Vacation rental control questions

TOTAL newbie here.

Pretty techy, but not an expert by any means.

Here is what I am looking at. I think after tons of reading about Homekit, Vera, Smart Things, Wemo, and Hubitat that Hubitat is my best option.

Here is what I want to accomplish. We are purchasing a condo in Mexico for personal and rental (Airbnb) and I want to have full control of the unit from the US. Everything is cheap in Mexico except for electricity.

Here is my desired setup:

  • Control (3) mini splits. Brand is Benelux (don't find much online about them) I would like to control lowest setpoint, and power off and on based on occupancy.

  • Be able to remotely lock, and unlock a deadbolt like Schlage. Also be able to change codes for new renters, or change the code if we were to hire new cleaners, maintence, etc.

  • Setup lights on timers, or motion. If no motion in the unit the lights turn off after 30 minuts or an hour. They can always turn them back on. Or they turn on the bathroom light and it turns back off in 30 minutes.

  • Check occupancy via motion sensors. If I don't have a booking there shouldn't be activity.

So far my desired list of components:
Schlage deadbolt (probably Z-wave)
Z-Wave outlets
Z-Wave switches
Z-wave motion senors to control lights and check for activity.

Here is my biggest dillema. What to do for mini-split control ? I am checking to see if Benelux has a plug in wifi or other control module. If not I have looked for hours for a solution. I have looked at Senibo, Cielo, Gidbo, Ambi, but today came across Cuby Smart (Home Depot). What ever I go with I would like to be able to have it show up in my Hubitat dashboard and have the least amount of setup and issues.

I did send an email to Cuby Smart today and this was the response:
Unfortunately we do not have integration with Homekit nor hubitat.

We do have an OPEN API that can be used to control the Cuby from another software. We also have a feature that lets you generate custom URL's that trigger A/C actions when called.

Honestly I don't really want to take the time to learn how to setup in depth programming. I would REALLY prefer to have it self install. OR hire one of the fine folks on this forum to handle my programming.

With all that, can I get some feedback? Ideas, do's and don'ts? Anyone else using for vacation rentals?

Thank you in advance.

Schlage locks suck, I would go with Yale zigbee locks. I've had both and the Yale work better.

I m also not a fan of zwave. Again, I like zigbee, or caseta would be a good option. I have zwave stuff, large networks can get unstable, and the fact that you have to unpair devices is a pain in the butt when replacing/upgrading your hub to a new model.

Can you use any thermostat on the split system? Ecobee or Centralite Pearl would work well here. I think you can set limits better on the ecobee so you don't have renters turning the AC super low and making your bill high.

Iris v2 motion sensors were recently about 5 bucks each on eBay. But, they are battery powered. For a home that you may not be at regularly, this might not work out well. Battery life is highly dependent on how often they are tripped. My front door motion sensor lasts about 2 months, but my bathroom sensors are going strong after 8+ months. If you want wired, get a Konnected board and some Bosch Tritech sensors.

I would also consider some cameras outside so you can see what's going on. Unifi Protect is great, but wired. Blink is a great battery powered wireless solution. My buddy ran an airbnb in Moab, and his cameras gave him the info he needed to get the cops to shut down parties before too much stuff got damaged or stolen. The cops in MX probably don't care though unless you PayPal them a bribe.

Make sure if you go with zigbee devices that you buy a few ikea tradfri repeaters to ensure coverage and stability.

You'll also want a VPN so you can access the Hubitat remotely. You can use cloud dashboards, but you cannot configure it with those or changes settings/rules/etc. Either get a router with one or use pivpn.

This is a small condo (600 sq ft). So signal should not be a problem.

I can go with Zigbee. I would like to stay on a budget so the Caseta turns me off (unless they are worth it).

You can't easily use a thermostat on mini-splits as they are usually controlled by an IR remote. AND the units we have are inverter units so they ramp up and down the compressor with the changing temp. So not really and on and off like a thermostat. There are several IR controllers as I mentioned just wasn't sure of my best option for direct integration and least amount of trouble.

Cameras are a tricky subject with Airbnb. None are allowed in the unit (understandably). My view outside of my door is a stairway so not much to see there.

Just purchased a Netgear R7800 router and am going with DD-WRT flash, and a VPN. This would allow US TV to be viewed down there. Will this work for remote control of the Hubitat?

So if you try to control the hubitat when it's NAT'd, you're going to have a problem. The way the web interface is coded, NAT won't let you modify rules and do some other setting changes. You definitely need a VPN without destination NAT. The router you're talking about should work. If it doesn't, PiVPN works well.

As for cameras, I wouldn't put one in the unit. I wouldn't rent an Airbnb with cameras in it. But, outside you should have as many as possible. If you see 50 people going into your place, you have a problem that needs addressing ASAP.

If you can't replace the thermostats with regular ones, but they have IR, you could possible use iTach IR devices to control stuff. The problem with this is they just blast IR commands. You're not going to be able to see what a renter has set a thermostat to. I would call Ecobee and see if their thermostats are compatible. You'll lose the IR remotes, but who cares? Renters are going to lose remotes anyway, eliminating them is in your best interest.

For your mini split you can use this

That brings me to a deal of the day thing with some kind of smartwatch.

These aren't on the compatible product list.

I checked the link and it’s good (opens the amazon app) It links to a Remotec z-wave ir extenders made specifically for minisplits

I have 3 be469 locks. As long as they’re fw 7.0 or above it should be fine. They were on the list until recently due to flakiness of the earlier firmware.

They aren't any more. And if someone hasn't invested in a Hubitat already, it is misleading to indicate that their Schlage locks will work without issue with Hubitat.

While my Schlage locks work fine, there are other reports with FW versions including 8.0, 8.1 and 10.0 that are not working as intended.

That product (ZXT-120) doesn't have a Hubitat driver. I sent one I wasn't using to @mike.maxwell recently to see if it could join the list of products he is writing Hubitat drivers for. Because the ZXT-120 has been obsoleted by Remotec, I can't imagine it would be high on anyone's list of priorities.

If you have the remote controls for them, it should be possible to use cheap Broadlink devices to control them. There is a community-contributed driver written by @cybrmage to locally control Broadlink devices (and they are relative inexpensive). The trouble with IR control is that it is one-way. So your renters may manually adjust the thermostat on the Benelux units and there's nothing you can do about it.

For genuine two-way feedback control you would need to use @signal15's suggestion.

Plenty of Hubitat-supported locks. There are fewer complaints with zigbee locks than z-wave. Schlage locks are not on the compatible devices list, so avoid them.

Both these are easily done.

I use a schlage BE468 zwave on my cabin, and it's been super reliable - pairing sucked just because you had to get within inches to do it, but after that really really reliable.

I use ngrok on an old Windows tablet for tunneling in via 2 LTE modems used for failover. I have VNC installed on the tablet so I can reconfigure the devices, etc.

I use a zwave 240v relay to control the electric heaters that are set to 65 degrees so I can flip them on, and pre-heat the house - perhaps that would work with AC as well? It's a good thunk, too.

Battery motion sensors suck. Mine die every 6 months and without warning.

Zwave in general has been really reliable. When I rejigger things it takes a day or so for the network to ... heal? And then it's good. The hardest part has been reliable internet connectivity in the boonies. If you have that, you're half way there.


Super easy to get going, and free for 1 connection. Super reliable. Basically you run the exe, and it gives you a url. I choose a VNC port to forward, and boom I'm in.

TeamViewer is also good as a backup, and free for 1 occasional connection - but they nag you.

I own few Cabine and a house that i vacation rental remotly i am planing to do a set up with Hubitat and starting to test it but as of Doors we Use erentallocks it great ! you can create code that are only valid for the time of there stay and it doesnt need interenet to work!

Except for those of us that already have several and can’t get the ST community DTHs to port over to HE correctly :wink:.

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True dat.

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Thanks for sending yours to Mike, btw. I have a good feeling he’ll manage to put something together in time for me to actually need to start using my a/c units again :sunglasses:.

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Wasn't using it .... so easy decision.

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:face_with_symbols_over_mouth: window a/c’s are such a PITA to automate. If the ZXT-120 driver doesn’t work out, I’ll likely move on to the Broadlink community integration.

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