Whether it’s a door lock, thermostat, or lights, the most frustrating aspect of setting up a smart home is the multitude of protocols, software, and radio frequencies that are used to make everything work. The latest model (C7) of Hubitat Elevation’s smart home hub may untangle that babel ball, but beginners should be prepared for a steep learning curve.
Small and black with the company logo printed in green, the Hubitat Elevation is easy to hide. Perforations on the bottom of its cabinet eliminate the need for a fan to cool the system.
This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart home systems, where you will find reviews of competing offerings, as well as a buyer’s guide on the features to consider when purchasing this type of product.
Powered by an included USB power adapter, the Hubitat Elevation has an Ethernet connection to plug into a home router and a single LED up front. When the light changes from blue to green, it is connected and ready to be configured. The Hubitat Elevation lacks a built-in Wi-Fi adapter which would make it more convenient for users whose routers are in an inconvenient location, such as a closet or basement. There is also no battery backup and the hub cannot operate on Power over Ethernet (PoE).
Inside the Hubitat Elevation
Powered by a 1.5GHz quad-core ARM A53 processor running Linux software, the Hubitat Elevation has 1GB of RAM and a generous 8GB of flash storage space to store your firmware, along with configuration and commands. a smart home. Not only does it allow connections to a wide variety of devices, it stores all settings and commands locally. Unlike some competing hubs, including the aforementioned Aeotec product, which has a slower processor and less storage, the Elevation can continue to control your smart home during an internet outage so that it, and your smart home, can survive. to an internet outage.
Hubitat Elevation works with most of the major smart home platforms, from Zigbee and Z-Wave to just about any Wi-Fi device that can be operated by Alexa or Google Home Assistant voice control. The hub can also control Lutron Caséta devices, as long as you also have Lutron Caséta Smart Bridge Pro on your network. It is also compatible with products from the discontinued Lowes Iris smart home family. Follow this link to see a complete list of smart home devices compatible with Hubitat.
On the downside, Hubitat Elevation cannot control Bluetooth devices, nor can it be integrated into the Apple Home Kit ecosystem. It is also subject to the 32 battery device limit imposed by Zigbee. You can get around that limitation by using an AC powered Zigbee repeater or AC powered Zigbee device.
While it works quite well without a subscription, Hubitat offers two premium service plans – a $ 3 per month plan allows remote management and rule writing from anywhere you have an internet connection. Hubitat will back up your automation routines and settings online for $ 30 a year, or you can get both plans for $ 55 a year.
Mounting the Hubitat Elevation C7
After connecting the Hubitat Elevation C7, I downloaded the Hubitat Mobile app on my Samsung Galaxy S20 phone. Once installed, I hit “New Hub Owner” on the app’s home page to start the setup process.
Next, I tried to create an account with Hubitat, but failed on the first attempt because my password had to be at least eight characters long, a requirement that is not mentioned anywhere. I was successful on the second attempt and after confirming my identity with a verification email, I was ready to choose the device from the “Let’s get started” screen.
I selected a Philips Hue bulb as my first device, but could have used the list of device types or the type of connection or protocol used. It took a few seconds for the bulb to pair using the Zigbee protocol.
After giving it a name, the Hubitat Elevation was in control and could turn the bulb on or off and have it blink to show it was connected. Finally, I named the room in which he will live (office) and the system was ready for Hubitat control.
Using the Hubitat software
Unfortunately, I still needed to install, configure and name the Application Control Panel to monitor and control my smart equipment.
The muscle of the Hubitat ecosystem is its software. In addition to the Hubitat Mobile application, everything can be done through a connected browser; just type the IP address of the unit. With everything connected, I set my outdoor light to turn on at dusk and turn off at dawn.
Next, I added a Centralite smart outlet that is connected to a space heater, but the software refused to add my pair of Sylvania BR30 flood light bulbs for my front porch. However, it worked with a couple of inexpensive LinKind flood light bulbs. I ended up with a Leviton wall-mounted Z-Wave dimmer.
My final task was to use Hubitat Elevation’s ability to work with Alexa voice control, but I needed to install a separate app to achieve this. Everything worked fine, even when I turned off my internet connection but left my local network intact; well, besides being able to ask Alexa to perform tasks. Amazon’s voice assistant, like Google and Apple’s, relies on a cloud connection to function.
Hubitat Elevation in the real world
Using a smart Centralite AC outlet, the Hubitat Elevation center had a 75 foot range with two walls in between in a 100 year old home. While in operation, the Hubitat Elevation concentrator consumed only 1.1 watts of power. If left to monitor and control a smart home, it will increase your home electricity bill by just $ 1.25 a year if you pay the national average of 13 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity. In that sense, the Hubitat Elevation could be one of the best bargains on the smart home market.
Compensating for the tremendous power of Hubitat’s software is a very steep learning curve for first-time users; can be very confusing to master. I found that I needed to install additional apps even for basic tasks like enabling Alexa voice control and writing simple automation rules. Fortunately, he needed to do this only once.
The system might need some attention to integrating and streamlining its operations. The Hubitat company does not offer personalized telephone support, which would facilitate the start of its software, it will respond to your emails. There is an enthusiastic online community, as well as an extensive library of video tutorials and online documentation.
Still, Hubitat Elevation has the power to control an entire smart home. While it took me over 45 minutes to set up my hub and four devices, it was worth the effort. Its ability to consolidate a variety of protocols and software allowed me to stop using the individual application of each device and combine routines.
In other words, the $ 130 Hubitat Elevation delivers on its promise to take control of your home so you can do more important things, if you have the patience to master it.