Wanting Device Advice

I am a Noobie just starting out
from my research so far it seems that you want to settle on either smart bulbs or smart switches as you only want one or the other to control dimming
I think that it seems smart switches may give you more flexibility but if anyone has an argument the other way please say
I know that most of you have tens and probably hundreds of devices and sensors etc and would like to know if you had to do over again which devices and sensors would you go with
I know that there is a device compatibility list but I would think that they all aren't as reliable or as easy to setup as others
so again all of you guys with hours and hours of knowledge I am asking for your opinions
my priority would be reliability - ease of setup/use- cost
my home layout is two story and a basement and garage...rectangle shape and 4400 square feet
I am not trying to blanket the house at once as it will be a long term build out but I am planning to add sensors and switches to most everything

Thanks in advance for your knowledge!

If you want to do stuff with colors, you have to go with bulbs, simply because dimmers won't give you that flexibility.

But lets say you don't want color/color temp and just want dimming....the next question is, how will you primarily control the lights? Do you have bunch of motion sensors or do you still plan on using switches most of the time? How frequently do you have quests that have to use the controls without you around? Is SAF (spousal acceptance factor) important to you?

If you won't have motion sensors (or don't plan to) and your SAF requirement is high and you have frequent quests, nothing beats a smart dimmer. It looks just like a light switch and everyone knows how to use them. If you go with smartbulbs, you would have to use button devices like Picos or hue dimmers, or set up dashboards to control the lights or control them via a smart assistant (i.e. Alexa). Those are more complicated methods that some people would find difficult.

Those are just the fist, high-level questions....then there is the question of hub down-time control of the lights? In other words, if the hub is down, how critical is it to turn on that light? if that is high, then you want to go with a dimmer. If its high but the light is in a lamp, you can always turn on a smart bulb by turning power to the lamp off and then back on. Most smartbulbs will come on either to their last level or to the max level.

If you do go with bubls, you also have to decide how you'll connect them. if you aren't going to use Non-repeating bulbs (like Sengled) and you have other Zigbee devices (motion sensors, etc) then the bulbs will need to be isolated to their own network to keep your zigbee performance high.


My house is about the same size, except no basement. To add to Ryan780's comments, particularly for US/120v installations;

Do you have neutrals available in the switch boxes?
Do the boxes have adequate space for what will likely be a larger device?
How many 3-way/4-way switches do you have?
Are you planning to re-wire the traveler for the above 3 & 4-way?
Have you considered how smarthome devices will effect the resale of your home in the future?

Oh yeah, GO ZIGBEE as much as possible.

Most important question.....

Do you want this to be your DIY hobby farm adventure? Or are you wanting a solid home automation system?

If this is a hobby DIY thing you're in the right place. Otherwise you need to talk with an integrator and plan this out and expect to pay. A lot more than for a hub.

One Lutron RR2 switch costs more than the Hubitat hub.... so you first need to get your ideas and expectations in order as priority one.

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Good to be thinking ahead!

I went the dimmer/switch route.

I wanted to make sure that anyone who walked into the house would be able to control the lights - that meant it had to be some form of familiar control. I wanted a system I could leave in the house if I sell it. I wanted the fundamental lighting functions to be supportable by someone other than a Home Automation Hobbyist (i.e., a licensed electrician). I wanted to make sure the fundamental lighting functions would work even if a hub (or hubs) were out of service for some reason. Most of my circuits have neutrals because, while built in 1952, the house has had several renovations and almost a complete re-work of the electrical system. I had a fair number of two-way switches.

I went with two Lutron Caseta Pro systems for all the light switches and dimmers. All the two-way circuits were capped off and a Pico remote was paired with the switch or dimmer to make the two-way functional. In the master bedroom we used a Lutron Fan Controller because we had wires coming to the wall box, in the other bedrooms that have ceiling fans, we had no wires coming to the wall box so we used Zigbee relays (Smartenit) in the fan canopy.

Our main floor uses a lot of motion sensors and I have pretty much standardized on CentraLite/SmartThings (CentraLite was an OEM for Iris, Sylvania, and SmartThings) and Nyce. These are all Zigbee motion sensors. They seem to react faster to me. I have one Aoetec (Z-Wave) multi-sensor in my shop but it seems sluggish to me. I am going to augment that with some additional Zigbee sensors.

Door/Window sensors are a mix. I use the Aeotec recessed sensor on the front door (wood door and frame), most of the upper floor windows use Sensative Strips because I couldn't find anything else that would fit (due to the narrow frame) and didn't look bad (IMO). On the lower level I use SmartThing door/window sensors. Door sensors are almost all SmartThings - I think I have a mix of three generations.

I have a mix of Z-Wave and Zigbee and haven't seen any real problem with either from a technology standpoint - they both work. As I mentioned, the Zigbee seems to wake up a little faster but that's about it. I have a very saturated Wifi environment (self and neighbors) and have not seen anything I can attribute to WiFi interference).

I have a Sensative Strips in the attic that I use the temperature function to turn the attic fan on and off. The fan is on a SmartEnit Zigbee relay. I have another Sensative Strips on the front porch where I use the luminance readings to trigger outdoor lighting (luminance or sunrise/sunset). The Sensative Strips are really easy to hide because they are so thin. They are supposed to have a 10 year battery life - if they do, I will be happy with them. They are a PITA to pair and exclude because they are entirely sealed so you have to trigger them by moving a magnet in a specific pattern over the strip. I did not find this intuitive. Moving them from SmartThings to Hubitat was a major pain (because it required and exclude and a join).

I have Sonos all over the house and have a few announcements that go through them. Google Home (mini, original, or hub) in almost every room. I use these for voice control when I need something that is an exception from an automated rule. Both work well for their intended purposes.

I have some water sensors in the basement - mix of SmartThings and Everspring. I like the Everspring because they can be mounted on the wall and the sensor is remote.

I am in the process of installing an Aeotec Doorbell 6. I have several outdoor (protected by overhang - porch and carport) motion sensors. The best is one of the original SmartThings that covers the front porch. In the carport I have a Zooz and an Ecolink that cover roughly the same area. Between the two they do pretty well. Outdoor motion triggers cameras to take still or motion pictures. This is done by sending an http string to a server in the house running iSpy.

Fence gates have old fashioned reed switches with wires running into the house where they connect to terminals on Ecolink contact sensors that are thus protected from the cold and wet. The wire is vulnerable to being cut but the fence is also vulnerable to being jumped . . .

I have some smart plugs (plug-in, wall wart) around the house. Most of these were installed so as to have repeaters strategically placed. As I have built out more I have been able to remove some of these because they seemed redundant. I had both Zigbee (SmartThings) and Z-Wave Plus (Zooz ZEN 06) smart outlets. Both work well.

I have removed a few things that I thought didn't work well (at least for me). Primary was the early GE Z-Wave wall switches. I had a real love-hate (mostly hate) relationship with those. They were a very early purchase (when I was still on SmartThings) and they were, as a result, a very old model. The other things I have removed have mostly been old Z-Wave when I upgraded to Z-Wave Plus.

I had a good test of my design strategy the day after Christmas. The dogs woke me up at about 5:30 and I let them out. I immediately noticed none of the motion activated lights had come on. I want over to my office and found my APC UPS had died over night. This took out my upstairs Lutron Hub, the Hubitat Hub, and one of my 24 port ethernet switches. I was still able to turn on the lights using the wall mounted controls and then, once the dogs were fed, turn them off. That allowed me to go back to sleep and deal with the UPS later.

I don't have any current plans to sell but, if I did, the Lutron stuff could all stay and nobody would really notice except for the two tiny hubs. If someone was interested in the other pieces, I would certainly let it go with the house. Most of the wall and ceiling mounted sensors I have installed with 3M Command Strips so they can be very easily removed if necessary.

What don't I like?

I still think every motion sensor I have seen is ugly. I am continuing to experiment with them, not because they don't work but because they are so obnoxious. There is no reason for them to be so big. I really don't want to see them.

Batteries. I really hate changing batteries. I like the idea of batteries that last several years. The Sensative Strips are supposed to - they are too new to really know. The Lutron Pico remotes last a long time - perhaps as much as 10 years.


As far as 3-way and 4-way go....even if you choose dimmers, you only have to re-wire the primary and remove the 3rd and 4th. You can always use button controllers in their place.

If you do decide to go with any number of button controllers, invest in a Lutron Pro Hub now. Picos are the absolutely best button controllers on the planet and they are super cheap and fit in a Decorator faceplate. And when you break out the cost of the hub across many devices, it works out to be a lot cheaper.

And, while it is almost too trivial to mention, the Pico can be surface mounted next to a switch or dimmer that is in a "regular" box and the result looks like you just had a larger box. Also, you can install a Pico over an empty box (like when you remove a switch that was part of a 3-way), and again it looks just like a switch or dimmer. And you don't have to be cutting (or patching) drywall to do it.

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Or you can stick them directly to something or on one of their pedestals. The only thing I don't like about the picos is the price of the "fancy" ones. I have a pico on my coffee table and my coffee table is black and my couch/loveseat is black leather. I would much prefer a black pico but I'm not shelling out $30 for one when I can get the white ones for $12.

I use a mix. Where it didn't make sense due to the fixtures, I kept my Insteon dimmers that I had already, before Hubitat. For the rest, I've gone with smart bulbs. Has nothing to do with color. I only own two color bulbs (not including garden lights that will not be installed until spring/summer timeframe), and I only use one of them for color. For me the reason for smart bulbs is a high pitched ringing that I can hear with every dimmer and LED combination I tried. Not at every level, but all of them did it at some dim level, whereas smart bulbs are completely silent.

My case is unique. I have tinnitus, so adding to the high pitched ringing I already hear was not something I wanted in my life. As my fixture choices change over time, some of my incandescent bulbs (all my dimmers are on incandescent because of the ringing issue), have changed to smart bulbs.

There is a significant advantage to dimmers if you don't have my condition, and that is that no matter what's going on with any hub or bridge, they will work when you touch them, as long as there's power.

I think it's a fair assessment that one solution (bulbs vs. dimmers) is never going to work for your whole house. It is better to think of each room or set of lights individually.

I will say, based on my experience with ST, I had exactly one bulb before coming to Hubitat and that was controlled with a Lutron Connected Bulb remote. Before having the reliability of a locally managed system I would have never attempted the number of smartbulbs I have now. ST was just down too often and I didn't want to lose control of my lights. With Hubitat, critical lights are on dimmers but I have a lot of bulbs now too.

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there may be a few spots where I may want a color changing bulb but by and large I can decide between white colors temps and be happy with one choice per area
right now it is really a blank slate other than my wife picked up a nest hello door bell on black friday everything is dumb
a lot of the light switches have the old style dimmer with a little nub next to the switch that moves up and down to dim the lights everything is pretty much original
My original thought was to add motion sensors to almost everywhere but I have been trying to decide how much of an advantage or disadvantage would it be to have motion sensors turn on lights everywhere in the scenario of someone broke into the house and we are home
certainly this could be a deterrent to whoever broke in but in the case that it doesn't scare them away do I want lights turning on from my movement so it's up in the air right now how many lights I will want to turn on from motion or door sensors so I think I may end up with more switches than sensors but will certainly have a mix
SAF is certainly high and she usually has either her phone or a tablet or both while in the house
at this point we have both alexa and goolge as voice assistants but in the long run will go more with alexa most likely
electricity doesn't go down very often and everyone has their phone next to them so they have a light source...long term I will be adding battery backups to critical things to handle short term outages and will eventually add to the panel a hookup for a generator big enough to handle the the main floor most likely...you made me think of a lot of things that well i probably didn't know to think of...probably would be best to have a couple spare lamps around in case of an emergency

I figured through suggestions of devices that would help guide me through zigbee/zwave

I would recommend starting with lights in manual mode and get those connected/working before starting with motion. Trying to debug both simultaneously would be difficult. You wouldn't know if the problem was due to the motion or the device just not working.

So, pick a room to start with, get the lights working, then add some motion sensors. You don't have to automate the whole house all at once. I can say that in my small, 2 bedroom condo, i have exactly 2 lights still on dumb switches. The powder room downstairs and the landing lights behind the front door which I never use. Every other room, including all outdoor lights and the garage, are all smart now. But I've had my system for 3 years. I started with one room and worked up.

You don't know enough about what you will like to try and do the whole house now. You might find that you really like dashboards and want to have tablets on the coffee table so you can play around with color bulbs all the time. Or you may decide that you don't want to automate the living room lights at all because you like different lighting all the time depending on what you're doing at the time. You won't know what will work for you till you try some stuff out.

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This was very similar for me too. There's a very cool app that runs on node.js for SmartThings which let you do essentially what HE is able to do natively. That was when I bought my Lutron Caséta Smart Bridge Pro so I could use Pico remotes on my ST hub. I wrote a refined how-to guide so others could more easily see how to set it up with @stephack 's fantastic Advanced Button Controller app. But it made me nervous to expand further because of the stability issues.

That's when I saw a post about HE and what it could do. I found out more about it and discovered that not only could it handle the Lutron Caséta Smart Bridge Pro without the need for internet, but that Stephan had already bought one and ported ABC to it. That was an instant seller, and then I saw so many of the respected developers were already here, and more kept coming.

Proceed with caution and a healthy dose of skepticism with Google products right now. As you may or may not be aware, they have pulled their Works with Nest program, so manufacturers have to buy full into their new Google Nest Hub program, and it doesn't seem to be fully fleshed out yet.

At the moment, that device will be an island inside an HE environment, with only minor cloud connect capabilities.


oh for sure...the nest aware trial just ended so now I am seeing what you are left with unless you pay them more money
that is why on the voice assistant side I said we will probably go more with alexa
not that the google products aren't good also and obviously there are privacy concerns all around but if you are going to have voice then you have to pick one
I should say we also have a nest thermostat but it came with the house so I didn't think of it
in the long run the nest hello may be swapped out for the dumb doorbell again and a camera
I am also looking at cameras and want local control and storage so I am still deciding on that also
I just opened up a couple of switches and it seems i have a neutral wire which i know opens up the choices
I do have several 3 way switches for the upper and lower stair lights...a couple different 3 way switches int he kitchen and a 3 way in the laundry room...are you guys saying that for 3 or 4 way switches you would remove the the line linking these together?
i opened one light switch in the laundry room and the box is 2x3 but I didn't check how deep it was

we just bought this house last year with the plan being that this will be left for the kids to sell/split
there is enough room on the main floor if we get too old and don;t want to deal with stairs so immediate resell value is not a concern and hopefully im around long enough for technology to change a few more times before im gone lol
I prefer to tinker and figure out why something isn't working rather than pay someone else to do it
although I will say that up until this point electricity has not been something that I have worked on other than a switch or something small like that

and thank you again to everyone so far
everything that has been said and explained is immensely helpful

You and everybody else. The community is working on cameras ....but we ain't there --yet.

I like iSpy - I keep the server local. I do use their portal to gain remote access. Something like iSpy, Blue Iris, or SightHound allows you to avoid the cameras locking you into an ecosystem. I've been getting LaView cameras very inexpensively and they are nice quality. Most of them support ONVIF and they do RTSP and FFMPEG.

I used iSpy for a long time but it was too much of a resource hog on my tower. I needed something Linux based. So I went with MotionEye. It's not great but it gets the job done.

I'll have to look at that. I would prefer Linux.

Me to, in each room I have a dimming switch that controls some switchable white downlights (6500, 4000 or 3000 I think) this also via another input and the hub controls the zigbee RGBW lamps. Then I get best of both worlds, I mostly use the zigbee lamps for general lighting and downlights for task lighting.

Me too I avoid battery devices like the plague, I have motion detectors in each room but i had to go with the aeotec multi 6 because there the only ones that can be hidden (flush with ceiling) and powered but they are slow :unamused:.

All contacts are wired to powered z-wave devices as well.