How tricky is Hubitat for a newbie?

So, I've no coding experience (well, a failed attempt at learning Python for my raspberry pi - it now sits its box) and have never run a smart home before.

I very recently purchases a Google Nest Max and a chromecast, but my goal long term is for a more automatic and functional signal.

I've recently bought some Phillips Hue bulbs which will be my Christmas present. I have some degree of buyers regret as I was originally hoping to go with Z wave but on the flip side google will talk to them with no further effort from me.

I'm also hopeful to get some radiator TRV valves as we live in a rental flat. Ideally I could use these to control a future thermostat (although I've seen that Hive hates Hubitat on these forums and Google hates everything these days). So now I'm unsure whether to go with aoetec trvs (these and hubitat were recommended to me).

From there, I've hopes of further smart items - motion/door sensors, etc.

My concern is that I'll buy the HE and then stare bamboozled at it.

As with anything there is a small learning curve, but you should find that just about everything you want to do either has an app or can be done with a simple rule or two. And the best part is that if you get stuck this community is very good about jumping and helping...

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Others will probably disagree with me on this, but for a 100% beginner I think hubitat is a pretty steep learning curve versus simpler systems like Wink.

That said, if you can get over the initial hump hubitat is a much more flexible and usable system than the other simpler ones. In my opinion anyway.

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First, I think Hue bulbs are great--no need to regret that. :slight_smile: While the bulbs can work paired directly to Hubitat (as can most Zigbee devices), I would recommend using the Hue Bridge integration that Hubitat provides (Hue and most Zigbee bulbs are "repeaters" that extend the range of your Zigbee network, but unfortunately many bulbs, including Hue, seem to repeat poorly for non-bulb devices and might cause problems--not if you don't have non-bulb Zigbee devices on Hubitat, but easily avoided with the Hue Bridge, a separate Zigbee network, regardless). Hue also has some nice features only available via the Bridge, like default power-on settings. There aren't a lot of Z-Wave bulbs on the market, though you do have a lot of switches and dimmers to choose from if you don't need bulbs (for color control, etc.).

I second the above: while I had an easy time getting started with Hubitat, I had already used SmartThings (and Hue) and had some familiarity with how Zigbee and Z-Wave networks and devices work. Hubitat has some of this in their documentation, which can help explain how the admin UI works (the "Getting Started" section and the section below it) and give you tips on setting up your "Z" devices if you aren't familiar (see How to Build a Solid Zigbee Mesh - Hubitat Documentation and How to Build a Solid Z-Wave Mesh - Hubitat Documentation, in particular). But because I'm already familiar with this, I'm not sure how good of a judge I'd be on how they read to someone who's newer.

After getting the hub itself set up (location, time zone, etc.), the two main things you'll probably want to do are add devices (sticking to "officially" compatible ones is the easiest path, but lots more work with built-in or community drivers too--but still don't expect any random IOT device you find to necessarily work) and create automations, which Hubitat calls "apps" (things like turn lights on when motion detected, etc.). Hubitat has lots of built-in apps that are sort of templates you can fill in devices and other parameters for, but it also includes a powerful custom automation creator called Rule Machine. As tempting as it is, my advice is not to start there but to read the docs if/when you decide to dive in. :slight_smile:

I can say that if you do get stuck anywhere, lots of people here in the community are willing to help! So, if you think that Hubitat is at all a good fit for you, I'd encourage you to be stick around and ask (or search for existing threads on) any questions you might have. A bit of patience can help during the learning phase, too. Good luck, whatever you choose!

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Just my 2 cents, I like you was a TOTAL noob to HE, programming, script writing etc, and agreeing with what @JasonJoel says... BUT...

Quote from Jason Joel

I blindly jumped into HE. Granted I originally was on Wink which at the time I loved and was completely oblivious to what "COULD" be done with HE, you know the phrase "ignorance is bliss" was my mantra for home automation lol. At any rate, I jumped and and my head was spinning for about a month. Now don't let this discourage you... The HE community is FANTASTIC and incredibly helpful... well.. 99% of the time. 0.5% you may become the center of a joke but in good fun, and the other 0.5% ya might just get a person in a bad mood, which lets be honest, can happen anywhere. So from a total noob standpoint for you, yes its going to be daunting, but I would say in the words of Nike "JUST DO IT!", cause with your willpower and assistance from the Community here, you'll be so happy to have it up and running and amazed at what you can do with it.

So with my rambling don't be discouraged.. As you can tell from other comments like from @bertabcd1234 that the community is great and always here to lend a helping hand for the noobs.

Good luck!!

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That reminds me of something I forgot to say: you don't need to do any of this to use Hubitat. You can write your own apps (or drivers), but the stock options cover what I'd say staff assume most people want most of the time. If you venture into Rule Machine, you'll have to think a little like a programmer but still technically aren't writing code--but again, I wouldn't start there. For a look at the multitude of options available in the built-in Motion Lighting app, for example (mentioning this one since it's one I know of with a ton of options--and it's something people often overlook in favor of Rule Machine), you can see a bit in the docs: Motion Lighting Apps - Hubitat Documentation. All done for you--just choose the options you want. No code.

But again, that is an option if you want it. :smiley: (And I'm still not saying it's easy, or at least quite as easy as Wink and friends, and it's certainly not as mobile-app-oriented. But it is quite powerful--the classic tradeoff you often see in technology.)

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I was a total noob and didn't have any coding experience (still don't) when I first got my hubitat and bought it to use solely with ikea blinds. Since then I've added hue Bridge and several thermostats, radiator trvs, alexa integration, etc. It's easy enough to use if you are happy with a fair bit of trial and error and looking up solutions on the forum as there's not much that hasn't been written about at some point. The down side is that it becomes an expensive little hobby.

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Thanks for this. I do realise that there's some difficult in asking experienced smart home users about difficulty level. Fingers crossed I can get over the hump! :confused:

Thanks - part of my worry is that I won't know the right search terms to find what I want. I'm glad to hear the HE community is very helpful as I can't justify a more expensive hub.

Agree with @JasonJoel. It's a steep curve compare to other systems but as long as you are willing to learn and ask question when stuck then it won't be as bad. This community is insanely helpful and quick to help. The end reward is amazing with Hubitat.

@bertabcd1234
Ah, thanks for that - I got a start pack with two colour bulbs and a pair of whites too. So I'll make sure to pair via the bridge. Another forum I was looking on really slammed Phillips Hue bulbs as being something for the masses rather than serious smart home enthusiasts. There were also concerns about zigbee and internet interference so I was concerned that there might be an underlying issue with them,

I'm not certain how I will manage to get the hubitat 3m from my wifi, though. My router is bang in the centre of the flat and the engineer used those skirting stables (ah, so technical) to affix the wire to the the wall. I guess Powerline plugs if it comes to it.

I'll have to see how the bulbs do with the thickness of the walls. I don't anticipate needing too many repeaters as the flat's, well, it's not a tiny flat but it's also not a large house if you know what I mean. In any case, I'd like some smart plugs.

I've mostly looked at Phillips and Aotec, so I should be ok there. I guess I should stay on the straight and narrow with regards to trvs. Hopefully by the time I need a thermostat, I've got a handle on how to use Hubitat.

That reminds me of something I forgot to say: you don't need to do any of this to use Hubitat. You can write your own apps (or drivers), but the stock options cover what I'd say staff assume most people want most of the time. If you venture into Rule Machine, you'll have to think a little like a programmer but still technically aren't writing code--but again, I wouldn't start there. For a look at the multitude of options available in the built-in Motion Lighting app, for example (mentioning this one since it's one I know of with a ton of options--and it's something people often overlook in favor of Rule Machine), you can see a bit in the docs: Motion Lighting Apps - Hubitat Documentation . All done for you--just choose the options you want. No code. >

I'm very relieved to hear this. I looked at some threads on Hive integration and it looked like people were having to use code, then I saw the post about the dev who send back Hubitat in favour of Samsung Smart things for a rental flat app and was concerned that I'd have to do a lot of creating/begging people to help me fix extremely basic things and not a lot of copypasta.

@simon.marshalsea Ah, yes, it does look to be an expensive hobby. My wife doesn't fully comprehend this yet. :joy:

@Navat604 I think my fear is that I'll get stuck on the hill in a state of early on-set technological dinosauring.

I would get a few Zwave S2 repeaters - the Aeotec 7's are great and the Ring Alarm Extenders Gen 2 are as well. Even though powered ZW+ devices should repeat fine having these on hand are very helpful in building a strong mesh.

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unless you're going to be writing custom apps/drivers, no coding experience is needed.

there is a learning curve in terms of making rules/automations, but once you get the hang of it, it's fairly straight forward (at worst, reach out to the awesome community and we'll help out :slight_smile: )

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It doesn't have to be super-complicated. Just start with simple automation rules to get your devices working and them experiment from there with new ideas. As @simon.marshalsea said, it can become an expensive "hobby" (obsession)....but ask questions (search first though).

Good luck! I just got my HE last week and am still in the process of moving my devices over from ST. It is just going to take some time.

The right way with HE is not the obvious way.
We both know that we want to add a lot of cool features, devices, apps, etc. But it's not the right way with this hub. You'll learn patience.
Add 1 or 2 (zigbee/z-wave) devices. Play with them, build your tiny mesh. Test the built-in app.
Try the rule machine app with a very basic idea in mind: switch a light on a schedule.
Then add a test on it (dawn), etc. Go slow to learn the way it works.
Browse the forum and ask questions.

It's like a new car when you get your licence 2 days ago. don't go full speed in curves. Learn how to drive, how the clutch works, read the book, practice in a parking.
Yes, we know that you want to make that trip of 5000 kms right away, but keep it easy.

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i'll have to humbly disagree. while it may not be built in to the hub, the community is amazing at creating apps to integrate tons of stuff and greatly increase the types of devices that can be added to the hub

my broken english could be the culprit here. I didn't mean that HE is not made for that (just look at my profile and posts, I use now HE with several devices connected to PLC's and node-red gateway, far from the built-in features),
I tried to say that "at first", like children, we want to add immediately a lot of features, devices and other stuff, but the best way to discover HE, imho, is to add slowly things after things to avoid trouble (because different things/problems to handle at the same time), instead of plugging your entire set of devices and needed apps.

yes, this is definitely the way. use one piece, learn how it works, then go onto the next.

thank you for clarifying