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hass.io and I are going to take a little break from each other.

God knows I’ve tried.

I installed Home Assistant first on my Mac Mini, got a nice interface going with it when Lovelace was about to become the standard UI.

It was so exciting. I was like a kid in a candy shop. A cool semi-developer styled Home Automation and Smart Home project I could get my teeth into.

I bought an Aeotec Z-Wave ZStick and installed the Z-Wave modules. I tried to add a bunch of Z-Wave Plus devices…but it was like a Frog in a sock on a motorway – it was hard to get. It never worked the same twice even if it did work and IF it worked the same way twice things didn’t connect right. The hardware was fine as I’d tested it on other Z-Wave networks.

I thought, maybe the problem with all these Z-Wave devices not connecting well is just my old Mac Mini. Perhaps using a complete Hass.io set up will solve my issues.

I committed to a Rasberry Pi, as recommended, and flashed a copy of hass.io on it. Installed Z-Wave requirements, added my ZStick and it worked. But it didn’t.

I learned YAML, integrated my Ring doorbell, my abode security system, a nice weather panel, my Yale Smartlock, my iCloud connection for location data, a nice Zone map and even my Aeotec Multisensor 6.

I could see them in the panel (cards) and could make small adjustments to them in my YAML file. Everyone said ‘you can do most things through the UI now…’.

But here’s the thing…

I couldn’t do anything else with any ease.

For a start, half the known Z-Wave Plus devices I tried to connect were marked as Dead. Half worked fine. No rhyme or reason.

Perhaps it was the distance from the device to the Rasberry Pi and ZStick. I moved them to be within ‘you need a breath mint’ distance and still, no joy.

So it’s one thing to learn how to make the system work but if the hardware trouble shooting takes all your time…exasperation ensues.

I couldn’t make anything update or change via the Aeotec Multisensor 6. I couldn’t trigger a motion event to turn on a basic light. I couldn’t pair my Aeotec LED Strip and make pretty colours in my lounge. I couldn’t pair my garage door unit or half my Z-Wave Plus devices properly.

‘Look in the logs’ they said. I did, it was lines and lines of WTF.

I used to be a PHP programmer and can still cut-a-rug with some CSS. I’m not stupid (subjective opinion). I took hours to understand how it all works but if a user needs to learn Github just to pull fixit files from repositories or crawl through forums of confusing responses and unanswered information, my will to persevere could not be sustained.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Hass.io and Home Assistant are all as cool as they look and I just haven’t been patient enough. Maybe learning more YAML code and understanding each entity and it’s available states is like doing Lego or Capsela for adults? May the Triggers, Action and States are straight forward once you understand the lingo and formats.

I have no doubt that Home Assistant is truly ‘Developed by a bunch of awesome people’. I really believe the people behind this are probably really amazing, generous people. I’ve been at the foundations of platforms like Drupal when it was rising up from the open-source womb. I believe in the incredible power of open-source to change our world but I just need a better UI to make it a little easier.

Some basic change notifications when I add or remove items from my HA Z-Wave network (this is also a gripe at Z-Wave for making it so bad at reporting sensible state changes, errors, additions and removals).

A better log file reporter to understand what went wrong where.

A human element to the states and entity naming (which is also a responsibility of the hardware manufacturers to sort out).

I just think that there must be a way to have config files per device that translate the tech into simple, workable English.

There has to be a way to provide better reporting on errors, issues and fixes. The Z-Wave alliance should work to help HA become better because they are doing a hell of a lot with a very small workforce of committed HA enthusiasts.

Monetise something, somewhere, somehow to take this from complete open-source coder-ificness to a little commercial usability to get some paid workers on it.

I REALLY want to love Home Assistant. I’ve tried it, left it, tried it, left it and now will leave it again. Perhaps in a year, I’ll try it again. I’ll dust off and spark up my Rasberry Pi, re-flash the latest version and see what’s changed.

I would even pay money for it if it can rise above a technical array-based jungle and compete better with well rounded commercial offerings like SmartThings.

For now, I’ll return to my abode security system as my home automation hub. It’s missing more product & hardware integrations than I care to mention, but it works well enough and the CUE Automations make creating advanced IF this THEN that BUT only if THIS seem easy, nice one Abode.

Home Assistant fans can hate me. I understand – it’s a bit rubbish to drop an opinion on a platform I haven’t mastered (despite hours and hours of trying). I am impressed with the community that HA has built but – the platform has got to be easier, and it’s got to work before I can see myself trying again.

To be honest, I’d welcome feedback from HA / Hass.io users. What’s the single most important thing you would recommend to people wanting to get into Home Assistant?

Comment below, I’m keen to get into it.

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Anton
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Anton

I’d recommend liquor/drugs or whatever is legal and works for you. I’ve been through all this stuff, but now I’m pretty happy with my setup.

Dan Linn
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Dan Linn

Hi! I have a similar background and similar experiences. I most recently had it to a state where I had 3d modeled my house in a Lovelace card that I could click on lights, locks, etc and see the change reflected in the UI. It was cool. Then it died. I have rebuilt my system 3 times now and am working on number 4. First time I had no back ups. Second time I had an initial git commit. Third time I had a Dropbox back up, but I lost all my secrets and UI config and even then I… Read more »

DetJet
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DetJet

Use Jottacloud for backup. They have a CLI tool that is super simple to set up. And just dumps everything to the cloud. Cheap as well, $7.50 a month for unlimited space. Lifesaver in a squeeze.

Michael A Yeager
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Michael A Yeager

I banged along for a few years on a RPi. It was ok but upgrades and backups were a hassle. Earlier this year, I bought a Synology NAS and installed Docker. Much more stable and since I’m running Raid 5, I’m not worrying about an SD card crashing. HA is the best out there in my opinion, but there is a learning curve….

Ben
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Ben

Go to hubitat, you won’t look back. I took your path.

Karl S
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Karl S

I have used HomeSeer for 14 years and use z-wave for most of my end points. They have a 30 day trial. When I read your issues I was shocked. Sure, some devices do not report their state, but most of what you described I have never experienced.

I have found HomeSeer to be stable, flexible, and callable. Yes, a bit techie at times, but too me that is a necessary part of automation if you are truly automating and not just using your phone as a remote control.

Raoul Teeuwen
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Sorry to hear your experience. I’m not a programmer, but am handy with IT. I’ve been using HA on a Rpi for about 2 years now. Definitely was a steep learning curve. Afaik, HA is (one of the) best free open source privacy preserving no-subscription-needed run-it-all-local home automation integration solutions. It supports more devices than most other solutions. But your mileage may vary when looking at stability; it depends on many things; i don’t use zwave devices, so no idea whether that has more problems than other tech, and i wonder whether those problems can be attributed to HA. Btw,… Read more »

Bob J
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Bob J

I am still relatively new to using Home Assistant but have not experienced the frequency of problems with z-wave that you did. I am using the Go Control HUSBZB1 stick as I have both z-wave and zigbee devices to move over. Perhaps that has made a difference. I have added z-wave and wi-fi based lights and switches and never ran into issues. I have integrated Chromecast, Ring and Smarthings without issue so I can progressively add functionality directly to HA. Is there a learning curve, you betcha’! Am I still frustrated that it is so hard to program automations? Yes,… Read more »

Karl
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Karl

I just wanted to pop in here and mention I’ve had no problems with the HUSBZB1 as well. Seems to work well for me so far. Also, while Raspberry Pi’s are great for rapid prototyping, I’ve given up on using them for anything worthwhile. Pihole? Running on a VM. Hassio? Same thing. They just don’t have the power to give me immediate access to whatever is running on them, nevermind all the sd card corruption problems you can run into with power outages or logging.

Sam
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You are echoing my frustrations in many ways. And my background is VERY similar. I was (still am) a Drupal guy. I can also dance the CSS dance. But YAML gives me the sweats. One mis-space and nothing works. I also use the GoControl stick and it works well overall. But I am running on a Linux PC with HA in a Docker container. It’s fairly stable. But I am now working on media, which is very important to me. I have a library of over 25K MP3 files. And a Russound (others too) audio matrix amp setup. Trying to… Read more »

Mark Shaz
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Mark Shaz

I hate to admit I laughed at a lot of this as after 6 months on Hassio I was close to quitting everything, I purchased a small, no darn considerable about of equipment that I slowly lost patience with, I had a pi 4, with a ZigBee and Zwave USB card and every thing I could think of that was ZigBee or Zwave compatible and an Amazon Echo in every room. Months I spent on this reading the forums, for it to work for two days and then fail for 3. In the end I thought long and hard about… Read more »

Umtauscher
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Umtauscher

So what you are saying: z-wave and zigbee don’t work properly with hass.io. That’s exactly what I think after testing it with a properly installed z-wave network having about 80 devices in it.
I will dump hass.io right away.

Jerome
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Jerome

All my zwave devices go through my abode alarm system

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