On the fence, please push me over


#1

Hello Hubitat Community... First, I want to say how cool this product is. Not that I have any experience but just reading the posts and watching the videos, pretty neat.

And yes, I am asking "that" question again. I have read through several posts of "why Hubitat", "Hubitat first impressions" and so on. Everything I have read and videos watched, I think this is the product for me. I am just a little hesitant. The reason why I don't know smart devices and automations. My requirements are very small right now. I only have a couple of devices. I just want to make sure I am doing the right thing...

What I am today:

  • I have no investment in any one ecosystem. I own a couple of Echo dots. No Smarthings hub or anything else. I am about as clean as they come
  • I own a few TP-Link plugs and two Smarthings water sensors (don't know why I bought them with no hub) and some Arlo cameras I have yet to open
  • Limited knowledge in this area. The most I have done through Alexa is create a group for Christmas lights on the TP-Link plugs and are now voice controlled (wife was impressed)

What I want to do is:

  • Create system with local storage with the ability to use OpenVPN to access remotely
  • Use a system with an easy user interface, preferably doing it on my PC or Chromebook
  • Incorporate cameras (Arlo or other brand)
  • Need to support smart Smoke/CO alarms like Nest
  • Have a dashboard similar to ActionTiles(plan to have a readily accessible tablet)
  • I need to incorporate motion sensors for lights (routines I think)

And most importantly, it is must be stable. I don't need to hear my wife telling me I made another great investment when the lights don't come on.

Is Hubitat right for me? Do I need to start on Smarthings then move to Hubitat? Or should I remain a rookie and still with Alexa?

Thanks in advance for the help.


#2

If you're not tainted by other HA systems then now is a good time to start with Hubitat :slight_smile: Lots of experienced users here that will be able to give you pointers.


#3

Perfect time to jump on HE. Also great that you can build a system from scratch without having a big investment in other systems.

Research each area and the System you want to base it on. For example lights, you can go with smart switches to control your current lights or smart bulbs. I have both :slight_smile:

For smart bulbs; color or just white, zigbee, zwave, wifi or Hue(zigbee). I have Hue it creates its own mesh , integrates with HE and is easy to use, has lots of control over effects and really good color. However, all that goodness will cost you.

For smart switches: Do you have neutral wires in the sockets, most solutions require it. Lutron Caseta does have switches that do not require neutral wires. Lutron will need the pro 2 version bridge and not the cheaper one. System has great control, is very fast and has pico remotes that can control anything when joined to HE.

Arlo cameras store video in the cloud, you need to load their app and pay for a storage solution from them. You might be able to build a tile on a dashboard that then opens their app. I've not done a lot of research into cameras.


#4

Thanks for the quick responses.

And I agree. The time is now to give Hubitat a shot. With this great community I don't think I will get stuck!

Ordering one tonight when I get off of work.


#5

I would urge you to spend some time thinking about, perhaps even writing down, what it is you want the system to do. I used to always harp on the need for "Functional Requirements" - what should it do? Then look at what you would consider a success. You've touched on that a bit - you want it to work reliably and you are looking for good "WAF" (a term someone coined meaning Wife Acceptance Factor). I think that gets back to reliability and probably simplicity and consistency,

Notice I haven't mentioned any technology yet. You are in a great place in that you have a very small investment and don't have to worry too much about "installed base".

Before you spend your hard earned (assumption on my part) money, I would urge you to spend time reading this forum and others. From a lighting perspective, you might want to read a thread that I started when I asked a question similar to yours - search the forum for the words '"Best" Lighting Solution' or go to "Best" Lighting Solution. I learned a lot from the responses to my questions and it doesn't necessarily lead to a full hubitat solution.

Once you have thought about your functional requirements, take a good, hard, honest look at your capabilities and how much involvement do you want to have in the system's day-to-day care and feeding. Do you want to tinker? Would you like to be able to call someone if it doesn't work? How important is the integration of voice systems such as Echo? It's usually easier to stay with one ecosystem rather than having to integrate things. I would suggest you look at your "Functional Requirements" and compare them to existing ecosystems such as Amazon, Google, Lutron, etc.

If you really want to get into the analysis you might build a matrix of the possible solutions on one axis and the pros/cons and capabilities along another axis. Then you can look at what is most important to you.

Going back to my thread on the Best Lighting Solution, I got a number of (unexpected) recommendations that Lutron Ceseta Pro is an excellent lighting solution. It stands alone but also can be integrated with other systems including Hubitat.

I started with SmartThings when it was a start-up. I learned a lot. I've chucked a few devices in the trash. I switched over to Hubitat this summer and I like the system. I like the community even more. If you want to tinker, the community is really important. It's a great support mechanism as well as an idea factory and sounding board (just as you are using it). My pet peeve with automation after several years experience? Batteries. Battery operated devices are a pain in the arse. Even if your system is 100% stable, you will still be dealing with changing batteries. Obviously longer battery life is better but I would prefer if nothing required batteries. The obvious problem is, of course, how to neatly get power to devices that may be located all over the house.

I hope this helps. I didn't mean to preach but, as you can tell, I am big on defining "Functional Requirements" before jumping in to a project.

Best of luck and happy holidays!


#6

@Eric.C.Miller's advice is excellent! Figure out your requirements and then focus on using the "current" best practices to achieve those goals.

Some things to consider:

  1. Voice Assistants - Amazon Alexa or Google Home? Both have Pros and Cons, but it seems like Amazon has leapfrogged ahead of Google at this time. Or get some of both to compare features yourself. The Amazon Alexa Dot and Google Home Mini are both very inexpensive.
  2. Lighting Control
    • 100% Hubitat based - using Z-Wave Plus and/or Zigbee Smart Switches/Dimmers and/or Bulbs
    • combination of Hubitat + Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge Pro - using Caseta Switches/Dimmers and/or Pico Remotes
    • combination of Hubitat + Phillips Hue Bridge - using zigbee bulbs attached to the Hue bridge
    • Hubitat + WiFi bulbs like LIFX - I would caution you away from this option as it requires a cloud integration currently.
    • or some combination of everything above! :wink:
  3. Focus on Zigbee or Z-Wave Plus ? - for devices like motion sensors, door/window contacts, and outlets. Some users try to stick to one or the other. Most of us use both.
    • Zigbee uses 2.4 GHz and therefore is more prone to noise/interference. I have never had an issue with this, even running multiple Zigbee networks at once in my home. Zigbee feels like a faster, more responsive protocol to me versus Z-Wave.
    • Z-Wave use various frequencies based on the country you live in, but in general is in the 900Mhz range. Lower frequency means better wall penetration and less conflicts with things like WiFi. However Z-Wave seems more complicated and easier to get screwed up by adding and removing devices from your hub.
    • Both Zigbee and Z-Wave Plus networks need multiple 'main-powered' devices throughout your home to act a mesh network repeaters. Choose your devices that act as repeaters wisely, as some are very buggy causing more issues that are hard to track down.
  4. Design for fully automated home, versus ability to remote control things in the home? These are two different things, but not necessarily mutually exclusive. Having users mess up your automations by manually flipping switches can add quite a bit of complication to a design.

I am sure there is a lot more to consider. Before you start buying things in large quantities, ask the community about their experiences with various brands and specific models of devices. Most of us have plenty of battle scars from devices that just don't work as advertised. I'd hat for you to 'get a great deal' on a bunch of the buggy, outdated devices.


#7

Wow, that is a lot of consideration

I really don't think I am going to go crazy with this effort. First thing, I need a hobby and I believe this fits the bill. I want to start small with a smart switch or light w/ motion sensor in the laundry room. Must include Alexa. easy win, low hanging fruit :wink: then I can tinker here and there.... but I guess a lot of people said that when they start down this road.


#8

As far as cameras go...what type of integration do you want? Do you want them to act as motion sensors? Control when they record or when they don't? Or do you want to view them in your dashboard? A clearer picture of that would give a better understanding of what you'll be able to do.


#9

Tinker carefully.
If you stick to first party apps you'll be in great shape.
There's some issues with heavier ported apps that cause issues.

Obviously stay away from the forbidden fruit that is WebCoRE.

All in all it works really great unless you try to execute rules at 2AM when the hub is doing maintenance.
Go to sleep earlier Keith...


#10

Some things to consider:

How will you control lighting? Dimmers/Switches on the wall? Tablets? Voice (Alexa, Google, Siri)? Automagically (motion, presence, day/time)?

I started out thinking I should have wall switches that looked and worked the same as "regular" (non automated) switches and dimmers. I was surprised to find my wife telling Google to turn things on and off. Now we both tend to use that method if it's not being done automatically by a rule (based on motion or time-of-day).

Do you want to create complex scenes involving multiple devices? Example, button or command to turn on TV, lower shades based on time of day, adjust lights in watching room based on time of day, mute music (if playing), etc?

You mentioned cameras. How do you see cameras integrated? In a dashboard? Sending you a photo when triggered by an event (motion, door open, etc.)? Using camera-based motion detection to trigger other actions (turn on light, turn on siren, turn on barking dogs on the sonos, etc.).

I have a bunch of cameras and a PC running iSpyPRO but I have very little integration with the cameras. I do trigger certain cameras to take photos when specific motion sensors are triggered as I find the Home Automation motion sensors seem to be easier to tune than the motion detection in the cameras.

Smoke/fire/CO alarms? Send a notification? Turn on lights (perhaps illuminating exit paths)? Turn on a siren?

Some of these things can work stand-alone so a key question is what do you hope to accomplish by integrating? It could be as simple as a "one-pane-of-glass" dashboard or as complicated as some of the possibilities listed above.

I thought a web page was going to be essential but now that we have Google Assistant on our phones and three Google Home Hubs (those are the ones with the small screens) we can use those to turn on or off any lights. In reality we tend to use voice commands for that. So I am rethinking the need for a web page (dashboard).

Philosophically I notice that some folks gravitate towards automating things. When I walk into my workshop the lights go on. This is triggered by either a motion sensor or the exterior door opening. There is no local switch, tablet, not even a Google Home within earshot. The lights stay on until motion has stopped for about 8 minutes. This primitive capability is all I need for that space. It just works.

The other philosophical camp seems to have physical control devices. Keypads, tablets, switches, dimmers, etc. As mentioned, I have the Google Hub devices in three rooms but, honestly, rarely use the screen for controlling things around the house (I do talk to them).

There is no right or wrong answer here. Your solution will probably be a mix and will almost certainly evolve as you learn and as the products improve and expand their capabilities.

Hubitat is a good solid little hub. It seems to be efficiently coded (it's small and fast). It is (so far) supported brilliantly. I can't say enough for the support folks. Perhaps as important, it has (so far) a vibrant support community willing to share ideas.


#11

I forgot to mention, one other very important decision is what do you want to be able to do with lighting? Turn on/off? Probably. Dim? Probably. How about set colors? That changes the solution entirely. Now you are considering controllable bulbs rather than controllable switches/dimmers. A big difference.

See:

and


#12

Have a look at this page, it will answer that question for you :wink:

https://status.smartthings.com/


#13

For the life of me I can't find the person who originally posted this, so, if the OP reads this, feel free to take credit....but i do feel completely like Muttley every time I get an email with another outage. And you know what, I don't feel bad about it all.

Muttley_laughing_by_sektor8bit-d7fv6sh


#14

Ok ... first, my system has been rock solid for months now. So, let's be real. You're sunk. You've jumped into the rabbit hole. It is deep and full of adventure. Start slowly. Come here for help. No question is a stupid question. We've all be there. At the beginning. There was some advice given to me when I started, (having not read all of the responses, so forgive me if I've repeated anything) .. start closest to your hub and work out. That will help to maintain a strong mesh. Don't incessantly reboot your hub. It will break things. If you reboot, allow, to be safe, like an hour for things to calm down. Depending on the size of your automations. Before you test again. If something is not working, don't wait to reach out. Get it over with and ask that question. Someone will hear you and help you. And your wife will be happy. (Then, take some time to play some practical jokes. cuz you're gonna crush this.)

Enjoy this ride. It's going to be as amazing as you make it. Please document your progress here along the way. It's always fun to see people take an idea and make it happen. But, also, don't try to reinvent the wheel. Happy Holidays @Effers!


#15

This isn't going to be a popular answer but if you aren't a fan of tinkering and understanding technical things...I would not say this is the hub for you. First it is new...and it is not bug free. So for the stable part...yes to a point it's stable...to another...not so much. It's changing a lot. Just read the release update notes and see the threads related to it. Currently the last release broke functionality for "Motion Lighting" which is really a simple way to control lights with motion. A feature there was broken. It will be fixed in the next release...but if that's not for you. Know that now.

Second...I would not say at all this is a system for a "first time" user. I think this is a GREAT system for someone who came from a Smartthings or similar system that learned how to add custom device handlers and apps and custom code. If not...you will have a pretty large learning curve here and could get frustrated.

I just don't think this is a mature enough system for someone that is "new" and wants "stable".

Most of the people here seem to have came from Vera, Smartthings and other "entry level" home platforms. The REASON they came here was because a lot of those systems ran as cloud based and eventually everyone realizes the benefits of "local" processing.

Now IF you don't mind having the learning curve and understanding YOU are going to break things (meaning things may not always work the way you think. Not because of the system, but because of YOUR understanding.) And the fact that it will NOT be 100% stable. Then please...proceed. You will find a lot of help here to do so. Hopefully at least if you choose to come this way...setting your expectations to something that's a bit more realistic.

DO read and read and read through as many posts on here as you can. You will learn a lot about this hub.

It's literally taken me months to get close to where I was before with Smartthings. And I had that system for 2 years. I'm getting there though and it's getting better every day.


#16

Yeah, that would be a bad thing


#17

I left ST almost 3 months ago now and have not looked back. Still get the emails about outages and have the same reaction as @Ryan780 mentioned above. ST's outage history is embarrassing.


#18

I was hoping to view the cameras on the Hubitat dashboard but I may be asking to much. I may just keep the cameras out until I learn more about the system.


#19

Bringing the camera views onto a dashboard should be, relatively, a piece of cake.


#20

I do not know of a way to view them in the Hubitat dashboard but you can link to them if they're viewable at a web address. This is supported on Sharptools if your camera has a compatible feed.