A big thing in the home automation world in 2023 is that we finally start to have Matter devices. A big thing in my home automation world in 2023 is that I started a slowly transition to Matter for my devices.
The initial trigger
It actually happened at the holiday shopping season of 2022: we were finally fed up with the shenanigans of our ink printer at home, and decided to purchase a Brother laser printer to replace it, and it was on sale then.
After replaced it, one issue start to appear: the old ink printer has a slanted control “panel”, while the new Brother one has a flat one. That’s usually not an issue to anyone, but it is an issue to us, because one of our cats, Maurice, likes to sit on top of anything flat and press the buttons. One day when we return to home we even saw he pressed the copy button and copied a few blank papers out.
The obvious solution to this problem, is to only power the printer up when we need it. So we need to put a remote controllable plug at the power source.
When we realized the problem it was already mid 2023, and at that point I do not want to buy any new home automation device that does not support Matter, so after some research I ordered Kasa Matter Smart Plug from Amazon.
It worked great. Before that we already have hubs (Google Home and Samsung SmartThings) that support Matter, just didn’t have any devices. Set it up with the hub was easy and once it’s setup with one hub it’s also trivial to “share” it to the other hub. Problem solved.
When I first started home automation, the first device I decided to purchase was the Schlage Connect deadbolt lock. I picked the hub platform based on that decision, as it was supported by SmartThings.
But then over the years, SmartThings platform made a lot of changes, and at some point around 2022 they dropped the official support to that lock.
At that point I can still add the support to the lock back via third party device handler, but then at some point of 2023 they start to drop support to all third party device handlers.
Luckily at mid-2023 Yale finally started to sell the Matter version of their lock, so I purchased it to replace the old one.
Now the locks is the thing that’s a bit more controversial in the Matter world, and you’ll see a lot of tech reviews bashing it, and rightly so. From my understanding, this is because the Matter spec regarding lock is very limited, that the hub cannot just tell the lock to lock or unlock, they need to do that with a valid pin that’s already set up on the lock. That’s how Google Home handles it: whenever you try to lock or unlock it from Google Home app, you are asked to provide your pin (and yes, you even need that to lock it).
But SmartThings handled it much smarter. The Matter spec also allows the hubs to add/remove pins to the lock, so when you set it up on SmartThings, it auto generates a random pin and adds it to the lock (with the title “ST Remove Operation Code”). Then when you try to lock/unlock it from SmartThings app, it just uses that code to do it, which is a much better experience.
So from my personal experience/opinion, yes the Matter spec for locks are very limited and can be very annoying, but the right hub can do much better.
Then, one day at Costco, we saw that they are selling Toto’s Washlet bidet, we said “why not” and bought one home and installed it.
We used it for a few weeks, was very happy with it, and decided to buy another one, because we have multiple restrooms in the house.
After we installed the second one, one morning we woke up found out that all the restrooms were out of power.
We got an electrician to fix it, and he found out that all the restrooms in the house are wired to a single circuit in the circuit box, with a power limit that’s only slightly higher than the max power requirement of one bidet. As a result, when two bidets are running at the same time, they will exceed the limit on the circuit and cause problems.
Rewire the circuits will cost a significant chunk of money, so we decided to do things the easy way: Just make sure we only use one at a time.
Remember the Matter power plug we bought for the printer earlier? That was 2-pack (as they only sell 2 or 4 packs) so we still have one laying around, inspired by that we decided to buy another 2-pack, and power the bidets via them (we also have a hairdryer plugged in the restroom that’s also high wattage appliance). Then, in SmartThings, it’s easy to set some automation that when you turn one of the three on, it auto turns off the other two.
So with that, we can make sure that only one of the two bidets and the hairdryer can be used at a time. Problem solved, again.