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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello everyone,
I used to be very active here back when I was heavy in love with Home Theaters.
Now, years later, I have settled down and am now looking for some advice on the best hardware for my situation. I hope you guys can help me out.

Background:
We currently rent a house in Germany, so there is no way of changing cables (some light switches need 2, some 3 phases) or opening up walls etc.

I want to build a home automation system that is not dependent on the manufacturers cloud or app. Who knows how long which manufacturer will support a device or even be around for. So I am setting up a Raspberry Pi with something like Home Assistant or OpenHAB (not decided which yet). Therefore the devices should be usable without cloud service etc.. I don't mind using a cloud to get an initial token or something, but ideally the devices are compatible to IFTTT or MQTT or whatever.
I do not want dedicated hubs for each manufacturer.

Criteria
  • Not dependent on manufacturer support (so usable with open source plattforms like Home Assistant or OpenHAB.
  • Retrofittable. Ideally behind existing light switches /sockets rather than replacements. This is better because the design of the smart and non-smart outlets and light switches will remain unchanged then.
  • No batteries. I don't get why any device that regulates power like a light switch or outlet would need a battery. It is connected to the grid after all.
  • No problems with ripple control signals. I have read that the Shelly Dimmer 2 handles these very poorly, resulting in flickering lights, and it seems there is no proper fix for this.
  • Preferrably 5 Ghz support. Not sure why so many devices still use 2.4 Ghz. It's okay of course, but unless it increases the cost, 5 Ghz would be nice to have.
  • No need for additional hardware (so no Zigbee or Z-Wave). Should use Wifi or Bluetooth (Wifi preferred).

Needed hardware/functions:
  • Light switches. I am thinking about stuff light dimmable, but I think I will stay with binary on/off. I don't use any dimmers right now and I usually pick the light bulb for the location.
  • Power outlets/sockets.

Why I don't want to buy plug-in power outlets? They don't look nice.
Why not Philips Hue or other smart bulbs? The are wasteful. I don't want to throw away the electronics just because a light bulb dies. Nor do I want to add a new bulb to my system just because a bulb broke. Apart from that, I find it much more flexible and future proof to make the root smart, i.e. the power supply rather than the backend.

I hope you can help me out with some advice. Please feel free to point out any problems or things that will strongly increase the price. If a light switch costs 10 times more because it is 5 Ghz rather than 2.4 Ghz, then screw it, I have 2.4 Ghz devices (washing machine etc.) anyway.

Thank you all and best regards
Alex
 

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Your criteria is too tight.
You will need hardware to talk to the various technologies, most of which are proprietary (like z-Wave, Zigbee, Lutron, and most all other).
Your automation controller needs to be able to talk to those various hubs to integrate the disparate systems into a common ecosystem.

Stay away from any cloud based services for fundamental needs ie: don't rely on IFTTT.
Stay away from the huge players like Google, Apple, etc that will pull you into their "world domination" strategies of proprietary stuff that they don't maintain across time. Your stuff becomes obsolete with one line of their code. For example, FireTV just disabled ADB communications with no mention. So now control systems that used to provide control to their sticks now broke overnight with an OTA update.

Even Shelly requires "proprietary" "hub" aka Wifi. Your automation controller needs to communicate ethernet and MQTT. And the shelly devices need to be flashed for the MQTT data (like using Tasmota). This process requires your time to setup your flash tools, disassemble the device, and then flash it. Certainly doable but definitely a DIY initiative.

Sounds like you have done some research but have been led down a path that likely won't get you where you really want to end up.
 

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Even Shelly requires "proprietary" "hub" aka Wifi. Your automation controller needs to communicate ethernet and MQTT. And the shelly devices need to be flashed for the MQTT data (like using Tasmota). This process requires your time to setup your flash tools, disassemble the device, and then flash it. Certainly doable but definitely a DIY initiative.
Shelly does MQTT natively now. No special setup needed, just turn it on using the mobile app. Still need an MQTT broker and HA controller, but you don't need to muck with the devices themselves.
 

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Most of that is Greek to me lol; and I know it's not the perfect solution, but I really like Smarthome Insteon switches. I have them throughout the theater and home and offers multiple programming solutions and endless programming possibilities.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hello and thank you both for your replies.

Yes, I was just about to reply that Shelly supports MQTT out of the box. No need for Tasmota.
I would even prefer to flash Tasmota than use different hardware modules for Z-Wave etc.

I agree that Google and Apple and other proprietary systems are unacceptable as you will have to rely on their support and business decisions. Something I am not willing to do. Home Automation ist something that I am planing to keep "unchanged" for more than 10 years.
By unchanged I do not mean adding more devices or upgrading when a function is missing. But a simple relay to turn on an outlet or a binary light (on/off) will never need to be replaced.

I do not view wifi as an issue as wifi is something almost ANY computer in the world supports. So every router, every server will support wifi. And in 99% of the devices you won't need additional hardware.
And I do not know anybody who has internet but no wifi. So as long as we use the internet, we will use wifi. 5 Ghz would be more futureproof, but if it ever becomes obsolete you will still be able to route it over a dedicated router to your new system.

Zigbee, Z-Wave etc. do not meet that criteria. From what I have read so far, Z-Wave etc. are no better than Apple or Google in as far as you have to rely on niche hardware that is more prone to being upgraded without downward compatibility.
What I mean by that is: all wifi routers still support 2.4 Ghz after many years of it being replaceable with 5 Ghz.
I don't think Z-Wave manufacturers would do the same if a new, incompatible frequency/approach became available.

I trust in communities, not manufacturers ;-)
 

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Insteon with an ISY or Lutron Caseta for low cost solutions. I prefer Insteon at that price point since they have 6 and 8 button keypads etc, and the logic capabilities in the ISY is beyond anything Caseta can do standalone. I do Caseta for friends who just want something simple with an app. Both have open APIs so anything can talk to them.

Insteon does have the micro switches you can put behind normal light switches.

Not sure if any of that is applicable over there where it's 220v.

I also much prefer to keep **** like light switches off of the Wi-Fi. Had to help someone who's sparky installed A LOT of some kind of generic/amazon/chinese Wi-Fi light switches. They were very, very chatty and caused issues flooding their network with broadcast traffic. Or - something else on your network completely tanking your scenes and lighting automation because of network traffic. It's not hard to do and I've seen it a million times.

I assume reason you see 2.4 and not 5ghz is sometimes these things need to go in a metal junction box which already hampers radio. Plus probably cost and heat etc.

Your reasons for preferring Wi-Fi make zero sense to me; there's no reason to avoid zwave or zigbee or clear connect etc for lights but a lot of reasons to avoid using them on Wi-Fi. At the end of the day the one thing you want to work reliably is your lights. But it's your install so get after it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
@eatenbacktolife: No no, I value all input.
I have never run into issues with too many devices on a network, but I also have never had 100 wifi devices ;-)
I saw that the limit is around 100 devices max. Per Insteon hub. Is this a realistic value or will I in reality need around one hub per 30 or so devices?

I found an Insteon micro switch and hub. If I am correct, the hub is around 80 USD and the micro switch is around 50 USD, is that correct. Or did I find an overly expensive shop? What is the going price per single and what the ggoing price for a dual channel micro module?

Cost is not the primary factor, but if the prices I found were correct, then it would be around 2-3 times the price of a Shelly wifi setup. Which is not insignificant if you have around 2 light switches and 6 power outlets per room (plus shades and other special devices).

Edit: looked for more information on Zigbee and Z-Wave. Zigbee also uses 2.4 Ghz network, so is apparently prone to disturbing wifi. But Z-Wave is proprietary. Difficult :(
 

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I don't know anything about the Insteon HUB, never used it. It might be a decent piece now but I wouldn't know.

For Insteon I use the Universal Devices ISY994 which costs more than the Insteon hub. Plus you need the serial PLM which adds cost. You only need one ISY controller.

Those prices sound right - you will find lighting control is not cheap, but in the grand scheme of things it's really not that bad. The Insteon keypads can be around $80. If you go Caseta you need the pro hub but dimmers etc are similar in cost. Keep in mind these are the cheaper options. Lutron radio RA2 is DIY, but check the prices on the keypads to see what the middle of the road stuff costs.

Didn't you say there are issues with the Shelly stuff with flickering lights etc? I would assume that's why it costs what it does lol. I don't find the $50-100 per dimmer or switch egregious for lighting control that just always works.

As far as the network, you can have hundreds upon hundreds of devices living without issue. All it takes is one device to start blowing it up with excessive multicast or broadcast traffic to bring it to a halt. Now, I know very little about any lighting that is done over Wi-Fi as I've only ever used Lutron, or Insteon, or Zwave, or Philips or DMX etc so your mileage may vary. I don't even know of any of the big players using Wi-Fi for lighting, likely for a good reason.
 

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Skip the hub. Get the ISY; it allows for complete programming on your network. Also integrates with Alexa. You can set day/night automatic cycles, etc etc. You can also program switches directly without using a network if so preferred.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I will definitely go with a Raspberry Pi as the control center (most likely using Home Assistant). So the hub does not need to be too smart. It needs to connect the devices to the RasPi, nothing more.

The light switch is identical to a power outlet. So a relay module.
I have found basically identical relay modules for Wifi, Zigbee and Z-Wave. Exactly the same functionality (including the same power output of 10A instead if the normal 16A in Europe). So I am guessing they are all more or less the same quality.

The flickering light issue is only on dimmers because of the signal passing through the dimmer. But this is not a protocol problem.

I found Zigbee relay modules for the same price as wifi modules (~ $15 each). "Same" module with Z-Wave costs $25-30, which is still okay, but of course will add up to around $1000 of additional cost if I were to go full scale.
 

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$1000 difference? How many loads are you looking to control? $15 difference makes me think you have a lot of lights to control. I would be very hesitant to drop those on Wi-Fi without seeing their network impact first. A couple of modules and a few minutes in Wireshark could give you a picture of what you are looking at
 

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$1000 difference? How many loads are you looking to control? $15 difference makes me think you have a lot of lights to control. I would be very hesitant to drop those on Wi-Fi without seeing their network impact first. A couple of modules and a few minutes in Wireshark could give you a picture of what you are looking at
I don't think you can get away with cheapr lights if you have 40-50 switches on WiFi. For that many, I'd look to Lutron.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
$1000 difference? How many loads are you looking to control? $15 difference makes me think you have a lot of lights to control. I would be very hesitant to drop those on Wi-Fi without seeing their network impact first. A couple of modules and a few minutes in Wireshark could give you a picture of what you are looking at
That amounts to 65 devices.
Every room has minimum one light. Every room has minimum 5 power sockets. Every room has minimum one set of blinds. Thats the bare minimum. I have 5 rooms plus 1 bathroom plus 1 kitchen plus 1 guest bathroom plus a balcony (with lights) plus two cellars. And that's in a rented apartment. If you count the rooms in your house you will add up to far more devices. Plus thermostats, temperature sensors etc. which will all cost mlre simply because of the extra costs for Z-Wave licensing.
Easily $1000 extra.

I checked with other forums and the consensus is, that wifi is absolutely no problem. Since you usually have multiple APs anyway, the load is distributed and will not cause any issues. Add the VLANs and you are golden.

Seems quite a lot of people have wifi based home automation with far more than 100 devices (far far more).

So I am not worried.

Plus, a valid point also: all home automation devices are 2.4 Ghz. All personal high speed devices are 5 Ghz. So they will not even disturb each other as long as the overall load is managed. And the latter is easily achieved in a multi AP setup.
 
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