(Another) New User w/ a Twist

Good Morning HE Community!

I've been trolling, reading, researching.... and have decided on HE to be the 'brains' of my new smart home!

Now, I say new and I mean new. Just purchased a new home and have plans of grandeur to 'deck it out.' The extent of our current 'smart home' is a handful of Echo's and smart plugs to control some basic devices/lights (night stands.)

In my vast amounts of research I believe I have a solid game plan, unless this thread ends up dropping some new knowledge bombs on this seemingly volatile market.

That being said, here's my tentative plan with a primary goal of light home security and light automation. With three little girls, Fort Knox Engineers may wanna take a peak when I'm finished.

Brains/Main Interface: Hubitat (obviously)
Assistant: Alexa (Shows/Dots)
Lighting: Philips Hue Everything
Ceiling Fans: Hampton Bay Zigbee controllers
Garage: Genie Direct Drive Wall Mount w/local relay/sensors for control
Speakers: Amazon, Bose, Sonos (seems integration is lacking here, but that's okay)
Security: Ring (Debated this one for so long... Originally was going Abode with my own DVR/BlueIris/Cameras, but the more I dug into that (needing Sentry.ai for good analytics, the on-site hardware, etc... I decided it was too much to maintain. As a CIO, I love tech and to tinker, but I do not even have a server in my home, that's what work is for. I want to simplify this smart home, not overly complicate the setup so you need a Structural Engineering degree to locate all the devices)

We don't get keys until the 26th, so I still have time to finalize my decisions (Not so much on Hue, because I've read soooo many good things I already invested $1k~ in sensors, dimmers, bulbs, strips, HDMI sync, Play's, etc)

Any input, thoughts?

What would you do if you were building a fresh, shiny, new Smart Home?


Consider Lutron Caseta for switches, dimmers, and fan controls. Hue is ok for strip lighting, but has to be polled for state so there is a lag to Hubitat if turned on in HomeKit, etc. Lutron is rock solid reliable, but beware you need the Lutron L-BDGPRO2 hub (which communicates with Hubitat via telnet).


Just a note on these: people here seem to have had mixed luck with these, apparently because their antennas are weak or poorly connected. Most people are able to fix the problem by placing a Zigbee repeater (or two) as close as possible to the fan (same room or the room above if possible, etc.). That worked for me for a while, but then I opened the unit and replaced the antenna (a couple threads here for options), and then I could treat it like a "normal" device instead of worrying about all that. Some people who've tried this on new units have said this is no longer possible, I think due to how the antenna is now connected. Maybe this change addressed this problem. But if not, just keep in mind: you'll want Zigbee repeaters.

In fact, you'll probably Zigbee repeaters anyway if you have Zigbee devices--it's just a good idea. (Same for Z-Wave.) I don't see any on your list, but most Zigbee smart plugs, switches/dimmers (not a lot of Zigbee ones on the market now though), or dedicated repeating devices like Ikea's Trådfri USB repeater or an Xbee (some setup and direction-following required) would work.

Also note that there is no official integration from Ring devices, assuming you plan on using Ring's own base/hub. Many Ring devices can be paired directly to Hubitat as regular Z-Wave devices instead, but then they aren't usable with Ring's system. If you're using them for security only, there's no reason you need them on Hubitat, but since you're posting here, I figured I'd just mention it anyway. :slight_smile:

As for Hue: opinions vary (you've already seen as much above), but I love it. Hubitat has a Hue Bridge integration built-in (though I'm quite partial to one I wrote for myself instead...), and many of the Hue sensors and controls can be paired to Hubitat instead of Hue if you want the extra flexibility Hubitat provides. (Some things, like Hue motion sensors, are not exposed via the integration--as mentioned above, Hue integrations can only "poll" to get data from Hue; Hue does not support immediately "pushing" information about changes to third parties. So a motion sensor would be a particularly bad experience in many cases here if it were "supported" this way.) You can also use Hubitat-only controls (my favorites are Lutron Picos; Smart Bridge Pro required) to control Hue manually in lieu of a Hue Dimmer of similar devices if you're not interested in continuing to pay Hue prices or want a device that looks or works differently.

Good luck with everything!

At this point in my venture, I've pretty much decided the alarm/security/surveillance is best as a separate entity and mix in some of the 'unofficial' integration.. A) For actual professional monitoring B) Full blown Alexa home, so all the Shows/Firesticks can bring up any camera, etc... I'm honestly still internally debating this one, but heavily leaning towards the 'don't have to maintain a server in my home.' The required specs for BlueIris were surprising hefty, too.

I did research the Lutron stuff, and my only hesitation was the proprietary protocol it uses and having to create ANOTHER mesh network for connectivity.

Honestly, the reason for Hue ARE the light strips (and HDMI Sync, but that's really nothing with Hubitat unless there are plans on building out a robust A/V integration.) I also heard the motions are very reliable. The one dimmer I purchased, as a test, is definitely bland. I like the looks of Lutron much better, so I'll dig deeper into their offerings. As for the actual color/dimming control of the bulbs, is that only possible through the Hue Bridge/App? My thought was, if I have to be in there, anyway, to control colors and things, I may as well just Hue it all to eliminate another brand/protocol/hub.

I'm also trying to avoid the need for ANY outlet-based repeater. With little kids, those are the first to go. WAF plays a key factor, too. Like many others, I've come home to found smart plugs strung about. Apparently Alexa and her got into a fight.

Side notes: I prefer hard wire when/where possible. All hubs will be perfectly centered in the home, in a custom built comm. space between floors. I also have a friend who owns a low voltage/alarm install company who does high-end properties, exclusively, and has warned me several times to avoid multiple protocols. His ProTips: (That I just dubbed the Five P's) Purpose for your smart home, pick your poison (brands, etc), pick your protocol, plan your mesh, plug it in. I have no concerns about overcoming/resolving any connectivity issues. It's literally what I do for a living. Multiple protocols don't necessarily concern me, it's the multiple points of failure.

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I understand that, having four kids of my own. I really like the GE zigbee in-wall switches and dimmers. The latest are marketed under the Enbrighten name and are Zigbee 3.0 devices. For me at least, the responsiveness of zigbee dimmers is much faster than z-wave plus, especially when controlling a group of them due to zigbee group messaging.

I love my Hue motion sensors, both indoor and outdoor versions. they use regular batteries that last for years and have temperature and illuminance as well. Make sure you update them first on the hue bridge before adding them to Hubitat.

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Good info, Ken, thanks!

Yes; from others experience and my know-it-all low-voltage buddy... Zigbee or bust, which was my starting point, with Hue.

Did you try any of the Hue switches/dimmers? I'm very curious why these would be so unreliable in comparison to their other products. From my 'deep diving' I found that 90% of these issues were connectivity/mesh related.

That being said, from my personal experience, MyQ is amazing. Instant notifications of door open/close, not a SINGLE instance of it being offline in 3~ years, etc... I'm also only tying it to the Xfinity app, as my current security/internet/life is bound by Comcast. Again, my background is IT, so my WiFi is strong. As will be my Zigbee. :yum:

I have quite a few of them and they all work reliably, but kind of wish I had gone with Picos (looks mostly, and the extra button). The Hue dimmers also have updates that need done prior to moving them to Hubitat. I used to have problems with them losing connectivity with Hubitat, all mesh related. Bad repeaters will destroy your mesh. If you can find a couple hiding places to put Samsung plugs in, I would recommend you do that. They will repeat for about 10 devices each and are the most dependable outlets I've had. Four of them do the majority of the repeating for most of my button controllers, motion sensors, contact sensors, and zigbee locks. The GE enbrighten zigbee dimmers have also been good for me. You can also use Sengled bulbs reliably with Hubitat since they don't repeat, but I love Hue as well so I understand. I also would recommend the CoCoHue app that Robert @bertabcd1234 has created. I think it has some really improved functionality over the stock integration.

Just a heads up. I have switched all my zigbee and zwave switches, dimmers, and fan control over to Lutron as I have never had a single issue with them vs having various different issues with the other switches. Lutron intergrates into not only hubitat, but also homekit, if that is important to you. I would highly suggest taking the Lutron route and if your house is average size I would suggest going with Lutron Caseta. I have used it in a 1900 sq ft house and a 2300 sq ft house with no issues even with Lutron not being mesh.

This home is 3,000~ sqft, so, that may could be a concern for me.

Technically, Lutron (ClearConnect) does not use a mesh protocol. On Caséta, you do have two options for "repeaters" that will extend the range and can use up to one of each. On RA2, you have the ability to add multiple Auxiliary Repeaters to extend the range of your Main Repeater (which is basically the equivalent of the Caséta Smart Bridge Pro). So, you at least get the "range extension" characteristics a mesh provides without some of the worry that comes along with those protocols sometimes. For Caséta, you'd probably need a repeater to get your whole home based on the size you mentioned (Lutron estimates up to 2500 sqft without a repeater). With a home that size, however, you might also run into device limits, which are capped at 75 for Caséta. Hubitat will let you integrate multiple Bridges, so there's no reason you could just use two to solve both problems as long as neither Lutron Bridge needs to talk to the other directly. Lutron would probably steer you towards RA2 instead, which would also work, though it's a higher price tier (and none of the in-wall Caséta products will work with it; Picos will).

But yeah, another protocol, more worries. :slight_smile: I get it. I just really like Picos.

For Zigbee, you'll definitely need some repeater with those Hampton Bay units, or at least I know I did and there are probably dozens of posts here from others with problems before they added repeaters nearby, too. Unlike most powered devices, these units are not repeaters themselves. Hopefully one of the in-wall options like a smart plug would work if you don't trust "wall-wart"-style plugs with kids and whatnot. If you can get low-voltage or even mains voltage there, the Trådfri USB repeater would also be an option and is pretty small so should be easy to conceal somehow. Even if these devices weren't problematic, Zigbee (and Z-Wave) would probably need a repeater to reach the edge of that size home, anyway.

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Okay, that makes me feel far more comfortable with the solution. I was under the impression you needed more hubs, giving you that not-so-integrated feel. Definitely worth a second look!

Yes; totally agree. I have planned out dedicated areas to add Zigbee extenders (and will run additional electrical to hidden areas if need be) and also antennae range extenders for the fan module, though a previous post mentioned this is no longer possible? More research required, but my ground zero is Zigbee, for sure.

Maybe you're thinking about what I said? I replaced the antenna following the instructions here: Hampton Bay Zigbee Controller - Intermittent Connectivity - Resolved. However, I've seen a couple people mention that they were either no longer able to do this or at least that their units looked different when opened up (one example: Trying to pair the Hampton Fan controller to HE). Maybe the manufacturer fixed this problem, or maybe that's an unrelated change. But repeaters are a good idea regardless--you just might really need them (or want to replace the antenna) like most people with these units find.

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Yeah, it was you! Haha, sorry, been a busy Friday.

Like I said, any connectivity issues are the least of my concern. In fact, I look forward to experiencing and remediating them! Call me a masochist, but I may just rock a house full of S****** just to see what all the fuss is really about.

That being said, I missed a couple components:

Door Locks: Would LOVE to use August, but honestly, gonna try S****** Connect, first
Thermostat: Ecobee
WiFi: Orbi AC3000 (not that it matters much for HE)

Actually, Hubitat hubs have a history of not negotiating well with Netgear. I personally have the Velop AX and love it. Previously had a Netgear X6S and there were many things it didn't get along with. Plus, I can now finally get the gigabit speed I'm paying for, which didn't happen with Netgear.

I am using all Kwikset Zigbee locks. So far they have been reliable.

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That's.. Very interesting. Any technical aspect behind the reasoning? Netgear will be only be providing WiFi. It will not be the router, switch, firewall, etc. I'm full stack Meraki for network infrastructure (yeah, yeah, that evil cloud-based stuff)

Kwikset is what I determined I wanted on paper/prebuild. Then, I looked at their options. :face_vomiting:
The WAF had me terrified to even present them as an option after promising these beautiful August Locks from a quick-read post I skimmed through, here.

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I know there is, but networking is not my forte. I've read that it affects the C-5 and I believe the C-7 as well. Something with autonegotiation. But since it won't be effecting your ethernet communication....

I thought that my wife would like the looks of the touch screen one, but she prefers the physical pushbutton one (faster and easier to unlock), so I ended up with 2 of each. I know they are ungodly large on the inside door, but I haven't had to replace batteries yet.

Ah, okay, that's a very simple fix. About three clicks on my Meraki, if it encounters a similar issue. Too bad HE isn't POE.

Can you swap modules on the Kwikset? In the event I wanted, for some reason, to tie it into Ring's Z-Wave Plus network as opposed to my HE controlled Zigbee network somewhere down the road? (Purely hypothetical, as I really don't want that much control over my house via Ring.)

I know that people on here have. Usually from z-wave to zigbee though. You could probably find it with a quick search.

I'm with you on that. I don't have locks exposed to Alexa either. I do have them on Apple Home though, but at least that runs locally when not invoking Siri. If you use any i devices you should check out Homebridge integration with MakerApi.

Hell, I'm not entirely sure I even want a 'Smart' Lock. I don't have any real intention of automating anything with it, as that's such a massive security issue.

Someone forces my daughter to the door, and her proximity unlocks and disarms? Um, no.
System is compromised remotely and can access my house without force? Um, no.

There isn't a single viable use-case I've found that made me so .."ooooh.. That's totally worth the safety and my three little girls lives!"

..Maybe I'm paranoid.

..Maybe I don't own enough guns.

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