The first step in building a smart home is often choosing a hub, and there are many options. Hubitat is a unique cloud independent hub. It is incredibly powerful, capable and sophisticated. But should you use Hubitat in your smart home?
Hubitat is a powerful hub for your smart home
One thing is still true; There are too many SmartHome centers to choose from. And while there are hubs you should avoid, the Hubitat isn’t necessarily one of them: it’s complex, perhaps too complex for many people, but it has a lot of powerful features.
Hubitat is a true SmartHome hub designed to be the center of your automation. It connects to Z-wave and Zigbee, Alexa and Google Home, Lutron and LAN devices. What sets it apart from most SmartHome centers is its emphasis on local control and incredibly advanced automation. It boasts a fairly large list of device integrations, and if you make a wise choice, it will be able to control everything you add to your smart home.
For example, with Hubitat you can create a set of rules that dim the light from 100% to 30% for half an hour at sunset or 8 pm (whichever comes later) and then slowly turn on the lights. at dawn or at 6 a.m. (whichever comes later) — without any interaction with the cloud. It will even work if your internet is down. SmartThings and Wink cannot achieve this level of sophistication, especially when relying only on local control.
Most hubs are cloud based, but the habitat is local
Other major SmartHome hubs, such as Wink and SmartThings, are the first cloud devices, possibly with local control added later. When you press a button on your phone to turn on the living room light, a signal is sent from your phone to the router and over the Internet to Wink or SmartThings cloud servers. This command is processed and then sent back over the Internet to your router and then to your hub. Finally, your hub sends a command to your light. Without some local management support, this doesn’t work when your internet goes down.
Hubitat does most of the work on site, which brings several benefits. Because your team doesn’t have to go back and forth between the internet, you’ll see your lights turn on and off faster compared to Wink or Smartthings. If your internet goes down, these locally controlled features will continue to work. And if privacy is your goal, you’ll have more of it since you’re not talking to the corporate cloud.
Of course, you can connect some devices that require the cloud to Hubitat, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home. You will lose some speed and privacy when using these devices and everything controlled by them.
One of the other benefits of Hubitat is cost. Once you buy the Hubitat hardware, you’re all set. Hubitat doesn’t force you into ongoing monthly subscriptions to get the functionality; everything it offers is included, even software updates. Hubitat usually sells for $149.95, although Hubitat now offers the latest hardware for $99.95.
With Hubitat you create complex automations
Automation is the true superpower of the smart home. While we love talking to our homes, the Hubitat can make voice control unnecessary. Hubitat allows you to use advanced triggers and rules. For example, you can set up a rule for the following: Since you have entered the bedroom and it is after 9 pm and it is cold tonight and the heating is not on, the lights must be turned on and dimmed and the electric blanket must be on. If you are using individual presence detectors, you can determine that this only happens if one specific person enters the room.
As another example, with bathroom motion sensors and smart bulbs or switches, you can turn on the lights automatically when someone enters. You can also define how bright the lights should be based on the time of day and how long they should stay on. before automatic shutdown, and again the duration may depend on the time of day. You can go so far as to add a second motion detector to the shower so that it overrides the «turn off» part of the rule when someone is showering, meaning your lights don’t turn off when someone is in the shower.
The level of detail and complexity of these rules and triggers is why local control is so important. If you walk into a room and the light doesn’t turn on almost instantly, then you will feel the need to manually flip the switch. At this point, your home no longer seems so smart. Voice control helps because you don’t have to move or stumble to find the switch. But quick automation is even better because you don’t have to do anything at all. Instead, the home anticipates your needs.
Simply put, Wink and SmartThings are not capable of this detailed level of automation. The Alexa or Google Assistant features are, of course, not there either.
Advanced Features Don’t Come Easy
Unfortunately, with great power comes great responsibility. In this case, you will be responsible for making all of this happen, and it won’t always be easy. When you first set up your Hubitat hub, you’ll start by opening a local web page. Hubitat doesn’t offer any smartphone apps at this time, they’re coming soon, but until then, the closest you can get is creating your own dashboard. When you browse a web page, you need to discover your devices, name them, and then start adding apps.
Applications in the field of Hubitat expand its capabilities. You will need an app for any security monitor, an app to control lighting with motion sensors, a rules app to create advanced automations, and so on. The web interface manages all of this. This is similar to using the router’s web interface. You’ll spend time clicking menus, selecting dropdowns, and saving changes. Here’s how it works when everything is going well.
Sometimes something may not work and you will have to work with the code manually. To do this, Hubitat uses the Groovy programming language, and if you are not familiar with coding, your best bet is to ask for help on the Hubitat forums or ask for support.
You also need to know how these apps and rules work. Hubitat has great tutorial videos and an active and helpful community. But it’s a learning process, and it’s a new logic to master. For example, if you want a rule that turns on the entryway light when the tailgate is open, but only if the deck lights were not already on, you would need to define the rule as «when the tailgate is open, NOT when the deck light is on. “The logic of Hoobitat is consistent. Once you learn all the ins and outs, you won’t spend all your time relearning a new skill. But getting to grips with Hubitat takes time, effort, and a willingness to learn.
And remember, there is no shortcut app for your SmartHome devices to turn them off and on with the touch of a button — at least not right now. The best thing you can do is create your own custom control panel for your home. The various toolbar options are nice and incredibly complex, but they require even more effort from you. And these panels are currently the only way to control your home remotely.
Should You Get Hubitat?
Whether or not you should choose a Hubitat depends on a few basic things: how much effort you want to put in, how much training you want to do, and how much you like the idea of a truly automated home.
If the idea of accessing your router’s settings to make changes to your network scares you, then the Hubitat—more complicated—might not be for you. If you want something lightweight, with simple settings and remote control capabilities, you should upgrade to Hubitat and consider another option like SmartThings, or Wink if the company ever puts the Wink Hub back in stock and starts selling it again.
If you’re tech-savvy, like to get your hands dirty digitally, and don’t mind spending the weekend looking through tutorials on a tricky new skill set, Hubitat is worth considering. And if you like the idea of a truly automated smart home that anticipates your needs based on your location, time of day, and other conditional triggers, you should consider using the Hubitat in your smart home.