Recommendation for non-tech-savvy neighbor?

My neighbor wants a smart home but doesn't have the power user chops to set up or manage anything. I installed a C5 hub for him and have him up and running. He's got quite a few Zooz zwave switches, and his landscape lights are hooked up on the Zooz multirelay switch (zwave). He's got an Aladin (Wifi) garage door opener, and Level locks, a Sleep number bed (wifi). He's a fan of Apple Home as his day to day user interface, so I have everything ported into Apple Home via the built-in Apple Home integration. As issues have arisen, I've addressed them, but I'm starting to think this isn't sustainable for me to basically managfe his smart home. Here's what I'm thinking:

  • Move as many automations as possible into Apple Home (like turn on landscape lights at sunset, etc), so that he can manage those himself
  • Use Hubitat as a gateway to get zwave devices into Apple Home, and to otherwise do any automations that Apple Home can't. That should theoretically reduce his reliance on me (I think)

Does that sound like a good approach? Or does that create more room for problems, because most of his lights are zwave, so controlling them from Apple Home seems like it introduces Apple Home as an additional point of failure. Any better ideas?

(As an aside, he's using the built-in integration for Apple Home at the moment, but he hasn't found it very reliable - going to set him up with HomeBridge via an extra Odroid i've got lying around - although i worry I'm going to have to manage that now too....)

you're going down the rabbit hole for your neighbor, which sounds like the opposite of what you would want. i would set boundaries with them. if their system works (even if not ideal), then i would leave it to run. if they want to change things up, they can either increase their knowledge on what they have, or look into a service that can provide them an alternative.

you providing the C5 put you on the hook for stuff, but like you said, it's not sustainable. maybe instead of doing it for them, teach them HE. a lot of great videos have been coming out recently on youtube on how to use HE and the different apps. hopefully that can enable the neighbor to do stuff more on their own instead of reaching out to you for everything.

3 Likes

Ha well what i need is something that i can set up and that never has any problems after that, but that doesn't exist! I was thinking that putting things in Apple Home would make things simple enough for him to do himself. But his reliance on zwave with so many zwave switches makes Hubitat (or some other zwave gateway) a requirement, and frankly it's been pretty riddled with problems for him - simple stuff like lights not turning on when they're supposed to.

how are these lights supposed to turn on? through motion/contact sensors? or based on time? might be helpful to run through his hub and make sure firmware is updated and there's a strong mesh network. since it's z-wave, ensuring no ghost devices. also evaluating each device. if he has z-wave mixed with z-wave plus, then might look to upgrading those z-wave devices, or installing the z-wave poller.

if replacing devices is also an option, it also might be easier to find a hub that he will like, then getting compatible devices with that.

hubitat is very versatile though, so it may just be some of the low hanging fruit like a weak mesh or education to help make it a more attractive option for them.

Home automation is still a hobby. If your neighbor wants an automated house, he needs to take up the hobby and learn. If he's not willing to do that, maintaining his house just became part of your hobby. You better really like helping this neighbor, including all the complaints and whining when things don't go as planned or when he wants some little thing tweaked, because that's what you just signed up for. To each their own...

3 Likes

I agree with the others, in that it's a hobby one should be engaged with, AND no good deed goes unpunished. Yet, in your shoes I'd be doing the same thing.

Because I like Apple Homekit (HK) as a front end, and use Hubitat (HE) to automate what HK doesn't do to my liking. It's working out quite well, though I didn't have much issue with the HK and Hue hub in general. Your plan sounds good, except for the "no good deed" aspect of it. Some folks can't grasp certain subjects or concepts that others find manageable, and never will. If when you troubleshoot the system you also have him over your shoulder watching, so he can glean from it, that sounds like a plan. If he's not engaged with your troubleshooting, it'll be your baby forever.

Good luck to a good neighbor (you). :slight_smile:

...bob

1 Like