Yes, I always recommend the SmartBridge pro model, it just gives you lots of future options.
I agree with @ogiewon and will be giving my mother a Hubitat hub for her upcoming birthday. My SmartThings v1 hub has been installed there for years doing simple lighting automations. The house was full of dumb timers and my dad would reset them twice a year and I automated that with my old hub when I upgraded to a v2 years ago. Like Dan I moved to Hubitat early last year because I grew tired of instability, slow automations, and frustration with ST and have been extremely happy. The Lutron Integration is amazing and I have Pico remotes everywhere and in places that are impossible to run wires for a switch either because of code (near bathtub) or because of no space in the wall. Instant and reliable.
Recently there was a ST outage just before my parents scheduled time that turns off the outdoor lights at 1 AM and they remained on all night and my mother asked why. That promoted me to buy a Hubitat hub for her so things run locally and no cloud dependency. I do have an ASUS router installed there with OpenVPN setup so I can easily login to adjust. That was one of the best things I did years ago because my dad has computer issues from time to time where I can login and help him fix them - they lives 2 hours away.
Like Dan I am not trying to sell you on Hubitat but provide you with information to make an informed decision. I believe it is mature enough to install at my 70+ year old parents house.
The idea of having a local device that once I get working I can be comfortable it will stay working until I allow it to get changed is appealing. I’ve never dealt with creating a VPN before, but that feels like another layer of complexity that might cause pain since I have so little experience with it.
She is on Comcast and uses a Comcast router but is thinking of switching over to FIOS. I wonder if you rent modems from either of them if you can do VPN? I’ve always though about buying a router and stopping the rental, but it is nice that she can call Comcast when there are problems and they will try to fix it. She also uses VOIP through Comcast and I have found the options for buying a router that is certified to support the Comcast VOIP really narrows down the selection.
I did a quick read on VPN and it sounds like one way to implement is to actually add a router to the network that is not the primary router. Is that what you did?
Don’t know if this will work for you, but I have Cox and I still use Cox’s VOIP for a land line. When I told them I wanted to use my own router and if that meant stopping their phone service then so be it, I told them I wasn’t paying anymore rental fees for a modem. I then learned they had a basic modem that would just handle the phone service and they decided I no longer needed to pay the monthly rental fee. So I use my netgear router for my internet, and I have their modem hooked up just to handle phone service. I personally would drop the phone but my wife wants to have a dedicated land line in the house.
I totally understand you not wanting to complicate matters. Having the ability for her to simply call the Cable/Phone company, and have them deal with it, is a very nice feature. I actually do the same with my mother-in-law. If she has a problem, she calls Spectrum!
I actually own my cable modem and router. My Asus RT-AC86U router handles NAT Router, Wifi Access Point, and OpenVPN server duties in a single package.
Some folks actually use an inexpensive Raspberry Pi to run OpenVPN behind the router. This does require a port to be forwarded to the RPi for the incoming OpenVPN connection. You also have to use a Dynamic DNS provider (free with my Asus router) to know what WAN TCP/IP address your mother’s house is currently using, so the OpenVPN client on your phone, tablet, or laptop can connect.
If TCP/IP networking is not a strong skill you possess, then OpenVPN may be a bit much to try to tackle as I think through all of the things I just take for granted regarding my home networking setup.
Again, for your mom’s house, @JDRoberts has provided some excellent guidance with using Lutron + HomeKit + Alexa. That’s a solid combination, which is mostly all local control (except for Alexa voice command processing which requires the cloud.)
Amazon does now provide a very limited amount of local voice processing for echo devices. It only works with the ones that have a zigbee coordinator inside, so an echo plus or the echo show second generation. And it only works for the devices which are directly connected to that coordinator.
Echo is my primary voice control, Siri is my back up, and I have one zigbee switch connected directly to an echo show second generation, and that’s the back up to the backup so at least there is one light that I can turn on if the Internet is out and for some reason Siri isn’t available either.
That’s very cool! Hopefully Amazon keeps on developing and pushing their platform to handle more things locally.
Thanks for sharing, @JDRoberts!
I have the exact same router and purchased a slightly cheaper model for my parents. My parents have had absolutely zero issues with it and it just hums along. Maybe once I had my dad unplug it and back in but other than that it is very reliable.
Within the Asus firmware it will walk you through creating the OpenVPN file you need to import into your phone or tablet or computer. On my iPhone and iPads I have the free OpenVPN app installed and I just go into settings and turn on VPN and boom I am connected to my home or parents network. In Hubitat, all configurations are browser based so you just pull up Safari to configure. With SmartThings all you have to do is change locations.
Thanks everyone for all the feedback and good ideas. Need to ponder and figure out where to start. In the mean time my mom sent me a picture of several wifi switches and timers she went out and got as well as a lamp so looks like that’s where we’ll start for now lol.