I now own a variety of devices and hubs - and so what might be a prudent direction for my antique robot house?


#1

Now that I've purchased more HA stuff, I'm looking for advice on which direction to go. Here is my current state.

Recently transitioned from VeraEdge to HE, mainly to run zwave smart locks that I use for 2 airbnbs. This was my priority and I'm happy with the transition.

I've chosen Alexa as my VA and took advantage of prime day to buy some echo devices (including echo plus and show that have a zigbee hubs built in), smart bulbs and smart plugs. I also bought a Hue starter kit with hue hub and two bulbs... and a number of hue candelabra bulbs (and some other stuff, that is stand alone)

I live in an old hundred yr old bungalow, so do not want to infringe too much on the character of the house. I'm mostly interested in white light and so all of the bulbs I've purchased are hue ambiance. I have few, if any, opportunities to install switches (I think) because all my switches are old fashioned push button. The house has many wall sconces (switches at the sconce) so the hue candelabra have been great as I can control in a group. I have started experimenting with light strips (building my own from aliexpress parts, hues are too expensive) as I have 9 ft curved ceilings with picture rail to conceal the lights. These are colored strips, but other than Christmas and Halloween, I'm still interested in only the white light.

I've played around with the hue hub, some bulbs and one light strip. I'm kind of spooked by the hue hub as I've lost contact with the hub, and had to factory reset and the hub has lost contact with bulbs or cannot find my Quotra strip light (even though it has paired before) - I don't know why these stopped working. I suspect previous config with Echo hubs..??

The Phillips Hue scenes are cool, but since I am not that interested in color, I'm now wondering if I need the Hue hub at all..? I currently have all zigbee lights running off echo devices. Not quite the control of the color led strip, but so what... am I missing something?

My other question is, since I bought HE to have central control of devices, should I start moving lights to HE and enable Alexa, or better off leaving lights on Echo hub and using HE for other controls? Advantages, disadvantages?

Thanks for your thoughts!


#2

I can tell you what I did. I am in no way an "expert," and I'm sure that those who are will be happy to come along and tell me where I went wrong. :wink:

I have HE, a Hue bridge, Hue bulbs that are mostly ambience but one color just for fun. I have Alexa dots and a spot, but none that have hubs. I have various motion sensors, smart plugs (mostly as repeaters), and one GE/Jasco smart in-wall switch.

I use HE as the main control center. My understanding with Hue bulbs are that they make lousy repeaters and can bog down your zigbee mesh, so it's best to leave them connected to the Hue bridge and use the Hue Bridge Integration app to make them visible to HE.

All of the Hue lights are visible to Alexa via the Alexa Hue skill, not through HE. I do use Alexa to verbally turn lights on and of sometimes.

I use the Amazon Echo Skill in HE to make all of my other, non-light devices visible to Alexa. This includes virtual switches and contact sensors that I use to trigger rules in HE. For example, "Alexa, good morning," puts the house in day mode, and "Alexa, good night," puts the house in night mode. The Alexa routines in these cases turn on virtual switches that trigger mode changes and rules in HE.

I have light scenes set up on HE that I use in rules and with a connected Logitech Harmony hub (i.e. the lights dim when I turn on the Apple TV -- that sort of thing). I have similar scenes set up on the Hue bridge that I use with Alexa.

Is this the "right" way to do things? I don't know. It's just what's working for me right now.


#3

@jabecker has it totally right about the Hue bulbs. They make lousy repeaters but there is a little more to it. They make lousy repeaters for devices that run the ZHA (zigbee home automation) profile because they run on the ZLL (zigbee light link) profile. Hue bulbs make wonderful repeaters for each other, that is why Hue doesn't have to have repeaters in their line. All of their device make wonderful repeaters for each other. And from what I can tell, you currently don't have any other Zigbee devices connected to your Hubitat. If that's the case, there is no reason you can't pair the bulbs directly to Hubitat and ditch the Hue bridge. However, if you ever want to invest in motion sensors or contact sensors, I'll tell you that the zigbee ones far outperform the z-wave ones in terms of response speed. And they all run on the ZHA profile. So, if you ever add any, you'll want to move the Hue back off of HE so as to not screw up the sensors. So...it all boils down to what you want to accomplish and what your plans are for the future.


#4

Thanks, this is helpful... esp. since I've recently started sorting out differences between ZHA and ZLL. So here is my current setup/config, which I should have done in first post:

HE hub -- 4 zwave kwikset smart locks, 3 Aeotic zwave repeaters
Echo Show hub -- 11 phillips hue ambience bulbs, 1 Quotra RGB WW led strip
Phillips Hue hub -- nothing, after initial success with bulbs and strip, I lost the hub, reset it and now cannot find the strip (maybe it was not properly un-paired from Echo hub)
Harmony Hub -- TV, AV receiver, Roku
Wifi hub -- 2 smart plugs
No hub -- 5 Sengled motion detecting bulbs.

I have also purchased 3 Gledopto RGB+CCT led controllers for future light strips. So you are right, all ZLL lights. Since the house is old, probably not a lot of need for motion or contact sensors (the motion bulbs seem to satisfy that need, at least for now). Since I have a zwave mesh already setup, maybe a few zwave sensors would not be too bad(?) I assume lots of flexibility comes with ZHA devices...??

I'd like HE to be the master controller (it's why I bought). So I'm wondering how to make that happen, the least painful way. The HE hub is ZHA, ZLL(?), Zwave and Wifi, Echo hub is ZLL, Wifi. Hue hub is ZLL (other protocols?). What makes most sense:

Can HE link to Echo hub in the same way it links to Hue hub? (if so maybe direction is solved)
Shall I move bulbs directly to HE?
Shall I move bulbs to Hue hub and then link to HE?


#5

You seem a little confused still. Keep the bulbs on the Hue Bridge. Make sure your bridge Zigbee channel and the HE Zigbee channel are different. You will do best to keep them several channels apart. You can check the Zigbee channel of the Hue Bridge in the Hue app via Settings > Hue Bridges > tap the i to the right of your bridge name. The Hue will do fine on channel 25, so then set your HE to something quite a bit lower like channels 20.

Install the Hue Integration app if you have not done that already, and control your Hue lights on the Hue Bridge that way. Here's a great video from Philips that explains what to avoid to get the best results from a Hue Bridge. Keep in mind that while this is generally how Zigbee Mesh networks work, the bulbs should only be repeating signals on the Hue Bridge. You don't want them on HE. They will do a great job repeating for each other on the Hue Bridge, but they completely screw up the Zigbee mesh on HE when mixed with other Zigbee devices.

Alexa can communicate with the hub and the Hue bridge at the same time, and so can HE. However most people suggest keeping the Hue Skill off Alexa, and instead using just the HE Amazon Echo Skill to control the Hue Bridge via the HE Hue Integration. I will say that is not how I do it, but I'm not bothered by the switches and Alexa being out of sync by a minute. It doesn't cause a problem in my house with the way we use Alexa and physical switches and buttons.


#6

Hi SHP, thanks for your reply.

Nope, not confused, that is my current setup. All lights, plugs, rooms, groups, routines are currently controlled by Echo hubs. Nothing is currently on my Hue hub. The reason for this is that I bought Echo bundled devices (starter kits) before buying a Hue hub starter kit. I'm trying to figure out (advantages and disadvantages) -- if it is worth it to move these devices, rooms, groups, routines to Hue, or to move them for control directly from HE. Or to leave them where they are. Make sense?


#7

Your lights currently connected to the Echo won't help you get them into HE. The Alexa skill is one way to Amazon. They either need to be paired directly to the hub or via the Hue bridge. All the points I listed earlier should help you decide which. Personally, if you're never going to have other zigbee devices, pair to the Hub directly. I love my zigbee motion sensors though, so my ZLL stuff is paired to my Hue.


#8

OK, I'll opt for maximum flexibility. I'll separate channels and move lights to the Hue Hub... and go from there.

Thank you both for the feedback.


#9

OK, I've now unpaired all lights from Echo Plus and put them on the Hue Hub... was not as hard as I thought. I've enabled Hubitat Skill on Amazon App, and installed Amazon Echo Skill on Hubitat (I assume I need to do both?) - Do I now need to setup Rooms/Groups in the Amazon App to mirror the Rooms/Groups in HE hub?


#10

You should not have to install the amazon app in Hubitat. it should do that automatically when you add the skill to Alexa. Are your devices syncing from HE to Alexa?


#11

Ah, I thought I might have installed, lol, yes the Alexa skill installed the Alexa HE app, and the exclude Hue devices was switched on, I switched off and now see the devices in the Alexa App. Do I need to group in Alexa app? Sheesh, this gets confusing when you've got apps amd skills and skills that install app app that's called a skill.

Edit. I have rooms defined in Hue, and they were brought to Alexa app as light devices. It looks like I need to install Groups and Scenes in Hubitat.... I'll try that. A newbie obviously. :slight_smile:


#12

You can put modular switches/dimmers behind the faceplate.

They need Neutral however.

Aeon Nano series and Qubino Flush series are the solutions. They replace your pushbutton switch FUNCTION. You move the wires from the existing switches to the corresponding lug on the Aeon/Qubino. Then you wire (using thinner wires) the existing switches back to the corresponding lugs of the Aeon/Qubino. Then mash it all back in the tiny space.

The existing switch only tells the Aeon/Qubino to go on/off and it's the Aeon/Qubino doing the heavy lifting function.


#13

Yup, 100+ yr old house here. No neutrals.


#14

Knob and tube?


#15

Probably, in the lath and plaster walls. All of the exposed basement runs were updated to rigid or flexible conduit... before my time. It is all rubber insulated wiring.... which is great, as long as you don't touch or move it. :slight_smile:


#16

Oh my goodness. If you wanted to hire somebody to come in and rewire it but not cause any noticeable change it would cost you a FORTUNE. Yeah, I'd stick with the smartbulbs too. Probably your best solution at this point.