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Jamie Balfour'sPersonal blog

For the longest time, I have enjoyed the fantastic Samsung SmartThings. Still, with concerns over speed, cloud access, reliability and of course longevity of the service, I have opted to move away.

Today, I received a USB to Zigbee adapter which I inserted into one of the USB ports on my Ubuntu home server. I also got Home Assistant installed (I am already using Homebridge). To my amazement, the USB Zigbee adapter was recognised by Home Assistant immediately (I mean Linux is often a pain with drivers so I was worried about having to spend precisely 9.23 days trying to get this working but not this time). I got started and found that the installation of my Zigbee devices away from SmartThings and into my new Home Assistant was incredibly easy - in fact, better than SmartThings. 

I say better because SmartThings requires a cloud connection no matter what, even if the connection is local. This meant that things were slower and with SmartThings unifying my whole home, this meant that simple things weren't quick. I also say better because things like my Xenon power strip can now be recognised as four different plugs - not one. This has allowed me to remove one of my WiFi-powered power strips and replace it with the Xenon one (at last). 

Since Home Assistant also works locally, I decided to turn off my internet connection for a short period to test it. And voila, it switches on and off without the need for an internet connection absolutely perfectly - and fast.

As well as Alexa devices, Home Assistant also integrates with Apple devices easily by acting as a bridge. Now I plan, at present, to supplement my Home Assistant with Homebridge since it is also fantastic and it actually runs on the same server. Further to all of this, my Alexa devices now integrate entirely with my Home Assistant, allowing for much quicker control. 

My whole stack is much cleaner and much better designed with the performance that makes it so much more reliable and less reliant on third parties. I plan to install more Zigbee control devices around the house in the next few months too and I'm looking into installing touch screens across the house with control for each device to make things even easier than they are now.

Over the next few weeks, I will be making big changes to my house. The first of those has already started - moving all of my WiFi smart stuff to Zigbee. It's an expensive job since I've got a lot of WiFi stuff but it's just not reliable enough. This has begun with smart plugs, which even though I bought my last WiFi power strip just two months ago, will eventually be replaced by Zigbee plugs for reliability. I've also begun switching out my dumb light switches with Zigbee switches and removing smart bulbs - the switches are much easier to use and have a backup option.

Another major change I'm making is moving from having plug sockets occupied by smart devices and I'm moving more of these to devices that can be powered by Ethernet using PoE.

And, I'm now in the process of upgrading my house so that every room in the house has an RJ-45 connector and CAT6 cabling to ensure that I can both provide data and power devices in every room of my house. 

I've also begun to use my security system now as it's all up and running with sensors all around the house that immediately trigger if someone enters the house.

All in all, the house is much safer, saves more energy, and allows me to access and control it from anywhere.

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