something that we already have gotten used to
|Instead of…||Why not use…|
|Personal metrics (eg weight)||Google Fit||???|
|Remote control devices||Logitech Harmony||???|
|File server||Google One||???|
|Text to speech||Amazon AWS||Home Assistant|
|Speech to text||Amazon AWS||Home Assistant|
|Password Manager||Lastpass||Home Assistant|
Is there anything else that I’ve missed? Perhaps you’re paying for a service and you think it could be better, or you have some issue with it. If so, leave a comment or get in touch via another method, and I’ll be sure to see if I can add it to the list.