New to HA please help… Zwave, Zigbee, ESPhome, or Tasmota?

Hi! I’m new to HA and have no devices yet. I am converting an entire home. I have researched extensively trying to figure out what is the most current and best protocol. The more I research the more I’m unsure. I know it’s SO much work to change once I go down the wrong road so I really want to get this right from the start. Can anyone please help with advice, in your personal opinion and experience, on the following?

Protocol: Zwave vs Zigbee vs ESP Home vs Tasmota. Which is best? Is there another I should consider?

Equiptment: Is Raspberry Pi 4 the best?

Dongle: What are the best dongles/radios for Zwave, Zigbee, ESP Home, and Tasmota?

OS: I mean no offense by asking this but thoughts on Home Assistant? Does anything come close to beating it that I should consider?

Note: I’m after quality vs cheap (within reason of course). I’m just trying to do my due diligence to make the best choice from the getgo. Any help and advice is greatly appreciated!

Thank you!

I do hate this question. Let’s start with there is no ‘best’ there is ‘best for you’

Yes I know - that’s as useful as Yoda saying “do or do not there is no try…”

For some Zwave is rock solid and stable. Those folks will say ZWave is best.
For some it’s horrid and they can’t get it to work for them or they say they’re ‘too expensive’

For some, Zigbee is amazing and fast and local.
For others it’s slow and they can’t get devices to stop dropping off the network because they live in an area saturated with 2.4Ghz wifi signals. (This is me BTW)

For some they SWEAR by ESP32 devices on Wifi.
Others have older Wifi gear and they saturate their network quickly.

This is of course before we start with Matter coming down the pipe - sometime…

So what I mean by all of this… THer eis no ‘best’ in all cases. You probably have a combination of issues which make one or more of the major network technologies work or not work for you… The only REAL way to know is to install some things in your environment and find out. There’s nothing wrong with mixing device types.

For your dongles - stick with the recommended hardware for your chosen integrations (ZHA, Zigbee2Mqtt, ZwaveJA and ZWaveJSUI all have recommended coordinator hardware lists) Personally, I avoid the Conbeee II (Older and not well supported in ZHA/Zigbee2MQTT) and any ‘combo’ devices like the Nortek. (Problematic if you use the ZHA migrate function later)

Again, you’ll get as many recommendations here as users. What is your objective -are you running HA only? How is your Linux experience? For me HAOS on a Rpi 4B8GB running on an SSD is my personal solution - but Rpis are as hard to find for a reasonable price as a Unicorn at the moment. You’ll also hear Nuc’s and Odroids mentioned. Whatever you pick, make sure it’s from a good vendor, runs Debian, and you see other folks having success on the forum with your chosen device.

You already know the answer to this asking it on a HA forum… But I will add ehre it’s less about is HA good (Yes, it is) for you it’s more relevant to be asking about installation method - core, docker, supervised or HAOS. Your answer will be a function of your answers to my questions above. (How experienced with Linux are you and do you intend to use the box for stuff besides HA)


This :point_up_2: totally agree

1 Like

Haha. I should have added “in your opinion and experience” to my initial question. I realize that many people are of differing opinions, and those personal opinions are what I’d like to hear. The challenge I’ve faced in researching is that the technology moves so quickly that it’s hard to find “current” opinions. Many posts that are 1-2 years old are outdated because a lot has changed since then. Heck, Insteon would seem like a great technology if I hadn’t kept researching.

So I guess my questions maybe more about if any of the above mentioned technologies are on the way out towards being old, obsolete, and replaced my something better. Is ESPhome outpacing Tasmoto? Is Zigbee outpacing Zwave? Etc.

Thanks for the reply! :slight_smile:

1 Like

Oh. And to answer your question. I am moderately computer literate. Whatever device(s) I use will be solely for the purpose of this instillation. Price is no issue, within reason of course. A couple hundred for a Pi 4 is totally fine if that is what’s best. To me it ends up being cheaper to do it right from the start vs having to change or upgrade later. Thanks again.

1 Like

What are the goals you want to achieve?
In my opinion and experience I am running HA OS on a raspberry Pi4 and I never experienced performance issues, better to plan the use of an SSD instead of SD cards.
I have a Conbee II zigbee stick, in all wall switch I installed Sonoff Zigbee switch, then I have some cheap Ikea plugs that are also Zigbee and extend my signal and some Ikea move sensors.
I was so happy with my Zigbee stuff that I was looking to have everything Zigbee but unfortunately there is a limited amount of products using this technology.
So my second connection protocol is Wi-Fi devices, all I cannot have Zigbee, I buy Wi-Fi, just because there are much more options.

I have some Esp32 with ESPHome Bluetooth Proxy to extend my Bluetooth connectivity and in every room I also have ESP32 with ESPresense.
ESPresense works great to track room presence but honestly it was mostra fun for me to have it but I still do not find any real use for it.

One suggestion I have is not going out and buying products from 100 different brands as some will integrate well and some other not. So if you like products of a certain brand and those works well, stick to those.

HA is beautiful and empower you with a customization level that I think no other smart home platform is even close to.

esphome and tasmota will require more out of you than zwave or zigbee. And both zwave and zigbee have their headaches.

This doesn’t matter, just switch if one dies. And when I say switch, I mean just flash the device with the other software.


A Pi at those prices is objectively foolish. A fanless celeron mini pc complete with case 8gb ram, and ssd can be found for closer to $100 than $200 and would have enough power to run HA virtualized if you care to.

Pi’s became the go to for HA because they were plentiful and inexpensive. They are neither at this point and make little sense unless you already have one gathering dust.

1 Like

At that sort of money, you could order a NabuCasa Yellow all-in-one appliance (you would need some patience for delivery however…).

Please don’t encourage scalpers by paying silly prices - a much better solution would be a small form factor Intel-based PC.

I’m currently using a Lenovo ThinkCentre with Fedora Linux as my main desktop, and older/ slower devices make a good alternative to RPi at similar costs where ARM is not required:

For your other questions - please use the search function, as the same topics come up again and again…


Can just share my rocksolid setup.

Intel based x86 machine, SFF PC from Shuttle, HA supervised on Debian Bullseye

All light is MiLight (Miboxxer), running on it’s own 2.4 GHz network (no Wifi, no Zigbee, but own MiLight protocol)
All essential wall outlets/switches - Zwave
All essential measure devices (temperature, humidity, power, illuminance, motion, window/door) - Zwave
All less important switches - Sonoff WiFi
Long distance, but not essential door sensors - Sonoff 433MHz
Window blinds - RfxTrx 433 MHz
Remote controls - Broadlink IR

The Intel machine together with the Zwave, MiLight, RfxTrx and Sonoff hubs together in one outlet have a power draw of continuous 9,7 Watts.

The only thing, that sometimes makes the system unresponsive are updates. Luckily this problem is more and more less actual, as the updates from HA are getting still better. And, that is a global thing, every protocol is affected once upon a time.

All together, I have a quiet big setup around the house and everything runs very smooth…



Zwave & Zigbee hubs are relatively cheap. And ESP devices already have a “hub” in your wireless AP.

Don’t unnecessarily limit yourself to one protocol. Having the radio controllers for all of them allows you to find the devices you want/need since there are times when you can’t find it in the other (zwave device available but no equivalent zigbee device or vice versa).

ESP based devices are useful (I have a bunch) but they don’t handle batteries well. Wifi is fairly power hungry. So plan on providing mains power to them.

The difference between ESPHome and Tasmota is really a non-issue. It’s easier to just start out with some pre-compiled Tasmota binaries for the different production type ESP devices (Sonoff, etc) but the real power of ESPHome is that you can create almost any type of device with some electronics knowledge (or google) and some imagination.

And don’t forget that ArduinoIDE is a viable option for ESP devices as well. I started out using that as my dev environment and I still have a couple ESP8266 boards running that firmware. If it works there is no need to change it.

EDIT to add:

I have never really experienced any of the horrible connectivity issues some have reported with either zwave or zigbee in general. I’ve had a finicky device or two but my zwave & zigbee networks have been fairly solid ever since I started using HA over 5 years ago. Just my experience but I didn’t want you to read any opinions and think that one protocol was inherently better/worse than the other in reliability.

1 Like

Plus if one of the radios dies or has some sort of issue due to a HA or firmware update you don’t lose all of your devices, only the ones using that protocol / radio.


I have HA Core running on a RPI 4B 4Gb (Docker on DietPi OS) with a Sonoff USB 3 Zigbee stick and Zigbee2MQTT.

It runs really well with my devices; Hue (lights, LED strips, dimmer switches, internal and external motion sensors), Aqara (contact sensors) and Hive (heating). As an aside, I am in the UK and Hive heating is still supported here but as I am running it locally (with Z2M) it doesn’t matter anyway.

I used to have 2 Hue hubs, the Aqara hub and the Hive hub but moved to the single Sonoff to reduce Zigbee interference and strengthen my (now single) Zigbee mesh. I still have those hubs as backup in case the Sonoff packs in.

1 Like

I’ll share what I’m running and I’m pretty happy with it.

I’m running the Home Assistant virtual machine appliance.

I tried to use both Tasmota and ESPHome but had issues with both. Flashing can be really difficult depending on the device. I purchased pre-flashed devices from Athom and still couldn’t get ESPHome to work. Support is practically non-existant and pre-flashed devices are scarce and more expensive. After about a month or so trying to make things work, I threw in the towel on ESPHome and Tasmota.

I ended up going with Zigbee and Z-wave, both have been rock solid for me and I’m using the Hubitat hub which supports both protocols and integrates nicely with Home Assistant. I’ve been using the Sonoff Zigbee outlets and setup takes about 10 seconds, and they just work.

Just started using Aquara devices as well which can be controlled with the Hubitat.

All of this overlayed on top of a HAI Omni automation system using UPB for older switches.

1 Like

You’ll probably find as many different opinions and combinations as there are users. That’s the nice thing about HA, everybody can adapt it to their own specific personal situation and preferences !

Personally, my top priority is reliability. I’m perfectly fine spending more on a high quality device that will work for a long time. I have a strong aversion against CCC (Cheap Chinese Crap), so I stay far away from anything Sonoff, Aqara, ESPs, and all that stuff. Almost all of my inhouse devices are zwave and I’m very happy with the setup. It’s rock solid, a real fire and forget thing. Since my house has thick granite stone walls, the lower frequency RF of zwave gives me much better penetration and range than Zigbee or wifi would. I’m in the EU, so I use mostly devices from brands like Aeotec, Fibaro and Qubino.

I also have a few 433MHz devices left for some indoor and outdoor lighting. Those a relics from my first steps in home automation years ago, but I keep them because they work really well and they have a great outdoor range. I also do a lot of DIY devices, mostly sensors. But in contrast to what most people on here use, I don’t work with ESPs and I don’t use ESPHome or Tasmota. I write all my firmware and I use other microcontrollers. A lot of my DIY sensors are battery powered, so I stay away from wifi due to low power considerations.

Technically, it’s a good system. But practically it’s losing importance very quickly due to extreme supply issues. Which is mostly due to the manufacturer going full in on B2B markets and treating non-business customers as second class citizens. They’re not doing themselves a favor. If you already have a Pi4 lying around, go for it. If not, I’d probably look into alternatives.

Hah, hard to say on a Home Assistant forum :slight_smile: It’s a great platform and it probably gives you the most flexibility out of all available options at this time. It can also be a huge time sink though. I won’t lie, I have been on the brink of ditching it a couple of times. Initially due to the amount of time I had to put into simply keeping it running (I found a solution to this that works well for me now though), and later on because I deeply disagree with the way this project is managed and I don’t like where it’s heading. But that’s a different topic, so don’t let that stop you from diving into it ! It’s a deep rabbit hole though :slight_smile: