Filed RMA with the ST. Looking for the similar HUB that actually works

Hey guys, I think I’ve had it with ST. It is constant battle for things to work. The last straw I think was yesterday. However, before I go into history, I wonder if you guys know of a good substitute HUB that actually works with Mobile Presence and Alexa.

Here is little bit of the history why I want to depart from ST.
The product is very raw. It is half cooked, but sold as a complete device. Every update ST makes brakes my settings, routines and devices. Lately, I’ve noticed that some switches (GE) that were working perfectly, all of a sudden for a few weeks been showing wrong statuses. So I tried to exclude one of the switches, but ST just would not exclude it. So ST support simply delete it for me. Turns out that for some reason device was not completely deleted and showing as a “ghost” as ST Support put it to me. I tried to re-include this device, but ST does not see it. So I contacted ST support yesterday about it and they told me that as of now, it seems that half of my Z-Wave devices/switches that are showing need to be repaired. The ST support ran the repair and said they cannot do it because there is also a “ghost device” - the switch that ST support deleted. They told me that the only way to try to fix this issue is to exclude half of my devices from the ST and then re-include it. Well considering that each of these devices engaged in routines and smart apps, this process will take me very while. Hence, it got me thinking if I am about to re-do half of my devices I might as well just switch to another more reliable HUB. My only question, which other HUB support mobile presence and Amazon Alexa?



To be perfectly honest, I don’t know if there is a hub that will just work. My friend is using Vera and he has problems with support and device stability. Then there is insteon, but I believe you need to buy insteon devices. If you’re tech savvy, you can check out open HAB. I tried to get it set up and couldn’t get it to work with Hue, but, I didn’t really try that hard either. :slight_smile:

Good luck with your search.

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Here is something to get you started with the one of the three hubs integrated with Alexa (the third being Wink, with which you will not have a much better experience than ST). I didn’t try Insteon, nor do I plan on trying, as long as ST keeps improving. The local processing for the most noticeable “lights on motion” works well for now, so that’s a big WAF. All else can improve slowly…

SmartThings seems to be the best at the moment for self-install.

The professional route is always available - at a much, much higher premium. Control4 is one example; get the wallet ready. :stuck_out_tongue:

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But no direct integration with Alexa. So money cannot buy everything…

Try looking at Almond+ from securifi. You can check with them if they are working on echo integration. They officially support Nest as well.

Have been using it as just a wifi router, works very well. Will try to put some switches and sensors on it to check how it goes. I just need stability compared to the number of devices supported.

Almond+ gets very good reviews as a WiFi router, not so much as a home automation hub.

you can have a great home automation system now – – at a cost of $5000 a room

At the present time there are a couple of well established, very expensive Systems that do everything that everybody wants, including incorporating security, visual, and home automation in a reliable system. But they cost around $5000 a room Plus significant annual fees… Multi millionaires use them, but not really anybody else. Control 4 and Crestron are both in this group. If I could afford a control 4 system, I’d absolutely get one. But it’s way outside of my budget.

If all you need is lights on a schedule and some voice control, you can have a very reliable system for around $300 a room

If you’re looking at the low-end, say $200-$500 per room, you can get very reliable control for lighting and window coverings on a timed schedule by going just with Lutron Caseta. You can also get voice control through HomeKit and add a lock to the system. If you only need lights, you can do the same thing for even less money with just echo and the Phillips hue bridge. You can stay in the same budget and add a HomeKit lock.

The problem comes when you want conditional logic and sensors and your budget is $500 a room or less

Inexpensive Systems that do just lights on a schedule have been around for a long time. What the advertising for SmartThings and its competitors promise is something much more like a control 4 system: a truly smart home, that uses sensors of various types, combined with conditional logic, to change what devices do, and when.

This technology exists: it’s the basis of the very expensive systems. But when you look at the home automation hubs that are available in the lower price range, you find that they all have pluses and minuses, and they all get rated at around 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 stars on Amazon. Some people love their set ups. Some people can’t get them to work at all. Most people find that they just aren’t very reliable, or they have significant missing features, or they work great for a few months, some new feature gets pushed out, and a lot of existing stuff breaks. This is true for all of these hubs. Sometimes the hub seem to be pretty good, but the business model is sketchy, and there’s an ongoing danger of the company going out of business.

There’s no one market leader, and there are customers jumping in all directions between them.

If reliability is your top concern, Staples Connect (whose primary market is small businesses) has made that their top priority from the beginning. But they got that stability by significantly limiting the features that they offer and the devices that their system works with. There’s no Geopresence, no voice control, no IFTTT channel, and a choice of only a couple of sensors of each type. If you look at their forums, the main complaints are that there are so few choices and so few updates.

Insteon gets dinged for having old technology, although they are significantly investing in upgrades, including their new homekit and AllJoyn hubs. But the new stuff doesn’t have enough device choices yet, and doesn’t play with all of the old stuff. Because they’re in the middle of such a significant transition, it’s really hard to judge where they will be in a year.

Wink is literally in bankruptcy. It may survive, it may not. Amazon stopped stocking the hub about a month ago, never a good sign. Again, a year from now we should know a lot more about their trajectory.

Works with Nest and HomeKit both seem to be reliable but neither has sensors or trigger logic yet. Both are adding new devices all the time. My expectation is we’ll be able to look at them as potential candidates by the summer of 2016. But for now there just isn’t enough there yet.

So that brings us back to the existing cheap hubs: SmartThings, Vera, Zipato, Homeseer, Lowe’s Iris, PEQ, Abode, Securifi Almond+, Fibaro, a couple more.

Some have Geopresence, some don’t. Some have voice control, some don’t. Some have text notifications, some don’t. Some can run locally, some require the Internet for almost everything. Some have better rules engines than others. Some push out changes without allowing them to be delayed, others don’t. Some have good camera integration, some don’t. They offer different mixes of technologies. Some have a monthly fee, some don’t. Some allow custom programming, some don’t .

No matter which one you get, there will be features from one of the other ones that you’ll wish you had.

The future is coming, but it’s not here yet

Everyone is waiting to see what a full-featured HomeKit system, and a full-featured weave/thread system, and a full-featured “works with nest” system, will have to offer. but we’re just not there yet. My own guess is summer 2016 for the Homekit and maybe as much as another year for the weave/thread. Even if the candidates in this group are $1000 more than the current cheap hubs, they will put a lot of design pressure on those.

So as always, different things are going to work for different people. If all you need right now is some light control based on timed schedules or voice control, either the Hue bridge or the Lutron Caseta system can solve that problem now.

If you want more complex conditional scheduling based on sensors, and you’re in the low-end price group, the odds are you’re going to end up with the same 3 star rating no matter which hub you pick, although you may have different reasons for each rating.

So it’s up to you how much you want to invest now, or if you want to wait and see if the market brings us better options next summer.

I chose to go ahead and do a phase 1 now, knowing that I may well want to replace everything I have in the Fall of 2016. But I don’t think there’s any inexpensive system available now that can really break into that four-star category, let alone 4 1/2, unless you’re going to limit it to just what the Hue bridge can do.

That’s why my own suggestion is to pick specific use cases that you want to solve right now and evaluate each potential candidate against those specific use cases. Don’t worry about potential or long-term promises. All of that’s going to change by next summer anyway. Don’t worry about features that you think you might use some day. Just look at what would give you the right return on investment right now, including issues like reliability. And know that once HomeKit and weave/thread are serious competitors, the whole set of offerings will probably change.