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Getting into HomeKit

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GavinCampbell
On 1/27/2018 at 11:27 AM, Ikon-TNG said:

Question: do all these 'home automation' systems require that the system have Internet access, or can they operate stand-alone?

 

SmartThings is mainly cloud based.  They added some code for local processing but it is very restricted to the device that you want to control.  The majority is still cloud based.

 

HomeKit needs internet for remote access if you have a hub but control is local.

 

It also depends on the device and your setup.  Some devices that people integrate require internet access to work while others don't.  You have to look at the devices you choose as well.

 

Its a mess out there.

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GavinCampbell

I started just over a year ago making my place smart home.

 

First off I went with the HomeKit route.  We all have iPhones and Siri control was a great thing.  However after jumping into it I found the devices expensive and also lacking (this is bound to change this year though).  I ended up setting up a homebridge server to add non homekit devices (harmony hub, network presence detection wemo devices etc) to my setup and then started writing plugins to integrate things such as my blinds and whole home airplay audio into it.  This worked great.  But I wanted to start adding zwave and zigbee devices into the mix and found the easiest/cheapest way at the time was to get a SmartThings hub and bridge it into HomeKit via homebridge.  Once again this worked great but when starting to add more complex automations I found that I was doing more in SmartThings and less in HomeKit as it was much more powerful.

 

So I restructured my setup.

 

My current setup is all based around SmartThings.  All my devices integrate with it and all of my automations and scripts are written in it to control my house.  I still have it integrated into HomeKit so I can control everything with Siri using HomeBridge and it works great.  The key is to name the devices properly so you can easily reference them with Siri and not have to also manage them in the Home app.

 

I like this setup because it can integrate with Alexa, Google and HomeKit (I'm planning on picking up an Echo) and I'm not tied to any system since the devices work with multiple open systems unlike my HomeKit devices which are pretty useless if I don't use HomeKit.  I also love the power of the scripting with SmartThings.  I use WebCore and it opens up a whole new world.  My home alarm system is all controlled via my setup and auto arms/disarms as we come and go in the house.

 

For the future, I'm considering looking at Home Assistant.  SmartThings has had a few outages recently and when that has happened the house went nuts.  I'm not a fan of the cloud dependency for the brain of my system.  Home Assistant executes locally.

 

To sum it up,

 

HomeKit is nice if you just want to do basic stuff.  Don't think of it as perfect though, you are still going to have issues.  Some of the issues I've seen repeated over the time was automation's not working (homekit hub reset required to fix) devices dropping off and coming back on and messing up automations you have setup, devices not responding in the home app, presence detection not working properly and the more recent issues with not being able to invite people to your homekit setup.

 

Other setups are more powerful but also require a LOT more work to get it working like how you want it.

 

 

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SpivR

If you're based or use a desktop Mac, take a look at Indigo Domotics.  Good support of Insteon, Z-Wave, and some Wi-Fi devices.  Extensive configuration and can do scripting with Python.  Lots and lots of 3rd party/community plug-ins so rarely have to write your own scripts (HomeBridge plug-in, etc.)

Only downside is leaving a Mac running (but not dedicated), so if you are running a Plex server, storage, or anything else on a Mac (or tend to leave your Mac on anyway), can be an interesting alternative to the more Geek tools like OpenHAB or others.

 

Indigo is completely local - no requirement for Internet at all, but does with with Internet for remote access.

Most interesting feature is a GUI designer that lets you create your own custom UI for iPhones and iPads and there is a 3rd party version of some Android UI apps/tools.

 

There is a basic web interface (so unlike HomeKit, you can control devices from desktops or an web-enabled tablet), and there is a full REST/HTML API for crafting your own UI.

 

Edited by SpivR

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ImTheTypeOfGuy

Great posts guys. If I had the time I would be trying a lot of what you reference. Well, except for that hole mac part.

 

My primary goal for now is lights but I would love for it to work with my alarm system and garage doors. I want to use Google for voice commands. So that is where my journey begins. But I have been waffling on my file server so I may never get to it. :)

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GavinCampbell
16 minutes ago, ImTheTypeOfGuy said:

Great posts guys. If I had the time I would be trying a lot of what you reference. Well, except for that hole mac part.

 

My primary goal for now is lights but I would love for it to work with my alarm system and garage doors. I want to use Google for voice commands. So that is where my journey begins. But I have been waffling on my file server so I may never get to it. :)

 

If you want to use google for voice commands don’t use HomeKit. You won’t be able to control the devices with anything other than Siri.  Your best bet would be to look at zigbee or zwave devices that work with other systems.  

 

For home alarm you you can look into konnected to utilize your current system. But I don’t think it will merge your current system. I think it may take it over. 

 

For garage door door it’s pretty easy with HomeKit if you just get the myQ and HomeKit bridge if it works with your garage. You can also use myq with other systems but that is a bit more complicated as well to get working nicely. 

 

I just don’t know why they don’t make this stuff easy. Everyone wants to make their own ecosystem and only have one device in it. 

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SpivR

You CAN use Google Home Assistant for voice and HomeKit.  Just choose products that support both.

 

E.g. Lutron Caseta or Lutron RA2 Select support HomeKit, Google Home, and Alexa - SIMULTANEOUSLY.

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GavinCampbell
19 minutes ago, SpivR said:

You CAN use Google Home Assistant for voice and HomeKit.  Just choose products that support both.

 

E.g. Lutron Caseta or Lutron RA2 Select support HomeKit, Google Home, and Alexa - SIMULTANEOUSLY.

 

True. Same with the ecobee thermostat as well. WeMo just introduced a HomeKit hub too for their switches. But I think the options are limited. I’m sure we will see a lot more this year though. 

 

But at this point why even bother with HomeKit then?  Does google does any automation or remote access?

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