The Hubitat Elevation smart hub was born with noble intentions and the promise of total privacy, because it does not depend on any cloud-based service. As the company asks, why put the security and comfort of your smart home in the hands of an unreliable internet or a company that could shut down at any time?
Click here to see our most recent Hubitat Elevation review, in which we evaluated the C7.
In stark contrast to the rest of the industry, Hubitat says its smart home solution is “100% local.” While you need to create an online account with the company to use it, once you do, all your devices will connect directly to the Hubitat, all processing is done locally on your home network, and all management is done through one interface. web-based. served from the Elevación Hubitat directly, not from an online service.
If you are concerned about hackers taking control of your smart home from afar, Hubitat has a security selling point in the sense that all your information is stored locally as well. While your data is only as secure as your login credentials, at least you are not at risk of a large-scale attack against a cloud-based service.
Hubitat is the ultimate in foil hat compatible DIY home automation.
Update: March 27, 2019: With the imminent demise of the Iris by Lowe’s smart home platform, Iris users looking for an alternative may want to know that Hubitat has announced that its Hubitat Elevation smart home hub is now compatible with most Iris smart home devices. by Lowe’s (and all your Zigbee devices). including first generation patented products so far). You can read more about Hubitat’s migration route here, and Hubitat maintains a complete list of all supported devices here.
It’s an interesting concept, but does any of this really matter? Does Hubitat’s localized technology offer other real benefits besides better uptime? Today’s leading voice centers and assistants have varying degrees of capacity when the Internet is down. SmartThings, for example, has a hybrid design that allows some automations to be completed (but not manual on-demand control), while Alexa and the Google Assistant are totally powerless when their host devices cannot access the internet.
With Hubitat, internet outages are largely irrelevant. Aside from the initial login (for which you can use a social media account), the only thing Hubitat uses your router for is to obtain a local IP address. Again, neither he nor his PC need broadband access for the duo to communicate, or to control local smart home devices.
Hubitat works with a considerable amount of products, mainly anything in the Z-Wave and Zigbee universes. It also has hooks for Lutron (including the one from that company RadioRA 2, Serena, and Sivoia platforms) and some other devices. (The first version of Elevation, released in mid-2018, required a USB stick to connect to wireless equipment; the new version is smaller and integrates those radios directly.)
Besides that, Hubitat can connect to other devices that do trust the web, including Nest, Alexa, Rachio, and Life360. Hubitat is also compatible with the IFTTT service. Again, although Hubitat does not depend on an internet connection to control local devices, you Will you need a live internet connection if, for example, you want to tell Alexa to turn off a light controlled by Hubitat. Once you open that hole for convenience, you practically undo the security blanket that is Hubitat’s main attraction.
So that’s Hubitat in theory, and it’s an important basic level of understanding to have if you think the Hubitat platform could be for you. Because the big hurdle comes next: Once you connect the device to your router and start setting it up, you’re entering a world of hacking that the smart home industry, for the most part, has desperately sought to avoid.
Hubitat is configured through a web browser, as opposed to an application that runs on your smartphone or tablet (in fact, there is no application). You connect directly to the Hubitat box, without going through the Internet, and perform the initial configuration and the ongoing configuration / interaction there. The point is that the Hubitat web interface is not an easy place for the user to visit. If you’ve ever spent time setting up your router through its web interface, you have an idea of what you’re getting into (this ~ 14 minutes unboxing video gives you a better idea of it; skip to the 9 minute mark to see the interface in action).
Minimal documentation is included in the box, so if you really want to do something, you will need to delve into the dozens of pages of online documentation and, more likely, that of Hubitat message board, where an active community seems like a game to solve the most arcane technical problems.
The good news is that if you are patient, the Hubitat system works. I was able to add devices to the Hubitat system (all of which need to be purchased separately), control them within the Hubitat dashboard, and configure rules to work together. I even had Alexa work with the system, so I was able to use voice commands to turn off the switches connected to the device. Again, there is no mobile application for Hubitat; To access your dashboard by phone, you must visit a mobile version of your dashboard web page.
The bad news is that none of this is intuitive:absolutely. To use the Hubitat panel, for example, you have to install the application that creates panels and then configure the panel stumbling upon a number of esoteric parameters. Do you want to set rules? You will need to install the Rule Machine application and then configure each rule piece by piece. Don’t see what you need in the list of provided apps? Why, you can write your own code from scratch for a new application or, gulp, a device driver.
Hubitat is provided to you as a completely blank slate, and while the freedom it brings may resonate with hardcore smart home enthusiasts with the patience to play, it will be too confusing for most people. The Hubitat ecosystem is so stark that it makes even tech-heavy hubs like the SkylinkNet alarm system look like fun in comparison.
It’s also worth noting that the web interface was not rock solid in my tests; Pages sometimes do not load or load very slowly. Device configuration within Hubitat often involved a long wait for options to save and pages to update. This is not a system for the beginner or impatient.
The bottom line on all of this is that while Hubitat offers a powerful system with a unique angle, the lack of basic usability features will render it useless for many. After all, there’s a reason so many smart home solutions rely on the cloud.