Home Control Assistant Newsletter for March 7 2021

Have you looked over the version 17 release notes? Lots of changes that you can incorporate into your designs right away. Easy upgrade.

Looking for answers to the most common questions about HCA? Check out our
Frequently Asked Questions page.
17.0.35 !!
I am putting this at the top of this weekly message because it really is important. If you are using HCA 17 please upgrade to the latest point version 17.0.35. As you know, you are entitled to download all point versions of a major version at no cost.

It is especially important to be using version 17.0.35 if you are using the cloud connect feature. To upgrade is easy: All you need is your V17 registration code and then go the current version page, enter the code in the form and press the “Submit” button. The resultant page shows your password and a link to the download page. Really not difficult. Please take care of this soon.

Two questions and one solution
Question 1: How can I create a program that triggers when a device goes on or off when it isn’t controlled by automation but by an on/off switch at the device itself?
Question 2: How do I know – and I mean really know - that a device is on?

With the advent of support for devices managed by Hubitat there are devices that report power usage. Here is one:

(Usual disclaimer: I link to Amazon because it is easy to find things there and tends to have a good deal of product info. If you don’t like Amazon, I’m sure you can purchase this or similar elsewhere. I see this one is now marked unavailable but there are similar devices that do the same thing)

The nice feature of this kind of device is that it can be configured to report power usage when that changes. When whatever is plugged into it starts drawing power it reports the wattage being used. When whatever is plugged in stops using power, it again reports. This device does need to be configured to turn on those reports, as by default they are off. 

Why is that useful? Suppose you wanted to use a bread making machine and have a message sent to you when it is done. The bread machine is not really a device you can automate in that you have to put the ingredients in and press its power button to start. After a bit it mixes, rests, and then bakes. At the end of bake time it goes off and a program can see that drop in power and send you a message. This answers question #1.

How does that start a program? The event handler in the HCA Hubitat package captures all the attributes sent by a device in an event report and saves them in tags on the device. A program can be configured to trigger when the value of a specific tag on a device changes. The device linked to above, reports power usage in watts and is saved in the HE_Power tag. Other devices may work differently.

Suppose you have a greenhouse with a fan in it. You can set the fan to go on when a certain temperature is exceeded, but what if it doesn’t really come on? Might be nice to know. Having a temperature sensor that reports to HCA and also monitoring the power usage of the fan may help you avoid plants drying out. This answers question #2.

I don’t pretend to know all the usages of this, but it is something that for a long time we couldn’t do. We could send signals to a device to go on or off and sometimes those devices respond back saying it got the command, but did it really have an effect? We just don’t know. Of course, adding this level of checking isn’t necessary for most things – you tell a light to come on but it doesn’t – because even if it doesn’t really power on it isn’t the end of the world. But at other times it can be important to know.


When was the last time you made a backup of your HCA design? Not a month goes by without at least one tale of woe from a HCA user. Please use the "Design Backup Assistant" on the Tools ribbon category. The work you save will be your own.

Want to take the next step in automation? Want to get started with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and control HCA by voice commands? Even if you are a long-time user of HCA, the Getting Started guides have all the info you need on client-server, mobile applications, DDNS, and voice assistants.

All of the
Getting Started Guides are available on the support website.
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