Home automation without a hub?

(candy) #1

hi all! Greetings from Singapore >_<

I know this is like the 5th posts i have asking tons of questions, thank you all for being so patient and helpful along the way!

Basically i am moving to my new home and would like to set up a simple automation that I have control over. I sourced out consultants from Singapore and one of them told me that I can set-up my home automation without a hub. Basically he will be setting up all power outlets to be z-wave and 1 amazon echo to control everything.
And I will be able to control my home through my home or voice via the echo.

I’m a little bit skeptical of this set up and would like to seek the experts here for advice. Appreciate your inputs and feel free to let me know what are the things that i should be looking out for.

Many thanks in advance.


That won’t work. Amazon echo cannot communicate directly with Z wave devices, it does not have a Z wave radio. There has to be at least 1Z wave controller in order to set up the Z wave network and then that controller has to have the capability of talking to echo.

There are a number of smart home hubs that can do that, including SmartThings and Wink.

If you Don’t want to use a hub, you can still use the Amazon echo, but only with Wi-Fi devices that have the capability of talking to the Alexa service. That would include WeMo and TP Link, among others.

Unless you feel you misunderstood that particular consultant, I would move on to someone else.

(Ron Talley) #3

Un-source that one.

(candy) #4

This is the quotation given by the consultant, no need hub for home automation, he promises it will work the same as having a hub and even says that having a hub is outdated… hmm?

Unit Price
Smart switch (Single; 1 switch)
Smart switch (Double; 2 switches)
Smart switch (Triple; 3 switches)
Amazon Echo Dot
Total Cost



As people before me mentioned, if you want to use Z-Wave switches without a hub and with Echo, this won’t work, since Echo uses the hub to communicate with Z-Wave devices.

Technically you could set up Z-Wave switches to bypass the hub via associations, but in order to set them up you need the hub to begin with. This is doable only in case your “consultant” would use his hub to associate devices between them.

BUT this will never work with Echo. Additionally, this would also negate the benefit of the Z-Wave mesh network routing, since the controller itself handles the routing table, which can also result in communication loss.

I’m afraid that with Z-Wave switches, you will always pretty much need a hub.

If you really want to avoid it you should look into some Wifi switches, these could concievably communicate with Echo, but it depends on whther they were integrated into it. This can be an issue with some cheaper Chinese models.


Looking at the price of the switch, most likely that those are not zwave switch.

Using Amazon echo alone, you will not achieve home automation but voice control only.

(Tyler Durden) #7

If the smart switches are wifi, like TP-Link, there will also be smart phone app control of the switches and the ability to define and control scenes. But automation, like rules and schedules, require their smarthome router appliance. You could probably use something like IFTTT to do some automation…but that could be limited and not reliably responsive.

(Tyler Durden) #8

It looks like TP-Link doesn’t officially work with IFTTT, but WeMo and DLink do.

(Pizzinini) #9

I think e.g. Wemo switches will work (and because you are in Singapore there are probably other brands). They connect to wifi and all rules they use are cloud based. They also have a direct echo integration. I started my home automation with a wemo switch and a wemo motion sensor…

(Dan P Parker) #10

I’ll cast another vote for ditching this particular “consultant”. He’s either pushing product that he has a financial interest in or he simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about…or both.

(fightingmajor) #11

Wemo won’t require a hub. You are really limiting yourself on how much automation you can do though without a hub of some sort. Not sure why you would want to limit yourself like that.


OK, that quotation doesn’t have the word “Z wave” in it. So those might be switches that use Wi-Fi, and Wi-Fi switches do not require a hub. Or they might be Bluetooth devices, which will require that your mobile phone or a tablet be nearby, but again don’t require a separate hub.

It’s hard to explain without getting technical, but basically different devices use different methods to communicate. In home automation, the most popular are zigbee, zwave, WiFi, and bluetooth. In home security, 433 megahertz and 335 MHz are also popular. Devices can only communicate with other devices that use the same method.

Some methods require a Controller device, particularly zigbee and Zwave. These days that Controller device is often a “hub” but sometimes it is just called a controller.

Devices that just use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth may not need a separate controller Device, but you will need a smart phone or sometimes a laptop to set them up.

I would have to respectfully disagree with those who say that you can’t do scheduling or create other automations unless you have a hub. If the devices or Use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth there is usually an app that lets you do the scheduling and it will work fine.

There are advantages and disadvantage is to all these different methods of communication. Zigbee and Z wave use much less power per device, typically about 1/3 as much as Wi-Fi, which means that batteries last much longer in a Z wave device than they do in a similar Wi-Fi device. On the other hand, Wi-Fi is much better for video or audio streaming, and also has a longer communication range between devices, in part because it does use more power.

The quote that the consultant gave you did not list any sensors like motion sensors or contact sensors, and also did not list a smart lock. That’s fine, you might not need those devices. But if you did need those devices, because they are battery operated, they probably wouldn’t be Wi-Fi. If they were Z wave or zigbee, you would need a Controller device. If they were Bluetooth, you wouldn’t technically need a hub, but you would need to have a smart phone or tablet nearby, so it’s almost the same as needing a hub.

Having a hub or not having a hub is not in itself an indication that one system is better than another. You just have to look at the specific features each system will have and see which one fits your own needs the best.

See if you can get that consultant to tell you the exact brand and model of the switches that he is recommending.

(Ray) #13

Huge mistake on the pricing.
1 switch = $30
10 switches = $300

(candy) #14

Thank you for sharing your views! Very insightful and helpful!

(candy) #15

@Navat604 Good catch there haha!