Google or Amazon

I am just getting started with home automation and I’m at a crossroads. I have a few Amazon devices and Google devices and I’m trying to figure out which way to go.

Amazon

  1. 4 x Fire TVs
  2. 1 x Echo dot
  3. 1 x Echo

Google

  1. 2 x Nest Indoor Cameras
  2. 1 x Nest Yale Lock

A few of my thoughts.

  1. I think its cheaper if I keep going down the google path.
  2. I think I would like the conversation experience of google better (based on YouTube videos)
  3. I pay for Amazon Prime and do not have YouTube Premium
  4. I like Amazon as a company better than google but I don’t like the look of Amazon’s products (ring).
  5. I’m interested in nest thermostats to improve my home climate. I haven’t researched alternatives.

My goals

  1. Lights
  2. Garage door
  3. Door locks
  4. Music
  5. Geofencing
  6. Home security
  7. A graphical control panel like Nest Hub Max

My questions

  1. Is there a reason I have to go one direction over the other or can Amazon and google and hubitat all play together?
  2. What’s the trend of support for Amazon vs Google?
  3. If you could start fresh and build a house what would you use knowing what you know now?
  4. How do you handle having multiple microphones (echo/nest audio) devices that can hear you in a single area of the house?

Welcome to Hubitat!

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.

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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.

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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.

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All of these are possible using a cloud-independent solution or a cloud-dependent solution. My main reasons for choosing cloud-independence are that:

  1. I want my automated house to keep on working even when the internet is down
  2. 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.

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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.

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What do you mean by neutrals in switch boxes?

What does the phone do in this? We are using iPhones? Does that matter?

I'm in the both camp

Each assistant does some things better than the other. Some integrations only work with one or the other.

Having both provides options!

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. :wink:

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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.

This is still true, but is something I would never use, as I only use a home assistant as a trigger. I don't use Google routines, all of my automations happen at the hub.

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