Home Control Assistant Newsletter for Jan 16 2022

Have you read the Important Announcement posted on August 1, 2021? If you haven't you need to.
Always Buy Two

Recently three events happened almost at once and while they may seem unrelated, they aren’t.

First, here in the Northwest we got snow. Not a huge amount where I live but enough that I didn’t want to take a chance driving. Usually in my area when it snows it is gone in a day or so but this time it got cold as well so the snow stuck around. I stayed home. Living, as I like to say, “at the end of the earth” with no stores within walking distance, I started to run out of the eggs I need for my baking projects. When the snow went away, and I headed out to the store, I was told by my partner to “buy two of everything”.

Also around this time, I received an email from a HCA user (thanks James!). I’ll pass it on as he sent it to me:

In the construction and home décor industry there is a phrase known as “attic spares” which is recommended when doing things like flooring (tile, wood, etc) light fixtures such as external home lights.  You purchase an extra one or two units and store them, yep.. that’s right.  In the attic.  Obviously when doing a project, people are working on constrained budgets.  Here’s some tips for locating attic spares for any home automation project.

1. See if the vendor is willing to provide a discount code / coupon for a bulk purchase of extras.

2. Look on eBay for extras

3. Check some of the message boards and social media groups for any upgrades / de-installations where people are selling off extras.

Lastly, James’s email made me remember a conversation with a contractor working in the commercial lighting industry. He told me that the pace of change in the LED fixture market is so fast that if you do an installation and a fixture fails, even if only a few weeks or months later, you may not be able to get the exact same fixture for replacement and then you wind up with 50 of one kind and 1 of another. Doesn’t look good.

So, we have three stories about purchasing spares. I think the message from James got kicked off because of my comments a week or so ago about Insteon and how I get reports of hardware failures too frequently. 

In my own home I just replaced lots of incandescent bulbs in my bathroom light bars over the sinks. With so many different LED replacement bulbs, I better get some spares of the same make and model in case I do have a failure. And I better do it soon before the manufacturer changes to a different model with a slightly different look.

I think we should all take the advice of my partner, James, and my commercial lighting contractor associate, and buy two.

A few weeks back I released an implementation of support for the Shelly series of Wi-Fi devices. If you are working with these device types, I really would like you to send me an email and tell me how it goes. I am considering making some major improvements but want to gauge how much they are being used.
If you are using a version of HCA prior to version 17, you may have questions about the wisdom of upgrading to version 17 given the future of HCA. Here is something to consider:

The support policy for older HCA versions has been changed
 as I can no longer devote time to past version users. Support will only be available for HCA 17 users.

If you are on version 16 or earlier and want to continue using the cloud features and want to be assured that if you have a question that it gets answered, it is indeed time to upgrade.

HCA is fully operational for several more years so the update cost, spread out over that time, is very little. Knowing support is available when you need it is worth it.
Upgrade to HCA 17
Anyone who is using Hubitat with HCA – not SmartThings – please drop me a note as I would like to add you to a discussion list for those users. I have some Hubitat ideas that I would like to “kick around” and it would help to have a group of users who have experience with Hubitat. Please just send a note to the regular support address saying you would like to be added to that discussion list.
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