Replacing Insteon: Switches that have local scene capabilities and don’t require a hub

I’m considering ditching Insteon, but I’m not sure what can replace it. I want local scene capability. So a button press will control the local load, and several other devices all at the same time. But I don’t want to have to use a hub as a central scene processor to control the loads. Does this technology exist?

Yes, but not with SmartThings. :disappointed_relieved: I believe all multibutton devices still require custom code, which means not local, at least for now.

It does exist now with Apple’s HomeKit.

If you can wait another 6 months or so, we are likely to see major changes throughout the home automation DIY space as matter-capable devices start coming on the market.

Normally I tell people not to wait for new technologies, but matter is a very big deal and has very big players behind it: I do think it’s going to be real and here pretty soon.

Apple has already announced support which looks really good. Smartthings has also said that it will provide matter support, but no details as to what exactly that will mean. So again, patience would be advised.

If you just can’t wait and you’re willing to reconsider your “no hub“ restriction, look into hubitat or Homeseer. Both run everything local except for third-party integrations like voice assistance and there are a number of zwave scene controllers that can operate as you describe. But they do need a hub.

(There are even a few “local scene controllers“ for zwave That don’t require a hub, but since these don’t work with an app they are no longer very popular.)

Without a hub, for right now, HomeKit is the main option, but there may be a lot more once matter is available.

How is Homeseer a local option? Their switches are zwave, and their hub is… well a hub.

As I said, if you’re willing to reconsider your no hub restriction, then homeseer can give you local operation of multi button devices and smartthings cannot.

But it’s obviously not a “no hub” option.

What does that mean precisely?

SmartThings is primarily a cloud-based system, even for many Z wave and zigbee devices. The hub is essentially a box of radios used to communicate to the devices in your home, but the commands have to go up to the cloud and come back down again. (They didn’t have to design it that way, but they did.)

In contrast, Hubitat and Homeseer are both competing platforms which do almost everything locally. They do not require the cloud to process their requests, they just go directly from the hub to the device. I know it sounds like that would be the obvious way to do it, but since this is a smartthings forum, it becomes a big deal for many customers that that is not the way that smartthings does it most of the time.

Smartthings has historically been particularly bad at multi button devices. So much so that not only do you the commands have to go to the cloud, but you often need custom code to make them work, they don’t work out of the box.

So take, for example, the very popular Zooz zen32, as a zwave device.

With Homeseer or Hubitat, you can turn off the Internet to your home, and this device will still work just fine to control multiple different scenes in your home. And those scenes can include either Z wave or zig bee devices as long as you are going through the local hub.

But if you want to use this device with smartthings, you have to use custom code and you have to have an active Internet connection. Even just to run a scene to turn a couple of lights on or off when you tap a button.

(If you only want to control other Z wave devices, there’s even a way with either Hubitat or Homeseer to use what are called “zwave direct associations“ So the after you get everything set up with the hub, you could then unplug the hub and the scenes would still work. But you do have to have the hub to set them up in the first place.)

So that’s the difference between being dependent on an active Internet connection and the smartthings cloud working properly, and not.

If you look at the latest forum entries for the last 36 hours, you’ll see all kinds of people posting that they had suddenly lost control of all of their Z wave devices. :scream: that was due to a cloud problem on the smartthings side. It would not happen with Hubitat or Homeseer because they don’t use a cloud that way.

Did that help?

Yes, I understand the difference between a cloud and non-cloud environment. But the Homeseer setup still needs the hub running 24/7 to issue commands?

What I have with Insteon is a non-hub environment. The switches operate on their own without relying on a hub for operating. Though I do use a hub for programming, though it’s a pain in the ass

There are two different kinds of scene commands in Zwave: local scene commands and central scene commands.

Local scene command do not require the hub to be running after they are set up: the commands are sent directly from one device to another without going through the hub. That’s why they are called “local.“

Zwave also offers “direct association“ which is very similar and again does not require that the hub be actively running after they are set up.

“Central scene” commands are a newer addition to the Zwave protocol. With these, every command goes first to the hub and then out again. This became more popular in the last few years because it allows the status in a phone app to be kept current in real time. That is generally not true with local scenes or direct association.

So different things will work for different people. If you know exactly what you want to do and you don’t require any real time logic, you just want to press a button on one device and have another device respond, you can do that without having the hub running with Homeseer or Hubitat. It’s not a common use case, but you do see it in mobile homes and outbuildings where you set things up with the hub initially, but then they can run without the hub after that. Especially popular for motion sensor activated lighting.

But in that case the phone app will not know what’s going on with the devices.

But choice is good, and different people are looking for different things.

At this point, though, I think we’re getting close to being off topic for this forum, which is for users of the Samsung smartthings ™ Home Automation platform.

Smartthings doesn’t require a hub, but it doesn’t run locally either.

So you might prefer to take your question to a brand agnostic forum like the one at Reddit where you can go deeper into what other alternative systems might be able to run locally without a hub. :thinking:

So Zwave devices can be programmed via local scenes to turn on to a certain brightness and ramp rate? And in order to do that you need to use a hub that can accomplish this, like HomeSeer?

You don’t get a variable ramp rate, the ramp rate is configured into the end device. You can change it whenever you want to with the hub, but you can’t change it on the fly, if that makes sense. So ramp rate itself is not a variable of a local scene. Just dim level.

Looking just at setting the dim level, yes, you can do that with a local scene.

Leviton VRCS4 is one device of this type. It comes in a couple of different configurations. Again, this is an older device and less popular now because you aren’t getting the real time update you would want for app status.

Here are the technical specs: