Two months of Homey home automation

Sorry, I have to rant a little… but perhaps you recognize some of this and you can help! Please!! Please!!

First of all: the Homey is a beautiful system with lots of possibilities and potential. After a small test in 2019 (experimenting with Homey and a couple of lamps/sensors) I decided to add home automation in our new house this past summer.

It has been both a great addition to the home and a frustrating exercise.

I have a Zigbee-only network on the ground floor and first floor with Philips Hue lamps, Robbsmart wall controllers and a load of Aqara motion and door sensors. All connected to the Homey.

Just a few examples where I run into trouble (bugs, limits etc.)

  1. Number of devices. I have ±50 devices now. When adding a new one, somewhere a random device stops functioning. Still visible in Homey Developer but not functioning. Is there some sort of limitation (I really hope this is not true)?

  2. Philips Hue motion sensors. They work for a few days, after which they refuse to do anything. I have ditched them.

  3. Philips outdoor motion sensor, sometimes it works… followed by 2 weeks of absence. Ditched them.

  4. Spots are supposed to be grouped (with a flow), but they never switch on at the same moment (looks ugly). Or they switch to clearly different dim levels. How come?

  5. When switching on 5 GU10 spots at the same time… there is mostly one spot that stays off (why?)

  6. When setting both temperature and dim level for a Hue lamp, the lamp is first switched on to the desired dim level, and after that the temperature is set (resulting in ugly looking color change). Can’t get it to work the other way around (and without a delay).

  7. Wall switchers work but sometimes with a delay of 5 seconds or so.

  8. Some deleted devices are still visible in Homey Developer as ‘Unknown’. Can’t delete them. Why?

  9. Many new Philips Hue lamps that are not recognized by the Homey app (this is being worked on for a next release, kudos to the developers).

  10. Pairing of new devices, difficult. Sometimes it works flawlessly and sometimes I can’t get a wall controller to pair at all. I can try 20 times. No clue why.

  11. Making a dim behavior with the wall controller (long press), I haven’t been able to work this one out.

  12. Randomly unreliable behavior of wall controllers or flows: switch something on and nothing happens. There is always a lamp that doesn’t want to cooperate.

  13. Aqara sensors work fine but there is always an annoying delay before a lamp is switched on. Is this the Homey or is Zigbee a slow network?

Have been roaming the forum (lots of valuable information) but it’s hard to find answers to some questions. Homey version 4.2.0. Homey Pro (early 2019). I did the PTP multiple times. Wifi is working on different channels. Distances don’t seem a problem, every lamp is within a few meters of multiple other lamps.

I know the big Zigbee rewrite is comping up. That cannot arrive fast enough for me. I really hope it will solve some issues. What do you think?

Ok, again sorry for my lengthy post!

Just a few things to note:

  • Homey is not very good at sending commands to multiple devices at the same time. So if you want to switch a group of spots, this almost always fails in some random way. Some spots will turn on/off, some won’t. Some will respond to dim commands, some won’t. This is an issue that has been present in Homey ever since firmware v2, and it doesn’t look like v5 is going to solve this. The “standard” workaround is to switch the devices separately using a delay (so switch device 1 immediately, switch device 2 after 1 second, switch device 3 after 2 seconds, etc).
  • There’s a (hardware) Zigbee limitation of about 20 directly connected devices, so devices that connect directly to Homey (not via a router device). It’s not very hard to hit this limit, and the symptoms are devices becoming unreachable, or not being able to add more Zigbee devices to Homey. This also won’t be solved by v5, because it’s a hardware limitation (perhaps Athom is able to free a bit more memory on the controller with a new firmware, but that won’t substantially increase the limit).

I would suggest waiting for firmware v5 to see if that fixes your issues. If not, you may want to consider a Zigbee alternative like deCONZ (with deCONZ you can put devices in proper Zigbee groups, so turning on a group of lights will require only one Zigbee command). If you would have kept all those ditched devices, you could have added them to deCONZ. I don’t think there are any major issues between deCONZ and the devices you mention.

I use the Hue bridge. Made some scenes in the Hue app(not Homey) in which i grouped several lamps. In Homey i use the Hue app and use that scene

Try to add for each action card 1 or 2 seconds delay. I use 2 seconds when something has to turn on or off and 1 second to adjust dimlevel or Color

In my house i have added three bridges for every level in my house. Normally that would not be nescessary but afterwards i hardly ever have problems. Every bridge has a max off 50 devices

Delay off 2-5 seconds is a known problem. If this is a real pain in the ass, e.g in my hallway, i made the choice to turn on the Hue lights with the Philips Hue App(not Homey), turning off is not a problem, so Homey can do this

Oh dear, so there is a hardware limit to the number of devices.

I’m planning to add way more lamps, sensors and switched. ±50 devices is nowhere near enough at this point.

I will wait for v5 to see if it improves the situation.

As @robertklep mentioned, there is a limit of 20 DIRECTLY connected devices. Devices can also connect through other devices (named “routers”). These are always 230V powered devices like light bulbs or smart plugs. Adding more of those will dramatically increase coverage, reliability of the Zigbee mesh. And, as mentioned, also increase the maximum number of connected devices.