Understanding Infrastructure - Why do I need a HUB

I am really green on this stuff. I thought that for a generic home automation system that the HUB was the central focus for connecting and managing devices. I also expected that what I was building with Home Assistant is a replacement for these devices to which I could readily link my devices over my LAN.

So can someone please explain what HA does and what a HUB does? Do any devices work without a hub?

Related, what are the key decisions\questions I need to understand to make a selection. I assume that different hubs support different hardware?

It’s mainly a hardware thing. A HUB is issentially a central way of controling a Home Automation System. HASS is one example. But others such as Wink and Smart Things combine that concept in a purpose built piece of hardware with all of the radios needed, e.g. WiF, Bluetooth, ZWave, Zigbee.

HASS is just the software piece and none of the radios but generally you will be running on a host that supplies WiFi (or at least a LAN connection) and for some users bluetooth too. You can add additional hardware to also do Zigbee and ZWave and you end up with something equivalent to q Wink or Smart Things hub, however HASS is way cooler for a number of reasons. One important one is that it does local processing and is not tied to the cloud which can be a huge drawback (I left Wink and Smart Things behind for that reason alone).

It is possible to use HASS as the controller, and use Wink/Smart things just for their radios, at which point they become a glorified USB ZWave/Zigbee stick (althoug in some cases with some value add - some devices are still better supported via Wink or Smart Things).

I expected that a wireless “device” would connect to my wireless LAN directly and that HASS would then see this, or I may need to tell HASS the IP\MAC and what it is for it to find it. I would avoid blutooth as I find most devices are still class 2 and of limited range (reliability). [quote=“aimc, post:2, topic:21686”]
You can add additional hardware to also do Zigbee and ZWave and you end up with something equivalent to q Wink or Smart Things hub, however HASS is way cooler for a number of reasons. One important one is that it does local processing and is not tied to the cloud which can be a huge drawback (I left Wink and Smart Things behind for that reason alone).
[/quote]Well this is the basic reason I am here. I have so far (and thus way behind the curve) avoided the traditional “connect to the cloud” due to security concerns, data collection and premium services (Dropcanm)

I infer from this that Zigbee and ZWave are connection technologies as opposed to controller tech. Need some help here I think.

I just found a link to this in another post http://www.discounthomeautomation.com/GoControl-Z-Wave-QuickStick-LNHUSBZB1?gclid=Cj0KEQiA-f3CBRCbluKf4vu008kBEiQAl-iGq4ck2zH2iIMhsYsR3sYTnJupNxnaWq1oMI93RKhUQ7IaAoBe8P8HAQ
I think this is both hub and radio in one and plugs in the HA host box. I assume the device then connect to this. Is this a WIFI “radio”?



That is a USB device that adds a Zigbee and ZWave radio to your system. That + HASS running on an appropriate host (e.g. a raspberry PI, AMC, PC running Linux, or even windows) is roughly equivalent to something like Wink or ST.

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So a Pi and this stick is substantially all I need to build the control side of an HA environment in a Local Only mode?

I wish only to run in local mode. Are there any products to stay away from or to focus on?

Are there any voice controls (Amazon. Google, Apple, etc) which can process requests locally?

That’s pretty much it. The only reason you’d need a stick is to control devices that you can’t already talk to (i.e. z-wave devices). WiFi bulbs, WiFi switches, network receivers, network capable tv’s, etc. Can be controlled directly by Home Assistant if they are supported (HA has a module written for the device) and have a network path from the computer on which Home Assistant is running.

As for staying local, that’s a matter of choosing devices for your home that don’t require cloud access to control.

A good place to start is deciding what you want to control or monitor (i.e. a light switch, tv, etc) and then looking to see if home assistant supports it, and if so, how. I chose the receiver/amplifier for my home theater in part becauseHome Assistant could control it directly over my home LAN with no adapters or cloud services needed.

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Thanks for this info.

Unfortunately this info is challenging to ferret out. I would like to think that the Components Details Pages would include this data in a searchable format, but there is just some config data. Only 5 items show up with the search term WIFI

Would mind sharing your list of products?

One of the problems with a searchable list of products is that there are so many and they aren’t necessarily available everywhere. Also, you don’t, at least I don’t, usually go looking for products first but rather, decide on what you want to do, then go looking for products that satisfy that need. You can start to narrow your search based on features, protocol, cost, etc. Once you find a device that suits your needs, try a search in the forums for that device and model to see what others have done. If it has the right features and others have been able to set them up it might be a good choice.
Plan, read, plan, read and then be prepared to start over.

You have mentioned WiFi, and it might be an OK thing to start with, but do think about your end goal. WiFi may not require an additional radio, but they will be competing with other devices on your network for resources. If your router is supplied by your ISP or a few years old, you could end up overloading it. You may have locations within your home that have less than ideal WiFi coverage. Not everything you want to do will be doable over WiFi, and your choices will be more limited.

Protocols like Zwave and Zigbee benefit from more devices. To some degree, the more the merrier. Both are mesh networking protocols and even devices furthest from the hub can still be very reliable since their signals will be relayed to and from other devices to get back to the hub.


I agree one should choose the process and find the items that build the solution. I think my big concern was that using most of these hubs drives me to connect to the internet. Not sure how true that is. And it just seems redundant. I guess I expected all the components to be WIFI. It’s good to know that these deices create their own mesh.

A properly structured DB would let me find all the product for a solution, along with the supported protocols. From there I should be able to dive into the components details to get vendor data and product details. Market could be a viable field.

I do not think my hardware is not an issue. Got a good router and plan to separate all the home control onto it’s own network interface segment (VLAN) and APs.

With a young open sourced project, you won"t find a database of products. Keeping up with new products would be a full time job for someone. Feel fee to take on the job.
Well good luck. Hope you find something to get yourself started.