Home automation systems with no cloud

Home Automation Without the Cloud – Offline Home Automation Systems

In Home Automation by ChristyLeave a Comment

Looking for home automation without the cloud?

Don't want connectivity issues bringing your smart home to its knees?

Stick around as I review the best options for a cloud-free smart home for those that want the ultimate in performance and privacy without relying on any outside services.

CQC

CQC is a home automation solution for Windows. Basically, it helps you control almost any device with thermostats, home theatre systems, lights and many others. You have the option to control them using Amazon echo or other voice control systems, touchscreen devices, or remote controls. It offers scalability from smaller systems to a larger commercial application. Since it is an open-ended software, CQC gives you the freedom to customize an automation system for your needs and preferences. Moreover, the software can be installed on multiple computers on the same network, with one computer acting as the central coordinator of all CQC enabled devices. The first version of CQC was released way back in 2002. All in all, the software has been around for almost 16 years, with version 5.2 as its latest product released on the market.

Standout Features

Scalability is one of the most appreciated features of CQC, that is why the product is offered in layered tiers. This allows you to start with a small system and later upgrade to products with more capabilities and an extended number of devices that your system can support.
CQC interface design

Other features of CQC include graphical tools to configure, monitor, and customize all your devices in the network to meet your preferences. You can configure the software to perform scheduled activities or real-time response to changes of the devices you’re controlling.

Protocols Supported

CQC offers support on a number of communication protocols which allows you more flexibility and options to cater your home automation requirements. These protocols include the following:
  • Z-Wave
  • UPB
  • RadioRA
  • RadioRA 2
  • LiteTouch
  • INSTEON
  • Elegance
  • ALC
  • C-Bus
  • HomeWorks
  • JetStream
  • ModBus
  • Vantage

Cost

CQC offers a 40-day trial period free of charge. You then have the option to pay a licensing fee for the Master Server device; the rest of the devices connected to the network are implicitly licensed.

As mentioned previously, CQC is available in different level of tiers. The most basic tier starts at $199 which already includes the basic features and support for one client and maximum of 10 drivers. The system tiers with prices are listed below. Take note that the first two tiers don’t include advanced features available to other higher tiers.


Source: http://www.charmedquark.com/

Integrations

Although it has hundreds of drivers available to support your network, users have the option to develop and use drivers from third parties especially for tinkerers who love customized or DIY products. Support for third parties includes non-Windows touchscreen clients such as Android and iOS via the Remote Interface Viewer Architecture (RIVA) system. CQC version 5.2, which is the latest release, offers a browser-based RIVA client which allows you to integrate any platforms with modern browsers.

Best CQC Demonstration Video

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We couldn't find ANYTHING good here! Can you help by recording something with your system? Leave a comment below, if so.

Vera

If you are looking for a smart home system with excellent technical support and good software and peripherals compatibility, then you might want to consider Vera. The product has been around since 2008 and was previously known as Mi Casa Verde (which means “my green house”) to align with the company’s goal of creating smart and eco-friendly products for home automation.

Vera is available in four versions and these are VeraLite, VeraLite G, VeraEdge, and Vera3. The VeraLite series offer simplified capacity while VeraEdge and Vera3 are designed for advanced automation systems.

Vera is great for both beginners and advanced users because of its extensive options to help you get started right away such as tutorials, manuals, live chat and fast response to emails and telephone calls. Aside from its outstanding technical support, Vera boasts a large number of users and an active community where you can exchange ideas or ask help for any technical issues.

Standout Features

The best feature of Vera is its own remote access capability via the MiOS software. Your smart home system can be accessed with browsers or touchscreen devices with Android or iOS apps. The software is capable of efficient energy usage, optimized control, and flexible functions such as responding to sunrise, doorbells, temperature, humidity, and motion.

Vera interface design

Protocols Supported

Vera supports a wide range of protocols which are present in almost all home devices, These protocols include:

  • Z-Wave
  • Bluetooth
  • IP-based devices
  • Zigbee
  • Insteon
  • X10

Cost

To set-up your own Vera home automation system, you can choose from their smart home controllers starting at $99.95. You don’t need to pay monthly fees, installation fees, activation fees or subscription plans as compared to its competitors. However, you can order Vera’s Central Monitoring Service which does require you to pay a minimum monthly fee of $16.68 which is still budget friendly. CMS includes the following features: emergency panic buttons, options to start or stop the service anytime without a contract, home insurance discounts, alarm monitoring service, an additional layer to monitor your existing system, and an annual plan bonus which includes a battery and cellular backup for internet or power failures.

Vera hardware

Integrations

You can extend Vera’s capabilities through its third-party plugins and apps. The plugins are available for download at their plugin market so you can easily connect Vera to a number of devices. Third party apps compatible with Android and iOS allow your Vera-enabled devices to perform more functions, but take note, however, that not all of the apps available in their Vera Apps Store are free.

Best Vera Demonstration Video

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Best Installation and Setup Video

HomeSeer

HomeSeer is a home automation system that started way back in 1999 in New Hampshire, in the US. They make hardware controllers and software that integrates lighting, air-conditioning, security, entertainment, and many other systems in modern homes. Their devices can be connected to cloud-based services for added functionalities. The company sells home automation solutions online and boasts a free online community support, via a forum, for their customers and dealers.

Standout Features

Their hardware controllers, known as hubs, take the advantage of being managed locally while integrating supports and features from third-party cloud services such as the IFTTT web automation and the Amazon Echo / Alexa and Google Home voice assistants and artificial intelligence (AI).

Homeseer interface design

The beauty about being hybrid is that you could manage your own system within your home while not being limited to the types of devices and services that you can integrate with your HomeSeer hub.

Protocols Supported

HomeSeer supports many communication protocols, both open-source and proprietary, wired and wireless, for connecting many types of devices to their hubs. Their wide range of supported protocols ensure the compatibility of many types and brands of popular devices to be integrated to any home automation setup. Listed below are the protocols they support.

  • Z-Wave
  • Zigbee
  • IFTTT
  • Ethernet
  • Serial
  • USB
  • Insteon
  • UPB
  • X10
  • Digital
  • WLAN / WiFi
  • Network
  • RFXCOM
  • IP
  • Zigbee
  • A10

Cost

The cost of installing a HomeSeer system starts at $199.95, for their smart controller and their HS3 / HS3PRO software. From that you could start purchasing third-party devices and cloud services that best fit your needs (many of which come at an added cost). The best thing about their offer is that they provide their MyHS remote access server and HS3Touch mobile app for free so you could conveniently log-in and control your home through your smartphone anywhere in the world.

Homeseer hardware

Integrations

HomeSeer is compatible with many popular commercial products out there in the market. That includes GE, Philips, Honeywell, and Yale, to name a few. It can run on multiple platforms like Windows and Linux. The plugins for third-party devices and services could either be free, for trial, comes in one-time expense, or for a subscription. Whatever your device may be, it is likely compatible with the HomeSeer system since they have the widest range of commercial products being supported.

Best HomeSeer Demonstration Video

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Best Installation and Setup Video

Home Assistant

There are many commercially-available home automation systems out there in the market. These systems rely on the cloud (third-party services like Amazon Web Services) for processing, especially those with voice controls that use artificial intelligence (AI). Though the hardware, like hubs and sensors, are being offered for cheap, the monthly or annual subscription to their services really adds up.

That’s why there are some home automation systems that were developed on open-source platforms like the Home Assistant, which runs on Python 3 and can be used with open-source hardware like the Arduino boards or a Raspberry Pi single-board computer.

Homeassistant interface design

It’s the most recommended open source home automation software and has been on the market since 2013. Most DIY setup done by developers was designed in Node-RED since it’s a self-contained tool and is usually installed already in most operating systems for the Raspberry Pi.  The primary complaints that I hear is about are 1) difficulty setting it up (editing configuration files) and 2) the instability of the software and needing to fix broken device integrations and automations when major updates are deployed.

Standout Features

The nice thing about Home Assistant is that it supports a lot of third-party components like the Z-Wave hub, the IFTTT automation platform, Alexa or Amazon Echo voice assistant, and many other plugins. Aside from hardware and third-party services, the Home Assistant software is totally FREE and requires no subscriptions. It’s basically a build-your-own system using open-source hardware and software with clear instructional guides and documentation on their website. If DIYing is too much for you, they have a chat server where you can always ask for help from.

Protocols Supported

The protocols supported by Home Assistant depends mainly on the type of hardware and services used. A few of those are:

  • IFTTT
  • Serial
  • USB
  • Ethernet
  • WiFi
  • Z-Wave
  • Zigbee

Cost

A basic build according to their website comprises a Raspberry Pi 3, a micro SD card along with its reader for the operating system, the Home Assistant software, and a good internet connection. The Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer capable of being a local server, a controller, and a processor. A starter kit, which includes its accessories and user manual, costs around $75.00. Basically, you’ll just have to burn their software image to the SD card so the Raspberry Pi could function as their local server.

Integrations

Home Assistant is only a local service only capable of fetching data from the cloud but not the other way around.  To get the system running, you will need other components supported by Home Assistant. Listed below are options you could choose from. Support for these components is provided by the Home Assistant community.

Hub

  • Philips Hue         
  • Z-Wave               
  • Nest
  • Belkin WeMo     
  • MySensors
  • ecobee
  • MQTT
  • IKEA Tradfri
  • Wink                    

DIY

  • Arduino

Voice Assistant

  • Alexa / Amazon Echo
  • Google Assistant

Weather

  • Dark Sky

Automation

  • IFTTT

Media Player

  • Google Cast
  • Kodi
  • Plex
  • Sonos

Notifications

  • Pushbullet

Presence-Detection

  • OwnTracks

Best Home Assistant Demonstration Video

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Best Installation and Setup Video

OpenHAB

If you are looking for an open-source platform for your home automation system, then openHAB could be exactly what you are looking for. Started in 2010, this platform was designed to give users the freedom to customize their automation system according to their own preferences. OpenHAB is based on Java and provides you numerous devices to run on your system. Moreover, openHAB has a well-established community so you can get endless support from tinkerers and other home automation geeks like you.

Although openHAB is an open-source platform, it comes with a cost since it is generally not very easy to set-up. The good news is that its capabilities are overall comparable to the other paid automation platforms.

Standout Features

Aside from being an open-source platform with a large community support, openHAB also boasts its huge variety of bindings for various devices. Since the architecture is based on bindings, your system works like modular blocks to support to all your home devices.

Openhab interface design

Protocols Supported

OpenHAB supports numerous protocols and continues to expand because of its large number of users and community support. The platform almost covers everything such as Asterisk, Bluetooth, Exec, Fritz Box, Http, Insteon, MQTT, Z-Wave, TCP/UDP, SNMP, RFXCOM, PLC Bus and a lot more.

Cost

OpenHAB is a free and open-source platform which therefore doesn’t require you to pay any monthly fees, installation fees, or subscription fees. However, it may not be very friendly to install especially for users who have a minimum technical background, i.e. you may pay with your time.

Integrations

You can extend the capabilities of your openHAB-enabled devices through a number of third-party platforms. Since openHAB is open to the public, the integration is almost limitless. Among the these are the following:

  • Amazon Alexa Skill
  • Azure IoT Hub
  • Dropbox
  • Google
  • HomeKit
  • openHAB Hue Emulation
  • ImperiHome Integration Service
  • Mycroft AI Skill
  • openHAB Cloud Connector
  • REST API
  • Eclipse IoT Marketplace
  • IFTTT

Best OpenHAB Demonstration Video

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Best Installation and Setup Video

CastleOS

CastleOS is a complete home automation and BEMS (building energy management system) solution intended to be used with affordable commercial devices and services out there in the market rather than the expensive proprietary ones. The system focuses heavily on the ease-of-use of their system, energy audit trail and management, and the use of a voice assistant. CastleOS is a system that runs locally in your home and does not depend on the cloud. This translates into a faster response and more security. They also allow their customers to develop their own CastleOS platforms with their powerful web services and APIs.

The company has been selling their smart hub and home automation suite since 2011. They have their own forum and Wiki on their website for guides and support for their products.

Standout Features

Their system offers two equal options to start with, hardware or software. They have a CastleHUB smart controller and a CastleOS software that you can install on your own personal computer. Either way, both works and functions the same.

Their standout features are their wide range of support for commercially-available third-party products, their voice control using the Microsoft Kinect, their CastleOS portal where you can easily monitor and control devices connected to your hub at the convenience of your smartphone or computer, their smart energy tracker, and event scheduler. Their software allows you to personalize and organize all main devices you want to display on their portal and automate either via scheduling or based on conditions being sent by the devices.

Castleos interface design

Protocols Supported

CastleOS supports almost every smart device and hence its respective communication protocols too. The most common ones are:

  • Z-Wave
  • IP
  • Ethernet
  • USB
  • Nest
  • Insteon
  • WiFi
  • Zigbee

Cost

CastleOS only offers two products. Their CastleHUB smart controller priced at $499.00 and their CastleOS Home Automation Suite at $199.00. The smart devices you want to integrate it with would totally depend on you.

castleos hardware

Integrations

CastleOS offers automation and management solutions to third-party smart devices. The popular and top brands that are compatible with their system are

  • Windows
  • Philips
  • Aeon
  • Sonos
  • Yale
  • Belkin
  • Nest
  • Insteon
  • GE
  • Leviton
  • Ecobee
  • Honeywell
  • Trane
  • Cooper Wiring
  • PCS PulseWorx
  • Simple Automated
  • Enerwave
  • First Alert
  • Ecolink
  • Kwikset
  • Schlage
  • Somfy
  • PDP
  • Zotac
  • Pythons
  • Goliton

Best CastleOS Demonstration Video

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Best Installation and Setup Video

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Hi, I’m Christy, and I’m an electronics engineer by profession. I have taught in a university for 2 years while pursuing my master’s degree in cognitive radio and worked for a company to develop wireless medical devices. Currently, I’m doing research for a doctorate degree in engineering using a wireless sensor network for smart agriculture. I’ve been active in our local IoT community, IoT Cebu, where I participate in conducting talks about Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and DIY home automation using Wi-Fi and ZigBee devices.

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