Beginner not sure which hub to use

Hello everyone,

I'm new to the whole home automation scene but am quite tech savvy in figuring how things work (I have a background in electronics engineering).

I recently purchased a ST V3 hub and some ST universal sensors and outlet (boxing day sale :smile: ). I thought it was a good choice to start from but after researching more on home automation and cloud based systems I'm not quite sure. Then I found about Hubitat and am rethinking things.

The one big benefit from my research is that Hubitat runs local but what I would like to know is:

  1. Can you access devices remotely like you can with ST on Hubitat? (i.e. I forgot to set a timer for a light or turn something off or check the status of a device)
  2. How would you do a firmware update for ST devices or any other brand of device?
  3. I've seen that there's a mobile app but reviews on it have not been good. Is there a way to get notifications on a mobile device (phone/tablet) when a device gets triggered (i.e. door sensor)?
  4. Just want to confirm that when there's no internet connection scenes/routines can still be executed (i.e. I come home and Hubitat recognizes that and turns on lights)?
  5. If I put the Hubitat and modem/router on a UPS and power goes down will the system still work with battery powered devices/sensors (i.e. ST universal sensor)?

Sorry for the lengthy questions but I want to make the right decision before jumping all in :slight_smile:



You can’t currently do firmware updates on HE

Some people seem to have problems with it.. For me the app works perfectly..

Correct .. Everything is local except for cloud based devices...

Absolutely.. As long as those devices are in range of the hub.. As in not requiring a powered off repeater..


The (iOS) app works fine for me too... except for presence sensing.

For this one, I would say it DEPENDS. It depends on HOW you are doing presence detection. If using a cloud based service like Life360, for instance, your presence would not update in that scenario (as by definition you have no internet connectivity to the hub).

I've seen that there's a mobile app but reviews on it have not been good. Is there a way to get notifications on a mobile device (phone/tablet) when a device gets triggered (i.e. door sensor)?

I use the twilo service to get texts on my phone for important notifications. I do not have the app installed on any of my phones.

I use pushover for alerts. I have the Hubitat app on my phone, but I never really use it. I just hit the Hubitat directly with the browser on the phone. Same exact interface, and faster.

Most of my control is done via Alexa anyway. And I have the Alexa app on my phone. So even if I am not home, I can voice control anything connected to the Hubitat.

You should note that I was a 10+ year user of Vera, and had it doing a lot of stuff. I have well over 100 devices connected to the HE that were previously on Vera. I bought the HE on a whim just to play with, but ended up switching over to it after like a month. The web interface and rule creation have their nuances, but it's a solid platform with a ton of support for 3rd party products, and no cloud requirements. All of my friends and family that were on Vera have switched over to HE.

Thank you everyone for your feedback, it really helps.

If you can't do firmware updates on devices with Hubitat how would you do it?

The pushover alerts sounds interesting. Thanks signal15.

How would you know if a device is cloud based (other than packaging description)? I would want to try and avoid these.

For presence detection I would probably use my android phone or possible purchase a device from ST or another vendor that is hopefully not cloud based. If that was the case then scenes/routines should work without internet correct?

Is Hubitat really difficult to learn and do basic stuff? I don't think I would go too crazy and make complex routines/scenes. I just want to have something reliable, easy to use, no down time if something goes wrong and still works (i.e. internet goes down), and somewhat future proof. I'm basically wanting to monitor my home and make some routines to make life easier :smile:

On a personal experience Hubitat really that much better than ST? Or do both systems have pros and cons but Hubitat has more pros than ST?

In regards to accessing Hubitat remotely, is it through the mobile app or web broswer to your dashboard? If I didn't use/have the mobile app I would just login to Hubitat using a broswer and "check" on things via dashboard?

Ive only had IRIS, then Hubitat after IRIS shut down. Have a good look through these community posts. These are awesome super users. I haven't had problem yet that someone in the community hasn't offered a solution.
The support you get for this group is well worth the Hubitat platform.

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FWIW, I think Hubitat is hands down better than SmartThings, and I had SmartThings from the Kickstarter days through the V3 hub.

to me it took a lot more effort to get my home automated to a certain level with SmartThings than it does with Hubitat. I found SmartThings confusing dual app situation "Classic" and whatever they call the new one, to be a real issue. Their custom integrations platform seemed to be a bit more arcane than the method Hubitat uses, and thus I never advanced to more complex automations.

The cloud dependency was also a turnoff.

Transitioning to Hubitat has been a cakewalk. RM4 is a little tough to wrap your head around, it seems to be a bit of a head twister at first, but once you "get" it, it has some amazing capabilities.

Change is somewhat rapid around here, so that takes some getting used to as well, but the Hubitat team, and the users of these Forums are a fantastic source of knowledge and experience, and somewhat differently that lots of other forums I've been on, share their knowledge and experience generously.

Like all of these home automation platforms though, your mileage may vary.



You can access all dashboards via cloud links and/or local links. Meaning you can use the cloud links via your phone to be able to access them anywhere, and you can also use local links for a tablet used in the house only and that will work even if the internet connection is down.

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Any Z-Wave or Zigbee device is not cloud based, as for wifi devices, you will need to search here or ask the help of others before buying. Some are cloud based and other aren't. And yet some that are not cloud based may require an API access that is not supported by HE or from a community device driver.

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I've got my old SmartThings hub put away in a storage closet just in case I ever need to do a device update. I also have a Z-stick on hand for Z-wave devices.

I research a product a bit before buying. Reading here on the community has been very helpful selecting devices. Just remember to read more than one or 2 posts saying "it works for me".

While some people have had issues with them, my SmartThings Arrival Sensor has worked pretty well for me (note the caveat in the last paragraph). They are a little finicky when swapping out the battery and on occasion I can open the front door using the NFC on my deadbolt before the Hubitat knows I'm home... which in turn sets off my HSM alarm (lights and sirens). In my (overly long) list of automation tasks "to do" is strengthening my Zigbee and Z-wave meshes outside of the house to resolve this issue and provide mesh coverage to a detached carport. Since I need an outlet outside, it requires electrical work which pushes it down on the list. My temporary solution is to listen for the doorbell when I get home before opening the door. I have a rule already setup that rings the doorbell (Aeotec Siren chime) if I'm home and sends a notification to my phone when I'm not home.

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I'm almost there at purchasing the HE but one thing still kind of puts me off and that is the firmware updating.

Since I purchased the latest ST universal sensors and outlet there would be no other way to update its firmware unless I kept the ST V3 hub correct? If so that kind of seems like a waste of $$ just to have that hub around. Also what about other manufacturer's devices (i.e Philips Hue bulbs, other zigbee devices, ecolink, etc.)?

Would it be ok to mix zigbee devices with z-wave or it's better to stick with one type?

Pushover is an excellent way to receive notifications. It's built in to Hubitat.

If you already have the SmartThings hub, how is it a waste of money just keeping it to update firmware? Just put it in storage and don't have it powered on. How often do you update the firmware on SmartThings sensors? On sensors, I have the approach of, "If it's not broke, don't fix it." Hence, I've not updated any of the dozen or so SmartThings sensors I have here.

I have a mix of Zigbee and Z-wave with more Zigbee which are mainly RGBW bulbs (Sengled which do not act as repeaters causing havoc on a mesh) and motion sensors which I've found are faster than the Z-wave versions I've owned. But there are a lot of devices that I also wanted that are Z-wave so I mix and match as needed.

I haven't updated firmware on a zigbee or zwave device in years. So I'm not sure how big of a problem that really is - but that is for you to decide.

You can mix, but remember that these are mesh networks, so need a critical mass of devices to build a proper mesh. Adding just 1 or 2 of a device type may not be a good strategy.

I mix zigfbee and zwave at will, but I also have 75+ zwave plus and 15+ zigbee repeating devices (aka mains powered). So both of my mesh are fine/strong.


The ST V3 hub and devices are brand new never opened/setup. It was purchased on boxing day so I can return it if I wanted to :wink:

To throw a wrench into this whole thing...I was up most of the and came upon some articles/posts on ST mentioning it can run zigbee/zwave devices locally Does that make ST a tiny bit better?

In regards to mesh, the devices have to be powered by mains/plugged into wall outlets in order to create this mesh network...not battery operated?

So far I only purchased 4 ST multipurpose sensors and an outlet. But I plan to add some Hue bulbs and maybe some switches and motion sensors.

Did you read the Samsung Press release? This is nothing new - this is probably three years old - they have been saying this literally for years. I was a SmartThings user and I attempted to do this. Read the press release carefully - First you have to check (using the developer's console) whether all the devices in your intended automation run locally, then you have to check that the automations run locally. And, if you have any code that runs in the IDE, that's not local so it will run in the cloud. This is the only way I was able to survive on SmartThings and (IMO) it still sucked.

The Kinkead article is from 2017 and the Samsung article it references is (I think) from 2015. This is nothing new. This is how they suckered me into buying their V2 hub.

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As to your question about the mesh, yes, for a device to serve as a repeater (either Zigbee or Z-Wave) it pretty much has to be "mains" (plugged in) powered. There may be some oddball exceptions somewhere but I have not seen them. I don't believe you can assume that all "mains" powered devices are repeaters although many are. Also, if you are buying any new devices, make sure any Z-Wave devices are of the Z-Wave Plus variety - much improved.

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