The smart home is pretty much stable in terms of new things. Just minor tweaks here and there. One thing I did over the holiday break was to swap in Lutron Caséta switches and add a Lutron Smart Bridge Pro. Yes, it is another "link" to account for. But the little device connects directly to Hubitat, and it works very well. One of the added benefits to the Lutron system are the pico remote devices. Just little button controllers. But with these little button controllers, I can actually program them using Hubitat. So I can have them do control any of the automation or scenes that I program in Hubitat, even when the target devices are not Lutron switches, etc. Just really handy. I've been putting these little pico devices all over.

Another plus is that I finally have all interior lighting hooked up to smart switches now. The 3 way and 4 way lighting I had were causing me fits. The electrical setup was not conducive to using the standard Enbrighten Z-Wave switches with add-ons. I just couldn't use them without some rewiring. But with the Lutron setup, I can just replace the secondary and tertiary switches with pico remotes, and I have the 3 way and 4 way setup that I did before.

Another change that happened over the holidays was I installed the new HomeKit integration in Hubitat. It's currently in beta, but it's working fine. I didn't like HomeKit before because the devices were 1) expensive and 2) limited in options. Most old HomeKit stuff worked via bluetooth or wifi. Bluetooth is limited in range and in my opinion, a silly protocol to use for home automation. Wifi just adds more and more of my wifi network that I primarily use for movies, music, work, and basically anything else these days. I didn't want to tax the wifi network any more. With more recent Apple devices like the HomePod Mini and AppleTV 4k, they added "Thread." Thread is smart home automation system, similar to what Zigbee or Z-Wave does on dedicated "connections." But it's more modern and performs a little better. Problem is, again, device choice and price.

With the new integration, I can pull the cheaper and more diverse devices into HomeKit and see them in the Home app on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. One thing the Hubitat did not do great was the dashboard. Yes, it has a pretty flexible setup, but it looks dated without diving into more coding than I care to attempt at this point in my life. I just want it to work well and look nice. The Amazon Alexa app is worse. It's expected that voice would be the only way to control devices, and that a dashboard wasn't necessary. You can simply ask Alexa if something is on or locked or whatever. It's just not how I want to work.

There are some limitations to the HomeKit integration from Hubitat. Apple does not allow devices like locks, garage door openers, or the like operate over a hub like this. All my current locks are Zigbee and cannot be controlled via HomeKit, directly or indirectly. I might be able to do something with virtual switches or something, but I need to think through it a little more. My garage door opener doesn't connect to Hubitat anyway, so I'm ok with that limitation right now. And "LAN" devices are not allowed. I only have one LAN device, an outlet, connected to Hubitat that cannot be integrated to HomeKit. It's not really something I care about right now. All my other "LAN" devices are connected directly to HomeKit anyway. Lutron, Hue, and ecobee connect to HomeKit natively, so we're all good there.

So, that was my end of year vacation. Cleaning up things (the office looks transformed now), playing with HomeKit (still some things to arrange and see what works best for me). But I felt good with what I was able to accomplish while taking a break.

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