Best home automation hardware to invest in?

At some point in the not too distant future, I plan to invest in some home automation kit in preparation for my Mycroft unit to talk to. The kickstarter mentions a SmartThings hub, WeMo and Phillips Hue lights amongst others.

I’m also aware of X10 and typing “home automation X10 versus” into Google offers a few other alternatives, some I’ve heard of, others I’ve not, e.g. insteon, upb, z-wave, zigbee…

So, I’m hoping to tap the collective knowledge of the community here and ask which of these devices would you recommend.

To start with I’m mainly concerned with turning lightbulbs and plug sockets on and off, but I’m open to other ideas.

Things that are important to me:

  • How well you anticipate the protocol/product range will work with something like Mycroft
  • I’m a supporter of distributed technologies, and would rather the Mycroft unit act as the hub, so I’d rather avoid additional hubs if at all possible (by this I mean I just want to buy the lightbulbs and I want them to work with lightbulbs from other manufacturers - I don’t want to have to have a hub for each as well)
  • The more open the device is the better. Ideally this would mean software and hardware, but where this is not possible, I want it to use open protocols and standards (i.e. I don’t want a repeat of the fitbit I just bought where I read all about its wonderful open API only to find that the API in question was to their website NOT to the device I just bought. My fault for not reading the small print.)
  • Ideally it should also have the pledged support of a major manufacturer and the range not be cancelled this time next year to be replaced by the new iLockedDownDevice

I’ve seen WeMo stuff for sale in my local supermarket, which is great, but it does seem to require a hub and touts iPhone connectivity. I’ve got an Ubuntu phone, so I’m really hoping it’s open enough to allow Mycroft to be the hub. Not holding my breath though.


I still haven’t gotten around to buying anything yet. But I did just stumble across this, which is interesting:

@Autonomouse this is a really important question. The answer is we are starting to experiment with the Wemo stuff here at the office, and I’m going to go out and buy a Phillips Hue light before the end of the week to try and control. The Smartthings Hub is attractive because it has an open API, which we would like to leverage. But the more Mycroft can tie these things together, vs getting a bunch of Hubs - the better. But that may a full project in and of itself.

There may need to be a library all on its own which handles Mycroft talking to IoT stuff, Right now the couple of things we’ve implemented are kind of one off skills that need to be formalized in some way. @seanfitz you thought about this much?

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I would highly suggest NOT going with anything X-10. The technology is 30 - 40 years old. It is rendered obsolete by today’s standards and replaced by digital entities.

I have had SmartThings since the very beginning. Even before Samsung bought out the company. I really like it even though the official android app needs a tad bit of work. (It isnt always consistent. Sometimes the "things don’t toggle when you press them on the app and requires a 2nd press)

Still, SmartThings is integrated with all kinds of Home Automation devices like Wemo, Zigbee, etc. etc.

I would suggest SmartThings as a hub and as for devices, I would go with brand names like Wemo. The support and integration with entities like SmartThings and IFTTT are a huge plus.

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Has anyone looked at using Mycroft with OpenHAB? It’s an open, Java-based, home control system that appears to be technology agnostic, adapting and utilizing multiple sense and control technologies. Yes, everything from Insteon to zigbee, including that cursed X-10.

Using Mycroft to control OpenHAB would let you use whatever technology is appropriate for each individual application, and just focus on WHAT YOU WANT TO DO, not on how some singular manufacturer wants you to do it. Don’t rebuild the structures and capabilities of an existing project, when you can integrate and use it whole. Let Mycroft focus on making a great AI, and the OpenHAB project focus on a great home automation controller.

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I haven’t worked on this much lately. I think the community could benefit from the work Felix of Low Power Lab is doing with his Moteino. This is an Arduino clone with transceiver functionality attached. Its cheap and tiny. I’ve built a mailbox notifier that tells me when the box was last opened and a garage door monitor and remote opener/closer. I hope to live long enough to build soil moisture for the garden and auto controls for the drip irrigation system. :slightly_smiling: These communicate with a raspberry pi “home automation gateway” which runs software to allow access and control from the internet. I’m really rusty on the details but the site has all the info. He also has switches outlets etc that work with the system. I just checked out He’s done a lot of work since I was last there. Check it out. All open source/DIY.