• Posted by rich-algeni-jr on December 8, 2022 at 2:43 pm

    Hi folks!

    I’d like to tell you about the products I have purchased, to make my home a ‘smart home,’ and make my life much easier. In doing so, there were a lot of questions that needed to be answered, such as wifi or a different protocol; local control or cloud control; security; and internet or power outages.

    After quite a bit of research, I decided on a Zigbee based Smart Home hub. And the Hub I purchased is from Hubitat. I chose Zigbee because it is an invitation only Hub. By that, I mean only devices which I approve can connect to the network. You put the Hubitat in ‘add device’ mode, then go to the device, and tell it to connect. Then, you accept the connection in Hubitat. The Zigbee network is an open source protocol used to create personal networks. You may have heard of Z-Wave, this is a similar type network. Zigbee is a mesh network, which means it can use intermediate devices to communicate with devices further away. The lag time is very small.

    It was pretty much a coin flip as to which protocol I was going to consider, Zigbee or Z-Wave. I just determined Zigbee was a better fit for me.

    I chose Hubitat over over Hubs such as Samsung Smartthings (now Aeotec), because Hubitat allowed local control, where Smartthings required commands to go to the cloud. I did test an Aeotec hub, but encountered a cloud outage on the second day of testing. Needless to say, I sent it back! With Hubitat, commands sent from my smartphone or computer never leave my home’s network. So, it is not susceptible to cloud or internet outages. A big plus, in my opinion.

    I’m not sure what the rules are for links in the forum, so I will just include the name for which you can search: “Hubitat Elevation Home Automation Hub.’

    The only thing that could make it better, is if it could be powered by power over ethernet. But there are ways around that, if anyone is interested.

    Hubitat can also do Z-Wave, in case you were wondering. I decided to forgo smart lights per se, and purchased mostly dimmable LED lights for my renovated home. Instead, I purchased Leviton DG6HD dimmable switches, and DG15S non-dimmable switches. The non-dimmable switches were for things like bathroom fans. I can supply instructions on how to connect these to the Hubitat Hub. It’s quite easy. I also purchased a few smart plugs. They can be used to control lamps or other items that do not need switches.

    For voice control, about the easiest way to go is Alexa. In the Hubitat app on your phone or computer (computer screen is easier!), you add the Alexa app, then it can see the Zigbee devices. Just click on each, and click add or update, to update them to the Alexa app. Note that Alexa IS a cloud based app, and if the cloud or your internet connection goes down, the voice commands will not work. But, local control from your smartphone or computer WILL still work.

    Once this is complete, the Alexa app on your smartphone will be able to control the devices. You will add ‘skills’ to Alexa, to control the device by your voice. Please also note that the Hubitat Hub can control devices by time. For instance, you tell the Hub where your home is located. It will then know the time of sunset and sunrise for your location. I have my outside lights programmed to turn on 30 minutes before sunset, and turn off 30 minutes after sunrise. I thought that was really cool!

    There are a couple more things I have added, that are proprietary, and wifi and cloud based. These are thermostats and my garage door opener. Yes, these are subject to the constraints of the cloud or internet going down, but they were all that was available at this time.

    I hope this can help some as much as it helped me. Please feel free to ask any questions you’d like.

    Good luck!

    Rich Algeni

    alyssa-silva replied 1 year, 4 months ago 3 Members · 5 Replies
  • 5 Replies
  • alyssa-silva

    December 9, 2022 at 7:19 am

    This is super helpful Rich. I’ve always wanted to convert my home to a smart home but never knew where to start, besides using Alexa. Even with that, I feel like I’m not using her to my benefit as well as I should. Besides lights and switches, what other things does your smart home do?

    • rich-algeni-jr

      December 17, 2022 at 4:21 pm

      Hi Alyssa!
      It was my preference to use smart switches and plugs, and dumb bulbs. With dumb bulbs, all you have to do is replace the bulb if one burns out. Beyond this, I have cameras setup, so that I can answer the door from my phone, or my computer. I much prefer open source apps to proprietary apps, but there seems to be no choice for garage door openers and thermostats. However, there is an app called Home Assistant, that runs on a Raspberry Pi that can interface with many proprietary apps, and allows them to be centrally controlled. I have started tinkering with Home Assistant, but not enough to offer insight to the community.

      • alyssa-silva

        December 19, 2022 at 11:35 am

        This is so insightful Rich. Thank you! It’s amazing what technology can do these days.

  • deann-r

    December 9, 2022 at 8:35 am

    Awesome Rich! For non-techies like myself this sounds somewhat daunting but I can see where it’d be helpful in the long run. I love technology and use a ton of smart devices. Here’s my current issue. Each brand of smart plug/bulb/device requires an app to set them up. When inevitably something goes haywire I’m going through all the apps to figure out which it was paired to. Does the hub eliminate the need to do that?

    • rich-algeni-jr

      December 17, 2022 at 4:30 pm

      Hi DeAnn!

      I prefer to use smart switches and plugs, and dumb bulbs. That way, when a bulb fails, you can just replace it, and you’re back in business. The Hubitat hub has a number of benefits. It allows central, local control. Which means if the internet, or a providers cloud goes down, my switches and plugs still work. I can’t say that for the garage door opener or thermostats. They are proprietary, and require cloud access.

      For voice control, I use Alexa. It’s the easiest to use. But, if your internet or the Alexa cloud goes down, the voice control doesn’t work. With the local control hub, I can control the lights on my computer or phone, regardless of the internet.

      When you’re ready to move ahead, just shoot me a message, and I’ll be glad to help!

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