I have been an Insteon user for a long time... but never a very happy one. My gear is getting old and starting to poop out now and instead of throwing more dough at Insteon I am looking to change course entirely and try something new. A friend turned me on to Hubitat, and here I am.
I have the usual Zwave/Zigbee/Lutron questions but there is still a lot of material here for me to find and read, so I won't go there. I do have a couple of other questions about the Hubitat Way though, maybe oddly specific questions, but they are born of painful Insteon experience. Many thanks in advance if you can shed any light on these topics.
Device settings management
In the Hubitat world, is it possible to review your devices and change their individual settings (like dimmer ramp up time) from a computer or mobile app? This was somewhat possible on Insteon via their Hub and app, but you still had to go to the device and use a Vulcan nerve pinch to put it into programming mode. This was always quite tedious. If better remote management were possible with one switch family and not another, it would be a big selling point for me.
With Insteon manual unlinking was required before before removing devices from the network, which was a PITA, because again you were doing obscure button presses. With Hubitat, is it possible to maintain your links in some kind of centralized fashion? Is unlinking at the device with an obscure key sequence just something we're stuck with, even with modern gear? Not critical, but sure nice to have.
Remote controls options
Insteon had some nice (when they worked) remote controls. Are there any Hubitat-friendly switch families with remote controls giving you control over 4-6 devices? I've become accustomed to having remotes like these, so something similar would be really great to find. (The Lutron pico remote looks nice... it just doesn't seem to control enough devices.)
Yes if the dimmer supports it. You usually have an option like below to set it for each device.
You can also define this in automatons so doesn't always have to be the same value for a device. i.e set it to 2 seconds normally but have an automation that takes 5 seconds to dim the lights instead.
This is done via a browser through the local interface of your hub and is very easy.
The HE mobile app is really just for using dashboards and geolocation if you want to use it but don't have to.
This will depend on if the device is zigbee or zwave.
Zigbee is usually as simple as holding a reset button on a device to reset it but some devices may be a little more complicated.
Zwave do need to be excluded on HE first before removing. I've never actually done this so maybe someone else can comment on it but it seems simple enough.
In HE these are button controllers and you can assign action to each button.
This is again device depend on how many buttons they have and if they support double tapping, holding and release of buttons on how many devices you can control.
Here is an example of what I have for the 2 gang button device I have in my kitchen
Your use case and if you end up having a technology preference would really dictate the devices to recommend.
Maybe your gear is older than mine, or it’s the 2-wire stuff that does seem to fail faster. I’m using an integration that @cwwilson08 wrote and have been for over a year. It’s one of the most solid integrations I have.
If you don’t mind having an extra RPi, running two simple applications (or a Mac, or Docker containers, etc.), then you can run your existing stuff locally. You’re only ever going to need a connection to add devices. Otherwise it does need a connection to the cloud at all, which frankly is where I experienced most of my issues with Insteon before. Now I don’t even really think about the fact that I still have some Insteon devices, because it never gives me any trouble.
I checked my records and my newest Insteon stuff is 5-6 years old, and some of it is 10+ years old. It's all the sort that needs a neutral wire, or wall modules/motion sensors. Lots of it was hardware version 1, because I am too dumb to not buy the new things.
I routinely have problems with links failing and needing to be re-established, missed commands, and now more switch hardware is starting to fail, too. And when I do need to re-link, what used to be routine has become unreliable and frustrating. And this is not a complicated network, it's basic stuff, maybe a dozen total switches and remote controls.
Overall I probably had a 20-25% device mortality rate after a year or two in service. Insteon is the only company I have patronized that had the new CEO send a message to all customers saying essentially, "I know things suck, sorry, we'll fix it."
It worked tolerably for a while, there is a reason I was in the system for a decade, but it's problem after problem now that the surviving gear is getting much older.
I am sure the newer Insteon gear is better but with so many other HA options out there now, I really want to experience some new problems for a change. However once my Hubitat arrives I am sure I will play with the Insteon integration you linked.
I've been with HE for about 2.5 years now. I have never set up a remote or had dashboards hanging all over the house. I fail to find a need for them. My idea of a smart home is for my home to "seemingly" know what I want. So when I enter a room, turn on a tv, or perform some other task, I like my house to interact accordingly. Like peas and carrots. So, my question is .. Is there a huge need be old skool with dashes and remotes, or is there a challenge to be "hands free" in your future? Curious on your thoughts.
That's a fair question. The answer is that I like to do projects in small steps, and to me, the first step towards an actual smart home is demonstrating reliable remote control of devices. If a simple dimmer remote won't work reliably, then adding a sensor and logic to the system won't work reliably either.
Once I can reliably adjust the bedroom lights without getting out of bed, I will be very happy to consider automation. If I was not interested in automation, I would not have just ordered my HE. But I need to get the fundamentals down first.
My HA experience has been limited to "vintage" Insteon, which has not been very reliable due to the high hardware mortality rate, and general flakiness. For example the remotes that I use tend to undergo a spontaneous factory reset, losing all programming, about once a year. Any other module could do the same thing, though less often.
My most used Insteon switch recently had a spectacular failure. Whenever any other Insteon device sends a signal, the switch starts flashing the attached light. That was the final straw.
I've actually hated buttons and remotes because everything has to be programmed. So, I get and respect that, but I've managed to get there without the middle man. I DO have Hubitat on my phone, which is next to my bed, so if something doesn't turn off correctly or at all, I have the dashboard there to power it off. Provided I've remembered to add it, or just go to the device on the hub ui and turn it off so I can fix it tomorrow. Sometimes it doesn't work, sometimes I surprise myself, but remotes just seem like a lot of extra work. Some will argue that because that's what they're used to and I can't refute that. I'm just a jump in head first kind of girl and my husband laid the edict early on "I will NOT dance, sing, beg, or do anything of the like to get a light to turn on." So I've followed this order to keep the HAF at top level.
To me, the thing to keep in mind, more so, is your mesh. It's different in Hubitat. It's one of the most argued issues here. So it's important to wrap your head around the fact that you get to and need to automate more because the stronger the mesh, the better things run. I've automated things that I didn't necessarily need, just because I could to fill in a communication gap. Locks are ... well ... not easy. So, you can use a remote entirely by choice, but keep in mind that reliability lies in the beginning communications of devices. Maybe that's why I was able to skip the buttons/remotes/dashes and dive right in to hands free. I'll be excited to hear about your HE journey. I think that the integration that @SmartHomePrimer mentioned is right up your alley. I have a feeling you'll be in that rabbit hole before you knew you'd jumped in.
Definitely Insteon remotes are not good. I don’t have any, but my friend and colleague at The Digital Media Zone has tons and says the same, despite having a contract relationship with Insteon, he doesn’t hold back when it comes to the remotes.
He likes Pico, just as I do. Thanks to Hubitat, I have local Lutron Pico Remote Control of my locally connected Insteon. Works fantastic. My Insteon devices are about 5 years old. Only the early gen outlet gives my trouble, and is so very minor. A factory reset cleared most of the problems I had with it a while back.
As @april.brandt points out, Zigbee and Z-Wave are more sensitive to how the mesh is built. Both of those are single mesh technologies, not dual mesh like the Insteon.
The dual mesh is a huge advantage, and one of my dimmers actually would not work if it wasn’t for powerline half of the mesh.
I totally get wanting to be all in on a smart home. But even if I did that, a bedside remote for the lights seems unavoidable. There is no rule that will be able to tell when I want that light at a particular level.
My bedside Insteon remote has ONE working button left. I have until that button fails to figure out which switch family to go with.
Too bad the Inovelli Red dimmers are out of stuck for the next couple of months, they seemed promising.
Z-Wave is bad for lighting scenes and would still required something else to have good remotes.
Insteon is a great lighting system but the reliability and death knoll of Insteon has been looming for years now. I have a Insteon hub and never used it because of the mobile centric and cloud nature of it. I run ISY's for Insteon which have been great but still link problems do occur from time to time.
Lutron is top dog in lighting control systems. All Lutron system are highly reliable and just work. The entry level Caseta is about the cost of Insteon dimmer's but Caseta is not easily configurable for fade times or dynamic adjustment of such like Insteon. To get this you have to step up to RadioRa 2 Select which has those features and options but has it's limitations as well, most notably the occupancy sensors are not preseted external to other control systems. The next step up is RadioRa 2 which has all of the bells and whistles and price tag to match. There's HomeWorks which is on the much higher end spectrum.
End all Lutron is the superior option in lighting and flexibility. You're not stuck with a single control system either so if Hubitat doesn't work for you then move on as Lutron is supported by any control system worth using.
Notes to be aware of....
If you go Caseta you need the "Pro" bridge
Pico's work across family lines.
Caseta switches/dimmers are not compatible with any other family line
RR2 Select switches/dimmers also work with RR2 so if you want to upgrade you just need to upgrade the main repeater
I think you could get close, though. I like to get creative. This is how I trigger home, night and quiet times. Quiet time is when one person is in bed. At any time of the day morning or night. controls the fan in the bedroom, the light scheme and a few other things surrounding the bedroom and the rest of the house to keep things muted. When night hits. Everything starts shutting down over the period of 5 minutes, the house is dark, the outside lights turn off, the bedroom lights (at any level) turn off. I'll post my link here, not to hijack your thread, but to encourage your creativity. Your only limitation is your imagination.
So if I move up to RR2 Select it looks like I am committed to $120 dimmer switches, ouch. However a reliable $120 part is better than burning through 2 unreliable $50 parts.
I guess the Lutron way is to use Pico remotes as much as possible... so if I had a multi-way circuit, I could put in one dimmer, bypass the rest of the switches, and put Picos in those spots? My house is lousy with needlessly complex multi-way switches. The previous owners wanted to be able to turn on the outside floodlights from ANYWHERE apparently.
I have a few more questions if you're game...
Is RR-SEL-REP2-BL the RR2 hub?
Where is a good place to buy RR2 Select stuff? Lots of sites say "call for quote" which is no fun.
Are ALL Picos compatible across lines? I see people here using the 2/5 button models but I wonder about the other guys like:
Probably I will end up with Zwave or Zigbee devices too.... for example I have an outside light on a timer that I need to get off Insteon, because the light is on or off at random times through the day. I might pop an Inovelli switch in there so my HE has at least ONE smart device while I figure out what way to go for the rest of the switches.