Is it safe to say I can replace my smartthings hub with the new Amazon echo plus? I’m asking this since one is just a hub and the other is like a multitool and why have two hubs consuming power if one can do it all.
Would you be able to give a few real-world examples of what might only be possible with the ST hub? I’m planning on grabbing an Echo, and am unsure of whether i should just get the Plus, or the Echo 2/ST hub combo. I’m new to all of this, so i want to make sure i’m getting the right setup for me.
Right off the bat, i’ll want to be able to integrate dimmer switches, and then be able to create commands like “Turn off the main floor,” or “Turn on the kitchen.” Other than that, i might get a new harmony remote for my tv, to play around with automation for my AV. Can’t think of anything else i’d rush to do, but 'm sure i’ll find things
Also, is it a big deal that the echo plus only has zigbee, and no zwave?
Anything controlled by a z-wave capable hub is not possible with Echo hub. Just make sure to only buy zigbee if you go with Echo Plus. All my bulbs are Cree Connected zigbee bulbs so to me it’s not a big deal. Alexa can directly control Nest already.
Amazon just released Routines do things but not everything is available in those Routines yet.
This is discussed in detail in the other thread, but just to give a few quick examples…
As of today, November 7, 2017, the Amazon echo plus can only directly control zigbee white dimmable bulbs, switches, and locks. So just as an example, if that’s the only home automation controller you have, you can’t control colored zigbee lights. You can’t turn hue lights red or green. And there won’t be any sensors that work with it, so you can’t have opening the pantry door turn on a light or walking into a room turn on the lights or anything like that.
In addition, as of today, you do get voice control of anything that works with echo. But the “Automation” rules are based strictly on a time of day. “Turn on the lights at seven pm.”
If instead, if you get the regular echo model and any home automation controllers that have their own rules set up, you will probably be able to add rules like:
“turn on the lights when Michael gets home after dark”
“turn on the lights when someone walks into the room”
“turn on the lights when the door is unlocked after sunset”
And if you get a full-featured home automation system like SmartThings, you can set up even more complicated rules, like “turn on the lights when Michael’s code is used to unlock the door after sunset”
And a whole lot of other things.
The main weakness in the “echo plus only” set up as of today is there are only a few devices that work with it and it’s really just a timer. No sensors to give you those kinds of rules, and no “Home” and “away” distinctions for automatic “Geopresence” rules. However, if it goes well, it’s likely that echo will add additional features and devices in the future, we just don’t know when or what.
But if you’re willing to work with a couple of different apps, you can actually get much more sophisticated home Automation from just the standard echo model with some specific device setups, such as Lutron Caseta lights with their smartbridge and the Phillips hue lights with their hue bridge. Those have their own rules engines and can do more complicated rules and even do the “home” and “away” detection. So again, as of today, many people will find they actually get more home automation by buying the standard echo model and then spending the extra 50 bucks on bridges that have their own rule systems. (Of course if after you get the echo plus you find it it’s too limited, you can go ahead and add the other bridges then, but then why did you spend the extra money for the echo plus over the echo standard model?)
As far as what smartthings gives you compared to either of those echo based setups, again that’s discussed in detail in the other thread. The details are pretty complicated, so rather than repeating myself here, I just suggest you read the other thread, but the short answer is a wider choice of devices and support for much more complex rules.
2020 update: Alexa routines can now do much more than when this was originally written, both on the “if“ and the “that“ side. But still no stacked conditionals and still nowhere near as much as smartthings can do.
Thanks for taking the time to explain a little more. I’ll do some reading in the forums so that i can learn a little more about the ST functionality.
I think i’m leaning towards the Echo/ST combo setup. For me, at this point, it’s less about the advanced commands, and more about the wider array of products that i can use. Down the road, if the Echo Plus includes both Zigbee and Zwave, it sounds like that will be more of an all-in-one contender.
One thing that might help out people who “only” want an Echo would be better IFTTT integration for Echo. As of now, IFFT only takes action based on things you do in Echo. That’s only “somewhat” better than you manually telling Echo to do something.
If/when they give IFTTT the ability to send commands to Echo, that helps. For example: If it’s sunset, then have Echo turn on living room lights. This allows you to do a little more with your Echo.
It’s still not close to the functionality of a true automation hub with multiple radios and rule processing, but it’s more acceptable for people at the lowest end of the technical needs spectrum.
That’s good to know. I haven’t started with routines on mine yet. Perhaps I should have used a more complex example. But maybe that’s the point. Once you start getting complex like that, you’ll probably start needing a more robust solution.
Yes, if complex rules are needed then Alexa is lacking. But for the majority of people that are just getting into home automation, basic routines will have the functionality they are looking for. Most people that buy the Echo Plus won’t be reading theses forums and don’t want to have to install community developed apps or mess with an IDE site to make it work.
Personally, I’m not sure that in the long run Z working with Echo Plus will be that important, although most of the people in this forum will disagree with me.
Over the past 10 years, Z wave has been wonderful for do it yourself people who were looking for home automation lighting systems that would be relatively inexpensive, fairly easy to install and wouldn’t suffer from interference with Wi-Fi. That’s really been Zwave’s strength. However, the networks are limited to a total of 232 devices (and as a practical matter, maybe closer to 150), and don’t have as good a battery life as zigbee devices.
In contrast, you could have thousands of Zigbee devices on one network (the main reason the lightbulb manufacturers have preferred it), you can have automatic discovery (which is what the echo plus is using for its smart setup), and really good battery life which is great for small sensors. But there’s that Wi-Fi interference issue, which can be a real problem for people doing their own installs who don’t have the kind of network mapping tools that the pros have.
Anyway, just the Wi-Fi issue has meant that Z wave has been much more popular in the do it yourself market, particularly for light switches. So most people in these forums, as well as in other forums for home automation which are aimed at budget do it yourself installs, have a lot of Z wave devices.
On the other hand, most people in the US in urban areas have some zigbee devices in their home already even though they don’t know it. Most cable TV settop boxes use zigbee, almost all utility smart meters use zigbee, and many sensor-based systems including medical monitoring systems and some irrigation systems use Zigbee. That doesn’t mean those will all work with SmartThings or Echo Plus, they won’t for other technical reasons, it just means there’s a lot of zigbee out there for things which are professionally installed. And the very expensive home automation brands like control 4 all use zigbee.
So if you go into a forum which is dominated by do-it-yourselfers who put low-cost as a high priority, you’re going to hear a lot about zwave. Everywhere else, not so much.
At the present time, Z wave can’t do the “discover my devices” mechanism that echo uses. You have to at a minimum scan a QR code for each individual device. And that’s only for the very newest devices. With the older generations, adding a zwave device requires that each device be on power and that you do some physical manipulation with it, typically a button press pattern, in order to add it for the first time.
So my guess, which again is not a popular one in this particular forum, is that Amazon is never going to add Z wave to the echo plus. I may be wrong, but it just doesn’t match their “simple set up” requirement and I don’t think they need the protocol. And I don’t think they want the additional customer support headaches of dealing with two distinct protocols.
But I could be wrong. We’ll see.
What I will say that I think most people in this forum will agree with is that these days you should buy any home automation devices based on what they can do at the time that you buy them, not based on what they promise they might do some day, or what you suspect they might do some day. Otherwise you’re bound to be disappointed.
I’m struggling with that type of issue right now. My parents currently have: (2 houses) Ecobee thermostats, Kwikset locks, Echos. They’re looking to do lights in the houses for when they are unoccupied.
They keep asking me what to do and I keep steering them away from ST or Wink. I just don’t want to be their help desk.
Maybe a Hue setup with a bunch of white bulbs? That could still all work without ST/Wink.
Lutron Caseta switches with their SmartBridge, Philips Hue Bridge, and you’ll probably get 90% of what you want as both have native echo integration. This is an excellent set up for people who just want basic lighting automation with echo.
Add an iPad and use apple’s HomeKit and you can put everything into one app for status display and rule set up, although you would have to change out the locks for HomeKit – compatible ones. You’ll also get a wider choice of sensors than just using the Hue bridge, where the only sensor you have is the hue motion sensor.
This all goes back to what I originally said in some thread when the Echo Plus was first announced. Namely that it strikes me as being marketed to consumers who are not what you’d call tech-oriented, and who see others doing cool stuff like telling a can to turn on/off the lights and are inspired to dabble in a little simple HA and voice-control integration without any of the complexity involved in choosing between protocols, creating accounts with and setting up integration between multiple services (Alexa, ST, IFTTT, etc, etc), creating complex rules, etc. They just want to take the thing out of the box, plug it in, screw in some new light bulbs, go through a simple setup and…viola!..magic happens! And if they decide to add some new doo-dads (like a switch or door lock) they want to consult a simple list provided by Amazon that tells them which products are supported.
So while I agree that things like better IFTTT integration are always welcome, and there will certainly be some consumers who would use it with the Plus, I think that sort of added complexity (from the perspective of the non-tech savvy consumer) really defeats Amazon’s primary marketing goal with the thing.