Alternative Hubs

Yeah I didn’t think about the duplicate devices. I had two (old tp link plug and a casetta light) and just disabled the duplicates on the Alexa side. But if you have a ton of devices this would be a real pain. I’m glad the integration works for you, but I read a bunch of complaints about the Hubitat Alexa integration on the Hubitat forums. For me with Smartthings, the light is on before Alexa finishes saying ok.

We all bought our hubs already, and everyone rationalizes their decision of course. But I would think many reading this are looking to possibly switch hubs, and they should know the ups and downs of their options. I went through that painful process a couple months ago and just wanted to share my experience. Things change fast even in a few months though and for some, I’m sure Hubitat is a great option. But the important thing is to do your research and don’t switch hubs based on a knee jerk reaction.

The last thing I will say about Hubitat is they were having a big sale in May, then when Wink implemented the subscription plan Hubitat immediately ended the sale and jacked up their prices. It seemed like a (insert explitive) move and did not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling about the company.

Glad to hear ST is currently working for you.

Same thing for me, with Hubitat’s Alexa Skill. Although, I have simply automated almost of our lighting based on time of day, sunrise/sunset, contact sensors, presence sensors, and motion sensors. We really hardly ever touch a light switch, and very rarely need to ask Alexa to do anything for us. We do use Alexa for a “Good Morning” and “Good Night” sequence of events. Works every time, without fail.

I completely agree and you’re definitely entitled to share your experience. However, it doesn’t sound like you actually have any firsthand experience with Hubitat, correct? Whereas I have been a SmartThings user since 2014 and a Hubitat user since very early 2018. Both have their pros and cons. It all depends on what one’s goals are for home automation. For me, I really wanted local processing of my own custom code, along with data privacy, the ability to backup and restore my configuration, and the option to choose if and when I upgrade the firmware on my hub. Thus, Hubitat scores much higher in all of those areas for me. SmartThings scores high on the number of cloud integrations they have, a huge corporation to keep them afloat, and not one, but TWO mobile apps! :wink:

Sure, I can understand how that would appear. Hubitat was in the midst of changing from their C-5 model hub (500 series Z-Wave) to their new C-7 model hub (700 series Z-Wave). The global supply chain was also a mess at that time, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. And Wink decided to upset their customers. Thus, it was a perfect storm scenario for Hubitat. Their supply was dwindling and demand was growing faster than anyone could have forecasted. I completely understand the cancelling of their sale price - they are a business after all - Supply and Demand. The timing for Wink users was, however, very unfortunate. Hubitat sold out of hubs very soon thereafter due to the aforementioned reasons. When Lowes shut down Iris, Hubitat did not alter their pricing. In fact, they actually reverse engineered the Iris v1 Zigbee protocol and added support for those devices to their platform. They did not charge a premium for that feature either.

It is good to have options. I know I try to keep an open mind and “use the proper tool for each job”, rather than trying to rely entirely on one platform/hub. I have come to learn that using the best of best, and then integrating those things together, will result in a highly reliable and functional solution.

For example, I find that Lutron switches, dimmers, fan controllers, and pico remotes ‘just work’, every time, all of the time. I have never had a single issue with my Lutron lighting system. It can be integrated with SmartThings, Hubitat, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit, Logitech Harmony Hub, IFTTT, Wink, Home Assistant, Node-RED, Ecobee, Sonos, etc… And it can integrate with all of those at the same time! I find this provides much more flexibility versus using Z-Wave/Zigbee switches, dimmers, and button controllers…and I never have to worry about having to ‘pair’ my Lutron devices again should I change hubs for any reason.

Philips Hue provides the same sort of robustness and integration possibilities for smart light bulbs. It can be integrated with SmartThings, Hubitat, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit, Logitech Harmony Hub, IFTTT, Home Assistant, Node-RED, etc… And it can integrate with all of those at the same time!

For Motion Sensors, Contact Sensors, and Leak Sensors, I find that Zigbee devices are much faster responding and lower cost than ‘most’ of their Z-Wave counterparts. This makes them ideal for automation, as well as for home security duties. My personal favorites are the Lowes Iris v2 devices, which were made by Centralite, the same OEM that made most of the original SmartThings devices. Centralite devices again, just seem to work very well (until their batteries die, of course! :wink: )

For Text to Speech, it is hard to do much better than Sonos. I personally like the IKEA Symfonisk speakers as they a relatively low cost, and are made by Sonos. They sound pretty nice as well. I have written my own TTS integration for Alexa, as well as used ‘Echo Speaks’, but for me the simplicity of using a device that can easily be integrated with multiple systems to perform TTS wins out.

For thermostats, I like Ecobee at this time. It has a nice balance of cost and features, and can be integrated with multiple platforms. Once Google shut down Works with Nest, I took Nest off my list. I also like that Ecobee thermostats, at least the current generation, supports Apple HomeKit. This means that even if the internet is down, as long as my phone is on my local WiFi, I can still see and control these thermostats via HomeKit. My AppleTV can also continue to run HomeKit automations while the internet is down.

During a recent power/internet outage here in Southeastern North Carolina, due to Hurricane Isaias, I was impressed that I could still have a fully automated house running on my generator, albeit with no internet. I could still access my Hubitat hub, my Logitech Harmony Hubs, Ecobee thermostats, etc… I could even lock the doors from my phone/tablet while connected to the local LAN. My ST hub was dead in the water, even with generator power, as there was no way for the hub to download its configuration from the ST cloud without an active internet connection (before someone asks, yes I have these devices on a fairly hefty UPS, but during a hurricane, when the power goes out at 11pm, I am not firing up the generator in the middle of the storm. Thus, the UPS did not hold until the next morning once the storm had passed and it was safe to venture outside.)

Again, it is good to have options and to keep an open mind. Everything has its pros and cons. I choose to focus on the pros of each technology, and then tie them all together to create a seamless user experience.

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Awesome insight. Yes you are correct no personal experience with Hubitat. Maybe I’m half afraid you’re completely right, I made the wrong choice, and will need to buy Hubitat as hub number three if Samsung blows this transition in the next few months, lol. Thanks for taking it easy on me. :slight_smile:

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Also better battery life. :wink:

I chose smartthings in the first place back in 2014 because I wanted Zigbee sensors and Z wave locks.

Choice is good. :sunglasses:

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So I read this thread and talked to some developers that I have worked with a bunch since turning up my instance of ST years ago (still on the v1 hub in fact) and I am at a loss as to what to do next. I am torn between waiting out being forced to use the new app (which I haven’t switched to yet because of no Apple Watch support) and upgragrading my hub with taking the leap to Hubitat (I have the latest hub in its packaging waiting to be turned up.) However no Apple Watch integration on Hubitat either. I really can’t find a convincing opinion here or anywhere on the internet for that matter. Anyone with first hand knowledge have an opinion?

There are two possible options, but I don’t know if they fit your exact use case.

The IFTTT “button” service Will work as a widget on an Apple Watch. That works quite well if you only have a couple of things you want to use the watch for.

And of course there’s always Homekit. If you use homebridge to bring your smartthings devices into HomeKit, then you can use that with the Apple Watch.

Either of these methods will work with a number of different hubs, including SmartThings. :sunglasses:

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You are killing me! :grin:

Seriously though…do we think that ST is not going to develop a new Apple Watch integration as a way to force users to their devices? IFTTT doesn’t work for the over 30 items I use my Apple Watch for and I have just glossed over Homebridge because it draws in another piece of equipment I need to configure/maintain. I am a lazy geek. :flushed:

The more research I do the more I am thinking of waiting out the force off of v1 and classic…am I really becoming the old grumpy get off my lawn lady??

IFTTT works for SmartThings, though. So I’m confused about what exactly it is that you’re looking for. :thinking:

How do you use the Apple Watch now with smartthings? Isn’t it just a widget to run a routine? If so, then you can definitely do that with Ifttt, but you would have the widget turn on a virtual SmartThings switch and then trigger the automation from that switch coming on on the smartthings side.

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Sorry when you said “if you only have a couple things to use it for” I assumed you meant there were limitations on the amount of “widgets” I could create in IFTTT. I will research further but this doesn’t answer the ST or Hubitat question…any opinions on that?

What exactly are your questions? If you really are a “lazy geek”, then you may want to stay with SmartThings. Hubitat is a very capable home automation platform, but it does require some effort.

Please explain how you currently use SmartThings, including what devices and integrations you currently use. Are you using a lot of custom community code, like DTHs and SmartApps (e.g. webCoRE)?

Maybe we should start a new thread for this specific project since it’s getting into a lot of details?

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There’s no limit that I know of, it just becomes kind of hard to find things if you have more than three or four. As opposed to HomeKit where you can open up a single app and then flip through your scenes very easily. Or of course use voice.

As far as smartthings versus hubitat each has pluses and minuses, it’s a very individual decision.

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My question was really more about the alternative hub…not so much about the Apple Watch integration but that doesn’t make me any less grateful for the suggestions!

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So here is my current set up:

v1 hub, classic apps

Smart Apps
MyQ Lite
Auto Lock

Routines
Over 30 that are switch and plug on/off as well as a few lock/unlock commands all of which I use from my Apple Watch

Devices
ZWave Locks - 3
Switches
Hue bulbs and lightstrips
Motion Sensors - that drive light and lock automations
Open/Closed sensors
Water sensors
Presence sensors for garage automation
Sonos integrations for SHM

I think that about sums it up…now that I spell it all out it is pretty simple. I do have everything hooked up to an APC back up because most times when power goes down internet is still up. So this allows me to continue to use some of the functions of ST. Since the whole house isn’t on a generator it’s limited but it I think answers do I need the locally controlled devices and I think that is no although that’s enticing. I think that’s my struggle…I want to want to use the Hubitat but I don’t think I need it. But leaping into v3 and the new app scares me as well because I can’t find a clear list of what I will lose outside of the Apple Watch component that seemingly is solved by IFTTT.

I really do appreciate any input you have and thanks for taking the time review this with me!

So, is it safe to say that you are much more of a ‘remote control’ style of user versus a ‘fully automated’ style of user? Manually or verbally triggering 30 Routines via your Apple Watch is what makes me believe you are more interested in being able to remotely control devices/routines. If that is the case, and you’re not willing to stand up a Raspberry PI running Homebridge, then your options may be quite limited.

Hubitat does not support Apple Watch. Its iOS/Android mobile application has three main functions - 1) GeoPresence, 2) Push Notifications, and 3) Remote or Local Dashboard access. There is no deep integration with iOS whatsoever, to exploit features like Apple Watch integration. Hubitat has some resources focused on improving their mobile app, but if you need that functionality now, you may want to look elsewhere. Personally, I never really use the ST or Hubitat mobile apps for regular day-to-day activity. Nor does anyone in my family. We use Life360 for geopresence and Pushover for push notifications. Both work far better than the ST or Hubitat mobile apps in my opinion. For remote access/control of devices, I would use ActionTiles on ST, and either SharpTools or Hubitat Dashboards on Hubitat. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, I prefer having the house automatically perform actions without us having to constantly pull out a mobile phone or issue voice commands.

With Hubitat, it is possible to use iOS Shortcuts to make calls to the Hubitat Maker API (both cloud and LAN endpoints are available.) Using this technique, one can create iOS Shortcuts that can turn on virtual switches that could be used as triggers to either simple or complex rules (i.e. Routines.) I am not sure whether or not these iOS Shortcuts can be activated via an Apple Watch, but I know that they can be both touch activated and voice activated on an iPhone. This solution is not trivial to implement, however it has the advantage of not requiring another always-on Homebridge computer in your home.

I run a Raspberry PI running HOOBS which is my Homebridge machine. I was surprised at how simple it was to get up and running, and then expose just the devices I wanted from Hubitat. This technique also uses the Hubitat Maker API to allow standard http/JSON access to the devices you choose from the Hubitat hub. For SmartThings, I am guessing that a community member has written a Groovy SmartApp to work with a Homebridge plugin. Once ST shuts down their Groovy IDE next year, that plugin will need to be rewritten to connect directly to the New ST API. Perhaps someone has already accomplished this? I really don’t know.

Not sure if this helps you, or simply confuses your decision making process. It would seem to me that if you really want the best iOS and Apple Watch support, trying to get as much in HomeKit is the correct strategy will will provide the most flexibility. Once you have things in HomeKit, and have a device like an AppleTV 4 running as your HomeKit hub, you’ll be able to create HomeKit automations and iOS Shortcuts that can provide the flexibility you desire.

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This is super helpful…in my situation now that everything is either automated or set up in a routine I rarely go to the ST app for anything. I go into IDE to update one off apps I have installed as updates are released or if a device isn’t working I will go in to confirm the handler is correct. But for the most part I use the widget for routine access or Alexa to turn things on and off that aren’t automated. I do use ST to detect presence because several years back when I tried Life360 it was AWFUL as it related to response time. It would take several minutes to detect presence and when you don’t want the Sonos blaring at you when you walk in you need your presence to be detected as soon as you are in the geofence zone. I have to assume that if you are using as you say you are that the function has improved.

Based on your input I am still torn as to whether I spend the time to upgrade to ST V3 and rebuild what I may lose in the hub and app conversion or take the leap to Hubitat but either way it seems I need to at a minimum build out a raspberry pi with homebridge for the apple watch experience.

Thanks so much for your time and expertise…off to compare costs of both options to see if that get me closer to a decision. :thinking:

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So I may be veering slightly off topic, but I have some Inovelli Zwave switches that need firmware updates. Smarthings has said Zwave firmware updates have been “coming soon” for over 3 years now, and with all the resources going to the new app switch I’m not holding my breath. Anyway I’m looking to just get an Aeotec Zstick to do those firmware updates, then realized once I get that I can just get a PI and some software and bingo, another hub. It seems like from some instructions I found here - https://support.inovelli.com/portal/en/kb/articles/how-to-update-device-firmware-z-wave-smartthings-secondary-controller-method imply I can run two controllers on my Zwave network at the same time. Is that actually possible long term (and not just for firmware updates)? Could I potentially use Smartthings to control the “remote” things, and use Home Assistant/OpenHab/or Homesseer on a PI with my new Zstick at the same time to control things locally? This could be a good option to really use the strengths and weaknesses of one hub over the other on the same Zwave network. Most of my devices are Zwave, with only a few Zigbee that would remain controlled on the Smartthings hub. If Smartthings totally doesn’t work for me anymore I can just add a Zigbee stick and just have my own hub that I own, control, and made myself and wouldn’t have to worry about leaving my fate up in the air to the whims of some corporation. I originally started off with cloud control but the more time I spend on automation the less I have to do things in the cloud and talk to Alexa. I come home and unlock the door and things happen. I get up in the morning and flick one switch, and everything else turns on and off knowing I got up. That is so much better than having Alexa not understand me half the time.

P.S. - I know Hubitat already supports Zwave firmware updates, and if I had just bought a Hubitat instead of Smartthings I would have been able to update the firmware, and now any cost savings from the Smartthigs hub will be wiped out by having to buy this Zstick. If Hubitat just had an app though…

I am not a Z-Wave expert at all. Sorry, wish I could be more help. I am sure there are others who have done exactly what you’re considering. There has to be some trade-offs trying to use two Z-Wave controllers on the same network. If not, I would think lots of folks would already be doing it.

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@mwav3

can run two controllers on my Zwave network at the same time. Is that actually possible long term (and not just for firmware updates)? Could I potentially use Smartthings to control the “remote” things, and use Home Assistant/OpenHab/or Homesseer on a PI with my new Zstick at the same time to control things locally?

Probably not the way you are imagining. See the brand new FAQ. (The topic title is a clickable link.)

@ogiewon

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Check out Home Assistant (which is open source software, not hardware)