Time versus cost decision, to be made in the fog

Hi. I’m new to home automation. I want as local a system as possible. Hubitat is an alternative to using a local open source server such as openHAB or Home Assistant. My use cases are fairly trivial lighting use cases and I don’t see any difficulties accommodating them with a few scenes and a few simple rules and triggers. I do not want outside control and will not be using voice for that reason alone.

For my first foray, I got a pair of TP-link dimmers on sale at Costco last year and installed one and tried to integrate it with my Harmony Hub about six months ago. openHAB has a service which emulates Hue switches and dimmers and directs commands it receives to the actual non-Hue devices in the system. I got the service running but the exposed TP-link dimmer wasn’t discoverable by the Harmony software, so I bagged the project until recently. A few days ago, I installed the latest openHAB and hells bells, Harmony saw the dimmer after a ton of configuration work and guesswork. (Do I sound disappointed?) I tried HA, and while it is vastly more straightforward in terms of discovery, automatic driver installation, and doesn’t require learning a new DSL (programming language) to write actions, it doesn’t have the Hue emulation, so the Harmony remote cannot see and control the dimmer. (I was able to create an automation in a couple of minutes that turns on the light for a minute when the Harmony turns off the TV, giving us time to get out of the room with the way lighted and perhaps hands full.)

Neither solution is workable for this simple task of interfacing my Harmony with a non-mainsteam dimmer. I don’t particularly like the idea at this point of jumping to different dimmer brand, so I started to look for other solutions and found HE is both local and integrates with TP-link dimmers and switches.

There’s an ocean of cheap(er) dimmers and switches on Amazon, yet it concerns me that each one will suck up vast amounts of time configuring and/or troubleshooting one of these three local automation solutions. I’ve read many threads here showering love on Lutron devices and their Pico remotes, and am inclined to go that route. But isn’t it a bit ridiculous to have to spend $150-$200 on a Lutron Pro bridge to get to the remote, duplicating (somewhat) the radio and computing technology in the $150 Hubitat hardware? Will this wind up being less painful with the Hubitat, versus running openHAB or HA in dockers on a server that’s already in place for multiple other purposes? And will it truly be possible to control the TP-Link dimmer with the Harmony Hub using HE?

I don’t mind spending more on the hardware to spend less time fooling around with either immature or constantly-evolving open source or community solutions. But I'm stuck in the fog, given the above minor experience, if I can trade money for time and less headaches.

Any guidance on the decision-making process would be welcome.

- Eric

PS – Is it possible to keep the Lutron Pro bridge operating purely locally, or will it call home to Lutron all the time, even if controlled by HE over telnet? I've seen changes in how this can be done with the TP-Link products, but not sure if this can be done with their HS220 dimmer.

Hi @vzman, Welcome to the community. I started similar to you with a few wifi devices and then found Hubitat. The wifi devices are in my junk drawer because it was too much work to get them into Hubitat. I went with Inovelli switches. I don't have that many - maybe 10 but that's all I need. I have more motion sensors because of my home's layout. I also have many home built devices and software because that is fun. Learning to pair Zwave devices has a learning curve but that last switch took 15 minutes to install, pair and set up the motion rules. My needs are modest compared to others here. I don't know Lutron products well to advise for or against. Perhaps if I had lots and lots of switches and I wanted button controllers or had aesthetic concerns I would have looked at them. I don't use my Harmony to control my lights - until very recently it was not an option with Hubitat - and not that easy. My life style doesn't require those button so I never missed them. It's hard to know what the proper path is if you don't know the desired destination. A couple of Zooz or Inovelli switches will get you started and they'll continue to work if you decide to go full bore for the high end.

“isn’t it a bit ridiculous to have to spend $150-$200 on a Lutron Pro bridge”

For me, the reliability and simplicity of the Lutron Caseta devices (switches/dimmers/Picos) make them well worth the money. They are easy to configure and they are rock solid. The Picos are great because you control just about anything with them. They are so thin you can mount them of the wall without cutting out the drywall, and they match the other Caseta dimmers in appearance. They also make a nice pedestal that you can use to set them on a table top.

The community driver/app combo for Kasa integration is top notch and the dev behind it is very active and responsive to people's feedback and issues. I have 3 HS220s and a pair of HS110s and they work great with his driver/app combo. Tons of features and highly configurable down to near real time polling if you need that for some application.

There is also a community driver for the harmony hub which may serve your purpose, I personally have not used it as I do not have a Harmony setup in the same home as the Hubitat, but based on a cursory overview if the harmony can be linked into Hubitat and kasa can be linked as well, then I would assume that Hubitat can serve as their bridge, but again I have not used it so you may want to ask over there.

Recently I have been debating switching from wifi based devices all together trading in the Kasa dimmers for Inovelli or Caséta. I think I am going to give Inovelli a test run due to the cheaper upfront cost and larger feature set of the Red series, but if I run into issues I will most likely buy more Lutron and use my pro hub for more than just picos haha.

I will look into the community drivers to dig deeper into things.

Unfortunately, to use the home automation buttons on the Harmony remote, the Harmony Hub Driver page says you have to create a smartthings account, create four virtual dimmer devices, wire them into HE, and use the Harmony hub to talk to smartthings. It's bad enough that I have to leak data to Logitech to use the remote.

Yeah, I can't speak to what data goes where, and I understand your hesitation to giving another platform your info. But if you want, I saw this thread that talks about how to use their Home Automation Buttons.