Struggling to get started with Hubitat

I received by Hubitat today, and as usual felt like a kid on Christmas morning with a new toy to play with. However it's starting to frustrate me, specifically w/ the lack of available supported devices and support for the Hubitat outside of these forums.

Background: I'm no stranger to programming, but I'm no where near the level of many many folks out there. Hell, my 12 year old daughter probably knows more than I do at this point. I took a few programming classes in college (Java, C++) but found that field wasn't for me, just to much math (LOL) involved. But that was probably 15 years ago, and I've only toyed around with making changes to others code to suit my basic needs, and I've probably forgotten more than 75% of what I learned back then.. I've used Hass.io, didn't like its constant need to have to change this file, then another file because this other one was changed, and so on. Also played around with NodeRed on the RasPi

I got the Hubitat because I wanted something simple and reliable, but most importantly because I wanted to remove the 50+ Wifi bulbs from my home router! So I researched Zigbee, so I could use a hub (I know many people try to voice them) to connect devices to and not clutter my WiFi connection in the home. Hubitat was recommended as a central hub on several sites, they did point out a few cons, but didn't seem those cons were enough to deter the purchase. And to mention the price seems to change a good bit between articles too. I saw articles list the price as $90, another for $99, and I ended up paying $130+. Anyways, I didn't have many Zigbee devices in the home, just a few contact/window sensors, a few motion sensors, and a handful of free Hue bulbs. So I knew I would need to be making some purchases for new devices, but I thought I could at least still use the sensors I have already, which does not seem to be the case. I assumed since they were Zigbee, they should just work, but sadly not. I'm back down the rabbit hole of having to search forums to find custom code, special "drivers" and figure out what I need to change to make a simple little device do the basic function of letting the system know its on/off | open/closed | true/false | etc.

So, I bought about 40 new Zigbee bulbs which certainly put a dent in the wallet even after selecting the cheapest option, yet good reviewed product, from the list of devices provided by Hubitat. To be honest, I wanted to avoid the whole "Smart" bulbs all together, and just put something at the physical switch that I could control via the Hub, but unfortunately the home is a bit older and doesn't have a "Neutral Wire" which limits, well completely eliminates, that option as there doesn't seem to be a supported device that doesn't require the Neutral Wire on a light switch. And then you get into the fact that the livingroom, den, hallway, and a couple other locations, all have switches in different ends of the room. Not sure of the fancy technical term for this, 3-way switch or something like that, but no options for that w/o the Neutral wire.

Now onto the issues I'm running into. I really just wanted something simple, to click "here" and get what I want to work.. I have (some of) the new bulbs paired (fyi, it seems to only allow pairing of 4-5 bulbs at a time) and trying to setup this 'dashboard' thing, however I can't seem to figure out how to get a simple ON/OFF switch, to control (example) the livingroom lights. The overhead light alone has 5 bulbs in it, and all I can do currently in the dashboard is turn each bulb off individually. How do I turn off the entire overhead light all at once? Its a pain having to click 5 different "buttons" in the dashboard just to make it dark in the room. Where is the "grouping" option? Why isn't this option easier to find if it exists. Additionally, if I want to make the room dim, I have to dim 5 separate buttons in the dashboard. I can't even find an option to make a "label" so that I can separate the switch for each room, and then have a label above them to make them easier to find.. I'll have nearly 50 bulbs after all is said and done (currently only have 11 as I gave up pairing after a couple hours)

Someone behind the whole "hubitat" needs to spend some time redesigning this whole dashboard concept. Not only is it a pain to setup, but its terrible looking! As far as I can tell, from the few hours spent with it, all that can be done , in relation to appearance, is change the button colors, ad a custom background, and some icons. Why do I need to create multiple dashboards for different devices? Why isn't there a "responsive" design so that it fits the screen size of the device the dashboard is being viewed on? I just think it could use a bit of TLC to make it more appealing, especially if its going to be displayed on a device mounted on the wall in a room. (I've looked through the 'show off your dashboard' threads hoping to get a hint at how to make it more appealing, but everyones submission all look the same, only difference is what device are show, or the few with a fancy background/wallpaper on it. What exactly is being shown off in those threads? Who has the most devices?)

The design part of the dashboard seems to be broken also. Trying to click around and figure out where things are. I found a "template'' section in the settings (gear). I was hoping I could change just the icon color when the bulb is on, but it seems to change the color of everything (icon, font, etc). I accidentally clicked on black, and then clicked the X in the corner because I didn't want the black and was done goofing in the settings (NEVER CLICKED SAVE).. so now every bulb when its on, is shown in black. I went back in the settings, clicked "remove" next to the colored square, it turned white, so I clicked save (this time.) but every bulb is still black when its indicated as being On.. I can't get it to reset back to the original color, which I think was white font/background, yellow background. Do I have to delete the dashboard now, and create a new one, just to get the color function to work (or at least go back to default?) Thats ridiculous! Took my long enough just to get the bulbs on the first dashboard!

Why are the basic functions not enabled out of the box? Why do I have to go through selecting individual "apps" just to be able to enable basic functions? Hell, even the dashboard wasn't even enabled, and isn't that like one of the core components of this whole habitat thing? If its a "Built-In App" then it should be enabled and present upon turning the Hubitat on. My refrigerator has a "built-in" ice maker, but I didn't have to install it when they delivered the refrigerator. My truck has built-in backup camera, but i didn't have to into the headunit and enable it to be able to use it!

Now for Philips Hue.. I have a few of their bulbs, only because they came free with a few of the Echo devices we have. They are Zigbee, however I can't for the life of me get them to pair to the Hubitat? Do I really need a Hue hub/bridge to use them? If so, then that is a deal breaker! I don't want multiple hubs cluttering up my office, that is why I bought the Hubitat, to have 1 hub control everything. These bulbs were paired with a Echo Show 10" but I unpaired them using the instructions in the Alexa app. They are in pairing mode, but the Hubitat won't discover them! I thought maybe it was a distant thing, so I dug a 50 foot Ethernet cable out of the closet, and found a portable battery to plug the Hubitat into, and walked to each bulb and held the Hubitat about 10 inches from each bulb.. still wouldn't discover them!

The same applies to a few motion & window sensors.. The hue bulbs, and sensors paired just fine with the Echo devices.. but don't want to work with the Hubitat

Now onto Alexa.. I read in a few articles, that its possible to still control the lights/devices, from Alexa, even though they are all paired to the Hubitat.. but HOW? There are two Alex (built-in but not built-in) options, but they both have the same description.. I didn't know which I needed, so I tried both.. and none of the bulbs are showing up in Alexa (either the Alexa App, or on any of the 5x Echo Shows throughout the home.)

I just want to be able to do the most basic of things, turn my lights on/off, and use a bit of automation to turn a light on if motion is detected.. So why is this so difficult to achieve. As my grandfather use to say "I might be some dumb, but I'm not plum dumb.." although over the years my brain might be leaning toward the latter.. but I still think all this should be easier than its turning out to be..

First of all, welcome and enjoy your stay, second there is a ton of stuff to go through here so bear with me...

There are quite a few "Generic" drivers already built into the hub that you can select from once you pair to the hub. If it is standard Zigbee you should be able to pair it and it should select the best driver. I am sure if you provide the specific devices you are having issues with people could help. It sounds like you want to want to use the Generic Zigbee Motion Sensor and the Generic Zigbee Contact Sensor drivers, along with Hue drivers (however you may want to segregate those onto a Hue hub, but one step at a time)

Driver Type Location

While smart switches requiring neutral is definitely the norm, there are good switches that do not require this. The brands that come to mind are Innovelli, which sell Z-Wave switches, and I think some Lutron Caseta switches do not require a neutral, but that requires their hub, which is reportedly rock-solid/bullet-proof in terms of reliability, but someone can correct me on that since I do not own them, and my house has neutrals anyway, so I would not have that experience anyway.

If you cannot do a wired 3-way switch, there is always wireless 3-ways with two or more smart switches which is more expensive but can get the job done. I would pump the brakes on complex solutions though for right now while you figure things out.

There is a Groups and Scenes app that you have to add first, do not worry it is built in, but just disabled by default:

How to Enable Apps

Groups and Scenes - Hubitat Documentation

I agree some things should be enabled by default or at least recommended, but Hubitat is not perfect, but it is definitely good. Also their documentation is a good reference, just take your time reading through it as it can be dense and poorly worded in some places.

I am not going to touch that because it is a touchy subject, and all I will say is that I agree with you.

You CAN pair them directly, you just likely would not want to because of one simple reason, they are terrible repeaters and can wreak havoc on your zigbee mesh. If they are on their own Hue Hub, they are separate and do not mess with the main mesh. FYI, most zigbee bulbs are bad repeaters and that is why most people recommend Sengled which IIRC do not have a repeating function built in.

If you are in the USA, use the Amazon Echo Skill and then install the Hubitat skill on the Alexa account via your phone's alexa app. Then in the hubitat app on your hub, i.e. the Amazon Echo Skill, you can select which devices you want to share to alexa, which should then show up on your Alexa App.

If you are in another country, you may have to use the Amazon Echo App if there is no Hubitat skill in your country, which is has less features.

Conclusion: I think the first thing you should do is take a deep breath, based on the length of your post and word choice I am feeling like you are getting frustrated, and I can empathize, but that is not helpful to actually solve anything. Another suggestion would be taking this one step at a time. Set simple goals, like pair a couple bulbs, then group them, then add them to a simple dashboard, the add a contact or motion sensor and add a simple automation (lots of ways to do this FYI), which by then you will have experienced a vertical slice of what Hubitat has to offer, and hopefully have become more comfortable with the platform. Hubitat is by no means perfect, but it is one of the best currently on the market. Also I am not touching your dashboard issues yet because it can be a pain to explain and there are plenty of other issues to fix first, but I will say it is not as broken as your post implies. And while I will say that the dashboards are IMO the weakest part of Hubitat, they are very flexible and you CAN do a lot with them, they are just extremely user unfriendly.

If you have additional questions that you want me to answer that I may have glossed over in the OP lmk. I tried to cover everything but that post was a doozy.

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Maye the problem is a simple one . . .

I don't use Zigbee much (most of my stuff is Z-wave), but I think Zigbee, like Z-wave, can only pair with one hub at a time. You say they worked with Echo - did you unpair or factory-reset the devices when you then tried to move them to Hubitat?

Most manufactures have a reset instruction to "factory reset" the devices - look for your instruction manuals online or google to find the factory reset procedure and try that. Generally it involves turning the device on/off in some pattern (there's little consistency between devices as to how to factory reset). Then pair to Hubitat.

You can use the devices with both Echo and Hubitat, but to do that, you pair them with Hubitat, not the Echo, and then use Hubitat's built-in Amazon Echo Skill to connect them to the Echo. Note: Hubitat also has a built-in "Amazon Echo App" - I think that's an older app and the current one is the "Amazon Echo Skill"

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Yeah, I did that. Pretty sure I mentioned it in the first post, at least I think I did.. mentioned unpairing it from the echo according to the instructions in the app.. it has you enter a code found on the side of the bulb, so it "releases" it or something like that..

Why is there a need for a whole separate "app" to accomplish something so basic, that probably 99% of the people using Hubitat are going to need.. Just combine all these essential things into a "Starter Pack" if not going to install them by default. I would really like to know from the developer their reasoning behind not having all these things already installed and ready to use on first startup..

To be honest, I have no clue what brand they are.. I just did a search on aliexpress back when we got our first Echo with the hub built in. Just generic (no label/branded) sensors. I'm sure there might be a name on them somewhere if I took them apart..

The only ones I've found are ones that are added to the wall in addition to the original physical switch. Or a little thing I read about by Hue, that you stick behind the physical switch, but then 6 month later when the battery dies, you have to dig it out to replace the battery. But nothing that just lets me replace the physical switch entirely, to avoid people turning off the power to the "smart" bulbs but still have a switch on the wall for the special folks that can't touch the panel (tablet) mounted in the wall just above the switch. But I'll look more into the brands you mentioned.

Perhaps they released something recently that I didn't see, or something older that I missed entirely. My intension were to avoid having multiple bridges laying around, so rather not fool with Lutron.

Unfortunately I don't have the Hue hub/bridge. They just came free with the Echo, and have worked fine for the year or so that we've had them. I'll just toss them in a drawer and use on of the new bulbs in their place. The only benefit to the hue was its small size, and it fit in the porch lamp. The wifi bulbs that I had wouldn't fit in there, but perhaps one of the new Zigbee bulbs will.

That is what I've done. I have the skill in the Alexa app. But perhaps I missed a step somewhere. I'll remove it, and the app from Hubitat, and start over.

To a point I would say its broken, or perhaps just very badly designed when it comes to the issue I'm having with it. I've had to start over 5 times, because something somewhere gets broken.. The color of the button no resetting to default, it not accepting the change (sidetone, the Save button has no indication its been clicked or clickable, doesn't change color to indicate it has a change to save, nor does it indicate the setting change was saved).. In the last attempt, I wanted to make the bulb show up as pink when on, for my daughters room, so I set them on the template "bulb," and then have the rest of them a Blue Color when on, so I set the template color for the "dimmer" to blue.. Well when I changed the template color for "bulb" to pink.. it turn everything pink! And it doesn't let me reset it back to default (click the red remove text next to the square showing the color).. If I click remove, the box changes to white, then I click save, but the buttons are still Pink.. I refresh, buttons are pink, go back to the settings, template color now shows pink.. its not saving the change when the remove text is clicked.

So I then I tried changing the color via the CSS tab.. change the code to white, saved.. still pink.. refreshed the dashboard, still pink.. opened the CSS setting color was back to the pink code.. Its broken!

I then watched a Tutorial video on the Dasboard on the Hubitat YouTube channel.. To make the buttons auto size based on screen size, suppose to remove the numbers from the height/width setting. Well I did this.. then the buttons resized, but the title, icon, slider, etc were all on top of each other, and the buttons were super narrow.. I'm on a MacBook Pro, screen isn't the size of a toenail!

Just to update on this, I've installed the suggest app, Created a 'Group' called "Bedroom Light" assigned the bulbs in the overhead light fixture.. However this "Device" does not show up in the dashboard to create a button for it. It does show up on the devices tab back on the Hubitats main screen, from there I can click on it, and it shows the available options to change (on/off/lever/etc) and many options not available with the bulbs (like saturation, color, etc).. But still not possible to create a button for it on the dashboard to be able to turn off all bulbs in the fixture at once.. Unless there are more steps I've missed.. which I don't think I did, as I followed the information presented in the page that was linked. (I did not use the Scenes section, as don't have a need for that [yet])

Watch Screen Recording 2021-03-16 at 5.18.22 AM | Streamable (video showing what's happening)

After you unpaired it, did you factory reset it?

If you truly trying to add a "button", there are more steps you need to take. If you are typing 'button" but mean "switch" then @furom's advice should solve it.

Well this would be the step that was missed; but to be fair its not in the instructions of the documentation for Groups & Scenes (or in the video tutorial for it.)

Another design/code aspect of this Hubitat that is questionable.. why does a user have to go back and enable a group (device) to be usable on the Dashboard? If the user doesn't want a button for it, couldn't they simply just not add a button..

Or stick a option in the config when setting up a Group.. "Would you like to enable this for use on your dashboard(s)?"

A button is typically something you press or in sense of a computer "Click." - I wanted to add a button (that I can click) to turn on/off all the bulbs in the overhead light.. Granted its a "switching" action (on to off to on) but still its Clicked, not switched like a light switch.. Terminology difference I guess..

Also not sure why my bulbs show up as "DIMMERS" in the group app, instead of under "Bulbs"

To make a device show up in an individual dashboard, you need to go to the dashboard app (not the dashboard itself) then pick the dashboard you want then click the devices section and mark the device available to that dash board..

These 2 videos are very helpful for dashboards.

In Hubitat World, a button is like a button on a remote. You can't choose a Button template to control a light or group of lights directly. You have to use a Switch Template. However you can change the icons if you don't like the default option.

I'd also point you here for your dashboards

and

Literally thousands of examples to help you get started.

I will say I am of the mind that the interface means little in terms of control (in my opinion) Home automation is just that, automation. I take a set and forget attitude towards it. Create an automation that works and never touch it again. I only use the dashboard occasionally and thats simply to look at status or if I receive a message about something. Other than that it's pretty hands off, so that "prettiness" of a dash for me is no big deal.

Once you wrap your head around some of the concepts it's really not complicated. We're all here to help you..

As to switches that replace your existing switches (The preferred way) that don't require a neutral, I would reccomend either Lutron Caseta (The best) Or Innovelli. Both are fabulous and will serve to function better than using individual bulbs (personally I use bulbs only for the occasional table lamp and those are on a hue bridge I picked up at home depot on clearence for $35.00). I also use lutron PICO switches, I'm still running 6 years in on the batteries for the majority of them.

Now above you site lack of available compatible products. I'm not sure where you get that from but if you look at the compatibility list of officially supported products, it's pretty extensive, not to mention the compatible stuff not on the list in addition to community supported devices,

We are all here to help you, including the phenomenal staff at HE. Be patient and take things one step at a time.

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To add to the confusion of terms used.. there is a separate template option called "Switch" where as I'm using the "Bulb" template

One thing I find hilarious about this video.. Its close to a year old, and there still is not drag & drop function in the dashboards?

It's all about prioritization. Hubitat is a small company, they don't have unlimited man power to do everything you might think is necessary.

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While not drag-n-drop I did accidently find out that if you click on the 3 vertical dots to bring up the tile edit dialog, clicking in the dashboard grid will change the row and column and move the tile to that location

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There is drag-and-drop function, provided by a community contributed project (Smartly project). For reasons I won’t detail here, the Smartly threads were removed from the Hubitat forum by the Hubitat staff, and are now located here:

I use Smartly, and it’s great.

Lutron Caseta dimmers do not require a neutral and are fantastic. They can be used with the equally awesome pico remotes for all sorts of cool stuff. Some of the other Caseta switches, like the fan control switch, do require a neutral. Lutron integration requires the Lutron PRO hub, not the regular hub, but it is, as you say, rock solid. The HE Lutron integration is simple to set up and has been bulletproof. I went through and ripped out all of my z-wave switches and replaced them with Lutron just because.

I really prefer switches controlling a series of bulbs rather than smart bulbs, In most cases, unless you need individual control of the bulb, a switch is going to be much better in the long run.

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