Question New ZWave hub - Smartthings, Harmony or Pi+Home assistant

Timbo234214

Novice Member
Hi,

I have a Fibaro Lite hub which is long in the tooth and not very programmable.
I also have: Fibaro Dimmer 2, Fibaro 2xswitch modules for lighting, TKB + Aeotech 13A plug switches, Aeotech Gen 5 multisensors and a couple of Fibaro flood sensors.

I'm looking for a new hub...

What would you folks recommend? I expect diverse answers, but I'm interested in any nuggets of info like specific problems with a particular platform or particular plus points.

Many thanks - Tim


So far, the candidates seem to be:

Pi + Home Assistant (keeps it local under my control - but is it "wife friendly"?

Samsung Smarthings - looks polished if all my devices work? (Saw a whine that dimmers broke a while back, eventually fixed)

And Harmony seems to allude to both participating in an existing ZWave network - but can it also take sole control of devices and be the ZWave master?

Use cases:

Must have good iPad and Android app (native or 3rd party)

Must have website based control (local preferred over portal, but I will consider portal only solutions)

Should have good scene programming. The Fibaro Lite "block scenes" are very limited and tedious to set up. Equally, whilst I could write everything in perl talking to a RESTful endpoint, I don't really want to get that raw
smile.png
Although plus points for an API endpoint in addition to native competent scenes.
 

PsyVision

Distinguished Member
I'll throw another in the mix ;) I'm using a Hubitat hub now having moved away from SmartThings.

The SmartThings mobile app is possibly the best thing going for it. I hated the lag in the cloud executions when things wanted to get more complex (I used WebCORE) but I gather there are more local executing scenes now. I still use it in my Cinema as the house mesh on Hubitat doesn't reach.

I'm currently considering Home Assistant on a Pi with an Aeotec Z-wave stick as the replacement to SmartThings in the Cinema as the mobile "app"/website looks pretty usable.

The downside to Hubitat is that it doesn't have a mobile app, but the house is more about automation and less about manual control.
 

Timbo234214

Novice Member
Hey thanks mate.

The remote cloud stuff always bothers me (what if they go away, get hacked etc).

I have not heard of Hubitat - and I forgot to say I was in the UK (different Z-Wave frequencies) but I see:

Hubitat Elevation for UK

Says it can be shipped to the UK and it's stick based and they even throw in the UK/EU stick :)

I am going to give that a bit of research - Tim
 

Desmo

Distinguished Member
Is the Fibaro Home Centre out of budget? I know it's not cheap but if you're used to the Fibaro system then it seems the most likely upgrade path and it's very configurable and programmable. If you can learn a bit of LUA, you can do pretty much anything with scenes or virtual devices.
 

dannylau

Member
I read some things about home assistant, it's free, and can do just about anything smartthings can do, plus way more.

it handles zwave devices, camera (via blue iris driver), whole home audio (via pi-based squeezebox & russound amp), home security, garage door, and ecobee. Also integrated voice control (supports google home & alexa natively).



Home Assistant
 

Wil S

Active Member
What about Athom Homey? I started there and its meant to be the hub to rule all hubs- zwave, zigbee etc?

Has good 'flows', good app and fairly strong developer support. SWMBO complains about it when the lights occasionally don't react to the motion sensors, but loves it the rest of the time... getting the 'flows' right is important but it's basically IfTTT sequences.
 
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Timbo234214

Novice Member
Is the Fibaro Home Centre out of budget? I know it's not cheap but if you're used to the Fibaro system then it seems the most likely upgrade path and it's very configurable and programmable. If you can learn a bit of LUA, you can do pretty much anything with scenes or virtual devices.

Yes - it's way too expensive for a device in its class.
 

Timbo234214

Novice Member
What about Athom Homey? I started there and its meant to be the hub to rule all hubs- zwave, zigbee etc?

Has good 'flows', good app and fairly strong developer support. SWMBO complains about it when the lights occasionally don't react to the motion sensors, but loves it the rest of the time... getting the 'flows' right is important but it's basically IfTTT sequences.

Cool - thank you - another one I had not heard of.

Athom Homey Smart Home Hub

That looks like it could be a Harmony replacement too (supports IR) - I'll have a look there.

Looks like I came to the right forum! :D
 

PsyVision

Distinguished Member
Cool - thank you - another one I had not heard of.

Athom Homey Smart Home Hub

That looks like it could be a Harmony replacement too (supports IR) - I'll have a look there.

Looks like I came to the right forum! :D

I looked at Athom, note that they are (or certainly were!) phasing out the web UI for 100% mobile.

I'm in the UK too, Hubitat just send different USB sticks with the order.
 
D

Deleted member 24354

Guest
I use Homeseer but wont punt it here as it doesn't meet your current requirements - the app is horrible looking (but much like @PsyVision I don't use apps as an interface, I think that Home Automation should be about the correct triggers to make things happen, not interfaces on touch screens, but I do use Alexa if I need something outside of the norm). With that out of the way i wouldn't touch Smartthings with a barge-pole. Its too laggy, heavily cloud based and suffers from major outages too often. Vera (Mi-Casa Verde) is a very popular option, but again has suffered some major outages in the past 12 months. I did a huge amount of research and I think for what you are looking for, if you want an appliance vs a software solution, at your price point, Athom Homey is probably your best bet.
 

Desmo

Distinguished Member
Yes - it's way too expensive for a device in its class.
You're right in that it's very expensive compared to others on the market but I think the versatility of it can be worth it, as long as you're happy doing you're own coding.

Happy hunting, hope you find something that suits :)
 

Wil S

Active Member
I looked at Athom, note that they are (or certainly were!) phasing out the web UI for 100% mobile.

I'm in the UK too, Hubitat just send different USB sticks with the order.

Yep, this has happened with the latest update. I genuinely thought I'd hate it, but it's actually improved my interactions with the controller. Shame they can't have both, but I can always emulate an android environment on my PC if I'm desperate to use the PC to update things.

I have Fibaro and Aeotec through my home plus TP-link Kasa lamps and plugs, harmony elite (think extension rather than replace), 2012 samsung tv, onkyo receiver and it pulls them all together well.
 

Wil S

Active Member
ah one thing to point out- you can't update the firmware of fibaro devices etc through Homey (but I assume that's the same for all non- Fibaro controllers?) I haven't worked out how (or needed) to update the firmware yet!
 

PsyVision

Distinguished Member
RobinWinbourne/Hubitat looks promising - I was worried a 3rd party solution would make it hard to manage config parameters for devices, but this looks like there's support.

No there's quite a bit of support for Fibaro devices (and many others). There's also a generic z-wave tool that allows you to scan for device parameters and update them even if a "driver" doesn't expose them.
 

Timbo234214

Novice Member
ah one thing to point out- you can't update the firmware of fibaro devices etc through Homey (but I assume that's the same for all non- Fibaro controllers?) I haven't worked out how (or needed) to update the firmware yet!

Good point... To be fair, I haven't seen an update for quite a while (had a couple on the Dimmer2 modules, but over a year ago).
 

Timbo234214

Novice Member
No there's quite a bit of support for Fibaro devices (and many others). There's also a generic z-wave tool that allows you to scan for device parameters and update them even if a "driver" doesn't expose them.

Thanks for that - I'll look out for the tool, could be useful
 

Timbo234214

Novice Member
Looks like a run in between Hubitat and HomeAssistant+PI - and it would be logical to have a play with the latter as I have a PI and it will cost me a stick :)

Thanks for all the suggestions - much appreciated :clap:
 

xxGBHxx

Well-known Member
I have Hubitat too and love it BUT as I've said before *NO* home automation system is wife friendly. Once everything is set up and working then everything SHOULD be wife friendly (in fact do it right and the wife will not even notice it's there!) but every single one I've read about, researched or the 3 I've tried (Vera, HA and now Hubitat) have huge learning curves and are a complete PITA to set up.

I personally like Hubitat because the community is fantastic, the devs interact with the users all the time, it gets regular updates, supports almost everything I've chucked at it but most importantly it's fast. Perhaps I'm a bit old school these days but I'm used to my IT being immediate. Most cloud services royally pee me off but nothing more so than Vera did. In fact every cloud solution I have *EVER* used has had downtime whether that be their fault or my fault. Hubitat never goes down unless I get a power failure and it is so fast compared to the Vera it's ridiculous.

But it's still in its infancy and theres a lot of room for UI improvements and by that I mean it all makes sense to me and I can get everything working but there's features that could make it a lot more friendly. If you're up for the challenge then Hubitat is worth supporting with your money in my opinion but when you hit your first maddening problem where things just will not work remember they're all the same ;)

G
 
D

Deleted member 24354

Guest
My Homeseer does everything that it is supposed to. Still rate it very highly.
 

giffordpikes

Active Member
Love Home Assistant. It integrates so many different platforms. It takes a bit of getting your head around the yaml but I think its worth it for all the benefits like being free!
 

Harkon321

Well-known Member
This thread is over a year old, wondered if people's thinking was still similar. Is anyone now using Homey? I've read some really good reviews and a few negative or mixed reviews. Fibaro Home Centre is still very expensive. Looked at Homeseer that Mushi is using but it looks quite complex for a beginner like me.

Not seen much on Hubitat yet.
 

xxGBHxx

Well-known Member
This thread is over a year old, wondered if people's thinking was still similar. Is anyone now using Homey? I've read some really good reviews and a few negative or mixed reviews. Fibaro Home Centre is still very expensive. Looked at Homeseer that Mushi is using but it looks quite complex for a beginner like me.

Not seen much on Hubitat yet.

So here's where I am with it and note this is a very personal opinion. Everyones experiences are different.

I am pretty disillusioned with HA in general. Here's what my observations are after a couple of years.
  1. It's *REALLY* hard to do well. I mean *REALLY REALLY* hard. EVERYTHING is a faff or a compromise. Nothing works as you expect it to first time. It's still getting better over time but every single ecosystem has holes (so you're ALWAYS having to use disparate components from a wide range of manufacturers). This fragments the experience.
  2. It's REALLY expensive. EVERY smart device costs a fortune. Good window sensors? That's £30 PER SENSOR. Smart heating valves? That's £50 PER VALVE. Smart sockets or light switches? That's anything from £30-£60 PER FITTING. I may be an outlier as I have 18 windows, 4 doors, 19 radiators etc. but just the smart heating alone has cost me almost £1000.
Things you think should be simple to do are damn near impossible. Take lighting. Turn a light on and off remotely on a timer? Trivial. Turn a light on and off based on motion? Again trivial (though not flawless). Turn a light on and off based on motion and getting it to STAY on while you're in the room and not triggering the motion sensor (which you don't if you're watching TV, reading or indeed do ANYTHING other than walk about) next to impossible. You need state aware movement detection (which doesn't get confused by multiple people) or pressure sensors in the floor, or RFID tags to track location. It's HUGELY expensive and HUGELY difficult and all so you have a light turn on and off when you walk in and out of a room. God forbid if it then gets confused and you have to reset states.

Same thing with voice activation. It's all *WAY* too unreliable and convoluted and takes way too long. By the time I've barked a command I could have picked up a remote and pressed a button and be watching TV.

Don't get me wrong, there are niche use cases that make sense but over time I've come to realise that it's just way too difficult, way too time consuming and way too expensive to do it properly and to get significant enough benefit out of it.

I'm certain that in a situation where money was no object, where you were getting a high end installer to build in a system from scratch (new house or significant renovation) that it would work fantastic. But
for most of us who don't have unlimited time and money I'd probably not bother. It's a cool and interesting hobby if you're into that and genuinely want to spend the time tinkering and faffing with it all but I don't think that's me.

G
 

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