Cloud Connections, and using a WIFI AP without internet


#1

I've been doing some research before upgrading my x-10 home automation system. One thing is starting to look like a pattern. Everything today seems to want to connect to the internet. After 15 minutes of reading about SmartThings it was clear that to turn the light off in my daughter's room, some signal was being sent to the SmartThings datacenter. I don't know how anyone finds this acceptable.

Hubitat seems like the solution, however, ignoring the hub, I'd like to know how all the actual bulbs and devices connect, too.

If I set up a wifi access point with no WAN (no internet) will all these bulbs still work with Hubitat? Would they connect to Hubitat and be controlled by Hubitat? Or do they need internet to connect to the Mother Ship once (or periodically?)

I know I can not control lights or monitor status while away from home if there's no internet, that's obvious.

The Sengled, the LIFX, the Cree bulbs, and all the other brands, running on wifi, zigbee and z-wave; do they all call back to the mother ship out on the internet? Do only some of them do this? None of them? What about the labels I define on the devices? (kitchen ceiling, reading lamp, bed side lamp, front hall light) is that all uploaded "to the cloud."

Thank you for your replies, and helping me clear this up.


#2

Everything from hubitat is locally stored and executed. Zigbee and z wave are all local because they are directly connected to hubitat. Some WI-Fi or LAN devices can or already are local and other are not. I believe LIFX could be local but it's not officially supported yet so I don't know for sure as I don't have any. Sengled lamps are ZigBee I believe so your good there same with Cree. Just be aware ZigBee lamps are notoriously bad repeaters. There are a few new on the market that need to be tested to see if they are any good, I have been told Aurora lighting new AOne range do work well.


#3

I would suggest you allow the Hubitat to get it's clock from the internet. There are a lot of threads here on that topic. There has been a few requests to the developers to allow us to set our own time servers.


#4

See this thread for issues with running in an environment with no internet access, https://community.hubitat.com/t/internet-connection-lost-hub-never-reconnects/21279/
If it can get to an NTP server that seems to be all it really needs unless your trying to speak text for the first time or trying to talk to cloud devices like Alexa or Google Home. I'm hoping they can fix the issue that occurs when it cannot communicate to NTP during startup and during DB maintenance in a firmware update.


#5

You will have to at least originally connect the Hubitat to the internet to register it, after it's registered you won't "need" the internet for normal operations. According to Hubitat they only communicate with your hub once daily to verify the firmware version your hub is on and if there is an update available to send you the notification to get the update.

However, as many have reported there have been reports of NTP (time) issues when not connected to the internet for the router to sync the hub time.

I have Merlin Firmware on my Asus Router that establishes its own NTP server and the hub is forced to use it, instead of Hubitats method for getting the NTP sync. However, I have not disconnected it from the internet for any extended period to verify if this would solve their issues.


#6

A simple solution to this would be for HE to run ntpd and gpsd along with supporting a generic GPS USB dongle connected via a USB hub. I see they can be had for about $14. Ive ordered one to play with, im going to try setting up a stand-alone (ie no internet) NTP server running on a rPi or MikroTik router (eg hAP lite), and will post my results here.


#7

Interesting points. You make me question one of my assumptions.

Do all the devices need to connect to WIFI, or are zwave and zigbee protocols that don't use WIFI? In other words, do the zigbee and zwave devices require WIFI login?


#8

No, zigbee and zwave device connect directly to the Hubitat hub and are ran locally.


#9

tterk1

See this thread for issues with running in an environment with no internet access, Internet Connection lost - Hub never reconnects
If it can get to an NTP server that seems to be all it really needs unless your trying to speak text for the first time or trying to talk to cloud devices like Alexa or Google Home. I'm hoping they can fix the issue that occurs when it cannot communicate to NTP during startup and during DB maintenance in a firmware update.

Thanks for that very helpful link. That thread was told me a lot: Hubitat doesn't have a powered clock onboard, and "pool.ntp.org" is hard coded, and Hubitat kinda DOES require CONTINUOUS internet access in order for the clock to not go haywire. This is an odd design choice, ... and disappointing.


#10

I have Merlin Firmware on my Asus Router that establishes its own NTP server and the hub is forced to use it, instead of Hubitats method for getting the NTP sync. However, I have not disconnected it from the internet for any extended period to verify if this would solve their issues.

Interesting solution. I was thinking of something similar in Tomato firmware, or just blocking all packets from HE not going to pool. ntp. org.


#11

No as Wayne said ZigBee and z-wave connect directly to the hub. They are there own protocol nothing to do with WiFi, they are both mesh systems where as WiFi is point to point. So the more powered devices you have the stronger and further away from your hub the mesh will become and devices can connect too (mostly for ZigBee as there is a 4 hop limit in z-wave but z-wave travels further per hop)


#12

jon1Owner

A simple solution to this would be for HE to run ntpd and gpsd along with supporting a generic GPS USB dongle connected via a USB hub. I see they can be had for about $14. Ive ordered one to play with, im going to try setting up a stand-alone (ie no internet) NTP server running on a rPi or MikroTik router (eg hAP lite), and will post my results here.

Excellent idea. Depending upon the repo in rPi, see if you have Chrony available. I found it a little easier than ntpd. Ntpd probably does 'nudge' better, but I don't think HE needs 'nudge'.


#13

BorrisTheCat

In other words, do the zigbee and zwave devices require WIFI login?

No as Wayne said ZigBee and z-wave connect directly to the hub. They are there own protocol nothing to do with WiFi, they are both mesh systems where as WiFi is point to point. So the more powered devices you have the stronger and further away from your hub the mesh will become and devices can connect too (mostly for ZigBee as there is a 4 hop limit in z-wave but z-wave travels further per hop)

This is great news. Thanks for clearing this up.


#14

Keep in mind that if you are using a Mesh WiFi router, many require an Internet connection to maintain the DHCP IP assignment. So lose internet and your devices will lose their assigned IP. So while local with Zigbee and Z-Wave will continue to work, devices that require an IP address will not.


#15

I posted a project for a stand-alone NTP server here


#16

Thanks for clearing this up for me, I am a newbee! Would I be right in saying the best option, for someone like me who only has WiFi stuff at present, that it would be better to stick with one technology or have a varied mix of both?


#17

I have a Vodafone Gigabit internet connection and also have a Netgear Orbi Mesh network, the Vodafone router provides DHCP and fixed IP addresses as well as providing all the LAN connections while the Orbi is purely a Mesh Wifi......
Could this be the cause of my WiFi Automation products to intermittently disconnect?


#18

No not necessarily, there are pros and cons to everything. With WiFi there are quite a few cons though.

  • There high powered so battery devices don't last
  • They almost all need connections to the internet and the cloud
  • They bog down you WiFi on domestic routers so the device you want to run fast don't as the bandwidth has already been allocated to them.
  • They are not a mesh so you need to ensure you have a good signal everywhere to a access point.
  • Only a few things are currently intrigrated and supported by hubitat.

#19

As @BorrisTheCat there are many other factors. Some Wi-Fi devices will easily reconnect when they lose internet. iDevices is an example of good quality Wi-Fi devices that will have no trouble in an outage.

Cheap devices will likely have to be manually power cycled when there’s a loss of internet.