Homeseer vs SmartThings vs Other

Hello. I have been remodeling my home and have been adding z-wave switches, Cat-6, power, and speakers to each room as I go through. I am finally getting to the point where I think I have enough devices to warrant the investment in a Home Automation platform. I am actually leaning towards Hoeseer, but am torn between that and Smart Things. I am in Finance and not a programmer, but am more than willing to learn a computer language and figure out what needs to be done, but do not want overly complicated. Here is what I am looking for besides the standard lights/thermostat (I am not sure if any can do some of these things):

  1. I want to be able to do reminders etc through my home audio. I currently have two MZC-66 whole home amplifiers.
  • It would be nice to control my music and have the automation read my daily outlook calendar, give weather, and ideally traffic as part of my alarm.

  • Ideally it would also work as an intercom. Why I can’t currently use my phone to pick a zone and speak to the room is beyond me.

  • I am willing to switch my amplifier, but I like the in wall speakers over a Sonos type of stem.

  • I would like to control my iTunes library and/or media library via phone through whole home audio (I have a Logitech Squeezebox, but I know they are likely to fade away)

  • If this is not possible, does anyone know what I can do to accomplish this.

  1. I like to build arduino systems for customized tasks. Can either control these types of things (aka blinds, moisture sensors, etc).

  2. Multi-zone irrigation

  3. Program Scenes with multiple moving parts to take affect

  4. Control audio and video devices (I have a Denon 3313 and Pioneer 1522 that I would like to control. At least turn on sound, switch to source, and control volume. Ideally control channel.

  5. Since I would consider myself to be only semi tech savvy but more than willing to tinker and figure things out, I want a fairly robust support community that would be willing to help troubleshoot and come up with solutions (I am more than willing to do the same as I figure things out),

  6. I would like to use 7" tablets or other inexpensive touch screen devices in key rooms to control the system.

Any assistance, advice, etc would be greatly appreciated.

I don’t believe the SmartThings hub is certified for the EU.

I am in the US. I live in St. Louis, MO.

This is more of a headache then I think you realize. You want a Crestron or Control4 system with a DIY system, I think you may be better off paying for a high $ system. Having said that, I chose ST over Homeseer for the ease of use and the wife factor. They are also a newer technology on the upswing whereas Homeseer is a bit outdated. You may need to integrate multiple systems like ST, iRule or Roomie, Logitech, etc. I know ST does have an Arduino shield so you’re good there. I have sonos with in-ceiling speakers as well as physical speakers, you just need the Connect:AMP, I love it FWIW. Don’t know of an intercom solution. The itunes thing, I just saw a guy publish an app to control itunes through his ST app, i think it’s called Obything. Irrigation, I think you can try Rain Machine but you may need to be content with it not being totally integrated to the system. There’s also a system called CQC that can probably do what you want but it’s very coding heavy. I would use ipad minis with wall mounts and roll with ST but I’d personally be interested to see what you could come up with with Homeseer. From what I understand, the initial hardware investment is much heavier on the Homeseer front but it’s been a few months since I investigated. Good luck!

I have done much of what you describe with SmartThings; sans the irrigation (live in a forest) and intercom (no need). You’ll find the SmartThings app to be a horrible remote control so I use iRule. It can communicate directly with SmartThings, as well as your A/V gear via netwrok protocols or GlobalCache iTachs for serial or IR interfaces.

Both iRule and SmartThings also communicate with a Mac Mini server, which is capable of communicating back to SmartThings, Hue, and my AV gear via AppleScript, Python, Automator workflows and BASH.

My preference has been individual systems in various rooms as opposed to a distribution amp, but all are controlled over the net via iTachs, with commands sent from either SmartThings, iRule, or the Mini. Complex scenes involving multiple light changes and A/V setups are run via scripts on the Mini, triggered from both iRule and SmartThings. I do it this way because I can, and they’re just easier to edit that way. For instance, if I pull up after 5pm, my garage door opens, my main A/V system fires up, input set to TiVo, Garage system fires up (same input), and TiVo starts to play the 5 o’clock news. When I leave, all that gear is shutdown.

Haven’t used windows in years, but it is a simple script on the Mini to route the text to speech of calendar reminders to audio. And if you’re on Android, you could forward your mobile device’s notifications to either SmartThings or the Mac (for output via text to speech). I know of one Mac user that is doing something similar with weather forecasts he is polling from Weather Underground’s API.

Thank you both for your input. I know that Homeseer has some plugins for some of the things that I want already. It seems like there is more excitement around SmartThings and currently more people writing new programs. I am also curious about Samsung buying it. It could be huge or very bad. The start-up costs do not scare me. It is more the time commitment to set everything up and then finding out that one or the other is limited and that I should have done the other. There really are not many good videos out there of people showing off their systems, the user interface, or really comparing the different systems side by side. It makes it hard to make a decision.

I recently purchased the ST hub mostly because of the lower price point. However, with just two hours of testing, it was absolutely clear that the product isn’t worth the box that it came in. ST should be marketing the product as an anti-security and personal deathtrap hub. Needless to say, the hub I purchased is on it’s way back to Amazon.

While testing the ST hub, simple control commands (lock/unlock, light on, light off) were being dropped or buffered and executed more than 15 minutes later. Also, the device status information was totally random and wouldn’t not sync up. At one point, I was literally afraid to leave my house because I was concerned that the system may execute additional buffered commands and unlock my front door after I left.

Six years ago my friend installed a Homeseer automation system in his new house. I have personally spent many hours playing around with this system and it’s amazing. Homeseer is really responsive, flexible/powerful, and easy to use. There’s a newer version (HS3) available now with even better features and functionality.

I’ve placed my order for the HS3 for my house. The HS3 will cost about $200 more, but I prefer to spend the additional money on a solid HA platform, rather than flush $100 down the toilet with the SimpleThings hub.

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Is it just me or does this seem like a fabricated post?

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Dunno, about the post.
But unless something’s changed in the last year, HS3 runs as a console application on windows, meaning it’s not a service. This means you have to go through hoops to get the app to auto start if the server reboots. Not my idea of a robust implementation, sure battery backup, script a console login, all doable.

So the next time you’re on an extended vacation, and your UPS runs dry, you’re screwed…
Also, have you seen the interface?, talk about dated.

I don’t think that is a fabricated post at all. For those of us who have experimented with home automation for years it’s hard to like SmartThings as it exists today. To the poster that said you’re left in a lurch if your PC goes down with Homeseer there are very easy ways to setup your machine to ensure that does not happen, however Homeseer does sell standalone units that only run their software and provide the robust power recovery you are looking for. I bought Homeseer 5 years ago, Vera 2 years ago and SmartThings 6 months ago and believe it or not my entire home is now back on Homeseer. Vera was good but Homeseer is so much more flexible and accommodating of tons of different sensors, locks, lights, alarm panels etc. If you aren’t looking to truly customize your home automation experience then I think Smartthings is good for you, but it has way too many limitations for my needs. This is just my opinion / experience. The only thing homeseer could use is an updated stock web UI, however even that is extremely customizable if you know what you’re doing. Smart things is definitely geared towards the DIY easy to install / configure crowd, but it wont make its way into professional installation arenas, high end homes, or impress “tinkerers” anytime soon.

Homeseer is a fine system, you are right. Good luck and go nuts on the Homeseer forums.

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