Moving from a “dumb” smart system to a “smart” smart system, need some advice

Hi all,
So I got a Hubitat Elevation hub for Christmas, and am preparing to move to the next level of automation.

Currently, I have 3 WiFi based “smart” bulbs made by Geeni, and a single WiFi “smart” plug. These are controlled thru 2 Google Home Minis. I put smart in quotes because I know that these aren’t as functional or as good as the Z-Wave and other formats, but they’re what I had to start with, and I would like to integrate them for now and then eventually start upgrading the system now that I have a real hub.

But I don’t know where to start. I have the hub all set up and added the Google Home App for the Hubitat, but now I don’t know what to do next. It shows the Google Home in my list of Apps, but I have no idea what that actually means. Am I able to control my light bulbs with the Hubitat, using the Home as some kind of bridge, or are these bulbs just useless for now, and I’ll have to wait until I buy new ones to actually use the hub? Can I use all of the Google Home features thru the hub now that I have it added to the Hubitat?

I’m excited to start on this new journey, already having fun using the stuff just on the Home. I’m just a tad overwhelmed at the moment. I asked last summer about where to start and what hubs were really hubs, and which ones weren’t(Such as the Google Hub), and I got some great responses, so I’m looking forward to any advice folks can offer.

Thanks, and Merry Christmas! :smile: :santa:

Except for Yeelight bulbs, there are no other WiFi bulbs on the List of Compatible Devices - Hubitat Documentation and no WiFi plugs (sockets) of any type. There may however be some user created drivers for other WiFi devices and you'd have to do a search on here to find any. I don't use any WiFi devices like this myself so I'm not sure what is out there.

The Google Home app allows you to control the devices already connected to HE from Google Assistant on your phone, Google mini's, etc. but does not give HE access to other devices that Google may control. Once you have some devices connected to HE, you can select which ones you will expose to Google Home.

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Welcome to the communities!
Quite often WiFi devices are built on some common control platform. The devices can be made by an OEM and then sold under various labels. Unless someone knows what that might be, you will need to dig and see if you can find a match and check in the communities to see if anyone has created a driver.
If they do support IFTTT you can use the built-in IFTTT app to control them.

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But hey, there’s a brighter side. The Boxing Day Sales are just around the corner so go find that Zigbee device you’ve been waiting to buy. :laughing:

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OK, followup...

Assuming that I buy new bulbs, and buy other equipment down the line, what does everyone recommend primarily? Zigbee or Z-wave?

I see that some of the issues from Zigbee are a lack of standards enforcement, so some devices just don't work like they're supposed to, and Zigbee has a shorter range. But Z-Wave doesn't transmit as much data. DO people mix and match, or do you all find one preferred protocol and stick with it?

If you mix and match, what's the best/recommended solution for light bulbs and smart plugs? Those would be the first things I'd upgrade. We like to dim the lights, and we like to change colors, but nothing more exciting. With the smart plug, so far we used it for the Christmas tree (It was fun to tell Google "Turn off Christmas"), so at this stage, I'm not getting too crazy. That's for later. :slight_smile:

I have a few Z-wave devices and many Zigbee. I like Zigbee better for battery devices because Z-wave seems to respond slower. Battery life on Z-wave is better, however. Z-Wave is great for mains powered devices, like wall switches.

If you buy Zigbee bulbs, get ones that do not act as repeaters, such as Sengled. Lightify bulbs do repeat, but not reliably.

You are going to find many people will have different answers as to what is best. In the end, it's what works best for you. I have a mix of both Zigbee and Z-wave devices in my home and both work equally well. I use mostly Zigbee but some types of devices are only available in Z-Wave so that makes my choice for me in that case. For bulbs, if you are going to go Zigbee and put them on the HE, then you may want to stick with Sengled bulbs. Sengled bulbs do not repeat and bulbs that do generally do it badly for devices other than bulbs and this can cause issues in the Zigbee mesh. Most of my bulbs are Philips Hue and they are connected to a Hue hub that HE has native support for so they show up as devices in HE. I also have have about 5 Sengled bulbs directly on HE that work well also. I have no experience with Z-Wave bulbs. However, the key to either Zigbee or Z-Wave devices being reliable is to have a good mesh for both with enough mains powered devices that repeat for the battery devices that don't. This community is really great at helping when someone has an issue. All you have to do is post and you will get several people willing to help.

I'm at about 50% Lutron Clear Connect, 25% Zigbee, and 25% Z-Wave (roughly). The Lutron connection is from the Caseta Pro hub to the Hubitat via Telnet over TCP/IP on my wired LAN.

Zwave sucks. Mesh instability with larger networks, and the fact that you have to unpair devices before you can join them to a new hub. I had some that were impossible to unpair or reset after being paired and needed to go to the trash when I switched hubs.

Zigbee for me now. And moving to Caseta for light switches.

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Your experience with Zigbee va Zwave is the exact opposite of my own. It’s interesting how I seem to find this quite often. My experience is of my Zigbee devices, they a next to impossible to get to connect. I have spent up to an hour trying to connect my ST buttons, Sengled bulbs, ewelink outlets and/or Ikea outlet Zigbee devices to my hub with nothing but frustration. As for my zwave devices, they all connect practically instantly. I have occasionally removed one from the mesh then re-added and had to re-exclude more than once until they would re add, but that has always been minor compared to the full blown war I have to engage in every single time I add a Zigbee device. This has been true for both my HE AND my ST hub, so it doesn’t seem to be a hub issue on my end.
Frankly, I wish I could just use a single standard for everything, unfortunately, each has its strength and weakness. It seems it really depends on what the market offers based upon what you want to do. Either way, each standard needs a strong mesh, so the more the merrier. There is also the fact that Zigbee tends to be cheaper than zwave (depending on product). Zwave seems to be the better choice for hard wired installations in my opinion when considering price.

When you talk about the need for a strong mesh system, would that also include what I have as a Google Fiber mesh internet system, or does it just mean a mesh system based on various devices around one’s house?

Devices. Both Z-Wave and Zigbee are considered to be Mesh networking systems because additional devices may be able to route for other devices thus they contribute to a mesh network architecture.

I say "may" because, generally, plugged in ("mains powered devices") can serve as routers for other devices. Generally, battery powered devices do not do this.

That's WiFi, what's being talked about here are mesh networks for zigbee and zwave devices, both of which are separate from each other and WiFi as well...

Do 'mains powered' devices include light bulbs that are dependent on the light switch being in the 'On' position? Or are they considered 'Always On' devices?

You wouldn't want a device that is routing for other devices to be inadvertently shut off as that would disrupt the traffic to the devices that are routing through that device.

There are some bulbs that work as routers . . . apparently some of them are extremely problematic. I don't use any "smart" bulbs in my home so I will leave your question for others who have far more experience with those devices.

Smart Bulbs should always be left powered on. Otherwise, you won't be able to control them from Hubitat but would first have to turn on the switch, then control them from hubitat.

In general though, if you are going to have a large zigbee mesh, depending on what kind of smartbulbs you are going to use, you may find that you have trouble having them on the same mesh network as other zigbee devices like motion sensors or contact sensors. Many people have chosen to "segregate" their zigbee bulbs on a separate Hubitat hub or a Hue hub (if the bulbs are Hue compatible) as well as other DIY zigbee solutions.

The issue is that some of these bulbs are not wonderful repeaters. Some have small message buffers, some just don't have very robust firmware. The issue is, they try really hard to be repeaters....then fail miserably at it. But different bulbs have different levels of success with this. Cree and GE Link are considered the worst. Osram a cloase seconds. Some people have good luck with genuine Hue Bulbs on their primary zigbee mesh but others do not. In general, you level of success will depend on what other devices you have your network. If the bulbs are the only zigbee repeaters, you're not going to be very happy with any other zigbee device's performance on your netowrk.

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