X3: Ready to be shipped

Well it looks like the X3 is ready to be shipped from South Carolina!  Talking to my dealer this morning, the vehicle is in 182 status which means, “Scheduled for Carrier”.  Sweet!  Let’s hope it gets picked up in the next day or two!  Which hopefully means one week of transport?  Maybe it gets to Brampton next Tuesday, maybe for a pickup by next Friday?

We can hope!

X3: Production week is here

I have no idea what status the car is in, and in many respects I don’t want to jinx it.

Here is a guide to BMW production status codes:
0 Order deleted by NA
17 Order not Specified
37 Order is at BMW NA
87 Production Week Assigned
97 Order sent to AG
100 Order deleted by AG
101 Error in data transmitted
102 Special Order (no Prod Week)
105 Order out of Prod. Period
111 Order Accepted at AG
112 Order scheduled for Production
**** Up to this point you can still make changes to the car such as options, colors, etc. However, once the car goes to status 150, you cannot make any changes since the car is now in production!
150 Production Started
151 Body Shop Started
152 Paint Shop Started
153 Assembly Started
155 Production Completed
160 Released to Distribution
168 AG Stock
170 Waiting Workshop
172 Planned for Workshop
174 Workshop Entry
176 Workshop Complete
180 Waiting for Export Dispatch
181 Waiting for Domestic Dispatch
182 Schedule for Carrier
190 In transit to port of exit
191 Returned to BMW AG
193 Arrived at Port of Exit
194 Selected for Shipment
195 Shipped from Port of Exit
196 Shipment Arrival at destination port?

X3: An Update

So, despite the fact that the car went into ‘Production’ as in BMW’s code 150, that didn’t mean it was being built at Plant Spartanburg – yet.  It more or less means that the just-in-time components are in the process of being built

Talking to BMW directly, it turns out that the X3 is scheduled for actual production, meaning assembly at Plant Spartanburg, during week 49.

The week of December 4th to 9th – assuming a 6 day week, with Sunday being a shutdown.

It’s pretty much in line with what I said in my last post on November 22nd. I figure the car will be a mid-week build with assembly being completed on December 6th as a guess.

This means the car is shipped by Friday, taking two weeks means arriving December 22nd, just in time for Christmas.

Interestingly, talking to the business manager, she actually said that she was going to put a rush on the vehicle because she wanted us to have it before Christmas.  Mainly because she’s on holiday from the evening of the 22nd through to January 2nd.  This wasn’t my specific request, but it’s appreciated.

So we’ll see.  I have no idea what a rush delivery actually means.  Does that mean we could have it by the 18th because rush means one week delivery?  We’ll see what happens.

X3: And true to the schedule…

True to form at BMW/MINI, six days after ordering we are in production! We only found this out as, this morning we were going to make a change to the order (BMW is making the 21in rims available as a free upgrade)

So let’s see what the schedule could be:

  • Thursday and Fridays are shutdowns at Plant Spartanburg for Thanksgiving.  It normally takes 1-2 weeks for the car to be assembled, so I’m going to say December 4th will probably be the Production Date.
  • One or two days later it should be loaded on a train, so lets’s say December 6th.
  • Two weeks to get to Toronto, December 20th.
  • Preparation at the dealer and delivery, December 23rd.  Merry Christmas!

I think that’s an aggressive timeline though inline with other people’s experiences.

From that thread:

  • When you get your VIN number or production number from your CA
    (little tip, when you get your VIN number go to www.bmwvin.com and get the full spec of your car to make sure nothing is missing from your custom order)
  • Call BMW Canada 1-800-567-2691
  • Give the the last 6 digits of your VIN or production number.
  • You will get your production date.
  • You can keep calling everyday to find out which stage the car is at.
  • When the car leaves the manufacturing plant, they can no longer track it.
  • You call your dealer to get the rail car number.
  • Then you call a company called CSX that allows a person to track a rail car number.
  • Their phone number is 800-235-2352. When you call and the automated voice answers, say location. it will then ask you for the rail car’s initials which will be “TTGX” or something like that. It will then ask you for the rail car number and that is when you speak the numeric digits. The next step is to say done and it will tell you where the rail car is or was today.
  • Once the car arrives, you visit the Hansen’s site at
    www.lhf.com Type in the VIN number in the vehicle tracking field.
  • When the car is in their system, you will see the pick up date and delivery date.The status starts with active, dispatch, en route, to delivered or on hold just like my case. That is when you call your dealer and get a priority on it. Which I did and they picked up the car at the train yard which is 5 minutes away from the dealership.

So in the end it took a little over 2 weeks from production to delivery, if all goes well.

X3: Tracking

I will be tracking the delivery of the new 2018 X3 once we know what the VIN is.  My guess is that it will take, surprisingly, longer for the vehicle to get here and I’m guessing that it will be mid-January before it gets here.  Why?

US Thanksgiving is this week.  We have a plant shutdown at Christmas for, at a minimum, a week.

Now, if we map it to the MINI.  When we ordered from MINI Oakville, it took:

  • 6 days from ordering to get the VIN (October 16)
  • 11 days from ordering and we had production day (October 21)
  • Then it took 15 days from production  to get to Halifax from Oxford (November 5)
  • It took 12 days to get from Halifax to Toronto (November 17)
  • It took a week longer for the dealership to get the car ready to deliver (November 24)

The bonus of having an American-built car is that, it’s on the same continent!  Although, I wonder if the car ships by train or by car carrier into Canada?  I will have to find out.

So let’s map this –

  • I ordered the car on November 16th
  • Let’s assume it takes 6 days to get the VIN – That would be November 22nd
  • Shutdown happens for two days on the 23rd and 24th
  • I’m going to say that maybe, if we’re lucky, production would be in 13 days, bringing us to November 29th
  • It takes time for all the import paperwork and all that, but I’d expect it to take less than 27 days.  Let’s say two weeks.  That means, we could have the car by December 18th.
  • My gut feeling says January 8th or 15th.
  • My dealer has an allocation.

Let’s see what a simple search says

So we’ll see.  I’m tracking for January, given that’s what the dealer pretty much said.

X3: Getting a new vehicle

I haven’t written much about our MINI Cooper 5-Door over the past year. This week is the 2nd anniversary of us picking up the car.  I’m very glad to have leased a MINI, more so because we will always wonder what it would have been liked.

It’s not been terrible, but I will say it hasn’t been as smooth as I would have expected from a subsidiary of BMW.

We replaced a rattle which had to do with the timing belt – The guide that holds it on was loose.

We then replaced a part that was causing a rattle of sorts.  That part was replaced but then another sound was heard which resulted in getting the Transmission replaced.

Some other noises fixed with a software update (which I do have to say is kind of cool).

Despite all this, MINI has been fantastic at the level of service they provide, although the three years/50,000km of oil changes has flown by.  Special thanks to driving back and forth to Kitchener-Waterloo although I also got mileage for that, so I shouldn’t complain. 🙂

That said, I would be concerned with all the work that was done on my car.  Is it going to be stable for another two years?  Am I going to have to sink a bunch of money into a car that shouldn’t have had the transmission replaced?  Honestly, it seems pretty ridiculous.

I wouldn’t say the MINI is a lemon – far from it, but I am concerned about the longevity of the car.

Beyond that, it’s pretty clear that while Scott and I love it, and it is funny to see two big guys getting out of a MINI and we’re kind of squished in it.  Betty, Scott’s Mum has a hard time getting in the back, our friends chuckle and have a mix of excitement and dread when getting in the car.

Taking Betty and Bev back to the airport when they left after their vacation in October, they both sat in the back and their bags spread between the boot and the front seat.

I concede, the car is too small.

That said, I would totally buy a MINI as a second car for Scott and I to drive, if we needed a second car.

In March of this year, Scott and I did test drives of a BMW 5-Series and an X1.  We loved the 5, enjoyed the X! and we sat in an X3.  Scott had his eyes on the X3, I had my eyes on the 5.

We also looked at the Clubman and the Countryman – The Clubman is really just an extended 5-Door and while it has much better room in the back, it’s cramped.  The Countryman is pretty fantastic but doesn’t leave much room for cargo.

Fast forward to this past week.  I had no idea I was going to jump at switching our car, yet I did exactly that.  It’s dangerous for me to walk into a dealership, see the launch of a new vehicle and fall in love with it.

That’s exactly what happened.  The 2018 X3 now has all the gizmos and gadgets I want (not necessarily need – no one NEEDS a BMW or a higher end car) from the 5 and 7.

We test drove it, and it was awesome.  There’s not much more to say.

We’re switching from the smallest car we’ve owned to the largest car we’ve ever owned.  The X3 is longer and taller than the last Prius we owned, although the Prius was wider.

This is, also, going to be the first vehicle we’ve ever owned.  Staying true to my word, I said we were going to own our next vehicle, and hopefully we can keep this going for 8-10 years.  The longer, the better.

This is also going to be the first American-made vehicle.  Yes, the X-series are not made anywhere other than BMW’s Plant Spartanburg in South Carolina.  From there, they ship to the rest of the world.  Here’s a tour. from BMW.  Alternatively, here is another tour with actual guides.

I have an affinity for South Carolina, having been all over the state, having implemented their Campground Reservation System – Which was my first project as a consultant in a Professional Services context.

While Performance Centre Delivery is an option for US customers, it looks like it’s not for Canadian customers. *pout*.  We’ll be taking delivery at the dealership.  We will, however, take a holiday in South Carolina and we will do a tour of the plant.

I’ve always wanted to own a BMW, and I sure as hell hope the reliability is better the MINI.  Please don’t fail me.  Otherwise I’m going straight back to Toyota.

Home Automation Setup at the Condo: Part 3 – Bringing it all Together

So in Part 1 and Part 2 

I covered

  • Setting up Hue and some of the cool automations we’ve got running with remotes and motion detectors
  • Working with other applications such as Logitech Harmony to control the lights, adding an August lock and triggering automations such as turning on the lights when the door is unlocked or turning them off when the door is locked.

Since then we greatly expanded the system bringing it all together.  If you have the products on their own –

  • Harmony talks to Hue and August
  • Hue talks to Nest
  • Nest talks to Hue
  • August talks to Nest, but since we don’t use Nest Cams and Thermostats, there isn’t much on offer here.

You can use tools like IFTTT and HomeKit to bring some automation to all of this.  For example, IFTTT can setup rules, such as if I unlock the door, turn certain lights on.  IFTTT can take a few seconds to take action since you have a round trip to some company’s servers to then trigger IFTTT to then take action on someone else’s servers.  It’s alright, but you know at some point, support for products is going to go away.  That’s the unfortunately nature of our throw away society.

Enter the home hub –

HomeKit, since we have a fourth generation Apple TV will act as the hub for Hue and August but with varying degrees of  success both in-house and remotely.  The grouping functionality and automation is not great.

We looked at two options – the Wink Home Hub and Samsung’s SmartThings.  SmartThings is pretty cool, and quite expandable.  It’s definitely the geekier of the two.  For example, August locks are not supported.  Well, they are if you sort of hack it with Yonomi or IFTTT, but I want to be off the cloud solution as much as possible.

Also SmartThings doesn’t support the products that we had already purchased and in all honesty, doesn’t support a lot of products – unless you program it.  So in many respects, if you know you want a home hub, check the home hubs out prior to buying the add on devices.

As far as I can tell, there isn’t a perfect home hub.  For example, if you’re looking at add motorized shades in your home, Wink covers all the major brands except Hunter Douglas. SmartThings supports Hunter Douglas with some programming.

Wink Home Hub

We added a Wink Home Hub to bring everything together, otherwise you’re using different apps in different rooms.with varying degrees of success.

  • Wink allowed us to add a connected fan and light in our bedroom – This is actually available in Canada at the Home Depot in Etobicoke on Queensway, it’s just not on Home Depot Canada’s website.
  • We have three sets of lights that we are not planning on switching to connected bulbs – our dining room and three sets of lights in our kitchen – over our peninsula, the LED potlights and the LED strip under our cabinets.  We can actually use Lutron Connected Dimmers to provide some control there through the switch directly, a Pico remote and through the Wink App – No Lutron hub required.
  • At a later date, if we wanted to add Lutron shades, support is already there!
  • We could add power plugs that also connect to the WInk, which we did – We added two iHome iSP6X plugs to control two lights we actually never use.  Sadly despite advertising their support for Wink, they are not currently supported by Wink – Who states they are working on adding support.
  • The Wink hub will allow us control Hue and August as well, naturally.
  • We can add Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa if we wanted, sadly no support for HomeKit or Siri.

Voice Assistant

Between HomeKit, Google Home, Alexa, IFTTT and home hubs like Wink, there’s a mish mash of ways to connect to your devices.  Some technology works well, some technology still needs to mature.

HomeKit

Apple HomeKit, to me, still needs to mature as does Siri.  I have no doubt that Apple is trying to perfect Siri with their HomePod which is projected to be available in Q3 2017.  A fourth generation Apple TV is required which acts as the gateway between the internet, HomeKit and all of your devices.

HomeKit has the typical accessories available for it – switches, lightbulbs, thermostats, cameras,  entertainment centre remote controls, locks, sensors for motion, temperature and humidity.  It covers the basics – If you want to use Siri from your iPhone or iPad.

For some reason I’ve always found Siri a bit challenging to use voice-wise though that is more for dictation purposes.  As a result, I admit, I am not confident in Siri’s ability.  Also you can’t seem to add skills, which is pretty lame.  And you know Apple is going to be more of a closed system.

Google Home

I have an Android phone lying about that I got free when I switched carriers at work, so I’ve played a bit with Android Assistant with IFTTT.   I found Google Assistant’s voice recognition to be considerably better than Siri and quicker responding, I think.

That said, given we’re more of an Apple household, I’m not going to switch to Google mobile phones just to get Assistant.

The question is, do we get a Google Home?  Sure, that would work and works with iOS, but relatively speaking, at CAD$179/USD$129 it is a bit expensive if you’re wanting to put one in every room.  But that said, I liked features such as asking Google Assistant about my day, and she’s kind of sassy.

Amazon Echo

Enter Amazon Echo – Amazon Echo, having been around for two years, has a considerable number of skills – over 16,000 to Google Home’s less than 500.  Skills are, essentially, plug-ins you can add to add functionality to your Amazon Echo.

An Echo setup can be quite cheap too – US$49 for an Echo Dot and you can get a three pack for US$20 off the regular price.  Not bad and the speaker on the device sounds good, and supports Bluetooth out of the box.

That said, you know Google is opening up with their Google Assistant API being made available for third parties to add more capabilities.

However an interesting thing is, you can add Google Assistant to Amazon Echo and it works well!  You don’t get the hardware integration, but that’s fine – That’s what Alexa is for.

The drawback with Amazon Echo is that it does not support Canada for things like asking about the weather.  You have to either be very specific “Alexa, how is the weather in Toronto?” or use the Google Assistant integration.  There is a good site on “Making the Amazon Echo work in Canada” which involves either using the US app store to download the Alexa app for iOS, or side loading an APK for Android.

So needless to say, we went with Amazon Echo with Google Assistant integration.  It’s worked well in our condo with an Echo speaker in the bathroom and dots throughout the condo.

Hardware-wise, Alexa works with EVERYTHING and I mean EVERYTHING. Actually, the only thing she doesn’t do is turn the guest bedroom fan to Thermonuclear (yes, I have a shortcut in Wink for that) because the Wink/Alexa integration doesn’t support fans yet.  Pretty much everything else, I can control.

IFTTT

For everything else that is not mission critical, I am happy to use IFTTT, such as

  • I can ask Alexa to
    • trigger self destruct and the living room lights will flash
    • start the party and it puts the lights in a colour loop
  • When playing music through Amazon Prime Music, I can track a all the songs that are played.
  • If the temperature goes above 25C it turns on the master bedroom fan, and below 25C, the fan is turned off.
  • Remember that Thermonuclear Winter command I wanted?  IFTTT can trigger fan shortcuts from Wink.  It turns the fan on to maximum and turns off the light.
  • When I weigh myself on my FitBit Aria scale, it blinks the lights in the bathroom to say the weight registered with their server.
  • I could use IFTTT to turn on the light when I come through the door, or turn off the lights in the front hall when the door is locked; but I now leave that to Wink.

What about security?

The good thing is, the only device that can unlock my front door is my Harmony remote (through my iPhone or the remote), Siri through HomeKit, or the August app.

  • Alexa and Google Home do not unlock doors, but will lock doors.
  • IFTTT will take action on lock or unlock, but will not unlock doors either.
  • Wink will not allow an unlock action, only lock

As for the rest – someone changing my lights, turning on my fan, etc… I am not that worried about.  Sure, it would be a pain to be woken up in the middle of the night due to someone hacking the lights.  Specifically, Philips, I know takes security seriously, so I am not that concerned.

What about your WiFi speeds?  You have to have a lot of data flying around

We did actually have slow speeds on our network, but not because of all the hubs and such – which all wire into one of my WiFI extenders – but due to the distance, the way WiFi extenders work, the lack of WiFi channels available in the condo and the fact that Apple WiFi routers don’t automatically change channels.

So we decided to upgrade to a mesh system that provides considerably better coverage, speed, constantly monitors for busy channels and automatically updates accordingly.   The changes have been pretty amazing.  It then also speeds up the effects of IFTTT and external triggers.

Home Automation Setup at the Condo: Part 2

So we setup our lighting system with switches and motion sensors, what can we do to kick it up to the next level?

Logitech Harmony

Scott and I use Logitech Harmony remotes for our home entertainment system.  So it made sense to upgrade to a Logitech Harmony Elite, which, by the way, is way cheaper to purchase in the United States (US$299) after exchange versus Canada (CAD$499!).

With the Elite you can

  • obviously control all your entertainment devices
  • you can control all the lights in your home, if you wanted
  • you can tell the system to select a particular scene when you select an activity, such as automatically dim the lights when you select “Play Movie”
  • it can connect to your Nest Protect alarms and provide you with details as to the status of each of your smoke/CO2 detectors
  • you can also control smart plugs, and even control the thermostat if you wanted
  • you can use the included remote or use your mobile device – phone or tablet, as a remote

So quite a neat system for home automation

 

August SmartLock

I always said we would never do this, but we are considering getting an August Smartlock for the system.  Why?  Geofencing is cool.  When you arrive at home, the doors automatically unlock, when you leave they lock.  Hands free!

On top of that, if we forget to lock the door, we can do it remotely; AND we can do it from our couch!  Okay, that last bit may be laziness, but Scott and I both check and make sure the door is locked.

But wait, there’s more

  • Lock the door from the Harmony remote… Check
  • Turn on of lights when you unlock the door… Check
  • Turn off lights when you lock the door… Check
  • Unlock the doors automatically if there’s a fire or CO2 emergency… Not quite, through IFTTT, yet, but know it could be done, possibly with a Wink Hub 2 and a shortcut.

Ring Door Bell

We wouldn’t really need a doorbell, but hey, I admit, I don’t like answering the door if I’m not expecting someone, so why not add a doorbell with a video camera?

Not only does it track motion, it can also track when rings happen, log to a Google Spreadsheet, flash the lights (useful for those hearing impaired), among other things.

It can also do things like, mute the music if there’s a ring at the door.

Kind of cool, eh?

Home Automation Setup at the Condo: Part 1

When Scott and I first moved into our condo a few years ago, we decided to install two Philips Hue bulbs in our living room to give them a try.  Until now, we really had not done much with the bulbs.  Turn them on, voila instant light as one would expect.

Being able to change the colour seemed like a cool feature, but not something that we used.  It was a novelty.   I also didn’t really understand why I would keep the switch on and control from my smart phone.  I just saw these as regular bulbs that happened to show different colours.

We bought two more and put them in my studio/man cave.  Even there, we didn’t really use the bulbs to their fullest capacity.  More to add ambience as the space looks out onto the balcony with a floor to ceiling window.

Enter my friend M Dave in Amsterdam, who I visited a few weeks ago.  Dave has an amazing Hue setup that really showed me how powerful the system is and what is possible.  I was introduced to the ‘the power’ of the Hue Motion detector – my killer app!

The Bathroom

The first bit of inspiration he gave me was the bathroom and toilet.  See, Scott and I can sometimes forget to turn off the lights in our bathroom.  This probably happens to EVERYONE.

In our bathroom, we have two sets of lights

  • Pot lights which we added when we renovated – one in the shower area, one where the toilet and sink area
  • A halogen light directly above the sink which came with the condo

At this point we have only added Hue bulbs to the pot lights.  We would have to completely change out the lighting fixture above the sink to something else if we really wanted to put Hue bulbs there.

With the motion detector, not only does it control when the lights go on, it controls how long the light stay on, the type of light you want at the appropriate time of day.  Pretty spiffy if you

  • need a bright light when waking up, such as something in daylight spectrum and throughout the day
  • want a darker light at night to help with getting to sleep, definitely something out of daylight spectrum

It also controls whether or not the light activates based on the amount of day light, prior to or after sundown, and based on the amount of movement in the room.

We placed it on a ledge where the sync is, perfectly out of the way pointed directly at the shower.  Since it’s behind the door, movement from the hall does not trigger the light.

There is even a Hue Labs version of the motion detector software, that allows to control a third time set of lighting, so you can have bright daylight in the morning, a more relaxed light through the afternoon and darker light in the evening.

So anyone can have a relaxing shower in any colour they wish.  Maybe a bit overkill for a bathroom, but it’s cool.

This then spawned off another idea for me

The Laundry Room

Scott and I have a Laundry Room in our condo where the light often gets left on as well.  Also, if you’re carrying a bin of clothes, why not make it easier and use motion control to turn on that light?

So, we did.  I had an fifth Hue bulb that I was doing nothing with that I had found while cleaning up my man cave, which was an older first-generation bulb.

It’s clear that when you buy into such a system, that you really should plan out the type of bulbs that you want in the space such as a white-only bulb, or one that does multicolour.  Given it’s an older bulb, it doesn’t do certain colours well, most notably blues and green; so its an okay bulb to put in the space.  Ideally, I would have saved money using a while only bulb.  But hey, we can do laundry in purple light!

Supplied with the motion detector is a magnetic base.  The sensor connects to it magnetically, so you can angle the sensor as you like, and from there you can place the sensor on a magnetic surface.  All of the shelving in our laundry room is metal and I could place the sensor pretty much anywhere.  I have the sensor pointing perpendicularly at the doorway.  Given the layout of our unit, movement from the hallway is not captured by the sensor.

That said, Shadow, our cat triggers the light at night, so we had to make sure we programmed the light to nightlight, from 11pm to 8am.

I had one other idea for this setup

The Man cave/Studio

The studio and man cave, I admit, I don’t spend a lot of time in.  It’s a small space which often becomes a storage area for things when we have guests over, or at holiday times and such.  As much as I clean it up, it very quickly gets filled up with crap.  Not ideal for a space that’s really meant to be where I am being creative or chilling, listening to music or playing games.

Often, I’ll pop in to get something, and then pop out and sometimes forgetting to turn off the lights with the intention to go back and do something.  So, again, an easy fix with the motion detector.  Again, it’s posted perpendicular to the door, low down and done in such a way that walking by the door does not trigger the sensor, turning on the lights.  I also have the daylight sensitivity turned up so that it adjusts nicely to daylight savings and standard time.

I also decided to add the remote dimmer so that I can easily control up to four scenes and dimming.  It’s probably more than what I need – I always have my phone on me, but I figured I’d give it a try, and I can repurpose it elsewhere if needed.

The cool thing about the dimmer switch is that

  • you can mount it in several different ways.  Magnetically to a metal surface, stick it to something or you can even screw it into a wall if you wanted
  • you can use it as a remote control off where you mount it, so I could carry it with me if I wanted

I’ve mounted it magnetically under one of my studio monitors.

Which brings me to…

The Bedroom Closet

This is the one place where I don’t have a lightbulb that can reproduce the rainbow.  Sorry. LOL!

If there is one other room light that constantly gets kept on, it’s our walk-in closet.  It irks the heck out of me when this light gets left on.

A room like this doesn’t need a colourful bulb, so I picked up a bulb that only does white light.  Now, in the Hue system, you have two kinds of white bulbs – One that only dims or one that has a wide spectrum of white.  I chose to go for the wide spectrum of white.  You can get this with a dimmer switch, saving a few bucks on the combined package.  I am using the dimmer switch else where.

So what do you do early in the morning when your husband is sleeping and you want to get something from the closet without waking them up?  Set the motion detector to use a dark colour of light – either the nightlight setting or you could actually use a colour bulb and use, say, a dark blue in the third generation bulb (more below on that).

It’s possible we may swap the light in the closet with the laundry room as we experiment.

Of course, I had to extend this to…

The Bedroom

We love IKEA, it’s all over our condo.  We recently picked up new lamps for the bedroom, and if you know IKEA lamps, they all have oddly placed switches.  The dimmer I put in the man cave inspired a neat idea – replace the switch with Hue dimmer switch and add a Hue bulb – one each for Scott and me.  On top of that, we have a third dimmer switch which is at the entrance to the bedroom.

Hue is a bit quirky in that you can’t link the accessories to a single light bulb.  It has to be a room.  However, an accessory can be assigned to multiple rooms.

So, Scott’s lamp is one room; my lamp is another, the individual switches control the single room; the one at the entrance turns on both rooms.

Which takes us to…

The Foyer

In the foyer, we have two beautiful pieces of art called “Timber 1” and “Timber 2” by Tim Yanke.  We also have the perfect light fixture for the space – A three GU10 ceiling mounted light fixture from IKEA.  We actually had the lights prior to the artwork being in the space.

I had been looking at the geofencing capabilities given the significant upgrades made to our space, does it make sense to use that feature?  Not until we really took a look at the foyer.

Why not get three GU10 bulbs and a motion detector, so that when people walk into the space to put on shoes or their jacket, that the light comes on automatically.  It also makes the geofencing functionality usable.  If we had friends in the living room, it doesn’t make sense to geofence to those lights because you’re interrupting people that may have set a particular program.

When Scott or I arrive home, whenever we get to the drive way of the condo building, the lights in our hallway automatically turn on.  When we walk in, it then resets the lights to the motion sensor programming depending on the time of day.

Which then takes us to…

The Living Room

The Living room has

  • a halogen ceiling light that’s from the 90s. It’s a really neat lamp that works for the space,
  • two taller lamps – one with a reading light,
  • a curio cabinet with LED lighting that I installed from IKEA which is okay,
  • the dining room has a five-bulb halogen ceiling light,
  • the open concept kitchen has a six-bulb halogen ceiling light

There isn’t much we can do with the halogen lights in the dining room and the kitchen, really. When we renovated the space, we spent good money on these lights and we really like them, so we are not going to change them.  Fair enough.

As I mentioned earlier, I had Hue bulbs in the living room but they were first generation bulbs. I actually moved those bulbs to the bedroom and swapped them for two third generation bulbs which produce deeper blues and greens.  They’re gorgeous bulbs.

On a whim, I decided to add a Hue Go lamp.  I liked the idea that the bulb could be recharged and used in other spaces such as our balcony.

Behind our television is a mirrored wall.  It was there when we moved in and it’s a neat element to add depth and the perception of room in the living room.  We chose not to take it down when we moved in.

I put the Hue Go behind our television just to give it a try.  Wow, the way it adds to the lighting of the space is interesting.  The light reflects off the mirror and the ceiling and adds some depth to the lighting in the room.  Scott really liked it.

So, thinking a bit further, rather than putting a light that’s meant to be moved around, behind the TV, let’s move that bulb out somewhere – we’re still figuring out where; and replace it with a Hue Bloom.  Which we did.

The Hue Bloom is created somewhat older technology so you really notice a red/green/blue shift in the light depending on the colour.  It will do.  The Hue Go, however, is fantastic and given the $20 price difference – you really could go with either.

When using scenes, the room pops.  When using apps such as Hue Camera it makes the television experience that much more interesting.  Watching Tron Legacy, it really adds to an immersive movie experience.

For the living room, we have a Hue Tap Switch.  Scott had mentioned it would be neat to have a remote control for the light beyond our phones.  I’m not 100% sure how useful the Tap Switch is.  At a high level, it combines four switches into one and it uses no batteries.  It’s powered based on the push of the button.  Kind of neat, that way.  That’s the only switch we really have in the living room.

So, what can you do with the lights?

Pretty much anything… Well, almost anything.

As I mentioned in the front hall, the lights are aimed towards artwork and to provide light to those putting on shoes.  If I wanted to, I could add a splash of colour.  In hot pink light, the orange and reds in our art really pops.

In the living room, it’s all about mood.

As I said in the Man cave, it’s all about ambience.

The showcase is really the Living Room.  Take a movie like Tron which, in the “Grid” scenes have almost a monochromatic blue hue with the occasional orange for the Recognizers.  It’s the perfect movie to experiment with Hue Camera (https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/hue-camera-for-philips-hue/id965037211?mt=8).

To me, it adds to the immersive environment of the movie.  Completely perfect.  I’d love to try watching the original Tron as well as Bladerunner.  As for watching other kinds of films, we’ll have to see how it works out and report back.

So, what next? 

Kitchen?

Scott and I might have our sights set on upgrading the kitchen lights.  They’re already LED both pot lights and strip lighting under the counter.

In all honesty, I think going with Hue lighting would be overkill.  We don’t need a kitchen that’s got multi coloured lighting and it would be excessive.  BUT you know, it would be cool to be able to control the lights in there.  So, who knows, it’s not a priority.  We have all the wiring to do this.

Bedroom, Part Two?

The bedroom and the guest bedroom both have a ceiling fan with a light, with a smaller bulb in it.  Is there much value in having Hue bulbs in these?  In the guest room, I could see it, offering our guest a remote to turn off the lamp.  In the bedroom?  I could see changing the bulb.

The problem is finding the right size of bulb.  Do I try a PAR16 bulb?  An E14 from Europe won’t work and it’s not the right size of connector anyway.

Curio Cabinet?

My first experiment with Hue Light Strips will probably be our curio cabinet.  The lighting provided from IKEA, while quite cool, doesn’t provide the quality of light that I would like in the space.  So, this will probably be my first experiment.

Living Room, Part 3?

The halogen space ship, as we call it, the living room works nicely, but it would be nice to not use a halogen bulb.  I think the only option would be the Hue Discus or Fair White Ambiance Semi-Flushmount.

There is the Phoenix too, but it doesn’t seem like the right fixture for our space.

Hallway?

We have two Nest Protects in our condo. One in the living room and the other in the hallway.  These provide a night light based on motion.  They’re perfect for that need.

We still have a fixture with 5 or 6 GU10 bulbs that are halogen based.  Do we put Hue bulbs in those?  Do we go colour or white?  Do we spread some of the colour bulbs and white bulbs across the living room and foyer?  What is the value of doing the hallway as well?  Do we do motion detection too or more basic control?

Generation of Bulbs?

Yes, there are three generations of some of the bulbs.  Specifically, for the colour bulbs aka “White and Colour Ambience” A19 bulbs, here are some details:

  • Gen 1 bulbs with model LCT001, they can’t reproduce certainly blues and greens, so they look a bit more white.
  • Gen 2 bulbs with model LCT007 are similar to the LCT001 bulbs, to my eyes.
  • Gen 3 bulbs such as the LCT014 bulbs, can reproduce deep blues and greens.  They’re packaged as “Richer Colours” and they truly are the bulbs you want, these days.

Final Thoughts

Changing out your halogen, incandescent and fluorescent bulbs, I’d say is worth it.  The power savings that LED lights give you – enough said.

Taking that to the next level with motion detectors, I think, makes sense.  I can’t imagine how much money our parents and grandparents wasted with lights left on, and with electricity prices as expensive as they are in Ontario, it simply makes sense to change your bulbs.

Scott and I live in a condo and we don’t pay for our electricity directly.  The building is on a bulk billing system and it’s included in our condo fees.  Still, why would we not contribute to try and reduce our hydro costs?

That said, a system like Hue can be expensive.  A single colour GU10 bulb is CAD$49.99, and in the US it’s USD$49.99.  Americans, if you want a deal, buy your bulbs in Canada (USD$37.80 at today’s exchange rate!).  That $49.99 is pretty standard across the board for the colour bulbs.

The white-only bulbs that only dim with the same colour temperature are CAD$14.99.  If you want bulb that does any colour of white, those are CAD$29.99.  Add CAD$20 for a box that includes a dimmer, which, alone, is regularly CAD$24.99.  Not a bad deal.

So my advice is to truly plan out where you truly want colour and where you really need white bulbs.  You don’t need colour bulbs everywhere – We certainly don’t in, say, the bedroom.