Current smarthome setup is mess, best practices to start from scratch with Hubitat

So I hope I've done enough reading and research to ask this question.

Current Setup
Amazon Echo - (1x) Fire TV (3x) dots (2x) echo's
Inovelli switches - (2x) no neutral dimmers (6x) on/off
Phillips hue - roughly (30x) devices
Ikea - Tradfri (10x) smart plugs
Smartthings sensors - (5x) motion sensors (6x) door contact switches (3x) buttons

So far all my routines and automation has been through my Alexa, obviously the alexa was limited, enter hubitat. I've been up and running for a few weeks playing around with some rules just to make sure everything is compatible and so far the hubitat has been flawless.

My plan is to remove all my devices from alexa, get rid of my smarthings hub, link all my Smarthings devices directly to the hubitat and go one by one re-installing and re-naming everything in a more organized way. Is this a bad idea? Are there any possible issues I should watch out for? I'm just wondering about best practices.

Where I get confused is when the devices can be seen and controlled in both the Alexa App and the Hubitat. When I ask alexa to turn off a light or something, am I speaking just to alexa or just to the hubitat or both? In my Alexa app I currently have my devices split up into groups "bedroom" "front room" etc, I'm assuming I should get rid of all the Alexa groups if I want to have hubitat control all of that?

And then add in the case of Phillips hue you've got another app where you create groups and scenes that Alexa automatically discovers and adds to your Alexa app. I'm assuming I wouldn't want this either, It just seems confusing because it's three possible instances of the same "group". With my Phillips hue app I've just put all my bulbs in one "group/room" and then sort them individually into the groups I want in Alexa, soon to be hubitat. Could I get rid of the hue app? Would that change anything? Would I have to re-add all the bulbs directly to hubitat?

I sure hope that is all clear, I'm looking forward to playing around with all the amazing rules, automations and other stuff hubitat has to offer. I just want to start off with the cleanest most trouble free setup at the onset to give me the least problems.

I did basically the same.. Had all my devices on smartthings and also controlled via alexa... But I didn’t use the alexa routines too much because they are severely limited...

To answer one of your questions you are speaking to alexa which talks through the cloud to your local HE controller... I try and keep it simple for alexa as she gets confused easy... I use virtual switches which trigger my lighting groups...

1 Like

Lots of people have migrated to Hubitat from other platforms, and a lot of early adopters came from SmartThings (as many continue to do--I bet tonight's yet-another-cloud-outage pushed even more people). The platforms are quite similar in terms of how they work (event-based in nature, devices = Things, apps = SmartApps, drivers = DTHs). Hubitat's administration is also done via the web-based interface served locally from the hub. There is a mobile app, but unlike ST, it does not provide administration. You can use it to view Dashboards (an app you can set up in Hubitat, basically their answer to ActionTiles and similar in concept to both that and SharpTools.io), provide presence information to the hub, and as a way to receive push notifications from the hub. You can use the hub without it (many of us have for a long time; it's a fairly new app), and there's no sense in getting it before you have your hub (you have to choose your hub when logging into the app for the first time).

Adding devices to Hubitat is similar to adding devices to ST, except with Hubitat you'll have to know the protocol the device uses (Z-Wave, Zigbee, etc.) because it asks you during pairing. If you can't find that on the device, it's in the manual--which you'll probably need to consult anyway to learn how to exclude or reset the device and pair it to a new hub (especially with Z-Wave, it's almost always best to properly exclude it from the old hub first). There is no wrong or right way to migrate devices (other than keeping in mind that as you build one mesh network, you're destroying the other), but as you do so, these documents may be helpful:

You don't have a ton of devices, so unlike many people, you could probably move all your devices and automations at once (as long as you're OK with setting up your automations on Hubitat right away or living without them until you can). There are solutions to let you move a device or logic to one platform while keeping the logic or device on the other (Hub Link/Link to Hub, HubConnect, etc.), but I wouldn't worry about that if you don't need to.

What I would do is, in (mostly) no particular order:

  • Move the Inovelli switches to Hubitat (install Inovelli's custom Hubitat driver first; this is similar to installing the DTH you probably did on ST, or you can wait until the next Hubitat firmware release that will probably include a driver baked in)
  • Pair the Trådfri outlets to Hubitat (they are supported natively; you could also Touch Link them to the Hue Bridge to pair them to that network if you prefer, but having them on Hubitat would get you some repeaters, which would be good for your battery-powered sensors)
  • Move the SmartThings sensors to Hubitat (all that you listed are supported natively)
  • Keep the Hue Bridge. Hubitat has a LAN-based Hue Bridge integration you can use to get the bulbs into Hubitat (again, similar to ST). Keep the Bridge because...
    • Zigbee bulbs can be problematic when mixed with non-bulb devices on the same Zigbee network; keeping them on a Hue Bridge keeps them separate and avoids this problem (the document above touches on this).
    • The Hue Bridge can integrate natively with Alexa or Google Home; bulbs on Hubitat can too, and you could not use Hue's native integration and put Hubitat in the middle instead (with or without the Bridge), but I think it's a lot easier not to. This also keeps voice access to Hue scenes (which Hubitat does not natively support; at least two custom integrations, however, do). Hue also natively supports HomeKit/Siri, which Hubitat does not.
    • Setting up rooms/zones (groups) and scenes in Hue is a lot easier than doing so in Hubitat, in my opinion, and you can integrate the Hue groups into Hubitat. You can also create groups in Hubitat, but in my experience, they don't work well unless you turn on Zigbee group messaging for that group (Hue uses this for you automatically when needed), and Hubitat's scenes are a (multi-command) emulation of "real" scenes like Hue's where the bulbs "know" their scene settings and all instantly turn to them with one message
  • Keep the Alexa products for voice control if you want. Hubitat has an Alexa Skill that enables you to use contact sensors, motion sensors, bulbs, switches, dimmers, and similar devices from the hub for voice control and routines on Alexa (the most notable omission that Alexa otherwise currently supports but Hubitat doesn't is thermostats). Again, this is similar to ST.

To specifically answer some questions:

When you tell Alexa to do something in Hubitat, Alexa communicates to your hub, then your hub communicates back to Alexa (this is more or less how it works from a user perspective on ST, except that ST keeps a cloud cache of your data; Hubitat is more local- and privacy-focused and does not, so it has to communicate with the hub each time). If I'm interpreting your question correctly, you can really do this either way:

  • "Bedroom Lights" group on Hubitat containing "Bedroom Ceiling Light" and "Bedroom Nightstand Lamp", OR
  • "Bedroom Lights" group in Alexa containing "Bedroom Ceiling Light" and "Bedroom Nightstand Lamp".

Personally, I prefer to do as much in Hubitat as possible and would go with the first option. For one, I find Hubitat's UI a lot easier to use to set these up (and change if needed) than the Alexa mobile app. Second, it gives you the ability to use that group in both Hubitat and Alexa, not just Alexa. If you have Alexa-only devices (not on Hubitat) and want to put both them and Hubitat devices in the same Alexa group, you could do that as well (say a "Bedroom" group on Alexa that contains a random Alexa-only Wi-Fi light, your Hue bulbs from the Bridge, and a Z-Wave dimmer plug from Hubitat). I don't have many (any?) Alexa-only devices, so I'm not sure what people who've actually done this think. Again, I prefer as much in Hubitat as possible.

Again, I haven't done anything exactly like this, so I'm not sure if you even can set up a group with the same name as one or more devices or have multiple groups with the same name, nor am I sure how Alexa would handle that (probably not very well). I like Hue's native Alexa integration, and I do use Hue groups ("rooms" and "zones" in the app) because I like the way it helps organize scenes and provides room names for voice control with little effort on my part. Not using groups on the Hue side will subject you to possible "popcorn effect" in Hubitat if you try to manipulate multiple Hue bulbs at the same time (turning on a whole room--effectively one-by-one--instead of using the group, which would send a single command to the Bridge and the Bridge in turn a single, group command to the bulbs).

However, it sounds like you have naming-related reasons for not wanting to do this. Could you work around this by naming the rooms things like "Bedroom Hue Lights" instead of "Bedroom"? Then you won't have conflicting names in Alexa (or Hubitat) and could still use the native integration on both platforms. (There may be downsides to this; on iOS, I think HomeKit will really want to make those your room names for all your HomeKit devices, for example, but it sounds like you aren't doing anything like this anyway.) Then you could make, say, a "Bedroom" group on Alexa that includes an Alexa-only device, one or more Hubitat devices (or groups), and a Hue Group (which will now not have a conflicting name).

7 Likes

I too am a recent convert to Hubitat. I jumped (actually still jumping as I have about 20 more devices to migrate this weekend!) from Wink. I too was getting a hodgepodge of non-Wink controlled devices (TP-Link, Wyze plugs, SmartLife, Wiz Bulbs) and "gluing" them together using Amazon Echo. During my migration, I've eliminated SmartLife and Wiz bulbs and using TP-Link driver in Hubitat. I use Alexa for voice control but have most of the commands execute on Hubitat. Even with going through one level of Cloud indirection, the HE paired lights turn off very rapidly. So far, so good with about 80 devices migrated! Good luck

1 Like

Bertabcd1234, can I start with the biggest thank you humanly possible for that reply! Just wow! I feel like I have a much better understanding of how the different elements work together. I really hope it will help other people in the same boat, I'm sure it will.

I might have some follow up questions later but you really answered everything and then some. I want to fully digest and implement all your suggestions first.

A few points that really stood out to me.

  • Being able to control an alexa "group" that may have wifi or non hubitat compatible devices is really cool, I have a couple of Sonoff basics that I was going to try flashing with Tasmota but I may be able to just use your grouping method to get them to work instead.

Blockquote However, it sounds like you have naming-related reasons for not wanting to do this. Could you work around this by naming the rooms things like "Bedroom Hue Lights" instead of "Bedroom"? Then you won't have conflicting names in Alexa (or Hubitat)
Blockquote

  • I didn't realize the benefits of organizing my rooms/groups of bulbs in the Hue app so I will be going this route for sure.

  • Regarding the naming of things I not married to anything and plan on re-naming as needed during the organization process. I was just confused because hypothetically I could make a hue group called "bedroom" with my bedroom bulbs in there, then I could make a group in the Alexa App named "bedroom" and individually add those bulbs to that group and again a third time in a hubitat group. Obviously that sounds like a mess and I don't want to do that.

    What I hope I'm understanding correctly is that I'm best to start with grouping the bulbs in the Hue app with a unique name like "hue bedroom" and when I make my Hubitat group named "bedroom" I will include the "hue bedroom" and any other devices like switches/buttons in the room as part of that group. From there I can use the Alexa to control that hubitat group named "bedroom" without adding that seperate group in Alexa. Or I can build the "bedroom" group in Alexa and have the hubitat control that group as desired.

Again, if what I've described isn't quite right don't sweat it, I'll I need some time to play around and I will be doing small tests before I start messing with a ton of devices at once.

I've got 4-5 days off coming up and I'll be dedicating all that time to building the best smart home possible, thank you again!

No problem! All sounds right to me. I haven't used Alexa with group names that conflict with device names, so I really can't say how she'd handle it (I'd guess either prioritize the Alexa group [Hue groups would really just be one device to Alexa] over the device--probably what you want--or complain that multiple things have the same name, which definitely happens with devices). I know you can also rename devices in the Alexa app, but I'm not sure if renaming the "real" device on Hue or Hubitat at some point in the future, should you ever do that, will then cause the old/changed Alexa name to get overwritten at some point and possibly put you back on the track you were trying to avoid. I don't normally rename things in Alexa and prefer to keep them named as desired in the underlying platform to avoid having to know the answer to this question. :slight_smile:

Again, it's possible none of this would actually be an issue like I suspect. However, if you can avoid it by giving Hue groups separate names, that's definitely one way to make sure--and there are definitely advantages to grouping Hue bulbs. Hopefully you find something that works well for everything you use!

PS - Once you find how fast and reliable Hubitat is due to its local execution, you might decide to replace the Alexa-only devices. You have been warned.

1 Like

This may be a strange way to do it, but all of my Hubitat groups have a suffix of "group". i.e. - 'Bedroom light group', 'Livingroom light group', 'Kitchen light group'. In the Amazon app I created groups with easier to use names (i.e. 'Bedroom light') and added the Hubitat group as the only item in the Amazon group. So now I can say things like "Turn off living room light" rather than "Turn off living room light group." Why have the group as a suffix on the Hubitat side? It makes it much easier to spot when using a group in apps or Rule Machine so I'm less likely to mistakenly select a single bulb rather than the group.

2 Likes

I did something similar but created groups in Hubitat:

All Kitchen Lights
All Family Room Lights
etc …

and added these groups along with individual lights so I could turn off one light in the group or all lights in a room at once.

2 Likes

Love this idea! I can totally see how this would help keep things organized and less confusing for Alexa. I'm going to try this for sure.

1 Like

Thanks! Sometimes the little things make the most sense and are helpful. :slight_smile:

In the Amazon app, I also have 'All lights' group which contains all Hubitat light groups and individual lights along with Amazon groups for 'All indoor lights, and 'All outdoor lights'. You can create as many groups as you need for controlling your lights via the Echos.

Since I have motion automation in all the rooms, except one which I prefer voice or button control over, I use voice control of lights a lot less these days other than changing levels. That will be automated too at some point.

I've also learned over time that it's helpful to label all scenes with the same prefix so they are grouped together. Otherwise when you are creating an automation and selecting the devices you want to utilize, the scenes are randomly spread throughout all of your lighting option.

2 Likes

That's a pretty amazing and generously time consuming reply. Thumbs up @bertabcd1234 !!

1 Like

I also name things to keep them organized when looking at the apps list in Hubitat, usually putting the room name first, followed by devices/groups, then On/Off or whatever. I've also been known to use numbering (01, 02, etc, don't forget to put in one or two leading 0's if you will be numbering past 10 or 100) to put things in order. All my modes start with numbers to keep them in chronological order.

@jdnandroid Agreed. I wish Hubitat had a method of grouping devices, rules, rooms, etc. I’m new to HE and found that my lists are getting unwieldy. I just started doing the same thing by adding prefixes to some devices to make it easier to sort. I added “Pico” to the start of all of the remote devices and RM rules. I’d like to do the same with other devices in each room , but that would affect Alexa voice control.

Tim,

As I mentioned earlier in the thread, I use long, descriptive names for devices (or groups) in Hubitat. But I also create groups in the Alexa app that have easier names to speak. For example, I created an Amazon group called 'Kitchen light' which has one item in it... a Hubitat group called 'Kitchen light group'. 'Kitchen light group' makes it easier to spot and understand in Rule Machine, but it's a lot easier to say, "Alexa... turn off kitchen light."

Also, there is the option in the Alexa app to edit the name of the device to something more friendly. Once edited, you can use either the new name or the original imported name for verbal commands.

2 Likes

@bjcowles @billmeek Both good ideas which I’ve considered, but with so many devices, it is a PITA to have to manage both names. Hopefully Hubitat will add a method to organize, until then I’ll just have to live with it (unless my anal retentive tendencies get the better of me and I make the change on the Alexa side) :slight_smile:

1 Like