As I mentioned, buying a Z-Wave controller/gateway was in my future.
Well, it’s tax return season, see.
So I ordered a VeraLite Home Controller. This one I linked to comes with a repeater/range extender for the same price as one without, so that’s what I went with; no idea if I’ll ever need the range extender…maybe if I need to reach the garage I guess. But it seemed a useful thing to get for free. I also bought a Z-Wave light switch, which I installed controlling the front porch lights.
Setup was “easy”, but took me a couple of tries. And now I can turn the porch lights on and off from Stuttgart. That evening I programmed it to turn on every evening at sunset and turn off 1 hour after sunrise.
Next: a similar switch for the back porch lights, which I will put on the same schedule, and also configure them so that manually turning on or off either one does the same to the other, so that when I come stumbling in at 2am and I know we’re all in for the night I can shut them all off at either switch. If I find myself or a room mate consistently leaving for work in the dark, I will adjust the programming to magically turn them on again at that time.
This controller is pretty nifty. Instead of anticipating everything anyone might want to make it do, they gave it pretty basic functionality…and a programming language. So now there are dozens of apps users and developers have written for it to do all sorts of things. And because it lives both on my Z-Wave network (I say “network.” Right now that’s the controller, the switch, and the repeater) and the Internet, there are apps to make it interface with other home automation devices that speak Internet. Like the Nest. It looks like it’s going to be a very powerful addition to my life.