5 Unusual Home Automation Requests
February 27, 2014 | by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
From a remote controlled toilet to a mailbox sensor, home systems installers share some of their strangest client requests.
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Posted by TONY TANNAHILL  on  05/05  at  10:35 PM


Posted by G  on  05/06  at  05:01 AM

“gave the client a special key fob that he could use to activate the flush from his car”

This doesn’t do what the client asked for. He asked for it to automatically flush when he pulled into the driveway from work. Where’s the automation in him pressing a button to remotely flush it? I’d be insulted if that was the best solution they could come up with.

My solution? Install a MUCH CHEAPER and MORE EFFECTIVE automatic toilet flusher! I just bought one for my apartment for $20, installed it myself in under 10 minutes, and it works perfectly. Standing or sitting, it flushes as soon as I step away!

Posted by Jack Goldberg  on  05/08  at  12:00 PM

For the Shabbot Clock, why not have it come on automatically at 18 minutes before sundown on Fridays when Shabbot actually starts, and they would only have to use the button for longer or midweek Jewish holidays.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  05/08  at  06:34 PM

Jack ... then you’d have to add a macro to only run that scene when the homeowners are home (e.g., the security system is not armed to AWAY).

Posted by Jack Goldberg  on  05/08  at  11:31 PM

Actually when we did this on a project recently, we added a button to stop the event, from happening so that the homeowner did not have to remember to press the button each Friday. It was better to forget to stop the event if they were not home, than to forget to set it an have no lights for the entire weekend.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  05/10  at  12:30 PM

Jack, smart move. I once stayed at a hotel right across the street from an orthodox synagogue. On the Sabbath, the elevator automatically stopped at every floor so no one had to press any buttons. (I took the stairs after that)

Posted by Angki  on  05/14  at  04:17 PM

Hi Lisa,

I really enjoyed this post since back in my ‘kinda short’ Automation career, we also had some funny request, like having a webcam to view the daughter bedroom while the father is abroad.

It turns out that at the planning time the daughter was just a few months old, while project finished 6 years later, it would seem inappropriate now.

BTW, I put your article in my blog but translate it to Bahasa Indonesia at

I hope it is OK with you.

Thank you. I always enjoy your post.

Posted by Angki  on  05/14  at  04:21 PM

Hey Lisa,

I’ve just remembered.

For your “Stormy Weather”, I think Somfy had a Wind Sensor. It usually useful for patio awning.

So, is it any way for you to put Somfy motors to that umbrella?

Posted by Stephen  on  05/22  at  09:17 AM

Add-a-motor do a patio umbrella opening and closing unit. Same idea as their curtain controllers. more info here 154 Retrofit Remote Control for Patio Umbrellas.htm

Posted by Francisco Santana  on  05/26  at  02:59 PM

We had a customer that requested that if at a certain time he was not home and pushed a button in the drive way, to start the speakers in his room, so his wife would hear him snoring, and believe he was sleeping, and not out…

We also had another customer that wanted us to start a huge noise in the kid’s room every school day, so they’d wake up on time. So we recorded while we were working with drills and hammers, and play that to the kids every morning at 6:25. :)

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  05/26  at  03:23 PM

I recall a woman who had a pressure sensor hidden beneath the mattress so she would know if her husband was sharing the bed with someone while she was out of town.

Posted by Will  on  06/18  at  10:10 AM

I had my installer add reminders for garbage day at 6pm, happy birthday announcements for the family, and a 12 days of Christmas count-down.

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