How to Set Up a Smarthome Without the Cloud

A hand using smarthome commands on a smarthphone.
weedezign / Shutterstock

The simplest technology uses the cloud to do most of the work. But that means you give up your privacy. And if the company closes, your smarthome does the same. Here's how to get around the cloud in your standard configuration.

Why a locally controlled Smarthome?

A hand using a Smart Light controller on a smartphone.
Nullplus / Shutterstock

Cloud-based smarthomes are feature-rich and include some subtleties, but they have drawbacks.

First of all, you must give up a minimum of privacy. Google, Amazon, Apple and even Microsoft The voice assistants recorded everything you told them and often sent these recordings to humans for review. While Google, Amazon and Apple have taken steps to alleviate these concerns, Microsoft has not changed anything yet. Some devices using the cloud also record your activities. Manufacturers use this information to improve systems, but in some cases they sell your anonymized data.

Second, if the business cloud that drives your smarthome technology closes or removes the smarthome category, your devices will not work anymore.

This very thing happened with the Lowe's Iris and revolver hubs. Similarly, Best Buy recently announced its intention close the line Insignia smarthome. Thus, smart plugs, cameras and Insignia light switches will stop working. And if you have an Insignia Smart Wi-Fi freezer, it will be soon just a freezer.

If you build a locally controlled smarthome, you avoid all these problems. Your data does not leave your home and even if a manufacturer stops, your devices continue to work.

Keep in mind, however, that creating a tandem controlled by locals is not for the sensitive souls. But here's what you need to do to put the cloud afloat.

Start with a locally controlled hub

The Hubitat hub, the z-wave adapter and Box.

Each smarthome needs a brain to make it work. Unfortunately, most of the time, these "brains" involve the cloud. For example, both Wink and SmartThings offer hubs with some local control, but they still use the Internet for some features.

Fortunately, you have other options, such as Hubitat, a hub fully controlled locally. Any commands you send to it, or any automation you configure, runs at the local level. Another advantage of Hubitat is that it is a preconceived system. The disadvantage is that the configuration process creates automations similar to complex router interfaces.

House assistant is a hub solution to build oneself. With this option, you get exactly the smarthome you want, with all the features you want. However, you have to do everything yourself including building the hub from a Raspberry pie.

Of these two options, the Home Assistant interface is more sophisticated, but the Hubitat configuration process is more user-friendly.

Other options, like OpenHab, offers similar features. However, in any case, you should expect to do more installation than with a cloud-compatible hub such as Wink.

Also pay attention to the options you activate. If you connect to a cloud service, all of your most complex data can and will go into the cloud.

Switch to Z-Wave or ZigBee devices

The ZigBee and Z-Wave logos.
Z-wave, ZigBee

Now that you have a local hub, you need devices to power your handheld. All jacks, light bulbs, locks, or Wi-Fi switches must be removed. Most Wi-Fi smart devices connect to a cloud service to work even when you use them with a hub.

Instead, use either Z-Wave or ZigBee devices. What you choose is yours, but they are more similar than different.

Z-Wave devices tend to spread over a greater distance, so you can move them further away. ZigBee devices create larger mesh networks, so if you have a lot, distance is not a problem. In any case, choose a protocol and respect it as much as possible.

You can buy Z-wave or ZigBee bulbs, switches, plugs, locks, and more.

RELATED, RELATED, RELATED: ZigBee vs Z-Wave: choose between two strict Smarthome standards

Ditch Voice Assistants

Josh Hendrickson

Voice assistants are one of the most convenient ways to control your smartphone. But what you use Google Home or Amazon Echo, you involve the cloud. What you say can end up on the company's servers, even if Google allows you to unsubscribe.

Even with the opt-out option, you always use the cloud and your voice is always sent to the company's servers. If the goal is to abandon the cloud, that is not enough. Unfortunately, we can not recommend a viable local voice assistant, because everyone uses the cloud, at least to some extent.

Forgoing the convenience of voice control may seem difficult, but you have another option: automation.

Automate everything

Hands using smart home automation on an iPad.
Stanisic Vladimir / Shutterstock

Without a voice assistantyou need another way to control your smarthome. With your hub, you can control everything in one application. But it's not always practical, especially if you have younger family members who do not have smart devices.

That's good, though. When using a locally controlled Z-Wave or Zigbee hub, you can enable your smarthome's superpower: automation. You can use automation to turn lights on or off when entering or leaving a room. You can turn on your heating blanket when you enter the room on a cold night. And your smarthome can go out when no one is at home.

The most expensive and difficult part of this business is setting up automation. First of all, you need a variety of movement, Temperature, contact, and l & # 39; water sensors. Expect to spend between $ 30 and $ 60 per sensor. And, since you will probably want to automate your whole house, you will need more than one sensor per sensor.

Once your home is equipped with sensors, your next step is to learn the automation engine for your hub. The basic principle is usually "if that, then that" conditions. If the bathroom sensor detects motion, turn on the light. If the living room is empty for more than 10 minutes, disable the smart cards.

When you master the rules, some hubs (like Hubitat) can do more complex scenarios. For example, you can combine conditions such as the time of day and the presence of people in the room before the hub turns on the floor fan.

The ultimate goal is to create a slice that anticipates your needs and works proactively, as opposed to one that responds to voice commands.

Efforts must be made to implement a smarthome entirely under local control. You may also need to purchase new components, learn new rules, and give up voice commands. But you will have total control of your data and a complete server that will work exactly as you want. The process is expensive, but could be worth it in the long run.

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