Platform and device recommendation


I just bought the Home Assistant Green gateway and before I start buying devices, I would like to ask you for a recommendation on what platform (e.g. Tuya, SmartThings, HomeKit, etc.), connection (WiFi, Zigbee, Matter, etc.) and manufacturer to choose.

So far, I have one Tuya device (an electricity consumption measurement device to a wall socket), and I have integrated it to the Home Assistant, but (if I understood it correctly) it’s getting the data from the Tuya cloud and I would like to use it directly locally without the cloud and any 3rd party apps.

Here’s what I would like to achieve:

  • everything should work locally without any cloud
  • if I would go to a cloud later, I would choose the Home Assistant Cloud, probably
  • no other 3rd party app should be needed
  • the less effort to integrate a device needed, the better
  • if there’s a need to flash an alternative firmware to a device, I don’t have a problem with it
  • devices that are powered by a battery (e.g. a door sensor), should use some low power radio (definitely not WiFi, rather Zigbee or similar), other devices may (but don’t have to) use WiFi

I would like to start with an electricity consumption measurement device - one for the whole apartment (a DIN rail mountable) and one to a wall socket, so if you could recommend such particular devices, I would appreciate it.

Thank you on advance!

Welcome! It would really help folks provide relevant advice if you let us know what country you are in…

Hey, thank you for your suggestion! I didn’t realize it may have any impact. How exactly does it affect the device selection, please?

Anyway, I’m based on Europe/Czechia.

230v vs 110v

I got rid of all my ZigBee devices as they weren’t anyway as stable/resilient - specially compared to esphome nodes. The few battery powered are thermometers with BLE which a proxies by esphome into HA.

Plug type, voltage…

How many phases do you have (to measure whole house power consumption)?

This shop is located in Czech republic and offers esphome compatible gear (pre-flashed with tasmota):

I would go with Matter devices right away for the parts where they are available, such as EVE Matter smart plugs with metering.
I would then probably use ESP32-C6 boards with ESPHome for the rest, because these can easily be reflashed to Matter, if needed in the future.

Matter, Zigbee and Z-wave networks are mesh networks, so the more mains powered devices you have the better your mesh are.
Matter is relative new and quite strict in the protocol, so you will not find so many different products there. Same with Z-wave.
Zigbee is open and anyone can make their small adjustment to the protocol, but that also opens up for failure and requirement for pathcing up stuff, which is call quirks in that world.

Reading your whole post, it sounds like you are leaning towards Zigbee, and for all the same reasons as I do.

As a counter-point to what indeeed said, I have had quite good results with my Zigbee network, to the point I prefer it now over Wi-Fi devices. Just take care to follow recommendations about channels, build out your network with router devices, get a good coordinator, etc.

The problem with Wi-Fi can become network congestion, but that can be alleviated by beefing up your Wi-Fi network (possibly multiple APs, wired backhaul, etc.) but that can also take time and effort. Also less battery efficient.

The good thing about HA is that you don’t really have to commit to any particular protocol or platform. I prefer Zigbee and that’s where I look first, but for some devices I cant find in Zigbee or custom ones there is always ESPHome (and others). I still have some Sonoff Wi-Fi plugs I had bought before getting into Zigbee, and they still work just fine. :slight_smile:

Although, do realize, if you care about local control, using Wi-Fi devices will involve flashing (usually; you can purchase pre-flashed devices at a premium). Zigbee is inherently a local-only protocol; this was yet another reason I decided to switch. No more need to flash devices, just press or hold a button (typically) and they join the network. It’s just less time and effort required on my part.

Many of us are running Zigbee2MQTT (or ZHA) and thereby eschew any vendor clouds. This is important enough to me that I refuse to buy any devices which can only function (or even so much as need to be configured one time) using any vendor ‘cloud’ or ‘app’. A good place to find such devices (and guide your purchasing decisons) is Database of Zigbee devices compatible with ZHA, Tasmota, Zigbee2MQTT, deCONZ, ZiGate and ioBroker.

As you point out, Zigbee devices are also more battery efficient. Which is another reason most of my sensors (temperature, door, motion, etc.) are those. They can run on some coin cells for a couple years, which I find amazing, actually.

It doesn’t seem to me like Matter/Thread are quite there yet. IMHO there is a lot of hype, but very few devices so far. And it’s still in development. So I am still buying Zigbee devices, there is a wide selection, they are relatively inexpensive, and mostly proven and pretty well supported (generally speaking).

Welcome to the wonderful world of home automation! Don’t forget to have fun! You will learn a lot and make some mistakes along the way, don’t lose heart. :slight_smile:

For example this smart plug is build on a esp32-c3 which supports WiFi and Bluetooth and can therfor work as a Bluetooth proxy beside being a smart plug.

One thing I don’t want to miss anymore (and that bugged with many ZigBee devices) are the local (on device) automations that are possible on a esphome node. To program a esphome node that switches a water valve/sprinkler for example to turn on off after x minutes when toggled on (no matter it is connected to ha/WiFi…) is something priceless. On the other hand a random ZigBee plug might not even allow to set a fixed power on state

That can always happen because airtime is not guaranteed. For ZigBee this is usually much more of a problem because of it’s low power design which has low penetration (range) and is prone to interference.

Personally I experienced the instability of ZigBee - on the other hand I have over 50 esphome connected to an over 10 year old consumer WiFi ap (which I got second or third hand) and never experienced any problems with that setup

1 Like

I must admit, that level of reliability sounds very nice. And I cannot remember ever having any trouble with the few Wi-Fi based devices I do have (mostly smart outlets).

I suppose I fell in love with ‘the promise’ of Zigbee. The low power usage, many inexpensive devices, the idea of the mesh network, etc.

My network has been pretty reliable. But right now I have 2 or 3 sensors which seem to be falling off the network for whatever reason. And I have taken all the care and done all the things one is supposed to.

Anyway, this ‘network congestion’ argument is always brought up against Wi-Fi, but maybe it’s not as important as I thought it was, in practice.

@indeeed, I am curious about your successful setup. Are all your Wi-Fi IoT devices on a separate subnet / access point, or do they share the Wi-Fi with all your other devices (laptops, etc.) in your home?

I am less than a year into building out my Zigbee network, and for now I will continue with it. Although going forward I might become less of a Zigbee zealot. :smiley:

The 2.4GHz spectrum is pretty congested and that is often the only one IoT devices can run on.
The 5GHz spectrum is coming though, but the penetration power of the 5GHz is less, due to the frequency , and the IoT devices often have a poor antenna due to their small size, which will make this worse.

It is true that in a congested environment you need many devices closer together to form a good mesh, but Zigbee is actually better placed to handle congestion anyway, because the transmitted data size is sooo much smaller and the need for advanced handshakes are much lower.

Yes Wally, I agree with you, and I am aware of all those things ‘in theory’. Which are all parts of why I had become a Zigbee proponent in the first place.

But, it’s hard to argue with success, ‘in reality’. :wink:

Where you will see Zigbee/Z-Wave/Matter win is in the perimeter of your house, where your WiFi support might be a bit spotty.
You will have to invest in another AP to then cover that area and more than 3 APs will require a WLAN controller too.
The mesh IoT networks might already cover those areas due to router/repeaters devices close by or it can be handled by a cheap device, like a light bulb or smart socket.
We have several examples here were a Zigbee network have been extended to places away from the main house, like garages, by putting a few Zigbee bulbs in the outer light fixtures.
With WiFi that would probably require 2 extra APs, which is moving you quickly towards the 3 limit for a simple WiFi network.
Remember that although WiFi seems to have a bigger coverage it is only for devices with good antenna and transmitting power. WiFi and Zigbee IoT devices are often similar in size, so the antenna is often also similar, which is what really limits a device’s range.

Says Cisco and tries to sell you a controller for $600?

Jokes a side, this is obviously not correct if you step out of your bubble.

Bad idea. Some ZigBee bulbs even don’t activate the router/repeater part as it is known that it can cause problems when the fitting is not permanently powered…

Says Cisco again and wants to sell you more AP’s? Out neighbor has one (in numbers: 1) outdoor AP and he can connect to it 800m away and stream 4k videos…

Well, big NO! And now I think to actually remember your avatar… Didn’t I debunked kind of the same (failse) claims of yours already in the past?

Output power! Now you do the research! Good luck!

All devices I trust (all of my devices including esphome nodes) are in the same network… And then we have this guest WiFi in case you ask me for a internet connection at our place.

Well, I guess you just run all your APs on channel 1 then.
Others have learnt to space them out, so they do not overlap, but with the sepctrum set off to 2.4GHz WiFi it is really only possible to do that 3 times for a 802.11G network.
I could have found some links where it is explained for WiFi, but you might just complain that it is Cisco interference again, so because the issue is general for all radio communication, then I decided to find a link for normal radio towers for cell phones.
Look for the Co-channel interference section.

There might be a little number of brands that do not do it, but most of the major brands of light bulbs have them set up as router/repeaters. I use LifX and Philips Hue and they both do it, but you can probably find a list for those, which do not act as routers/repeaters.

Output power has a say too, but it is not that important, because it is limited by law to a very low limit.
100mW for 2.4GHz and 1000mW for 5GHz.
Of course you can find products that makes it possible to circumvent this limit, but if your end device transmit with more power because it can’t reach the central unit otherwise, then you central device might not to transmit with extra power too to reply back. This might then mean you central unit can then reach end devices further away, but they can not reply back if they do not use extra power, so it is either a puzzle to figure out your coverage issue with the network or you need to make sure that each and every one of your devices can and do use extra transmit power.
Most users have at least a few devices that this for certain is not possible, so the idea of circumventing the limit is a rare use case.

Here is an interesting article on antenna design.

Near the bottom of the article you will find this section.

However, some measures of efficiency factor in any change in antenna radiation resistance variation. Most small antennas aren’t that efficient. Anything better than 50% to 60% is usually good, but always seek to improve it if you can.

The article taught me a bit about polarization too, so I will have to test one of my problematic devices out with turning it around a bit too see if that helps on the signal for it. Funny enough it is actually an ESPHome device on WiFi and next to it there are 2 perfectly working Zigbee plugs.

I think we now all understand that you hate Zigbee/Z-Wave/Matter and love WiFi, but there is a reason these technologies were invented, even though WiFi already existed and was in widespread use.
Your argument about owning your device does not really go here, because I have both Zigbee and Matter devices with ESP chips where I compiled the firmware myself, so you can own them too.

It just hurts a bit reading your posts as I’m working as network consultant and while you try hard it looks you are lacking a lots of basic knowledge in that topic.

When we need to deploy 4 AP’s we always settle with channel 1,5,9 and 13 and (in the smallest setup type don’t deploy any controller).

You bare with me that I don’t continue debunking your false statements if you are not able to keep a civil communication

So you make sure that all overlaps a bit and cause a bit interference and then you use channel 13, which is restricted in some parts of the world.
It is a good compromise though. Give a little throughput, due to more interference, but gain some coverage.
It will work and you might even be able to give up more and then add another one with channel 1, 4, 7, 10 and 13, al though that would be just on the limit in my view.

I must admit that I have never really thought on the situation with exactly 4 APs. I work with 1000-2000 WiFi users within a 200m radius, so that number is jumped quickly.

Thank you for all your suggestions guys! I’ll investigate them further, try to come up with a solution that best fits my needs, and possibly get back to you with more specific questions. I appreciate the time you’re wasting to help me!