Trying to find out if Hubitat is for me - it seems kind of scary

Hello!

I am a non power user who has been dabbling with home automation using the Google Home app. I've been doing basic things like a wakeup and nighttime sequence. But it has come to my attention that I would like to control multiple devices in the sequences, and I cannot do that with Google. So now, I need a hub.

Things I'd like to do:

  1. At specific times of days, tell multiple products or phone apps (Spotify, youtube, ticktick) to do something.

  2. When entering or exiting my home, do certain things with multiple products.

  3. Set up automations with multiple products to respond to Google Assistant phrases.

  4. Control all devices on a mobile app if needed (versus individually opening up each specific device app)

My current products:

  • Google Homes, Google Home hubs, Google minis
  • Nest thermostat, Nest security, Nest doorbell, Nest smoke detectors
  • Lutron Caseta dimmer switches, on/off switches, and pico remotes. Do not have the pro hub.
  • Hue light bulbs with RunLessWire dimmer switches
  • Nexx Grage controller
  • Random Tuya LED light strips connected to a Lutron switch
  • Roku streaming stick+ (Can you even control these?)
  • Wyze cameras
  • Accurite weather station

Concerns/Coments:

  1. I am not a programmer. I do not want to write code or install packages or screw with my network setup, nor would I even know how. I just want to be able to make rules and have it work with my devices.

  2. I want things to respond quickly. If I currently set something up on my phone with ITTT, for instance to trigger when I arrive home, it takes 10 minutes to run

  3. I don't care about privacy or security, none of that is a selling point to me. I just want stuff to work.

So, is Hubitat for me? Will I be able to do it, or is it too hard?

Thanks!

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Welcome to the Hubitat Community...

People seem to traverse that arc from "christmas gift of an Echo or Google Home" and then wanting to do more. They then add devices compatible with the voice product, which convinces them they want even more. About here, a Hub appears on the horizon and it will do more and begin combining the devices into more elegant groups. But fundamentally this stage of the arc is "remote control" with emphasis on Control. Largely the push is to get devices to show up in at least one common spot and to use that to tell your house what to do. It's great, works well until you really get tired of telling your house to do the same things over and over. "Isn't there a better way" says the voice... Yes, a fully automated home is the better way. :slight_smile:

I haven't touched a switch or told Alexa to do anything to my house in months.. (except during parties: to boast :frowning: " The house itself via Hubitat takes care of it for me.

In your list of devices,

Google can be integrated via ChromeCast (beta) and Lutron is simply amazing, but you will need the Pro hub. Weather Stations can be integrated as is Hue.

Nest will be a problem, a problem they created by closing themselves off.

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Thanks for your insights! Can you expand on ChromeCast integration? I have chromecasts, but I don't really use them for anything but plugging into an outdoor speaker. We use our Google Homes and hubs for music and media playback. Is that similar to what you're talking about?

I'm not at home, but I think there is chromecast integration and Google Home integration. Google home is for you to tell HE to turn on a light, I use chromecast to have HE tell me I need to do something (Close a door/My wife is home etc)

Not sure how easy it would be tell apps to do stuff from a hub perspective. You can certainly do some things with Google Assistant on your phone, a lot of people use the tasker app to automate things on an android phone (but it's not super straight forward).

Hubitat integrates with Google Home and can add any device that GH supports, like lights, but as far as creating custom phrases, that's not something available directly with GH or Hubitat. I have managed to use the IFTTT integration with Google Home to create some custom phrases though, but there is the obvious cloud delay there. It does work though.

There is also something called a Google Assistant Relay that does allow custom commands, but you have to setup and run your own server, on Raspberry Pi for example, to be able to do that. Plenty of folks have done that, but I'd say it's breaching into Power User territory there though.

I'm already using tasker to automate some stuff on my phone, though it was a chore to figure out and I'm not sure I'm using it to its full potential simply because I don't understand it.

IFTTT seems to be the answer to a lot of my questions, though that app has never really worked right for me and is not my favorite.

I read about the Assistant Relay in another thread, and while that sounds awesome, I am not comfortable setting up a Pi or the programming for the relay. Way way way too complicated.

Thanks!

Agreed. I couldn't be bothered with it at the moment my self, but it does seem pretty powerful. Tasker I installed and that's as far as i got lol. The thing to keep in mind is that no platform is really gonna cover all bases due to the way the smart tech companies behave, locking stuff away. The one thing I'll say though, if there is a workaround then communities like this will find it. It's just not always simple unfortunately. :smile:

I know what you mean, I am not a programmer either. To do many advanced things like some of the stuff on your wishlist, you will have to do some cut and paste of code. This is true no matter what system you will end up with, Smartthings, Hubitat, Home Assistant, and so on.

For things like the Roku, there is an app that someone has written if you do a search of this site. You will follow the link from here to Github, copy the app address from that site, and literally paste that link into the app or driver section (or both) in Hubitat. From there you will have to give the network address of the Roku (192.168.X.X) to the app so it knows how to find the Roku, and you are pretty much done. It really isn't painful, and most times things are pretty well documented in a thread here so you just follow along. Even if it isn't documented well, people here are very helpful and will walk you through things.

It might sound scary, but it isn't that bad. Once you do it once or twice, it becomes second nature.

With my Caseta setup, I have Lowes Iris (used from ebay) motion sensors. When I walk into a room, the lights are nearly instantaneous. It is amazing how fast things run if you don't use cloud based things or cloud based apps.

I don't use many of these things (except Caseta), but most of these devices pop up here pretty often, so if you dig around a bit I bet you will find a user app IF it isn't already on the official supported list. List of Compatible Devices - Hubitat Documentation

Based on this, this isn't the platform for you. This platform lends itself well to the tinkerer. Can this system be simple to use? Yes. But most find out pretty quickly that you will need/want custom code/drivers/etc. If ALL you want are some automated motion lights and very simple automatons. Then yes this platform can be simple. If you want more (and from the looks of your wants, you do) this platform is going to require you to become pretty tech savvy. If you plan to use "Rules" here they are very much like programming. In fact I'd venture to say advanced programming. Even a simple motion light will take some programming that most people aren't going to be comfortable with. Just being honest.

However, if you are willing to put the time in, learn some technical stuff...it can be a great platform.

I don't really agree. simple lighting covers most functions any normal person would need, Safety monitor, dashboard,alexa, google all the built in simple apps are just click install and set up what they can do within the app. Its all pretty straight forward and simple.

I do agree rules can get a little more complex but would a non power user even need it? And if they do have something fancy they want to accomplish its not like the forum doesn't respond to questions with solutions..

I think the device list might make things a issue.

What about my devices are a red flag to you? Thanks!

the cloud based hardware. some you can integrate that power user on some of it will definitely come into play

Most of your existing devices are WiFi, which is, as I said, a completely normal, predictable purchase plan. The Hubitat Hub is connected to your LAN (hardwired) and so it does have access to all of your devices.. the "Trick" is finding a driver for those devices. Unfortunately, the vendors of some of those products think they are the center of the universe and that locking others out is a brilliant idea. They are wrong, but that doesn't change the fact that drivers can't be built without hours and hours of reverse engineering.

Nest we know is in that 'pit' where they canceled all their "Works with.." program. There's many people here that dissect each announcement from Nest looking for hope. :slight_smile:

I hadn't heard of Nexx and their Garage Door opener.. it might be niche enough that it hasn't come up before, OR, it's wifi and it went in one ear, out the other.

Cameras are challenging because of the bandwidth they consume. I have mine going into a dedicated 'server' and haven't any need to mix them into my Home Automation, but I fully comprehend the fact that they can do a better job of detecting motion, if done right.

That's my evaluation of your list.. mostly proprietary WiFi challenges. Just to say it the other way, almost anything that has an open API has a driver that can be found. I have an EtherRain sprinkler controller.. I'm betting there's no one else in this community that's even heard of them, let alone has one. But I have a driver for it :slight_smile: I have a Honeywell WiFi Thermostat, with a Cloud based API.. I have a driver for it.

If you're not finding the community created driver for any item on your list, it's probably due to a closed/absent API. :wink: The "answer" for them is.. don't force yourself into integrating them :slight_smile: You probably have to whip out a phone/tablet anytime you want to use them now, running a proprietary app. Leave it be and work on all the other opportunities to automate. Maybe you want to visit Ebay and get a box full of Iris v2 motion sensors. They are superb, exceptional battery life, etc. although because they are Zigbee, there's at least one or two places in your home where the signal gets attenuated too much. You'll want a plug in repeater. So add a Peanut plug or a SmartThings Power Plug into your cart and continue automating. You'll see the difference as you join different vendors via the Hub and via Motion Lighting App (built in, but you have to click to install/enable...) can get pretty usable automation running in a few minutes (at least on your 2nd one :slight_smile: )

Good healthy discussion with relevant information. I'm no code writer myself (some PLC programming) but with a little tinkering and help from community members you'd be surprised what you can accomplish. I came from Wink because they seemed to go radio silent and the were limited in what they could accomplish. I'm glad I've made the switch and won't look back. With all the consumer access to "Smart Home" tech and everyone trying to sell you, Hubitat has been a very close to being an all in one package in my opinion. They don't do all of it as discussed above, but stay away from those devices as they're just trying to monopolize and lock you only into their ecosystem. I'm frustrated with my Nest t-stat and have removed it for this reason. Unfortunate because it's a nice little device.

You'll find the team at hubitat to be outstanding in their ability to deliver top notch support in this venue. The same guys putting on the youtube live stream constantly look at this forum and respond. One thing to be aware of and prep yourself for is that it might take a minute to get comfortable, during which you might have devices that don't behave like you expect. My wife has been frustrate with me as I figure out motion lighting, but the team just did a helpful youtube live cast that helped a lot.

A couple more feathers in their cap is your hub is stand alone, if it works today and you don't want to update to newer software don't. It will still work regardless of a mfg pulling support II head phillips hue is pulling gen 1 support in 2020). What I've found is they just keep tweaking and improving and the experience is better all the time. Lastly item is that you can do the programming (wrong word, think drop down menus and in a easy to follow interface) from whatever device you want. I much prefer the computer to the mobile device. Go over and take a look at their intro videos to see what you are in for.

Might as well give it a try, its only $75. They are working very hard to get it as friction-free as possible. But its also a performance sports car, when you are ready for it.

First, I want to say Welcome to the Hubitat Community!
Second I want to say Boo! :smiley: Nice post title for Halloween! :jack_o_lantern:

HE definitely leans toward the tinkerer, but I too will disagree that you need to know how to code in order to use it. I don't know how to write code. I'm relying on the kindness of the talented developers in this and the SmartThings communities for easy to install code, and there sure are a lot of therm. If you can copy and paste, you can install a driver or app. You mentioned that you are using Tasker but found the setup of a Raspberry Pi and Google Assistant Relay looked too daunting. It's just perspective I guess. I have setup both a Pi and Google Assistant Relay, but when I looked at Tasker, it looked too complicated for to me to get involved in.

So maybe I can take a second look at Tasker and you can try setting up a Raspberry Pi to start. Then if you find that's not too hard, give Google Assistant Relay a shot.

And with that advice, I will say what have you got to lose by trying Hubitat for 30 days? You can order here from Amazon and if it doesn't meet you expectations, you return it. The cost to you will be $0 and a bit of your time learning something new.

I'll give you my experience coming from the Wink hub. I think a lot of people will come across hubitat when they start hitting the limitations of google home as a hub, amazon echo as a hub and even Wink as a hub and they want to be able to do even more without needing to be a coder. Hubitat does have some simple apps for controlling lights, locks, motion lighting etc. that work great and get you started, but to do anything beyond the simple stuff, which is why most people probably come to Hubitat, requires using Rule Machine (RM) which is a very powerful if-this-then-that type engine.

The possibilities of things you can do with RM are crazy. RM can be simple enough to use with simple triggers and actions but you'll inevitably want to do more complex stuff. With RM there are so many ways to do the same thing and some ways aren't necessarily the right way to do things. It's like the wild west of automations. There are all these nuances that you need to know to perform more complex tasks such as using an End-If condition in a conditional action, or using the status of changed vs just a device turning on or off, or how to properly repeat tasks or cancel tasks or wait for tasks or check for truths. So many times I have built an automation that accomplishes the job I wanted it to do but then found out how I setup things wasn't efficient and I end up with a loop that slowly bogs down the hub. There's no checks and balances to say they way you are doing something is trouble. This would also be my biggest feedback to the developers as a new user to Hubitat - RM is the reason many people come to Hubitat, there is hopefully something that can be done in the future to provide some checks and balances as to whether the way an automation is being executed is trouble or not or make RM more intuitive somehow. I understand it's a catch 22, it's powerful because it's complex and perhaps it can't be that powerful without being complex but I think making it more intuitive is where Hubitat will really start to make traction with the average home automation user who has reached the limits of google, amazon or wink as a hub.

So in short, Hubitat is super powerful and you can easy your way into it but I, personally, would only recommend it to people who see Home Automation as a hobby and something they are willing and wanting to spend some time on. You definitely don't need to learn how to code at all. I enjoy learning how to use the platform and the community here has been amazing! If you're simply wanting to integrate more of your devices under one automation platform and do simple if this then that stuff then Wink was a pretty good experience for me but it just doesn't have anywhere near the same potential as Hubitat.

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Well, I got one and it just arrived, so we'll see what I think of it this weekend.

I'm interested in getting some Zigbee motion sensors to play with, can I get SmartThings branded devices and make them work with Hubitat without having the SmartThings hub? Or do I just need to bite the bullet and get both Hubs? Their motion sensors are cheaper than non-branded ones.

Thanks!

The smartthings motion sensors are on the supported devices list, no need for a smartthings hub. With that being said I would recommend taking a look at the centralite 3326-L motion sensors. They are used, but a great deal that many of us including myself have found to be great sensors.

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Also I highly recommend taking a look at the supported device list before making future purchases, this will help avoiding headaches.