My husband died almost 6 weeks ago suddenly of a heart attack we didn’t have any warning about. He was a technology super-expert and I had let him turn our house into an experiment in Home Automation/smart home. Obviously in hindsight this was not very smart of me but he really loved it and it was his main hobby, I wonder if anyone here has had anything like this and if so what you did to solve it?
It started when he bought the Google home speakers that you control with your voice, then cameras (10+), light and motion sensors that operate wireless switches to do things like electronically close the curtains and blinds at sunset (and open them at sunrise). To turn on the lights at night i have to say “google, turn on the sleep” and then “google, goodnight”. and this kind of thing. The first week i had to use a torch as the voice commands no longer worked and there are no switches.
Eventually i managed to reinstate some of the links through his computer once but it took me a long time to find the computer since he had multiple computers i didn’t know about in places i didn’t expect. One day when searching I found a monitor that was off but when i switched it on it showed the software and then eventually a few days later I found the wireless mouse separately to control it. After that I could make the commands work again.
The heating is a nest thermostat, we have wired in smoke/c02 detectors. The TV will go on if you voice command it, the only way of me turning certain lights on/off is with voice command (so they didn’t work for weeks until i managed to fix through a lot of reading on the subject.
I just wonder if anyone else had something like this happen or maybe there is someone who at least has the google/nest products o since they are more normal and if so how did you go about swapping them into your name and did it work (i read a guide on google homepage but not sure whether something bad could happen and it would of course sever the links in the other software my husband made between the google/nest products and our set-up since i think id have to start again to re-integrate it).
Our satellite TV is through something called a gigablue team blue box that he had bought from The Netherlands and downloaded and installed software for, it means unlike a system like Sky that is read-only with this you can program it and wipe over your channels very easily through the TV remote so i have had several scares when people trying to help me have buggered it up and got me stuck on Czech TV, a page of computer code or some other weird satellite which have then taken me hours of googling to solve to get the tv working again.
There are lights in an outside cabin and in the garden that have been constantly on since the day after my husband died (when the electricity socket that had been damaged was replaced and the electric put back on). The cables all run under ground and we laid gravel after he laid the cables as he was a neatfreak and liked to make it look futuristic by hiding all cables so to follow the cable i would have to dig up my entire garden.
He was an electrician/engineer for the first part of his career and the wires don’t have switches, they work through his computer or sensors that are programmed to do something automatically (for example the utility room light works when you open the door to the room if the light sensor detects the window is not letting enough light in).
Over the last weeks i have learned a lot and fixed some things myself with the help of my brother-in-law over a video WhatsApp call, although he is also out of his depth with it too and because he lives in The Netherlands and has his own busy family there is only so much of his time i can take and he cannot come here in person due to Covid.
Companies I have contacted that specialise in this kind of thing also will not touch it as my husband made his own system using software and hardware from many different companies around the world (USA, China and others) to make a bespoke package for our house over the course of five years.
Electricians also cannot solve this, only remove it all and put it back like a normal house but i am not 100% yet whether to go down that route and it will be very expensive because the wires are everywhere through the house and garden hidden so it will take many manhours to undo the 5 years my husband spent on this. Also it is my husband’s life’s work so i feel an emotional connection to it and sometimes it is nice to feel the house “taking care of me” by it closing the curtains and putting the lamps on to make it cosy when i am there sobbing my heart out and too in grief to get up. Also the smart speakers keep playing me his music randomly and this is something i would be too sad to now lose as it feels like he is playing that music.
For example earlier i decided to try to play a computer game we had been really looking forward to playing together on the day he died. Normally before he died we played games every day and in fact that is how we met but i hadn’t been able to do it since so this is something i’ve done for a large part of my life but could not do since he died. I thought i would try it to see if i could still have fun. Just at that moment just when i was debating whether to log on, the song “electric dreams” came on through the smart speaker and the lyrics were “we’ll always be together in electric dreams”… i know i probably read too much into that but it comforts me and i didn’t even know who the song was by or would never have played it if the smart speaker had not decided to do it based on my husband’s tastes.
I learned how to control some of the home automation through his computer but some of the software and smart-switches were made faulty when I was in a panic pulling smart-plugs out and doing things to try to fix it after our electrics were broken by the paramedics who broke an electrical socket moving our heavy wooden bed when trying to save my husband’s life.
Some lights i could “turn off” by removing the lightbulbs and others i could find the power source and remove it but not all. Ikea Tradfri lights are all still stuck on and reading and following instructions from the Ikea manuals has not worked because he did not use the Ikea software to control them but installed something else so Ikea cannot help me.
I am still not sure if i will continue to live in this house (i love the house but the area is not that nice) or try and sell it to one of those “quick buy for cash” companies to cut my losses and just go and live in my childhood box bedroom at my mums, My house is not worth enough to even buy a flat somewhere else due to the area i live in and how bespoke our house is now in lots of ways (for example we made a bedroom into a bathroom and lots of other quirks as we expected to live here a long time and made the house for us rather than to sell on). There are three neighbouring houses that have been for sale for 40k for a long time and do not sell (3 bed houses!).
At the moment i am too scared to sleep on my own in the house as the area is quite rough and i don’t know how long the cameras will continue to work for.
A really long post I know, I just had to get this off my chest. Any advice appreciated!