You’ve posed some interesting questions, and truth be told, I don’t have any good answers. Especially because I think that a good response would require knowing more about your automation goals.
I think that most of us came to Hubitat to be cloud-independent. And to be primarily reliant on automation; by the latter I mean sensor-driven device control that requires minimal human intercession.
For example, I want lights controlled by motion, I want my garage door to raise when my car pulls up in the driveway, I want my doors to unlock when I’m home, I want the main water valve to turn off when a leak is detected etc.
And while I do occasionally control devices using Alexa or Siri, that interaction is secondary. I perceive it as replacement of a physical switch with a vocal switch, and not automation per se. Which absolutely doesn’t mean it isn’t important. However, if voice control were my primary goal, I would probably stick with a cloud-dependent architecture because currently there are no cloud-independent voice control mechanisms supported by Hubitat.
I’m new to this so it’s hard for me to say what my automation goals are. I don’t truly know what’s possible. I think it would be awesome to have my lights come on when I get home at night. Or the doors unlock. Or automatically lock up the house when I leave.
However I think some voice control is inevitable. How would you automate turning off all lights when you go to bed? I wouldn’t want to wait for the lights to go out before I could fall asleep. I would want to be able to play a song by asking. I would want it to change my media room to movie mode by asking.
Are you saying that the answer to my question about Google vs Amazon is neither?
I don’t know that using voice is my primary goal. I just want to avoid choosing the wrong vendor on that to prevent myself from being able to fully use hubitat.
I think you can get away with using both in a layered approach vs "all eggs in one basket".
Nest Smokes/Thermos - these work well and eventually you don't have to futz with them all that much.
Amazon Ring Products - Doorbells / floodlights are great, subscription plan is cheap and there is an upgrade path to the security system additional lighting. Google has cancelled their security system but their cameras are great, subscription can be expensive vs Amazon.
Amazon Echos - They work well and the Echo Show integrates in with the Ring to show doorbell video etc - great for the babysitter.
I am a little leery about Google products.. sometimes Google just decides to cancel them leaving users hanging - see the "killed by google" site. I do have the older "Google Home Smart Speaker" that I stopped using because it wasn't as reliable as the echo. I'm sure newer models are better.
It seems that Google has the better tech but their strategic plan is a little less clear and seems to change frequently. This may be fine for Silicon Valley but for long term home integration it kinda sucks.
Edit: For the adventurous - have you checked out HomeBridge? This server can integrate both Google & Amazon products and send info to HE via the community Homebridge app or plugin. Even better no apple products required. It's just another way of connecting devices to HE. I use it for both Nest and Ring stuff.
All of these are possible using a cloud-independent solution or a cloud-dependent solution. My main reasons for choosing cloud-independence are that:
I want my automated house to keep on working even when the internet is down
I want to keep as much of my information private as possible. By this I do not mean that Google and Amazon are insecure; rather, that the more data they have on your and your habits, the more they can make use of it (or sell it) for targeted advertising and other purposes.
When I'm in bed after 9 PM at night, an automation triggers that gradually dims my nightstand lamp from 100% to 0% over 30 minutes. Simultaneously, the color temperature changes from soft-white (~3000K) to warm-white (2000K), which promotes sleep. I have Sonos speakers in my bedroom. These speaker play a station called Piano Classics while gradually reducing in volume from 25 to 0 over 30 minutes.
The automation triggers by my presence being detected in bed.
While there are cloud-independent ways of doing this, this would be simplest to do using either Google Music or Amazon Music.
I don't have a media room, but when my living room TV (or bed room TVs) turn on, some lights dim automatically (and other lights are turned off). TV backlighting is turned on (to differing brightness based on the time of day and outdoor lux). For my living room TV, the Sonos playbar is set to a specific volume. Even better, that volume is automatically raised when the HVAC comes on and reduced when the HVAC goes off.
Now a lot of these things require a hub with a genuine automation engine (like Hubitat) and would be much more difficult to achieve within just the Google or Amazon ecosystems.
We do not (yet) use motion detectors in our house, and use Google Home, and tried Amazon Echo, but didn't like it. We double and tripple tap switches to set scenes and have outside lights and dim levels set at certain times of day. It is nice to use voice to turn some lights on and off without getting up or pulling out a phone. So here is our take on your question.
No, there is not; but I have found that with Google you can speak a bit more naturally to get your desired results. You can use both at the same time, but now your going to have to remember "who" your talking to.
It depends on who you get on the other end of the line when it comes to support with either Google or Amazon. In the long term Google has a history of abandoning products. It's hard to tell if those products actually had a large (enough) user base, or just a small dedicated vocal user base.
First I would make sure I had neutrals in all my switch boxes! I would have my internet demarcation as centrally located in my house as possible. I would still go with a Nest thermostat (I have no need for my hub to see it), and Google speakers.
If you keep your phone on you, Google does a good job of deciding which speaker your talking to. I never had enough echos at the same time to test. That said, you need to have at least 1 light in the room your speaker is in. If you are talking to a speaker and say "turn off the lights" it will turn the lights off in that room only. If there are no lights in the room it will turn every light in the house off.
I am more in the Amazon Echo/Alexa camp. Amazon has done a much, much better job at integrating with Home Automation systems, IMHO. For example, one can create an 'Alexa Routine' that can be triggered by a motion or contact sensor. This allows for much better integration and control between Hubitat and Alexa versus what is possible currently with Google Home. GH's routines can only be triggered by Voice or a Scheduled Time (unless something has changed recently.) This is very limiting IMHO.
I have a few Google Home devices, however they are hardly ever used. I keep them around as it is good to have options! Plus, I just like to tinker with lots of home automation technologies.
I have an older home, so at my light switches there is are just 3 wires ground hot and load. Modern wiring would have 6 wires, 2 grounds, 2 neutrals, 1 hot and one load. Most smart devices need a neutral to stay powered up at all times.
I use Android, so when I say "Hey Google" my phone helps triangulate which speaker should respond.
Hi Jeremy - I'm also a new user to Hubitat and have found this post while looking whether to use Alexa or Google (I currently have Alexa)
Your question regarding neutrals in switch boxes - I can't see from your profile what country you are in. If it's the UK then most houses use a "loop in" system for the lighting. At the light fitting you have a permanent line and neutral twin and earth cable in, a permanent line and neutral twin and earth cable out (unless it's the end of the line) and a twin and earth going to the switch. That cable carries a permanent line down to the switch and a switched line back up to the light (the light being connected between this switched line and the permanent neutral). In this configuration there is no permanent neutral at the switch so you need to choose Z wave modules that support the 2 wire system as these can work without the neutral and be fitted behind the switch. Otherwise you can fit the modules at the light fitting where all the connections are available. Theres some great information and guides on Vesternet.com (I used info there to make my decision to buy Hubitat).
Regarding point 7. I can't recommend SharpTools highly enough. Very easy and intuitive to use, will work great on your Fire HD tablets and anything else and great support both from SharpTools staff and their community members.
If there was a clear cut consensus "winner", then the other would be out of business.. just because some random person who you have zero experience says one is better than the other doesn't make it so. People are loyal to their brand and yes cost comes into play (many people are into Alexa because they are part of Prime)
I have zero issues having devices from both in the house, something like Hubitat (or Node-RED or Home Assistant) can treat the devices as just a generic device: "hey device, tell the person this via TTS"
Depends on what I was trying to accomplish. My 2 cents: If i needed video, hands down it would be Google Nest Hub devices i would look to do. Anything else, Alexa for sure
In the case of Alexa, it is a hardware thing, she tries to determine which one you are speaking to... not always successful at that, but it tries.. in most cases routines coming from Alexa devices carry the serial # of the device that called it, so if you get into advanced automation with something like Node-RED, you can actually make decisions based on what device heard it. For instance I can go into a room and say "lights on" and whatever device heard it handles its own set of lights. I've become very aware to make sure to actually look at the device i am targeting so she has a better chance of properly identifying.
I lean toward Amazon - they have not jerked around their customers as much as Google has. I like Google's tech a bit better though. That's pretty much the same story with everything Amazon vs Google. Both collect far too much data.. so you want to be careful how much you expose to these services.
Also it may be too early in the game to bring up Apple's "offering" with their HomePod/HomePod Mini and HomeKit. You can make a connection but need the "homebridge" app running somewhere and one of the HE community homebridge connection app & plugin by @tonesto7 OR the homebridge HE maker plugin by @dan.t .
Evil Side note - the new m1 Macbook Pro cannot set up a HomePod - you need an iPhone or iPad.. found this out the hard way. Still like the laptop though.