Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Thinking of moving to Homeseer? Things you should know

Don't get me wrong, I think Homeseer is a great solution just not for a first timer. 

The interface is really aimed more at installers than end users but when you get to the point you need for instance multiple Z-wave networks it makes sense to  move to the next level with Homeseer. Before you run out and buy there are a few things to keep in mind.

Coming from SmartThings:

I do find it odd no one has made a plugin to use a SmartThings as a ZigBee bridge for Homeseer. Seems like it should not be that hard to do. I might have to do it myself at some point. Just got about 300 things ahead of that in the queue. Especially seeing as how my SmartThings account is locked out right now due to all the recent Samsung conversion mess. The "temp" IFTTT linkages I setup way back seem to still be functioning for now. In case you didn't know many of the SmartThings sensors and devices will not work with most other hubs. Many are ZigBee based which Homeseer has only limited support for. This is why it is important to get devices with cross hub support as much as possible. Many ZigBee devices, like Hue, also have "hubs" (bridges/gateways) available that allow them to work with many brands of hubs and multiple systems at the same time. Being able to connect to multiple system not only give you multiple control paths should one fail but makes migration easier. For instance if you have Hue bulbs linked directly to a SmartThings hub you need to access them through SmartThings and moving to a new hub, even a replacement SmartThings requires pairing the bulbs all over again. Using the Hue "hub" you just link the Hue "hub" to the new one and you are done. They also tend to give you added features and might help avoid issues.

For anyone else thinking of moving to Homeseer:

  • Get it on sale. The software is 50% off a few times a year. Their hardware is discounted frequently too.
  • Try before you buy. You can download a 30 day trial and run it on any PC. Just get a Z-Stick, download the software and go. If you do not like it you can probably send the Z-Stick back and be out nothing.
  • Do not get Pro. Get the standard version. Most the plugins you will want are not included in the Pro version anyway. The only real advantages to getting Pro are the HSTouch Designer and Z-Seer+ Z-Wave Diagnostics are included which at sale prices Pro might save you around $20. But odds are you will not get to using the designer till you get most of the system setup and you can spread the cost over time. You might never use it, I still primarily use the voice or web interface a couple years in now. Note the HSTouch phone apps work without designer. It just has the default interface. If you decide you want a flashy custom GUI you can always pick it up at the next sale. See my post A quick start for HSTouch Designer for an idea of what using the designer is like. Want to see how flashy you can get check out these YouTube videos.
  • Get the software and a PC instead of their "hubs". Especially if you get a refurb or used PC you get a lot more power for the cost. Even though you might not need it for Homeseer it gives you power to run other things on there as well. Or if you have a PC that is always on and not maxed just use that. For example I'm running on a 4th gen i7 with 19 plugin instances, 4 Z-wave networks, 4 Hue networks, 3 Harmonies among other things. As I'm writing this mine shows 1928 connected Homeseer "devices" (data/control streams not physical things). I also have several external things hitting the Homeseer API updating values. The CPU rarely reaches 24% .
  • Go Windows. I hate Windows but some plugins only work on Windows so if you go Linux you limit yourself. Windows 7 if you can, just to avoid Windows 10 things like updating at the most inconvenient times. Another reason to go refurb / used PC.
  • Get a Z-Net instead of a Z-Stick. You can put the Z-Net anywhere that has WiFi or an network port letting you put it in the middle of your network to reduce mesh hops. Or in an area of high interference. Or my fav another building from the controlling server. Note Homeseer supports multiple Z-Wave networks which work as one.This is the best way to reach other buildings and problem areas. Assuming you are not just doing an eval of course. You could probably send the Z-Net back too if the eval did not live up to your expectations but the price of the Z-Stick is easier to tolerate if you end up not being able to send it back.

1 comment:

  1. we are new to smart home automation. but after much research went with Smartthings. But are having troubles - e.g. can't add more than one thermostat to a single scene. We have 8 or more thermostats... And Samsung really has no support to answer questions. Are interested in more reliable systems. Is Homeseer wireless, or does it require hard wiring? Is Wink2 still in business?