Home automation is a thing. People love to say “Alexa, Turn on the Light” and giggle when it does.
But there is an inherent problem with this. Most home automation products you buy come with a proprietary app that you control from your phone or computer. That means your device is DEPENDENT ON THE “CLOUD”!
What do you do when the Cloud goes “Poof”?
About a week ago a brand of Home Automation products sold by Home Depot called “Insteon” went Poof. Gone. Dead. If you own Insteon devices and an Insteon hub your home automation devices simply no longer work.
Oddly enough at Lowe’s in March 2019 the same thing happened. Their offerings called “IRIS” also went poof. At least they gave some warning. Insteon just stopped working. Their website has a mea culpa statement up. “We’re real sorry your stuff stopped working”. Real helpful. Not.
All is not 100% lost though. If you own Insteon stuff it can be incorporated into the Home Automation software called Home Assistant. Home Assistant is a tad bit geeky though. I dare say that most casual Home Automation users probably can’t pull it off.
I have blogged about this before. Buying an Internet of Things (IoT) device which is Cloud dependent is anathema. (That means cursed, or damned. I got smarts, tee, hee, hee). Home automation equipment should talk to NO EXTERNAL SERVER. It should speak only to your Home Automation hub and it should work locally EVEN IF YOUR INTERNET GOES DOWN.
The only problem is that you can’t really buy stuff like this in the store. You need to buy devices which can have their firmware flashed to 3rd party firmware such as ESPHome or my personal favorite, Tasmota.
You can even buy some devices pre-flashed with Tasmota (search on Amazon). Anyway, if Insteon forces you to learn how to use Home Assistant…………..why not just learn Home Assistant in the first place?
Tasmota gives you full, 100% local control. Nothing talks to anything outside of your home network. No phoning home to servers in China. No app that is highly susceptible to hacking. IoT devices are the most easily hacked networked items that there are. How many times have you read reports about wifi cameras being hacked?
I won’t go into detail beyond this but if you are thinking about grabbing a cool LED strip that is controlled by your phone at Walmart………just don’t. And don’t buy lock, stock, and barrel into some proprietary home automation manufacturer that is Cloud dependent such as Insteon or IRIS. Well, you can’t do that now anyway but there are others out there just waiting to let you down as well.