Choosing a Smart Home Controller is very much like buying a car - the decision to choose a particular manufacturer is only the first choice you have to make, after that there's a bewildering array of models and options on top!
Hubitat takes a different approach to other manufacturers as they only have a single model available, so there are no choices or comparisons for potential customers to make, offering a much simpler start to your Smart Home journey! They're also a relative newcomer to the Smart Home area, having only started out during 2018. Despite their young age, they've already got an impressive track history with their Hubitat Elevation Controller on its second revision.
By combining the advantages of local automation processing with cloud IoT connectivity, Hubitat's innovative Hubitat Elevation Controller ensures personal data privacy and is more reliable and responsive than many other solutions. It's also compatible with popular home automation devices, comes with a variety of built-in Plugins / Apps, and has an active user community to share ideas, insights and solutions.
Compatibility and Interoperability are handled in a modular fashion with Hubitat Elevation because "Drivers" can be added not only by installing updated, official, firmware releases, but also by third-party developers (maybe even by the device manufacturer thermeslves). This often means that it's quicker to get new devices supported than with Controllers from other manufacturers.
As there is only a single model of the Hubitat Elevation Controller, our "Choosing a Hubitat Elevation Controller" guide will simply help you to understand the specifications and features that the Hubitat Elevation offers.
|Graphical / Wizard / Block Scene Editor|
|Common / Quick Scenes||Plugins / Apps|
|Virtual Devices - IP Strings|
|Virtual Devices - Script-based|
|Virtual Devices - Scene Triggers|
|Android Wear Support|
|Alexa Voice Assistant|
|Siri (via iOS App Shortcuts)|
|Number of Plug-Ins / Apps||no limit|
|Recovery / Backup|
|Bridge (Linking Controllers)|
|Home Automation Support|
|Z-Wave Plus (868.4MHz)|
|Recommended No. of Z-Wave Devices||up to 232|
|Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)|
|IP Camera Support|
|Cloud Camera Support|
|Processor (CPU)||Quad-core Arm Cortex-A53 (1.5GHz)|
|Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)|
|Built In Battery Backup|
|Dimensions (HxWxD)||75 x 75 x 17mm||- Features may require third-party Plugins / Apps, experimental (BETA) functionality, additional hardware or optional paid-for subscription services.|
What do these specifications mean?
Hubitat Elevation will run your Home Automation system with stability and reliability and the "Local" processing focus of the system means that it is incredibly well suited to those that don't wish to rely on any third-party Cloud based services.
Aside from initial setup, registration and firmware updating, it doesn't even need an internet connection to operate on an ongoing basis so it also has an appeal to people that value their privacy.
Out of the box, Hubitat Elevation doesn't actually offer anything other than the means to add devices and configure them. This means that it's an incredibly light-weight platform from the start as you have to install Plugins / Apps to do anything further - for example creating logic, integrating Alexa or Google and even creating control dashboards are all handled by separately installed Plugins / Apps.
Scenes enable you to control multiple devices all at the same time. Scenes can be triggered from other devices (such as sensors) or from external events (such as the weather). They form an important function of your Home Automation system.
Hubitat Elevation doesn't support a traditional Graphical or Wizard Scene Editor, but instead has task-oriented Plugins / Apps for common things such as Motion Lighting, Safety Monitoring and Mode Lighting. Once you've moved beyond those simpler Plugins / Apps you can find more advanced features in the well respected Rule Machine Plugin / App - there's not much that you can't achieve using that!
Finally by using the Groovy scripting language (to write your own scripts in the form of a Plugin / App) or by using the Maker API Plugin / App you have infinite possibilities to expand the capabilities of the Hubitat Elevation Controller or integrate it with other devices and systems that aren't natively supported.
Task Oriented Plugins / Apps
A comprehensive array of these are available to be installed in the Hubitat Elevation and cover various common tasks, for example Notifications, Simple Lighting and Thermostat Schedular. These will typically cover most users needs and are usually the most performant as they have been designed for specific functionality and will be efficient and optimal for those purposes.
This is undoubtedly one of the most powerful "logic engines" that exists across all Smart Home Controllers - it's about as advanced as you can get without actually writing your own code! That said, there's certainly a learning curve associated with using it and it doesn't suit all circumstances - it's a BIG Plugin / App and with that size comes a certain performance hit so that should be remembered when assessing whether to carry out a task using Rule Machine or one of the other, simpler, Plugins / Apps.
The Hubitat Elevation Controller uses the Groovy programming language for scripting and you can use this to write your own Plugins / Apps to carry out almost anything that you can possibly imagine, but you will require basic programming skills to do so.
This isn't quite as simple as just creating a few lines of scripting as is the case with other Smart Home Controllers because essentially you have to create an entire Plugin / App, but it does make for some interesting architecural possibilites in creating lots of small, modular Plugins / apps to do specific things.
Fortunately Hubitat Elevation also allows you to install Plugins / Apps from third-party developers, so the chances are there may already be something created by another user that does what you need!
Virtual Devices are exactly what they sound like - devices in the Smart Home Controller that aren't physical devices. Virtual Devices are very useful for controlling devices via other networks, such as AV equipment that can be controlled from your Wi-Fi / Ethernet network ("IP Strings"). Other types of Virtual Device support scripting directly ("Script-based"), allowing much more complex logic and control. The simplest type of Virtual Device ("Scene Triggers") can be used to create a simple button in the smartphone / tablet App that can control a number of scenes - quickly and easily.
The Hubitat Elevation Controller support Scene Trigger Virtual Devices as standard, but of course given the ability to use the Groovy scripting language to create your own Drivers you can essentially create Virtual Devices that do anything you want!
General Software Features
Remote and Mobile Access
This is split into two distinct areas with Hubitat Elevation - configuration and remote control.
All configuration is carried out locally via the web UI, so this can be via your favourite web browser.
To control the system from a smartphone or tablet you would first need to add the Dashboards Plugin / App and create your own user interface using its intuitive editor. This sounds complicated but it can be as simple as ticking a few checkboxes to add your devices to the layout (or of course as complex as you wish it to be).
Once created, you can access your Dashboard(s) either directly using a web browser or using the Hubitat Elevation App on your smartphone / tablet, whether you are at home or away. The Hubitat Elevation App also provides a notifcation system and allows App Widgets to be created, which give quick access to common tasks directly from the home screen.
Alexa and Google Assistant are both available for the Hubitat Elevation Controller, with the integrations being improved upon all the time.
Alexa has a Smart Home Skill that offers basic functionality ("Alexa, turn on the light").
Google Assistant and the Hubitat Elevation Controller work together to make your Smart Home even more convenient to use! With the Google Assistant integration you can control lights, scenes and more, all without lifting a finger.
Siri voice control is also supported, but only via Siri "shortcuts" at this time.
Geolocation features use the location based services on your smartphone. When you are within a pre-determined range of your home, this can trigger scenes to run. For instance, a heating scene could be triggered when you are 5 miles from home, or an outside light scene when you are just arriving home. This functionality is built right in to the Hubitat Elevation smartphone App, so no additional software or configuration is required.
That said, many users prefer to install the "Life360 Connector" Plugin / App on their Hubitat Elevation Controller in order to integrate with their Life360 account to provide more advanced presence detection features.
Plugin / App Support
As mentioned previously, there are a vast array of Plugins / Apps available from both Hubitat themselves and also from third-party developers. Not only do these cover task oriented logic functionality but they also offer support for other, external, systems and devices, such as Philips Hue, Sonos, Lutron and Ecobee, allowing you to do more advanced things without needing to develop your own code.
While there is no real limit to the number of Plugins / Apps that can be installed on the Hubitat Elevation Controller, you may see the performance affected if you run too many! Bear in mind the CPU and Memory specifications mentioned previously - if you are planning to run a lot of Plugins / Apps then it could be worth considering running multiple Hubitat Elevation Controllers in a "Bridged" configuration.
Recovery / Backup
Hubitat Elevation runs regular backups, and in the event of an issue, can recover previously saved versions of software and configuration. Backups are stored on the Hubitat Elevation Controller directly and can also be downloaded locally.
It should be noted however, that currently it's not possible to backup the data from the Z-Wave or ZigBee radios themselves, so in the event that the Hubitat Elevation Controller has a hardware problem, Z-Wave and ZigBee devices would need to be re-paired to a new Controller, similar to other systems such as Philips Hue.
Bridge (Linking Controllers) Capability
When we talk about "Bridging" of Smart Home Controllers it's usually in terms of the Z-Wave protocol and we typically mean the ability for several Controllers to be used together to create a much larger system than is possible with just one.
With multiple Controllers it allows you to have more than 232 Z-Wave devices on the whole system and you can configure your system to maximise Z-Wave network access by locating the Controllers in different parts of the building.
Hubitat Elevation supports several different Plugins / Apps that facilitate this, for example Hub Link, Link To Hub and HubConnect and these allow you to operate multiple Hubitat Elecation Controllers to distribute your Smart Home across. This lends itself very well to all aspects of your Smart Home, not just in terms of a Z-Wave network - for example you could dedicate one Controller to Z-Wave devices, one Controller to ZigBee devices, one Controller to LAN-connected devices and a further Controller to tie them all together as a "logic engine".
Home Automation Support
While the Hubitat Elevation Controller will support a Z-Wave network of up to 232 devices, it is also a good idea to look at support for other technologies as this enables you to choose from a wider selection of products going forward.
The Hubitat Elevation Controller supports Z-Wave Plus and will therefore experience all the improvements that the Z-Wave Plus protocol implements when used with a Z-Wave Plus interface.
The extended features of Z-Wave Plus include increased range (up to 150m), greater battery life, more available RF channels supporting higher bandwidth communications, standardised methods for Over-The-Air (OTA) firmware upgrades amd improved self-healing, fault tolerance and diagnostics on the Z-Wave network.
ZigBee is a popular technology used by many products. It has been very popular in the US for a number of years, and although Europe has been slow to adopt it, we are seeing more and more European centric ZigBee devices coming to market. The Hubitat Elevation Controller supports both ZigBee Home Automation (ZHA) and ZigBee Light Link (ZLL) protocols and therefore supports a huge number of ZigBee devices!
Since the Hubitat Elevation Controller is designed with local processing in mind, it needs to be based on a hardware platform that can run even the largest of Smart Home. As there's no Cloud infrastructure to offset some of the features and functionality, hardware becomes more of an important consideration.
The CPU (or Processor) is the Controller's engine. The faster it runs, the faster your system will run. The Hubitat Elevation Controller uses a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 running at 1.5GHz - this is a high performance CPU well suited to the nature of the embedded hardware.
The other aspect of the hardware that affects performance is memory. The memory is split into two types - Flash and RAM. The basic rule (as for computers) is that the more memory the better, and you can never have too much!
- Flash - This is permanent memory, it holds the main Controller software and details of all devices, scenes, and programs for your system.
- RAM - this is used when the system is running. The more RAM available, the more things the Controller can do at the same time. This translates into allowing it to run more devices, run more scenes and allow it to run quickly regardless of what you ask it to do.
The Hubitat Elevation Controller has 8GB of Flash storage and 1GB of RAM - more than enough capacity to suit most Smart Home installations!
Ethernet / WiFi
WiFi isn'at supported on the Hubitat Elevation Controller, so it will need to be connected via its Etherenet wired connection. This could mean that it will need to be placed sub-optimally in your home, for example close to your Internet router, which could limit RF range to Z-Wave and ZigBee devices.
In reality though, Z-Wave and ZigBee are mesh-based networks so they don't really rely on direct point-to-point range with the Controller, so all but the largest properties should be OK. Plus, an Ethernet connection for the Smart Home Controller is much more reliable!
Getting Help and Advice
Hopefully this guide has helped clarify the specifications of the Hubitat Elevation Controller and what they mean in actual real-world use. If you need any further help or advice, contact Vesternet and we will do our best to answer all your questions.