Homeseer v3 Review

update 5: Apr 3, 2018

Copyright 2018 LTek LLC , full notice at bottom of page

Who is this review for?

Anyone interested in Home Automation but focused on features for advanced and/or power users. This is not intended to be a detailed review of all features or functions of Homeseer 3 nor a direct comparison to any other app/platform.

Focus is Homeseer v3 Windows software with constructive criticism in areas I hope HS improves to keep it competative in the coming years where Home Automation (IoT) is a massively growing market.

Disclaimer: If there is a point you'd like me to clarify I can as I suspect some of the items may not be obvious to people who haven't needed or know about the automation method I describe. If a feature I called a gap is actually built-in, please let me know exactly where it is in HS3 and I will correct my review if it matches.


This review is based on my experience with multiple hardware and software based automation systems over the past 15 years. Approximately 10 systems in 'production' use. Five of those years were on Vera and ISY. I've tried, and owned almost all of the current systems (Wink, SmartThings, Vera, HS, ISY, and several free and/or open source). I currently run... Homeseer and ISY only as Insteon interface.

The intent of this review is to detail my findings as an advanced user. In some cases, there are work-arounds but the gaps are as I stated as far as I can tell after working with HS3 and asking tech support & forum questions.

I was an extensive Homeseer user and contributor (scripts, etc) back with v1.7 and early 2.0 (late 90s) using X10 and Insteon. HS 1.7 was excellent for that time. I moved away after v2 launched for several reasons. My automation was not nearly as complex and didn't include as many integrated 3rd party systems, or devices, as it now.

Now that I have 8 months of HS3 under my belt, I felt it was time to publish this review. It took me about 2 months to convert 70% of my setup from Vera and I have 6 months of daily HS3 use and constant tweaking, learning, and event & plugin enhancements to get it on par with my 5 year old Vera setup, finally.

I've not seen any consolidated info even close to what I have below so I wanted to give people an unvarnished view of what they can expect if they use Homeseer. I'm not trying to shine any negative light on Homeseer. There are many good things about Homeseer and many things that can be, and should be, better based on the age of the software.

Where I see the HA market going...

I see two main 'consumer markets' in DIY HA - this does not include high-end residential or commercial installs.

(1) Basic 'every home' systems that nearly anyone can setup: Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Wink, Vera, etc

(2) Power Users: Homeseer, SmartThings, OpenHAB, Home Assistant, etc

-- Two cross overs of the segments are SmartThings and Vera. They can do both pretty easily. Homeseer somewhat fits into this but I don't think they capture it anywhere near as much as ST & Vera due to far less marketing, visibility, and reputation.

Whats to come...

I do recommend Homeseer to the proper user type (see below) and myself have no plans to leave Homeseer anytime soon. though I think the competition will get very stiff for Homeseer in the coming few years.

SmartThings is positioned to own the vast majority of the market and they really already do. The huge community of developers they have and the marketing won this for them. If they move to a mostly local processing system, they will win over most of the DIY community, without a doubt. Others like Amazon & Google will be a part of that ecosystem as the voice control mechanism, which will be the main way to control things directly in 2-3 years. UIs like ActionTiles will fill the visual control/stats needs of the system.

As it stands today, Homeseer will not be a compelling software and compete with entire platforms or ecosystems like: OpenHAB, Home Assistant, Smartthings, Google Home & Amazon Alexa, Wink, or whatever comes next will take over the entire market (soccer moms to DIY power-users).

Homeseer's current trajectory will keep their user base very small, compared to others like SmartThings. New and existing HA adopters will migrate to either SmartThings (as it matures and get more local processing and more industry support) or they will move to open source (Home Assistant or OpenHAB) as the capabilities may progress beyond Homeseer and they are much more modern apps.

Unless HST has huge changes in the works over the next year or so, Homeseer will become increasingly niche and is destined to become the HA software equivalent of X10 Hardware.


These are the main points, deeper details are below on some items.

General Overview...

HS3 is currently the top choice for a DIY power-users who wish to leverage decades of free and paid addons (plugins & scripts) and have an extremely reliable HA system. Homeseer's ecosystem fills the need for versatility, stability, and ease-of-use.

Overall I rate it a 6 out of 10. Capabilities (functionality, features) rate an 8, while its polish and ease of use both rate 4.

As much as I like HS3's overall system (including must-have paid plugins to make it fully functional) the app feels and acts like 18 year old code, not like 18 years of ongoing improvement and maturity. For the cost (including plugins since they are essential for most people who would use HS3) and age of the core app, there are several ares that I feel should be far better than they are today.

Key Positives... Homeseer can do some very complex automation and integration and is Very Stable

I do very complex things with Homeseer 3, including automating, and a little bit of manual controlling, almost everything... lights, door locks, security alarms, camera, and much more. I have wall mounted 10" tablets with customized control and status panels, popups on my TV and mobile devices for front door motion with camera views, occupancy and home scene (alerts, lighting, etc), and far more. I did all of this (and a bit more) with my prior Vera system but Vera got far too unstable for as much as I required of it where Homeseer handles this without issue.

<note for beginners> The Homeseer event UI is easy to use but no more so than Vera's or most other systems. HS3's Event UI does allow a little more advanced events than some of the main competitors.

Benefits come at a Price...

Advanced (power-user) features requires you to buy many, somewhat expensive, plugins to enable such functionality. The base app is more of a 'foundation' unless you are a able to code it by your own hand in VB or VBscript. Vera was just as capable functionally and somewhat more so in some ways with the $5 PLEG plugin that allowed some automation events to be more complex than anything Homeseer can do even with hundreds of dollars worth of plugins.

Homeseer does have a free 'basic' mobile app like many of the other platforms do - but HSTouch is VERY basic and not "guest user" friendly so I'd never use it on a wall tablet like I do Imperihome or others do with ActionTiles (for SmartThings). HSTouch Pro adds a lot more functionality and costs a lot. I use Imperihome on Android. Its far from perfect and also requires a $40 plugin to work... unlike Vera which worked with Imperihome without needing any plugin.

So, what system should I buy? Who should buy Homeseer?

For Beginners that will likely keep a small'ish HA system...

SmartThings and Wink will work fine if you dont need 100% reliability (this is more of a hobby or fun / cool to use) since they require a full-time Internet connection to work - e.g. they glitch or are down, or are slow to respond, often. Wink is FAR more basic than Homeseer, Vera, or ST. But may be perfect for the person who wont need much and wants it to be dead simple to use and administer.

For Beginners who may become Advanced in the next year or so...

Vera has more built-in features (than SmartThings or Homeseer) that beginners will easily be able to use without plugins - great notification system, easy to use admin & mobile UI, etc. Vera has 100% local processing and was stable for me for several years until I outgrew its abiltity to keep up woth all the events/automation I required. Homeseer is a good choice if you plan to become an Power-User (hundreds of devices and events) in the next year or two... if not, I'd steer them to Vera.

SmartThings might be fine too if you dont need 100% reliability and are OK with processing latency and such. The community support is the largest in the industry and has the largest user base too... but for Power-Users I'd steer clear unless you are willing to take the downsides of relying on the Samsung internet servers.

For Power or Advanced Users...

Homeseer is my #1 choice for people who want to complexity, and ease of use (mostly), and are wiling to pay much more for things to not need to code most of it and have paid (or some free) plugins do most of the work.

For pure techie or hobbyist power-users...

People willing to put in a ton of time and be more hands on and 'tinker', SmartThings, OpenHAB and Home Assistant are good alternatives to Homeseer

Areas for Improvement...

note: plugins fill 'some' of these gaps, most cost $40 per plugin so total software cost adds up quickly.

Most (not all) of the gaps outlined below are features/capabilities that other systems have. For this review, its not important what systems have these features, just that HS3 is lacking them.

1. Lack of UI consistency, uniformity & anything close to modern UI features (drag-n-drop, tree view, search, filters, etc) when selecting devices, status images, or anything else that requires users to navigate long lists.

2. Device handling is sub par: encompasses UI, property handling, Zwave config/setup, lacks type consistency/uniformity, etc

3. Event Engine gaps are large & numerous: No Nesting, No Debug or Troubleshooting ability, Missing key logic/actions, etc. Purchasing some plugins help in logic/actions gaps but doesnt fix the core gaps: Nesting, Debugging (identifying what exactly triggered the event, seeing the current state/status of any portion of the event, etc)

4. Lacks Zigbee device support (the free Osram Lightify plugin does not count as 'support', its too basic and doesnt work well)

5. No true Notification System that allows automatic notifications on any/all Device states or Event actions. (Vera has this)

6. No Door Lock management. Cannot add/change/remove Users or door Codes (door locks have been mainstream for 5 years - several systems have this)

7. No way to disable a device. (good for many things: faulty sensors, debug/test, creating house modes, etc)

8. HS Touch Pro version (mobile & tablet UI) should HTML5 based, free to all users, and FAR easier to customize and configure; like Action Tiles. (I don't review HST below but it is worth calling out). There is a 'basic' version that is free but it is very basic an not 'guest friendly'.

9. No built-in House Modes / House Mode builder - quick selector to set devices/states for each House Mode

10. No built-in ability for Event Trigger Sequences - example: A then B then C (order sequence) within X minutes. This can be done with several events, but very difficult and prone to error.

11. Device Grouping (aka Composite Virtual Device). Control multiple devices as a single entity - user defined, by room, by floor, by type, etc

12. Alexa Speaks - send text to Alexa too speak over Echo/Dot

13. No Device Profile, or ability to Copy device config from one Device to another (quickly set the device status graphics, status text, etc)

14. No way to list which Events a given device participates in. **correction, this exists

Missing Convenience Functionality...

1. Device State / Sensor Status Grid to show real-time status on a single screen

2. Logic/Event Import and Export to share with users

3. Restart automation engine (not HS3 itself)

4. OOBE lacking - not fully automated / wizard like. Example; SmartStick Drivers not automatically installed with HS3

5. 24x7 service hub features

a. Auto Start HS3 at Boot built-in for Windows - this was modern technology in the 90s

b. proper windows service

Some Depth of Detail on some of the above points


HS3 has a very basic email notification ability. Unlike Vera which as a full 'System' built-in providing the ability to view and update any/all notifications at once on a single screen. . This was VERY nice way to manage things when you have a lot of notifications, managing them in HS3 is difficult since you must open each and every Event separately and there is no way to list all of them and associated events.

HS3 has a free Pushover plugin (which I use) and is very nice, but still doesnt provide the functionality Vera does - it just adds Pushover as an option in additional to email.

Also, HS3 doesnt have a mechanism to tie any Device status or Event action directly to a Notification - Vera does because it has a full system to handle notifications. Everything in Homeseer is manually input/built by the user in an Event - this is far less flexible and less efficient.

Example: If you wanted a separate notification for each of your 30 lights or 10 motion sensors, or whatever... in HS3 you must create a separate Event for each one. In Vera, you simply open the device properties and check a notification box.

The ultimate Notification system was a $5 plugin called Vera Alerts that leveraged Vera's native Notification System - taking it from a 7 to a 10 with MANY added benefits. Here's 2...

1. Back-up and restore and edit offline (JSON backups)

2. Ability to code into the alert a decision method (and much more).

This was an awesome 'Notification System'. I used the CHOOSE method ton to determine which sound to send through to mobile devices based on the House Mode. To clarify, this didn't require another event, only the code be put into the Notification and the plugin processed it. It GREATLY reduced the number of notifications and events I had to build.

example of decision code that changed the alert tone based on a device value...

MOTION Garage{device([172].service[urn:upnp-org:serviceId:VSwitch1].Status) | Choose(0={tone:2},1={tone:1})}


Missing many trigger types. Paid plug-in Easy Trigger, and others, can fill some gaps but not all of them


<event> was just ran within last <number> seconds/minutes/hours

<event> has not ran within last <number> seconds/minutes/hours

Device has been <value> for less than <time>

This Event was triggered by <event> ... good for basic sequences (cant do this at all, even with plugin)

Device value is set and NOT Equal to <value> for at least <time>

Device value Just changed based on; <keyword> and/or Location and/or Name

Time is NOT <between or after or before>

example use cases...

a. Trigger an event based on anything happening within a room or location, with 1 single IF... instead of multiples

b. Currently I trigger a script and the event requires over 20 IFs where all devices the same <keyword> in the Name (Window)... when using he paid plugin 'Easy Trigger' to create groups, I'm able to replace 20 IFs with 1 IF.

Qualifiers that allow EXCEPTIONS (aka NOT IF)

In some cases without Exceptions in the event, some things are just not possible in the Event engine and when a work-around is possible it requires logic to be verbose and tedious, and in many cases redundant across multiple events

The below would Massively enhance the capabilities, IMO

NOT IF <event> was last triggered manually, not from an event

NOT IF <vDevice> was last triggered manually, not from an event


Device handling is overall lacking in painful ways. This causes much more work and problems when using in the Event system in real-world HA situations.

DEVICE HISTORY LOG, separate log per device

- helps troubleshoot issues and look at device performance.

- Valuable for to use as a 'Device Value History' to quickly/easily call a previous value/state to be used/set. Thus, reverting to a prior Scene/State, etc.


- Status is better with Homeseer than with Vera.

- HS3 is missing Door Lock Management and Full Functionality; No way to add/change/remove/see existing Users or Codes (vera has this built-in and has for years).

... I miss being able to manage the Users/Codes. Very easy with Vera. With HS3 you must do it manually at the keypad which is is difficult and prone to user error & fat fingers.

- HS3 doesn't properly setup Schlage locks on initial install... Control Use properties are not set and status graphics do not exist

- requires adding 2 Notification parameters to get Unlock & Lock usage in Events...

- A free scripts adds more features for notifications and such, which is VERY nice but I'd like to see this built-into HS as locks are essential HA devices...

Z-WAVE PARAMETERS Setting & Viewing

- Painful, slow, tedious and sometimes doesnt work.

- HS3 doesn't record/track existing setting and each parameter must be set manually, one at a time... it takes about 2 minutes to set a single parameter and ensure it is actually set (it does not always set even when HS says it did). HS often errors, so multiple tries are the norm.

- Validating a given parameter value is not an HS function; very sketchy, often the value simply doesnt show when queried in the plugin; even when it is set. When you click 'ready' HS should read all parameters and display the entire config, it provides you NOTHING.

- Importing Z-Wave devices from Primary controller is problematic. I imported over 30 devices from a Vera controller and Homeseer did not set any of the devices images or text. I had to manually edit each one.

DEVICE HANDLING has many gaps and problems


- No Device standardization : HS pulls the info from the device and uses it directly. So you must know exactly what the vendor calls their dimmer or light switch or motion sensor... because HS3 doesn't use these common/normal terms and you may need to choose multiples just to get all the devices, for instance, if they are only all motion sensors.

... example: 3 different motion sensors could have 3 differently named child devices for the actual 'motion' sensor. HS should normalize ALL child devices for consistency and better user experience. Currently we have to heavily edit each devices Status Graphics to create consistency in naming and add proper motion images for display

- No Way to 'disable' a device. Helpful for many reasons. Disable in one place allows the system to ignore it in every event.

- valuable feature to quickly & easily create states for testing and event usage.

Example: any event (or set of) could be used based on sensor 'state', the event(s) functionality is enhanced and/or changed. All with only a single event control arming/disarming sensors. Instead, HS3 requires us to create a separate event for every situation; a lot more work. In prior systems I often disarm specific sensors based on combination of House Mode, Occupancy, Time of Day and 'Scene'... I had to scrap much of it moving from Vera to Homeseer as HS3 makes it far more work to re-create

- No automatic Logically Device Groups (All motion sensors in Master Bedroom, All lights in Master Bathroom, etc) ... which allow a streamlined and faster creation of Events, scripts, etc

Use types:

- composite Status (at a glance view / status for all devices of a specific type or in a specific room, etc)

- composite Triggers (1 trigger based on multiple devices as a single entity)

- composite Control (on/off/dim for multiple devices as a single entity)


note: most of the below items are available natively in others systems, like Vera. Some features require a $5 Vera plugin called PLEG. But given the low cost of Vera, $5 more is basically like having it native.

NESTING and/or BRANCHING Not Possible

- In General the Event engine is good for basic things but has large faults and inefficiency when crafting a large/complex events. The method is purely linear, which makes it easy to follow but enormously inefficient and sometimes completely ineffective/unable to create large and/or complex events.

- With this gap, the Event engine takes far more effort to use as you must create many more events then necessary and in many cases you simply cannot do what it needed no matter what. I have several cases where 5 or 6 events could simply be 1, easier to follow, event using branching

- When they are possible, creation of multiple OR events with several devices is laborious.

- The paid plugin Easy Trigger helps with this in several ways (device groups, etc) but HS should not have this gap if it was built to be as flexible as it should be. The HS Event engine looks to be built to make the back-end processing (app code) as easy at the expense of the user's ease of use with creating automation events.

Group Conditions are tedious and many users say they don't work at all

- The Event engine has the ability to add 'group conditions' so that you can set a single group of conditions that can be added to any of the Triggers in the Event. Unfortunately it still requires adding another line to ALL Triggers you want to associate them with so it really doesn't save much time or effort. They need to include a simple checkbox that will apply those to Any or All the Triggers in that Event

No ability to pass data based on Event Trigger

- Need the ability to pass data/variable when a specific Trigger is what caused the event to fire.

Example: Say you have 2 Triggers in an Event using an OR... X or Z then <something happens>

You should be able to pass different data/variable to the output (the Then statement) depending on if X caused the event to fire, or if Z did.


- Need the ability see the current state of all the devices, triggers, conditions at a point-in-time for an event at any time.

- No way to see if Event is currently True/False, or which Conditions are currently True or False causing the event to fire, or not to fire.

- Needed for debugging and learning the way HS conditions & triggers work.

*Vera's PLEG has this, it is immensely valuable.

GLOBAL VARIABLES do not save across reboots

- While we can use Virtual Devices to save variables, and most people do, this is FAR from ideal as it creates clutter and work and ongoing maintenance than simply creating a variable

SEQUENCES are not possible

- No ability to do Event Trigger Sequences, at all.


If A occurred, then B occurred within 30 seconds of A

If A occurred 3 times within 180 seconds

If A occurred, then B occurred, then C occurred

... currently a painful and only partial (doesnt really do it) workaround is to create a separate Event which the first Event calls, where the 2nd Event includes exceptions in the form of more Conditions that further narrow the scope of the IF's. Completely inadequate and does not cover most situations that sequences would easily handle within a single Event.

EXECUTION HISTORY (date/time) is not accessible; via API or natively in Events.

- would be useful to easily call the previous event to be re-used/set. E.g., Re-Run all events that ran within the last minute.

- this would also be able to be leveraged for Sequencing Events (which is not possible today)

COMMENTS / NOTES are very limited.

- Needs to be a comment option for each line w/ ability to show/hide it inline with the event.

- Helpful to understand why we did something on that specific item in that specific way in the event; months/years later.

DISABLE TRIGGER within an event : HUGE gap. Helps with many things

DISABLE CONDITION within an Event exists but named "Never" : not intuitive way to name an 'in-line comment' or disable a line item. Should just be a label "disabled" and save Never for other more specific things if that comes about.

TIME FRAMES are difficult and not intuitive in the Event engine. Needs to make simple and use normal format with better UI

- example: Time is Between 11pm & 6am

- Easy Trigger provides time schedules, which helps with central mgmt but mainly helpful if you are re-using the same exact time frames in multiple events - which most do not.

- the 'excuse' is this is a limitation of the SDK. One huge point of buying an app is the app is intended to make it easy for the user to do a task; without exposing them to the challenges/gaps of the SDK.


OUT-OF-BAND plugins are difficult : They cant be used properly / natively in the updater. Requires users copy files directly to the HS folder structure... reminds me of Win 3.1 days.

PLUGIN MANAGER SCREEN has many gaps : No Filter/Search, No screen shots, no info on what the plug-in does/functionality, etc. But they found time to put an advert box for HST!


Basically a '90s style GUI & Navigation through-out HS3


Somewhat helpful but not easy to use and not complete. When you have many tasks, or are frequently wanting to see specific things during test/setup/etc. Solution would be to add User Defined 'Presets'; One-click to invoke user-defined filters.

Filters missing key features that would be easily added:

1. Save Favorite Filters to quickly enable frequently used

2. Filter by On/Off status

FYI - The existing Device Type filter mostly useless since HS3 doesn't standardize these across vendors, so you must know exactly what the vendor calls their dimmer or light switch or motion sensor... because HS3 doesn't use these common/normal terms and you may need to choose multiples just to get all the devices, for instance, if they are only all motion sensors.

STATUS GRAPHICS text/image config

- the way HS3 runs navigation is from Windows 3.1

- Status Graphics, for example, takes 3 to 15 minutes per device due to Windows 3.1 style text/folder tree navigation (tons of scrolling/clicking to get anywhere), no way to set favorites folder (where to start the tree nav) and doesn't use 'Status Icon Set' under 'Web Site Settings' as a favorite/starting point, no drag/drop, no way to change the view of the tree (can see thumbnails), etc.

- Device List screen: No way to Filter based on Text in a device Name. example; what is you want to show only devices with the word 'Motion'; nope, cant do it.