Upgrading my theater room to Aperion Audio…

This is my first post on my home theater, easily the coolest room in the house and the only one I built from the ground up. I will definitely be adding a separate post on the complete build but I just want to focus on my speaker upgrades for now. I used to have an all Onkyo system and upgraded the receiver to another Onkyo model for Dolby Atmos support (TX-NR3030) since I wired my theater for this. I did this using 4 ceiling speakers from Aperion Audio.  The Intimus L6–IC were the best to choose from at the time and were installed in 2015.  Since then Aperion has released a larger 8″ ceiling speaker which according to their customer support, produces a “slight boost to the lower mid-bass due to the larger driver”. I decided to keep my existing Aperion ceiling speakers and upgrade the rest of my speakers, including the subwoofer, this year to the Versus III 7.1 bundle. Now that I have tower speakers I was able to get rid of my bar stools as speaker stands for the front left and right. 🙂

The center channel was originally mounted on the wall but I had to get a new mount for the much larger Versus III Grand Center. I used the Peerless PS200. The side surrounds were mounted on my wall as well and luckily my new surrounds already came with good mounts. I went with the Verus Surround Dipole/Bipole Speaker pair. I’ve heard multiple times that side surrounds in the Bipole configuration are good for small rooms where the listening area is less than 5 feet from the side surrounds. Even though Aperion does not include these as an option for their Atmos bundles at this time they have their demo room setup with Bipole side surrounds. The Bipole mode is set with a switch by removing the right cover (magnetic). The only other speaker that has a similar switch is the center channel which has a Wall/Stand setting on the rear side near the speaker connectors. Since I have mine mounted to the wall, I of course moved the switch to the “Wall” setting.

Excited to begin the unboxing process:

Tower base feet:

Opened first box (one of the towers):

Bottom of tower for fitting brackets/feet:

Tower (about to uncover for the first time!):

Opening sub box, bottom of sub:

Grand center:

Brackets and hardware for side surrounds:

Bookshelf for rear surrounds (left) and Bipole (right) for side surrounds:

Hippo Homeowners Insurance

Around May of this year I heard about this new online website you can go to and purchase insurance for your home. Hippo is essentially a frontend you use to manage your account (view policy info, claims, and billing). Your policy is underwritten by a third party company. What really caught my eye was that they include private sewer line coverage and all appliances (including furnace and AC) automatically. Typically for any kind of “Service Line Coverage” you have to buy separate and from a different provider that specializes in that coverage. “Equipment Breakdown Coverage” is also something that typically costs extra.

I decided to retrieve a quote, expecting it to be significantly higher than what I currently pay. In the end the quote included coverages all of which were higher than my current policy and with “Service Line Coverage” up to $10,000 and “Equipment Breakdown Coverage” up to $100,000. The deductible for the last two coverages I didn’t have with my current provider was only $500. With all of these extra’s my yearly premium was $130 less! I decided to switch and they also sent me a a hub and free sensors from Notion which I will write about soon. I also plan to update this post next year when renewal comes around.

FEIN MultiMaster Top

This might not be thought of as fitting in the same category as home automation and it doesn’t. However, this website is devoted to anything and everything that saves you time and money. Saving you time is one of the biggest advantages of a smart home in my mind. This tool is my definition of a “smart” tool. I have been remodeling my main bathroom and installing tile which increases the floor height about 1/2″. Because of the height increase some modification is required to the trim. Instead of removing and possibly damaging the trim I decided to buy this tool. This easily allowed me to notch out the trim work to allow room for the tile. I am extremely surprised at how fast this was and how much time it saved me.


Airthings Wave Radon Detector

Since I’m all about adding wireless sensors and believe keeping an eye on the humidity and temperature readings within my home important I thought I would keep adding by including a radon sensor. Needless to say, I had placed a pre-order back in January and arrived at my door on April 29th.

In my testing I was a little concerned when the radon graph spiked to about 9.1  pCi/L however I remember when I had my home tested for radon when I originally purchased it, the test needed to run for at least a day or two for an accurate reading. I emailed support to confirm and below was their response.

That’s normal. Radon fluctuate a lot over time. Just let the monitor record data, and then look at the long term average. That’s the important number.



Customer Support
Brent Broge
May 4, 21:39 CEST

Hi, I setup my Airthings wave on Saturday night and noticed that it peaked to 9.1 pCi/L Tuesday morning. It has since been dropping but is that peak anything to be concerned with? The average is currently sitting around 3.4 pCi/L.

Thank you!

This device will currently only sync to my phone via Bluetooth so unfortunately I have to use two different apps. The app is decent and provides what you need. The graph could be a little better, for example, it would be nice to zoom in and out. I’d like to eventually include this data into Comfort Click.

Wired Doorbell Notifications

Adding a wired doorbell to the insteon network isn’t as simple as it sounds. There were two actions that I wanted to take place if someone were to ring the doorbell. One was to pop up a notification on my home theater PC (if i was watching a movie for example) and the second was to send me an email or text if I was away from home.

The simple way would be to get something like a wireless Ring doorbell, but I thought why spend money on a wireless system when I already have an existing wired system that I wouldn’t have to worry about changing the batteries. I had recently replaced my older broken doorbell with a new Hampton Bay Doorbell  HB-7621-02 from Home Depot.

To add this into my existing Insteon network I purchased the Insteon Doorbell and Telephone Ring Alert Kit (24950A6) which is essentially an Insteon IOLinc module (2450) and an ELK-930 Ring Detector. When I got it wired up according to the instructions, I was unable to get the IOLinc to sense any kind of signal from the ELK-930/Doorbell. It turns out that the ELK-930 needs to detect at least 900 mA from the doorbell in order to send any kind of signal to the IOLinc.

I found out that I could add a 20 watt 20ohm resistor to the doorbell to increase the load to the ELK-930.

This caused two things that I noticed. It dimmed my lighted doorbell button. It also seemed to distort the doorbell tunes slightly. This doesn’t seem to be bothering me too much as I’m getting the notifications and it seems to be a reliable setup so far.

One other thing is that my doorbell has a built in wireless option as well in case you ever decided to sync a wireless button to it. I noticed that sometimes it went off intermittently, probably from some sort of rogue wireless interference. I decided to de-solder the wireless antenna from the circuit board since I was never planning on using the wireless option. I haven’t had any issues with rogue rings ever since.


Aeotec’s Z-Wave Home Energy Meter

Even though I have the Brultech monitor a friend pointed this out and although I was sure I wasn’t going to replace mine I wanted to check out this cheaper alternative. I was also a bit skeptical at first as I wasn’t sure if this would work with my electrical service. I remember having to upgrade my Brultech’s CT sensors to accurately monitor my new 200 amp service. The directions are geared towards setting up with Verizon’s Home Monitoring and Control, however they were clear that this will work with a 200 amp service. Setting up with Verizon’s home automation service is not necessary (and Verizon has since discontinued that service.) I found setup was a breeze using the ISY994i. You will want to take the battery cover off and tap the small black button to add the device to your Z-wave network. Make sure you have the ISY994i searching for Z-wave devices. It should discover it within seconds. As recommended in the instructions, AC power should be used. However, if you wish to use batteries, it will work fine and the ISY994i can even monitor the battery level!

Here is what it looks like paired with my ISY994i:

The Brultech is the way to go for monitoring multiple circuits and in terms of accuracy, the best. Aeotec’s meter doesn’t have any built in calibration settings to improve accuracy. I hope to include a way to log data to emoncms soon.

Insteon Ceiling Fan Module 2475F

This is a great way to control a ceiling fan from an insteon wall switch or your phone, especially if your existing wall switch is only wired to control power to the ceiling fan/light. Why run another wire for dedicated fan control when you can do it with less time and money? If there is a switch you will want to replace it. You don’t want the ceiling fan powerless when you are trying to control from your phone, etc. I went with the Insteon 2334-232 Keypad Dimmer Switch. If your lights are not dimmable and you don’t want to replace them go with the non-dimmable version.

Here is the fan module removed from packaging. You will use all wires; white (neutral, black, red (fan control), and blue (light control). If your fixture is controlled by a switch you will likely have a red wire instead of black. Red goes to black wire on the Insteon module in my case.

I was a little worried at first that it wasn’t fitting. The fan covering was smaller than I thought but it fit perfectly as shown below.

I noticed that the LEDs would bleed through the bottom and top of the shroud a little bit so to add the final touch disable the LEDs with the ISY994 software.

Uncheck LED Backlight.

Update: 11-15-2017

I started to get some humming/buzzing noises coming from my fan, as well as the medium and high speeds not working anymore. Apparently this is a common issue with the Insteon FanLinc and I had to replace it under warranty.

The process to replace was fairly easy, once I knew what steps to follow. After swapping out the old one follow the normal steps to detect a new Insteon device. Then right click the old device in the ISY Admin Console, and use the “Replace with” function. If you have any trouble with scenes like I did, you may need to run the “Restore Device” and “Write Updates to Device” functions as well. Below was the output of the “Diagnostics, Scene Test” before I had run the other two functions.

Sat 11/11/2017 08:29:44 PM : [GRP-RX ] 02 61 11 13 00 06
Sat 11/11/2017 08:29:44 PM : [INST-SRX ] 02 50 40.18.D0 30.DA.E2 E5 13 FF LTOFFRR(FF)
Sat 11/11/2017 08:29:44 PM : [CLEAN-UP-RPT] 02 58 06
Sat 11/11/2017 08:29:44 PM : [INST-SRX ] 02 50 40.18.D0 30.DA.E2 E1 13 FF LTOFFRR(FF)
Sat 11/11/2017 08:29:44 PM : [INST-SRX ] 02 50 34.64.01 30.DA.E2 65 13 11 LTOFFRR(11)
Sat 11/11/2017 08:29:44 PM : [Std-Cleanup Ack] 34.64.01–>ISY/PLM Group=0, Max Hops=1, Hops Left=1
<html><font color=”red”>—– MasterBedroom Test Results —–</font></html>
<html><font color=”red”>[Succeeded]</font> MasterBedroomOnOff (34 64 1 1)</html>
<html><font color=”red”>[Failed]</font> 3F.B6.45-Light (40 18 D0 1)</html>
<html><font color=”red”>—– MasterBedroom Test Results —–</font></html>
Sat 11/11/2017 08:29:52 PM : [INST-TX-I1 ] 02 62 00 00 11 CF 13 00
Sat 11/11/2017 08:29:52 PM : [INST-ACK ] 02 62 00.00.11 CF 13 00 06 LTOFFRR(00)

Update: 7-31-2019

It seems I am having issues with this again, although now it is the low speed that produces a light humming noise. I haven’t started the replacement process as medium and high speeds still work.

Dylos DC1100 Pro Air Quality Monitor

Most posts on this site have to do with home automation, however having a healthy and safe home fits well with smart home guide. The DC1100 currently monitors my basement workshop. Ideally, I want to be able to automatically turn on my WEN Air Filtration system when it detects a spike in particles in the air. At this time I just have it logging to a neat graph (thanks to the wonderful support from amCharts). I’d like to add more sensors, including an outdoor one in the near future.

The Dylos DC1100 logs a sample every 60 seconds and records it into a text file. The pie chart below gives a visual representation of the air quality over a given period of time. As you can see, the air quality was recorded within the “fair” range nearly 50 percent of the time between February 3rd and February 14th 2017.

One thing I like about the Dylos DC1100’s physical appearance is that is has a digital display on front of the device. It displays the small particles down to 0.5 μ and the large particles down to 2.5 μ however you need to times the values by 100 to get the actual count. The graphed values above are the actual count per cubic foot.

If you would like to use the graphs above for your device feel free to download them here.

Cheap lamp dimmer module

Back in 2009 when I was first starting to get into home automation, I bought two of the LampLinc Essential 2000SC for less than $10. I’m finally using them with the ISY994i. I think they are perfect for setting up an on/off schedule.

I configured a program as follows:

Unlike Insteon, you need to program the 2000SC an address. The address starts with a letter (A-P), followed by a number (1-16). Per my program above, I chose B1.

  1. Plug in the 2000SC.
  2. Quickly right click on the newly created program, and click “Run Then”.
  3. Do step 2 a total of three times to program the address B1 to the 2000SC.

Unfortunately Smarthome.com has since discontinued the 2000SC however I do see them pop up on ebay and amazon from time to time.

Brultech Green Eye Monitor

Adding some cool statistics and logging data for your smart home electrical usage is a great addition. Why? It makes it seem even more complete and can help you save money. You can easily add statistics to most smart home applications but a web based system like Open Energy Monitor is a perfect way for long term logging and detailed stats. Here is my dashboard: