So thought my first post on the forum should be a summary of my first week with Homey. This is not meant as a review, critique of analysis of the capabilities. I fully expect that after only a week there are things I’m not doing correctly and look forward to being correct or pointed in the right direction but I thought I was useful to put these down for others like me who are trying to decide whether to jump on the Homey train or not.
To start with a bit of background, I’m an IT professional, my background is Infrastructure but I sit across all disciplines in an architecture, that means I’m currently good at thinking and designing solutions but often no-longer have the skills to implement the technical capability myself. I’m not a coder but I’ve made a commitment to learn JS, both to give me more sympathy for the coders who work for me but also I want to be able to actively contribute to the home automation community – and actually I’ve realised it isn’t as hard as I thought it was.
I’m coming from SmartThings, why, because the app is so bad, I mean unusably bad, it logs me and my wife out every day, requires killing frequently, and logging in and out and it looses config and customisation – I’ve lost my patience with it, so I’m bought a Homey Pro, after a weekend, I’ve installed 16 apps, 9 sensors, a heating system, lights (both Hue and others) through hubs and directly, integrated Harmony, Sonos and Alexa and linked to Homekit and connected some Somfy blinds directly.
And on the Somfy blinds, this made trying Homey a free role of the dice, Somfy Tahoma is £300 and would only get used for the blinds and integrated into SmartThings so why not try Homey, get a better HA platform and control of my blinds in one and so far has been excellent.
So let me kick-on with my observations:
- Flows are great, I wish they still had the left to right logic in the web interface but I’ve been able to do the things I need in the GUI, in SmartThings I had to use Webcore (which is fantastic but probably sits somewhere between Flows and HomeyScript in terms of capability and complexity).
- As soon as I started to this of the ‘when’ part of the flow as a trigger it made it easier, I’ve seen forum posts from people asking how do I have When=between 3pm&6pm. Thinking of it as a trigger makes this easier.
- Somethings in flows I stumbled upon, I spent time wondering why I have an option for ‘nobody is at home’ but not ‘someone is at home’ I wish ‘invertibility’ was clearer.
- What’s with the lack of icons? And why restrict certain icons to certain things, just make the entire set available across all objects when you have the option to choose.
- Zones are perfect, this has simplified motion controls for me:
- Activity in zone turn light on
- No activity in zone turn light off after 1 minute.
- But make the time free form instead of 1 min, 5 mins. I used to use 2 mins for these activities.
- I structure Zones to help with Groups, e.g.:
- Living Room
- Living Room
- I missed scenes but have replaced them all with flows and buttons and this is fine and I actually prefer.
- Insights are useful or have the potential to be useful – but need to report more, I’ve seen the other threads about this but being able to dim levels and on (1)/off(0) would improve this even if they can’t be summarised.
- The forums can seem to be a little grumpy at times but I don’t know anyone who works with technology that isn’t a little grumpy so I shouldn’t be surprised :D
- Yes I wish the was a better dashboard, yes I know the HomeyDash is getting better and is commendable from the community. But yes I will also probably go down the route of using Home Assistant to do this.
- Zigbee performance does not seem to be great, I’ve already had bulbs fall off the network and need re-pairing. I don’t have enough Z-wave devices to know. I’ve not a hub-a-phobe so may just take the route of attaching bulbs to hubs or doing the modification with external antennas – we’ll see on that one.
- I wish you could organise the app better, I’ve created a Zone ‘zzAutomations’ to add all my pseudo devices in, SmartThings have an OK implementation of this where you can move devices ‘below the line’ and then they only show when you select an individual room not when you view your entire home.
- Presence detection has worked almost flawlessly, but missed once, so I’ll probably put in a failsafe of Homekit/button toggle to provide backup.
- I’ve not actually missed modes Home/Away/Day/Night/Vacation. I have created a virtual switch for ‘Vacation Mode’ and think that will do everything I need.
- I love the desktop app...sorry hope that doesn’t trigger anyone. But as always with these type of tools I’m running Homey on BlueStacks which means I can do config on my PC and honestly that as far as I can tell will be good enough.
An that’s it, I’ve built around 30 flows so far, and I’ll probably share some of the more interesting ones on the forum in case they help anyone.
Great bit of kit, not perfect (find me a home automation solution that is), some quirks and a learning curve but very powerful and I’m happy.