Brand recommendations, getting my toes wet

Is there a brand that works out of the box without needing an account and constant connection to the internet? To get started I’m looking for simple temperature sensor, water sensor, relay, and light.

I have HA installed on a pi4. From my research it looks like I maybe want to use Zigbee devices. Not sure if I need a hub but I like the idea that not everything is connected to wifi. These device manufacturers seem desperate for my data and I just want to setup some wireless sensors in peace.

Eventually I’ll order some esp8266 boards to play with but I was hoping to get started with something a little more straight forward. Since HA looks pretty powerful as a controller I think I just need some dumb wireless devices. I was hoping you all might have some suggestions.

Your country would help with some suggestions (e.g. smart plugs).

ESPHome is great though. Highly recommended. If you do go down the path of wifi instead of zigbee/zwave you will probably have to update your wifi.

If you use a Zigbee stick with Zigbee2mqtt, ZHA or Deconz, there is no connection to the internet needed. And you can get temperature sensors, water sensors, relays, and lights with Zigbee. And smart plugs.

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Thanks, I am in Canada.

So as I understand ESPHome is a firmware that makes a device play nice? I think Tasmota is similar?

It blows my mind that no manufacturer is offering decent firmware out of the box. If I go the ESPHome route it looks like Sonoff is the device of choice, any other recommendations?

Cool, do you know if all Zigbee device will work or are some not compatible?

Why does this blow your mind? They offer firmware that does what they want, which includes getting your data :wink:

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The best zigbee compatibility list can be found here :

ESPHome is much more than just flashing alternative firmware to existing devices. You can buy an ESP board for less than $5 and connect all the sensors you want with a little bit of yaml.

Shelly wifi devices work locally (no cloud) without needing to flash alternative firmware.

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I see, I will start here then. I saw the ESP8266 NodeMCU looks easy to work with or do you recommend something else? Also, you mentioned before that I may have to update my wifi, would you please explain?

Thank you very much

How much hardware/firmware work do you want to do?

I started with the same questions you have. I tried out a few Zigbee devices (I bought a HUSBZB USB stick for my Raspberry Pi, and use “native” ZHA - no MQTT.) I’ve found this to be the simplest plug-and-play solution. I have some IKEA Tradfri smart plugs and some Visonic door/temperature sensors. I also bought three “no name” Zigbee devices. They all just work out of the box, no tinkering required. I did modify one door sensor to remove the reed switch and hook it to a relay so that I can monitor when my boiler goes on and off.

I also have some TP-Link WiFi smart plugs. I wanted these because they do energy monitoring, as well as on/off. Although they can be connected to the TP-Link cloud, there is an HA integration which works locally. Overall they’ve been OK, although earlier versions of the HA integration had some bugs. Now TP-Link has made noise about third party systems like HA being “unauthorized” so I’m not sure I’d want to invest in any more until that’s resolved. The point, however, is that WiFi stuff works well too, providing there’s good support for it in HA.

For my next project I’ll be getting into some ESP32-based sensors. This seems like a very cost-effective and well-supported option. There’s lots of information here and at other sites to help with the learning curve, although some basic knowledge about tinkering with electronic devices would probably come in handy.

From my perspective, Tasmota is a more “techie” solution, requiring slightly deeper knowledge and experience. The devices are cheaper but you sort of have to set up a bit of a “lab” or workspace somewhere to flash them. I haven’t really had the need for enough sensors to justify that. Yet.

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Thanks, I appreciate your insights, I’m getting a better understanding about my options.

I think I will try a couple zigbee bulbs for around the house and some esp creations for the garage and furnace room then see how it all shakes out.

I do keep forgetting that not everyone has this.

But if you don’t have it the internet and us can help. We’ll have you soldering in no time. Maybe not the extreme eye watering edition, but enough to get by.

I saw a truly truly awful soldering example on dr zzs facebook group the other day. The bar is low.


Show the link and shame the celebrity. Tall poppy syndrome is the Ozzie way (I know you are a sheep shagger but you’re like a younger brother to us Ozzies. Albeit with better scenery).

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deleted broken link

There you go in your fancy grown up penal colony.

Busted link me ol’ matey.

Does this work? Bloody FB.


It could be the corporate firewall l’m behind but I get SFA for either link.

You’re bringing me back to my roots. My first degree was in Digital Electronics Technology. Basically a fancy way to say they tried to teach me to solder. Had I continued down that path I would have had a fulfilling career on a bench somewhere testing and soldering boards for electric meters. I took a path less traveled by, and I’m very out of practice with a soldering iron now. No awards for me, but I can still get the job done.