New Home Choices

We've been building a new house for the past 9 months or so. We have another month or so, and it is time to finally order all of my smart home items.

I have decided to go with hubitat and konnected for my alarm system.

I am most likely going go with a Racchio sprinkler controller.

Beyond that, I had decided months ago to use google, with Nest Hello, Nest Protect, Swann POE security cameras, and Lutron Caseta switches.

Locks and garage doors openers are still undecided.

With the recent Nest/Google news I am now rethinking my approach.

I also can't use Caseta switches. The majority of our switches need to be brown, so It looks like I will have to go with Leviton.

My biggest question is concerning Google/Nest vs. Alexa. I've made a decision several times, but end up changing my mind.

What to do?


If budget allows, Lutron RA2 and is compatible with Hubitat has a variety of color choices. IF budget allows. It's not a low cost option, but a really nice system to have attached to Hubitat Elevation.

I would steer clear of the Nest Hello, for the same reason you give. However, I wouldn't think twice about still putting Nest Protects in my home. They are hands down the best Smoke/CO detectors on the market and don't give false alarms, ever.

Google are not allowed to kill the life saving functionality of the Nest Protect, and the interconnect capabilities by law must continue to function just as they always have. The worst that could happen is you would lose the WiFi notification capability completely, but that's not going to happen. You're going to be able to be notified via the app no matter what. And by the sounds of it (not fully confirmed yet), you are going to have the ability to use the Google Assistant app to setup routines to turn on lights. Therefore, there should be no problem turning on a virtual switch in Hubitat. So then you will be able to turn on lights or trigger other actions in Hubitat, since Hubitat is already compatible with Google Assistant.

Thanks for the input.

Those RA2 dimmers are expensive! I don't think I can work that into the budget.

1 Like

Don't know if it's the same over there in USA but can you get ZigBee or Z-WAVE modules that fit behind the switch and you connect dumb retractive switch too? That way you can put what ever front plate you want on the front? This is what I do and it's a cost effective solution.

I'll throw in my controversial pick and that's Insteon. I won't be offended if you don't pick it. Nobody ever does. :grin:

Available in Brown and they have color change kits if you change your mind or cannot get the whole dimmer in brown, but can get the dimmer in white and the color change kit separately. So there's options and they are very reasonably priced.

We don't have scene controllers working in HE yet, but half my stuff is insteon and works really well They're a solid system on their own due to the dual mesh technology. You need an Insteon hub, but it's not that different than needing a Lutron bridge. The one caveat is you also need a Raspberry Pi in between HE and their hub so you can get status updates, but it's a very simple node.js server. You can easily run the small node application on a Raspberry Pi Zero W, so it's not going to break the bank adding that, and it can just sit next to your WiFi router. It's not a big deal, but it does make some people uneasy having to have two additional components to make it work.

If you can get past that, it is a very solid system. Good color choices and the device hardware features are much better than you'll find in Caséta or most Z-Wave switches and dimmers. They also have micro modules like @BorrisTheCat was talking about. I have two of the micro modules. One is a dimmer and the other is a switch module that is triggering my bathroom exhaust fan, yet still allowing a standard timer module to be used. This is possible because Insteon micro modules support both latching and momentary contacts. The one for my bathroom fan is located in the attic in a waterproof box. Only Insteon could do this reliably enough for me. It's a huge PIA to get up into my attic space, and so it's the only one I would trust for the job. Z-Wave or Zigbee micro modules might lose connection to the hub at some point, but Insteon can fall back on their powerline mesh, and losing pairing just isn't something that happens with them.

How is your luck with the needed PLM modules? I started to begin buying these when I was on Vera as they natively support Insteon, but stopped after reading many reviews stating the PLM modules constantly fail. Especially on power outages.

Average about two years per hub. Sometimes longer, but all my hubs were original v2 hubs. The setup we have working for HE uses the hub, not the USB PLM or the older serial PLM modules. The hub has a capacitor that is usually the culprit. If you can solder, it’s NBD to fix. Insteon has improved it since, and they have always replaced or repaired the hub for free, even when out of warranty.

As the Token Luddite (with regards to Voice control), let me throw in that I wouldn't suggest Alexa OR Google. If you must have Voice control, go with Google, and only buy devices that have a physical switch for the Microphone.

But my bias is I'll leave it at that! :wink:

Honestly, Alexa for smart home is a bit better. Just not so good if you have questions. A physical switch to mute the mic means nothing if you're really concerned to that level. The Google Home devices very well may be, and probably are no different in the way they disconnect the mic, versus the Echo. It's just that a slide switch makes people feel more comfortable. I actually prefer the red light on the Echo when muted. If you believe neither is real, then I like Amazon's placation. :wink:

Voice isn't for everyone. I understand your point of view.

1 Like

If having a switch to enable/disable the microphone is important, consider adding a FireTV/Stick with Voice remote. You can add multiple Voice Remotes to a single FireTV device and place them around the house. The TV doesn't need to be on. When you want to control something, push the button and speak. No need to precede your command with "Alexa". This would likely also work with a Google TV device as well.

Thanks for all the good information.

Like many of us here, I am limited by the wife factor. I have promised her that it will be easy to use, and mostly automated. I doubt she will use voice commands that often. I would guess that she will mostly use a tablet device (echo show, google home, etc.) to control devices.

I agree that for those who are uncomfortable with the idea of voice recordings being sent up to the cloud, voice assistants are not a great idea, regardless of who makes them.

But otherwise deciding between google assistant and Alexa is entirely a personal preference, IMO. I’m curious why you think google is the only acceptable option?

FWIW, the mute button on an amazon echo device physically disconnects the microphone from power, according to Jeff Bezos.

No Fire anything in this house, just Rokus. I've been an Amazon customer since 1996, and they know enough about me without voice clips from my home!

I'm not really anti-voice, more anti-cloud, and becoming more zealous about the privacy of my castle as I age! Lol

Truthfully didn't know this. The Echo in my drawer doesn't have a hard switch, sort of a interrupt push button, which I don't associate with a real "switch", more like a "mute".

You're right of course, it is a matter of preference, and I probably should have caveated my opinion a little better.

To be fair, I run neither in my house, although I saw an article on Local Instances of Mycroft on a Pi3 that made me sit up and take notice. Totally local, no cloud was my initial impression when I glanced at the article.


Truthfully, on examination of my tightly held opinions, the Slide Switch does make me a bit more comfortable...and I don't actually know if it is electrically any different than the Echo mute button. Good Point.

I'm definitely biased. I've been trying voice systems for 20+ years, and have yet to find one that actually makes using voice for anything easier or more effective than just using the switch, or pressing a button on a remote. Like I mentioned before, I may be a bit of a voice control Luddite! :grinning:

Yeah that’s what all of the always-listening echo devices have. But if you believe what they say about it, it’s still physically interrupting the microphone circuit, like a double-throw type switch that you’re thinking of. I haven’t tested it to try to confirm, but it would appear as though other people have.