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Shopping for an automation controller

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    Shopping for an automation controller

    Hi everybody,

    Getting into home automation this fall and starting to plan by choosing the controller first. Looking to start with lighting & heating, want to get triggers and schedules going.

    So far I've identifed 3 products:
    • HomeTroller Zee S2
    • Veraplus
    • Samsung SmartThings Hub

    I'm looking for input/advice. Am a fairly technical user but am looking for simpliciy and want the whole family to be able to use an app (teens, wife, myself). I used to dabble a bit with x10 stuff years ago. I speak Windows, Mac and a bit of Linux, just a bit.

    Am temped by the S2 as it has the most options, but the Veraplus seems simpler and the SmartThings has decent reviews.

    The hicup for the SmartThings one is that it's hard to get in Canada. The rest I have access to resellers. I can find one if I decide to get it but it's also cloud-driven, no likey, losing features when ISP goes doe (not often but still).

    Based on many reviews I'v read the OS for the Vera platform is buggy and frustrating. Seen a fair amount move to HomeSeer and they're happy.

    Thanks in advance for replies and feel free to ask questions.

    I'm not sure unfortunately you will get a balanced answer here because it is a forum for HS users and you won't find many here using the others you mentioned for that reason. I have a friend who has a SmartThings hub and whilst the UI is all nice and shiny (which is HS's downfall and a frequent complaint) the logic behind it is problematic and you appear to be at the mercy of Samsung for matters to get fixed. My friend was having a few issues the other day that I am amazed got through any sort of testing and considering the size of Samsung you would expect they had a robust testing program, I was told that they are throwing money at marketing rather than the actual software.

    The thing with the HomeSeer app (which is HSTouch) is that the UI by default is not to my and others taste and you have to pay to customise it, it is also a control only app and has no ability to program from the app itself. This may be something you consider a bonus (so no one changes it) but it is certainly different from SmartThings (does that even have a web UI you can use from a PC?).


      Agree that responses are likely to be biased towards HomeSeer here. I moved from a Stargate system I had for around 19 years to a Zee S2 earlier this year and am very happy with the Zee. It has nearly all the sophisticated capabilities found in HS3 on larger controllers with HS3. For the transaction nature of home automation events it has plenty of processing power. Not so much when it comes to things like Text To Speech though, where they use flite (Festival Lite) TTS to help avoid loading down the Pi the Zee is built on.

      A key advantage of HS3 is it's flexibility. For the most part you are only limited by your imagination and what you connect to it. With that flexibility though comes complexity and a fairly steep learning curve in the beginning. There are a series of posts in the Event Clinic sub-forum that can help with that and folks on the board are pretty helpful.

      One limitation of the Zee to consider is the 5 plug-in max. I figured I could live with that which I am, in part because I thought the included Z-Wave plug-in would handle various new devices I add over time which it does. However there are other handy plug-ins not necessarily device related that you might want to add later like weather, Easy Trigger and many others. So now I'm feeling a bit of the pinch of that.

      In summary, while it might be difficult to figure things out in the first few weeks, in the long run the frustration factor will likely be much lower with HS3 trying to get things working exactly the way you want. Good luck whatever your final choice is!
      Last edited by jhearty; August 9, 2016, 09:11 AM. Reason: added 5 plug in limitation.


        I personally came from Vera and won't even consider looking back. That thing was junk before UI7 and UI7 just made it worse.

        HS just works... its more expensive, but I also feel you get what you pay for and I thought going cheap would be ok. It worked to give me the bug, but I soon found out this wasn't a cheap hobby and gave in. Never regretted the decision to move to HS.

        THere is a learning curve, especially if you used PLEG for any of your logic, but I got over it quickly and now have a solid system and a somewhat happy wife.


          Welcome to the Homeseer forum Jean Pascal!

          So far I've identifed 3 products:
          • HomeTroller Zee S2
          • Veraplus
          • Samsung SmartThings Hub

          Just a side comment here. Again please note that you are on a Homeseer forum mostly used by Homeseer users created and supported here by Homeseer.

          If you ask/post the same question on Reddit or say Cocoontech or Vera or Smarthings forums you will get different answers than here on Homeseer.

          Homeseer is software while Veraplus and Samsung ST hub are more firmware based automation controllers.

          VeraPlus roots originally was in an OpenWRT OS running on a firewall. Not knocking this at all because lately been playing with micro routers running OpenWRT and can do automation with them today. OpenWRT is also the base for the Securifi Almond + with LCD which is an edge router, wireless AP, Z-Wave and Zigbee automation device. Much of the base OS automation software language is written in Lua.

          Lua (/ˈluːə/ LOO-ə, from Portuguese: lua [ˈlu.(w)ɐ] meaning moon; explicitly not "LUA" because it is not an acronym) is a lightweight multi-paradigm programming language designed primarily for embedded systems and clients.] Lua is cross-platform since it is written in ANSI C, and has a relatively simple C API.

          Lua was originally designed in 1993 as a language for extending software applications to meet the increasing demand for customization at the time. It provided the basic facilities of most procedural programming languages, but more complicated or domain-specific features were not included; rather, it included mechanisms for extending the language, allowing programmers to implement such features. As Lua was intended to be a general embeddable extension language, the designers of Lua focused on improving its speed, portability, extensibility, and ease-of-use in development.

          OpenWrt ​is a highly extensible ​GNU/​Linux ​distribution for embedded devices ​(typically wireless routers). Unlike many other distributions for these routers, OpenWrt ​is built from the ground up to be a full-featured, easily modifiable operating system for your router. In practice, this means that you can have all the features you need with none of the bloat, powered by a Linux kernel ​that's more recent than most other distributions.

          OpenWRT is very tight and concise OS and add the working pieces of it module by module out of necessity.

          The Homeseer Zee S2 is Homeseer 3 lite. It is software running in RPi Linux on a microSD card. Homeseer 3 lite only runs on linux (well any flavor). There is also the more meaty Homeseer standard and pro which run on Linux (with Mono) and Windows.

          Mono is a free and open source project led by Xamarin, a subsidiary of Microsoft (formerly by Novell and originally by Ximian) to create an Ecma standard-compliant, .NET Framework-compatible set of tools including, among others, a C# compiler and a Common Language Runtime. The logo of Mono is a stylized monkey's face, mono being Spanish for monkey.

          The stated purpose of Mono is not only to be able to run Microsoft .NET applications cross-platform, but also to bring better development tools to Linux developers. Mono can be run on many software systems including Android, most Linux distributions, BSD, OS X, Windows, Solaris, and even some game consoles such as PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360.

          The Mono project has been controversial within the open-source community, as it implements portions of .NET Framework that may be covered by Microsoft patents. Although standardized portions of .NET Framework are covered under Microsoft's "Open Specification Promise"—a covenant stating that Microsoft would not assert its patents against implementations of its specifications under certain conditions, other portions are not, which led to concerns that the Mono project could become the target of patent infringement lawsuits. Following Microsoft's open sourcing of several core .NET technologies since 2014 and its acquisition of Xamarin in the beginning of 2016, an updated patent promise has been issued for the Mono project.

          Might be easier here to discuss the three Homeseer base automation automation products and their differences. (IE: Homeseer Zee S2, Homeseer Pro and Homeseer Standard).

          Homeseer was one of the first (thinking it was the first) Software automation companies to port their Wintel software to Linux specifically with the use of Mono. Other companies have followed HS footsteps (linux mono thing) relating to automation software.

          Really each and every one of these (products posted in OP) are unique and it is difficult to compare them because of this.

          Here been a Homeseer user since the late 1990's while over the years did taste one Vera device purchased (and still have).

          Personally probably too biased here after using HS for so many years that I didn't see any advantages to using a Vera over Homeseer software.

          I am always playing / tinkering here with stuff like other than Homeseer automation hardware and software while concurrently using Homeseer for my automation mostly because automation is a hobby for me.

          But that is me.
          Last edited by Pete; August 9, 2016, 10:17 AM.
          - Pete

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          Homeseer 3 Pro - (Linux) - Ubuntu 18.04/W7e 64 bit Intel Haswell CPU 16Gb
          Homeseer Zee2 (Lite) - (Linux) - Ubuntu 18.04/W7e - CherryTrail x5-Z8350 BeeLink 4Gb BT3 Pro
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          HS4 Pro - V4.1.18.1 - Ubuntu 20.04/VB W7e 64 bit Intel Kaby Lake CPU - 32Gb
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          X10, UPB, Zigbee, ZWave and Wifi MQTT automation-Tasmota-Espurna. OmniPro 2, Russound zoned audio, Smartthings hub, Hubitat Hub, and Home Assistant


            Alls I can tell you is to get anything but Vera. I was a Vera customer for 4 years, and it has gotten worse and worse with every new version. VeraPlus was the end of the line for me. I'm enormously happier with HomeSeer.


              I had the same issue before I move to HS3 , I was a Vera user then it was too slow and buggy but it had lots of plugins then moved to Fibaro HCL , loved the interface and GUI , app too but the system just got unusable and limited. I used to have both working ( Vera and HCL ) to get the best of both worlds. Then I discovered HS3. Migrated all my devices around 4 month ago and I would never look back to any of the other systems. I'm using HS3 on a PC with a UZB. You don't need a separate controller. My other problem was the interface ( which looks like 1998 website ) but extremely flexible , got around this by using imperihome. This way any family member can use it since it's very simple and straight forward UI.