@fireforsin - Like you, I am very unsatisfied with both old and new apps due to a number of reasons I won’t rehash here. However, my device ecosystem has been way more stable than ever before in the last year or maybe more. I believe that to be due to improvements on ST side but also to me eliminating some devices that I’ve suspected many times of being the culprit of my device related issues.
My biggest issue with ST is their reliance on the cloud and therefore the varying lag, or failures, that ensue. As others noted above, many more devices are supported by a DTH that can run locally HOWEVER these DTHs are also very basic (at least for my devices) and generally do not support extended functionality the device offers (ie: parameter configuration). This is a deal breaker for me as I spent more to get those extra features so I am stuck using a “custom DTH” and thus relegated to the cloud. Yuck!
Anyway, back to your specific issue… it is critical you build the backbone of your zigbee and zwave mesh networks properly and using good quality devices. This means that starting from the hub and moving out, you have wired (not battery, or stuff that can be unplugged or switched off) devices for both zigbee and zwave. The devices relay messages back to the hub so the devices need to be distributed around the house in such a way that any zwave device can hop back to the hub with a maximum 4 hops. I would ONLY use Zwave plus devices due to extended reach and faster speed. Placement of the ST hub is critical in some cases (larger homes, lots of RF obstacles, lots of metal, concrete, etc) so it is generally a good idea to place it in the middle of the home if possible. Mine is in the media room on the 2nd floor to a extreme side of the house and sitting on a metal networking rack cabinet… so absolutely NOT ideal but it works perfectly and most zwave devices (between 100 and 150) can talk to the hub directly.
As for Zigbee, the rules apply however zigbee can hop quite a few more times than zwave but the fewer hops needed the faster and more reliable it will be. Zigbee operates at 2.4GHz so it is more susceptible to RF noise (ie Wifi and all the stuff that operates in the 2.4GHz ISM band) and obstacles. Most Zigbee devices I have seen in the USA tend to be battery operated or light bulbs. Battery devices do not relay messages and light bulbs are a poor choice especially if they can be switched off from a wall switch. For my ST hub I rely mostly on hidden ST outlets (latest gen) but this is not ideal as they can be unplugged thus damaging the reliability of your mesh network. For my Hubitat hub I installed 5 Zigbee wall switches in the 3 different attic spaces (3 for lights, 2 for HVAC). I still have very few devices (all Zigbee) on my Hubitat hub but they have worked perfectly to date.
Everyone appears to be releasing their own ‘smart home hub’ but lots of them focus on their product range and do not integrate well with the rest. ST is likely the best player when it comes to 3rd party device integration even though it is not all roses. It appears that a lot of what was developed for ST can be reused on HE so I would not be surprised if HE’s compatibility list were to get close to ST’s (not sure as I have not researched this yet).
In the past I’ve tried:
VERA - I hated it and abandoned it super fast
Wink - I hated it and abandoned it super fast
Homeseer - I hated it and abandoned it super fast
ST - v1, v2, v3 - after 5 years, even though things got a lot better, I find myself unhappy with unreliability of anything connected to the cloud. Mostly the unreliability is just the varying amount of lag that defeats the purpose of many automations (typical example is light sensor turning on light when I am already half way in the room). Days when most people are at work and I am at home, my automations seem much faster than the evenings when everyone is at home… thank you cloud!
So… jumping to HE is very dangerous (tiny company, short track record, could change things on a whim, my first HE hub died within a few days of purchase, etc) and would require lots of work for which I do not have time. Therefore, my goal is to move critical automations over to HE to take advantage of faster and more reliable local execution. I am trying to integrate it as a ‘back end’ that will do stuff without needing to be exposed to users. All user interfacing will remain with ST. As bad as the apps are (ok, the new app is improving but still sucks when you have more than a couple hundred things in it), they are still better than any alternatives I’ve seen for use on a phone.
My suggestion? ST & HE. There are apps that allow to use them both together but it will NOT be effort free. This is if you love to automate stuff and are not satisfied with basic stuff like a light turning on when you get home.
Unresolved matters in my experiment:
- Even with HE I lose some extended features of certain devices
- No decent app for phone use
- Firmware updates to ST zigbee devices that get moved over
- Non official full support for webCore (yeah, I love this and cannot do without!!!)
- Surely more, but I have to leave the house…