Firstly, I am going to apologise in advance for the amount of detail I am posting, but I have a large and fairly complex setup; hence I have to be super cautious before making any changes. That said, I hope some people can make the time to help me.
My general request is that I'm looking for some support to understand the process to migrate to Hubitat from Fibaro & Node-Red, as well as how the solution would work across a number of areas.
I’ve been reading on the Hubitat forum for a bit, specifically around people’s experience with moving to Hubitat from other systems, so the following summarises my residual questions / concerns as of writing. I’ll update this post as I learn more, to narrow down/focus the questions.
Pending on how my research goes, I’ll pick up a Hubitat C-7 and start testing, though I wonder if it’s worth waiting for Thread to be released….
Background – My Fibaro Z-Wave Network
I currently have 2x Home Centre 2s in a master/slave setup with exactly 200 z-wave devices and I also run Node-Red for most of my automations via the excellent node-red-contrib-fibaro-devices node.
It is important to note that I do not have a traditional setup. I am planning to eventually move all automations from my HC2s entirely to Node-Red, so I have limited need from a controller for complex or even simple automations. I’ve summarised what I think I need in the list below.
There may be (there probably are) really cool features within Hubitat that I’m completely unaware of. Please tell me if I’m missing a trick.
Background – My Node-Red Setup
My Node-Red setup is made up of back-end automations: Scheduled tasks and Triggered actions as well as a series of UIs I’ve build for a large touchscreen (anything from about 13 inch up, and currently mainly running on a 22inch touchscreen in my kitchen). The UI’s are built using the (amazing) uibuilder-node. I’ve written them in VueJS (front-end framework), which provides limitless opportunity. It’s simply the best / most fun I’ve ever had developing my system, and I currently have almost 10 interactive UI screens, covering: Interactive floorplan, Automate Heating, Automated Lighting, Instant Hot Water and Cylinder Heating as well as multiple links direct through to Grafana dashboards, populated via InfluxDB, sourced from NR.
Initial Thoughts on Target State Hubitat Setup
I live in a 3 story house with a garden room and I'm looking to move from 2x HC2s to 4x Hubitat C-7s, where one of the C-7s would be the master and the other three would be slaves. The reason for 4x C-7s is that I have a residual of about 65x 300 series z-wave devices, that I don’t want to upgrade, and I also need to split my kitchen into two zones, all explained below:
a) 1x C-7 near the centre of the house to connect all 300 series devices across the 3 floors (garden room will all be 500 series). This C-7 will have about 65x 300 series devices on it. They are all low use.
b) 2x C-7s on the ground floor (with only 500 series devices connected) to connect my garden room, all ground floor rooms and some 1st floor rooms, and mainly to split my kitchen across two controllers as it has 11 lights which can sometimes show slight delays (1-2 seconds) when I turn them all on / off at the same time and when preforming multiple sequential changes. The 2x C-7s, for arguments sake, will have about 45x 500 series devices connected to each of them
c) 1x C-7 at the top of the house for all of the other 500 series devices on the 2nd floor and some on the 1st floor – again, for arguments sake, the C-7 will have about 45x 500 series devices connected to it
As some of you know, the slowest z-wave device on a network/controller determines the overall network speed, so I need to split 300 series from 500 series.
The 1x C-7 running a network that will only operate at 300 series speeds, should (I hope) work very well, as all of the 300 series devices are very low use or relatively low reporting sensors, so there won’t (shouldn’t) be any performance issues with them all on one network. All my high use devices (mostly all) connected to physical circuits, are 500 series now and operate much better than when they were 300 series, even though my controller is still 300 series.
Go figure, 300 series just aren’t great on medium to large networks when you need fast switching, not in my experience anyway.
I’m expecting the 3x C-7s, that will operate on 500 series devices only, despite the C-7 controller being 700 series, to sing. I can’t see why they wouldn’t.
All C-7s, will be hardwired into the network and all connected to the same switch, so that message transfer between the master and slaves is superfast.
My 2x HC2 which are 300 series controllers, with one having about 120 devices connected to it and the other about 80, work reliably, so I’m hoping for a really rock solid network with the above setup.
Question: Any initial thoughts on the setup including any issues, complexities, limitations in functionality and/or performance limitations?
Functionality I Am Looking For from the C-7s
Easy to include / exclude of devices
Easy to configure devices including (very few) associations
Ability to group devices into rooms – or something similar, depending on how Hubitat works
Ability to mesh rebuild, just in case
A simple Mobile app to control individual devices, infrequently
Detailed device state history would be (really) nice
Integrations: Alexa (a must), Satel (nice to have), Sonos (even less nice to have)
A super-stable Node-Red Node for Hubitat: node-red-contrib-hubitat?
Stability and More About the Hubitat C-7
1. Easy to include / exclude of devices
Below is a summary of the devices I have installed:
|AEOTEC 4-in-1mains powered||300||2|
|AEOTEC 6-in-1 battery powered||500||3|
|AEOTEC 6-in-1 mains powered||500||7|
|Fibaro Plug EU||300||8|
|Fibaro Plug UK||500||4|
|Fibaro Switch Double||500||16|
|Fibaro Switch Single||500||8|
I’m not fussed if the Fibaro Swipe doesn’t work well with Hubitat. It can go.
Question: I have a z-wave zniffer, so can packet sniff when including / excluding devices to be confident that I know if each action has worked or not, so my question here is how well (generally) does the include/exclude process work?
On my HC2s it can run super smooth sometimes, most of the times it’s a little frustrating, occasionally it’s a right PITA.
I have written a guide on the Fibaro Forum on maintaining and repairing z-wave networks:
The reason for mentioning the guide I wrote is two-fold:
- It may be helpful for people to read, it’s gold dust - a collection of a few super-users experience
- It frames the context of my questions, I’m not asking how to migrate devices or how to build the network itself (sequencing etc), it’s more about the user experience and Hubitat specific processes
This leads to the 2nd (and more important) area, device configuration.
2. Easy to configure devices including (very few) associations
Question: Perhaps more important than the above, how complex is it to configure the above devices?
I will continue my research to find out more e.g. does habitat use templates, what’s required to include and configure a device. I did find the link to the docs Hubitat com – with a list of compatible devices. It’s initially concerning as many of my Fibaro devices are not included on the list!
I also read this post on the forum: “Don't ever buy anything z-wave that isn't z-wave plus.”
I’m hoping that’s just a comment about how much better 500/700 series is than 300 series, which I know from first-hand experience and have already setup my network to work very well despite still having so many 300 series devices and operating on a 300 series controller.
Question: Can you give me an early heads up on any issues/complexities to configuring the above devices with Hubitat? Am I going to fall fowl when I try to configure devices i.e. is lack of compatibility going to be a deal-breaker?
Side-Question1: I am expecting to have to painfully exclude Fibaro devices from the Hubitat and include into my HC2 to deploy firmware upgrades, and then reverse back to include back into the Hubitat. Does anyone have a smart solution to do this i.e. is there an easier alternative?
Side-Question2: Does Hubitat work off devices IDs or device names? Please tell me device names. Not a huge issue as NR works off devices names, so no added complexity when having to exclude and include a device again as you can keep the name the same, requiring no subsequent code changes to update new device IDs J
3. Ability to group devices into rooms – or something similar, depending on how Hubitat works
I’m quite flexible on this, all I really need is a logical way of grouping devices. In the HC2 you can create areas and rooms, so I have areas for things like:
- Living rooms
And rooms like:
- Master Bedroom
- Heating Central
I had an initial search for videos on this, but haven’t stumbled across one yet, but admittedly I was focused on the Mobile App. Next I’ll search for Hubitat setup videos, so I’m not looking necessarily for an answer here to something I can readily find, the question is more to users of the system…
Question: What’s the art of the possible here? How well does it work in the BUI and Mobile App?
4. Ability to mesh rebuild, just in case
Question: It goes without saying that I need to be able to mesh rebuild individual devices (rarely) or the whole network (perhaps only once, if ever), so how does it work?
Question: Does the Hubitat have any nice network diagnostic tools or other nice diagnostic tools?
5. A simple Mobile app to control individual devices, infrequently
I only need a simple mobile app (that hopefully can structure devices into rooms (as per topic 3 above) to occasionally inspect a device and turn it on/off. That’s all. If there is a way to integrate NR flows into the app, that would be absolutely amazing, but if not, it’s fine too.
Question: The mobile app looks like a relatively new addition, is it stable yet? Can it do the basic stuff I want in an easy way?
6. Detailed device state history would be (really) nice
This is a bit of a dream given how bad state history is managed on the HC2.
Question: I’ve looked into HASS, and state history for devices is excellent on the HASS. I’m hoping Hubitat have something close to HASS, if not, how good is it? Strengths? Weaknesses?
Why do I need device state history? Mainly for debugging.
7. Integrations: Alexa (a must), Satel (nice to have), Sonos (even less nice to have)
I have close to 10 Alexa devices. It works relatively well, but not perfectly with the HC2.
I have one issue that I cannot get rid of: if I say turn [device] on or off to Alexa, I almost always get a response along the lines of the “I couldn’t find a device or group name [device name] in [my name’s] profile.”
I’ve tried everything. Completely removing all my Alexa devices, resetting my account, creating a new account, spending hours on the phone to Amazon support… nothing works. I can only think it’s the Fibaro-Alexa integration itself and/or that I have too many devices and it’s a timing issue causing the response or maybe something to do with the way the master/slave setup works – who knows, I curtained don’t. I wonder if it would go away when using Hubitat. To be clear, it’s just an annoying “feature”. Not a deal breaker, also not expecting a response here, but would be pleasantly surprised is someone had a fix / explanation that makes sense.
Question: how well does the Alexa integration work?
My satel alarm system integrates with my HC2, so that the Satel motion sensors can trigger automated lighting, automated audio etc. If there isn’t a Hubitat integration (which would be disappointing, but not a surprise), then I will continue trying to get a Node-Red Satel Node integration to work… having failed already on previous attempts.
If I can’t get either to work, it would be a deal breaker to start with, but might be a sign that I have to replace the (20+) Satel sensors with zigbee/z-wave sensors.
Question: I have googled Satel/Hubitat and it doesn’t look like there is support – any thoughts?
Not sure if I care too much about this one. Sonos works well with NR. I think I’m more interested to see what’s been done in the community.
8. A super-stable Node-Red Node for Hubitat: node-red-contrib-hubitat 1.7.3?
I’ve started to search the Hubitat forum for the NR contrib and have stumbled across the post “Node-RED nodes for Hubitat”.
It looks promising, but at the end of the day, it simply needs to be rock solid and fully functional with all devices.
The NR contrib for Fibaro (fibaro-devices) is absolutely excellent. I can control all devices on my Master Hc2 from NR and I get near instant response times with return messages.
Question: I’m hoping that “fblackburn1”, the maintainer of node-red-contrib-hubitat, can comment, on the questions above, as well as actual users of the node?
Question: I never bothered with mobile geo-fencing on the hc2. It was too painful. I wonder if it works well on Hubitat and whether it can be accessed through NR? That would definitely open up a possibility or two.
9. Stability and More About the Hubitat C-7
Question: perhaps the most important question, how stable is the Hubitat C-7?
I’ve been reading multiple posts on the forum like this: “Lack of troubleshooting capability when hub slows down/crashed. Very manual/tedious process to try and figure out what's going on.”
To contrast, I bought my HC2 around 2012. It was a nightmare experience requiring many complete system rebuilds and many HC2 firmware upgrades until the system became kind-of stable around 2019, which coincided with me buying a zniffer and fixing, once and for all, my zwave network. At around that time Fibaro stopped developing the HC2, moving to the HC3. I’ve spoken to many users of the HC3 and they report that it is light years ahead of the HC2, but the HC3’s cost nearly £500 each and I'm wary of Fibaro.
As stated above, I have a zniffer, so will sort out any network issues myself, but how stable is Hubitat really?
Do upgrades frequently / infrequently break your system?
How rapidly is the ecosystem being developed?
What’s still on the roadmap that you really want / need?
I’m deeply concerned about having to upgrade my controller more than once a decade (max), but surely Hubitat need to flog off a new controller every few years else there cash flow will dry up i.e. How on earth is Hubitat going to survive in the long run given how cheap the controllers are?
Thank you in advance for anyone that has the patience to read my post and reply