I am going to pull the trigger and jump in to the system. Before I do, I wanted confirmation what I want out of the system is possible. Could someone please provide guidance on what I need/ if it is possible?
Use hubitat as a smart alarm clock that:
Turns on bedroom lights
Turns off fan
Sensor that shows
Garage door open
Fence doors open/closed
Those are really the main use cases I am interested in. Is this possible and if so what should I buy?
With so few devices I would think your first hurdle is to decide which protocol you want to run (Z-Wave vs ZigBee) and go from there. Both have their ups and downs.
There's a wide array of ZigBee devices and they're often cheaper than their Z-Wave counterparts. But, ZigBee is a "voluntary" standard that not every manufacturer follows thoroughly. For the most part, this isn't really a problem, but there may be some devices you find down the road that do not play well. ZigBee runs around the same frequency as WiFi, so interference from your local WiFi (and neighbors if they're close enough) could come into play. Luckily, there are ZigBee channels that do not overlap too much with the WiFi frequencies, so this can be mitigated some. In the same vein, ZigBee does not have as much penetrating power, so wall structure could also come into play for interference (but we're talking metals studs/masonry type walls; wood/drywall should not be that big of a deal).
Z-Wave devices tend to be more expensive as conformity is mandated and (up until very recently) the radio chips all had to be purchased from one company. There's also more limited options for what is available. The upshot is that devices tend to integrate easier since they're forced to conform to a very specific standard. Z-Wave runs around 900 MHz so interference is typically much less of a concern.
Both protocols rely on meshing to maintain connectivity over distance. Mesh issues are probably the #1 issue that folks tend to run into that can leave a very sour taste for HA (spotty device performance).
Could I not run a hybrid? Some z wave some ZigBee? I like the idea of ZigBee better, as i wanted to avoid so much wifi interference, but it's not a deal breaker or anything.
Eventually, I would like to add more to the mix:
Smart thermostat, smart blinds, outdoor lights, water cut off switch, 3d printer power source, house lights overall, etc. Integration with current smart devices (Google camera, ring doorbell, washer/dryer),
I wanted to start small to learn before I try to implement a complicated system and using the " morning routine" to make sure my sleepy self gets out of bed, along with the garage door / gates are the most critical for me.
So let's say I went ZigBee. I would: have hubitat I'm basement with repeaters throughout the house. Wire the light switch that controls the over head light with a ZigBee switch, and wire the electrical outlet that the pedestal fan is plugged into with a ZigBee switch. Then I could go into the dashboard and set up when I want those two items to come on. Is that accurate?
A visual to help with understanding ZigBee/WiFi and working around it.
As others have said, you can definitely run a mix of devices, what I would say the vast majority do, but you'll just need to ensure you have a good mesh for both.
If you only do the mentioned devices, then I would stick with one protocol or the other. You can definitely mix them up, but you'll likely need to add some repeaters as well as the actual devices. This can be determined with a trial and using the tools available in Hubitat to check signal strength.
As @FriedCheese2006 and @aaiyar said, sticking w/one protocol when you only have a few devices can be the best way to go. Devices that are "mains powered devices" (a smart plug in a wall outlet, a smart wall outlet, a smart light switch or fan controller, etc.) that are always connected to power "help" other devices by repeating Zigbee or Z-Wave signals. Zigbee devices repeat for other Zigbee devices, and Z-Wave devices repeat for other Z-Wave devices.
Mains powered devices can repeat both for other mains powered devices (e.g., plugs, outlets, ligth switchs, fan controllers, bulbs, etc.) and battery powered devices (e.g., contact, motion, and leak sensors). This repeating capability is what builds a strong Zigbee or Z-Wave mesh in your home. You want all your devices to be able to find a way back to your hub - either directly if they are closer to it, or through repeaters if they are farther away.
Lastly, there are also dedicated repeaters (mains powered devices w/no function other than repeating Zigbee or Z-Wave signals) that you can add to your mesh. These are devices that plug into an outlet and don't do anything but help other devices connect back to the hub. They are sort of like a Wi-Fi range extender. You might need to use dedicated Zigbee or Z-Wave repeaters when you have a "gap" in your mesh due to few or no mains powered smart devices in an area of your home.
Do you mean relay? Unless you are vested in your existing switches I would replace the entire switch with a smart dimmer and not use a relay in the box. Zooz ZEN series has both decora (paddle) and toggle styles.
For the fan I would just get a smart plug, Zooz also has a zwave version, and I think someone posted a Sengled zigbee one up above also which work good. Usually zigbee is a little less expensive, for this reason I have a mix of both.
You guys are awesome! Thanks for dearth of information.
I think I have a better understanding of what I need now, and better understand the interference aspect. Glad that my main use cases seem to be easily solved, I feel more confident taking the plunge and buying the required materials.
I will definitely need some repeaters, our house is three stories (considering the basement).
How easy would it be for other house hold members to utilize the system/ dashboard. Do you all use your phones or a central hub / laptop etc to run the system......I have been thinking about a smart mirror for awhile now,
All of the above, everyone is different. Some people have wall mounted tablets with dashboards. Some people use mobile devices. Some people have full automation and no dashboards at all (except for minor exceptions).
You can get started with the basic HE dashboards, and create separate ones for each user if you desire. You can give them a private link to access their dashboard and bookmark as an icon on their device home screen. This is what I have done for my kids to give them access to their devices and some other household functions.
For myself and SO I integrated to Apple Home via Homebridge and we use the Home app for all manual controls.