Relying on the cloud for home automation and monitoring

When I started getting into home automation 9 years ago, I decided to go with Z-Wave devices as it had the largest range of devices I could integrate into a system. Z-Wave communicates locally with a hub for automation and doesn’t rely on the cloud to work. At the time I made this choice, there weren’t many options let alone ones that relied on the cloud or apps to work. Fast forward a few years and there are a number of proprietary systems and apps that won’t work without a connection to the cloud. This, of course, causes problems when the Internet is down, the provider is down, or the provider has gone out of business. Luckily my setups have never relied on the cloud (they have had some integrations for notifications and such, but the basic automations have been local).

Part of my home automation is monitoring power usage as well as solar production. When I had my SunPower system installed two years ago, I had researched how to monitor the system locally. I’ve written about my system and how I monitor it. While SunPower has their own app, I’ve never relied on it because it isn’t integrated into the rest of my home automation setup. I was told by the installer that if there was ever a problem, they would be notified and would give me a call to come out and take a look. That shouldn’t great, but I never really trusted that would happen as one of the panels wasn’t activated when the system was turned on and because of my own monitoring, I alerted them to come out. I have no idea if they would have called me to fix the problem or I would have been out 1 panel of production.

If you follow the discussion of my article, you’ll see that people have been reporting that the SunPower app isn’t showing any data. I hadn’t noticed, but checked and saw that the app hasn’t recorded data for the last 1.5 months! Ouch. I don’t know how SunPower or the installer monitors the system when it hasn’t reported in, but I would have expected a call to fix the system. Luckily I don’t rely on the app to see production. My nice dashboard in Home Assistant tells me production and usage without talking to the cloud. If my system had failed 1.5 months ago, it would cost me a significant amount of money and I would have been quite annoyed that SunPower didn’t alert me.

I just used the app to change the device to connect via WiFi (it is still connected via wired Ethernet) and now the device says it is online. Will it work tomorrow when the sun is up? I don’t know. Do I care? Not really as long as my non-cloud based system keeps working.

Side note

This year we may have turned a corner with relying on the cloud for various home automations. The Matter standard aims to join various systems and have local control over devices. Will this work out? I can only hope.

One Reply to “Relying on the cloud for home automation and monitoring”

  1. Other “anti-cloud” proponents are YouTube’s The Hook Up and Digiblur. The latter has a very active Discord channel.

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