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AlertMe Devices on Hubitat

AlertMe Drivers for Hubitat (GitHub)

Merely a decade ago I wrote an article on this very website about Security, Energy and Home Automation extolling the virtues of AlertMe and their home security system. In that time AlertMe has gone from being a company to a platform, gobbled up by British Gas and now sold as Hive.

The AlertMe service closed down in 2017 and I can’t complain at all; I met a bunch of interesting people, developed the only third-party iOS app for the platform, got to tinker with pretty much every UK version and in the end the AlertMe team in Cambridge arranged free Hive kits for all remaining users. Thanks, AlertMe, that was a classy way to sign off.

The only thing that left me a bit disappointed on Hive was the lack of support for devices which AlertMe users already owned. This was purely a commercial decision to drive sales of Hive products, exemplified by the fact that Hive continued to sell the original SPG100 smart plug (rebranded an SPG900, but otherwise unchanged) as a repeater-only device for the heating system. Either version could be paired with the hub, but remote control of the power relay was completely missing in order to push sales of the SLP2 and SLP2b outlets. A real shame, as even today the original SPG100 is unrivalled amongst UK smart plugs, featuring battery backup, power reporting and consumption measurement.

Home automation with Zigbee was in its infancy back in 2010 and AlertMe were really ahead of the curve, to the extent that even Hive isn’t quite up to the same feature set ten years later. I started toying with PyAlertMe under some delusion of developing a hub; but ultimately time and lack of expertise got in the way. My AlertMe sensors and buttons quietly stayed where they were installed, waiting.

There Was Another

While AlertMe sensors in the UK languished, across the Atlantic many of the same devices were still in use through that rarest of things; a successful shot at the American market! From DIY firm Lowe’s Home Improvement, Iris was initially based on the UK products with some tweaks for the United States. It was entirely possible to import an Iris hub and resurrect your AlertMe mesh. As time went on the platform was developed further than its parent, but their original ‘Iris V1’ devices were almost all designed by the Cambridge team or were identical to their UK versions, save for some colour changes, and remained supported until the platform was also bumped off at the end of March 2019.


It was around the time of this shutdown that I discovered Hubitat while performing my (usually fruitless) search for a platform that might support the slightly non-standard pairing process that AlertMe devices require. Hubitat were sensibly trying to attract some of those ex-Iris customers into bringing their devices to their platform and picked me up along the way. With the first coronavirus lockdown beginning and a new hub in the works it was tricky to find one in the UK, but eBay saved the day once again.

I was more than a little happy to find that the “Iris V1 Zigbee” pairing button hooked my devices up just fine! However, the Iris drivers in Hubitat were missing a few features that I rather like, particularly for the SmartPlug which did nothing more than switch on and off. I knew the load reporting was in there somewhere, and with them having battery backup perhaps they also reported other useful information?

One of the best things about Hubitat is that if you have a device which is non-standard or missing features, and if you have the experience (or can convince someone in what is largely a very helpful community to lend a hand) then it’s entirely possible to add support to the platform for that device. I started work on an AlertMe driver for the Power Clamp, a device which was becoming pretty common in the UK for monitoring whole-house electricity consumption. Digging through the code from PyAlertMe again I was able to figure out the non-standard communication over Zigbee and subsequently which bytes in the payload represented power consumption. Hooray!

The Puzzle

The SmartPlug and the Lamp were the hardest to figure out, as even the on and off commands aren’t available through zigbee.On() and zigbee.Off() methods as they would be on most devices, but have to be constructed as raw Zigbee commands like this:

he raw ${device.deviceNetworkId} 0 ${device.endpointId} 0x00EE {11 00 02 01 01} {0xC216}

For which, of course, there’s no real documentation. Luckily there were a great bunch of people who had spent their time reverse engineering the communications while their systems were still active, so I had good material to work from.

The Lamp was even worse, as it operates with custom commands for everything and just setting a single colour is really only one element of a colour sequence. This means you can make it do some cool standalone effects, such as the classic Apple “breathing” fade, but working out what to send to the thing when there’s not even the possibility of packet sniffing the traffic (because the hub is defunct) is extremely frustrating! Particularly when there are probably four of them left in working condition on the planet and two are taunting you on your desk.

I needed a leg up from a professional on that one, but I GOT YOU IN THE END, LAMP!

Ultimately I was able to create drivers for the Alarm Sensor, Button, Contact Sensor, Key Fob, Lamp, Motion Sensor, PowerClamp and SmartPlug. Basically all the devices I have except for the Display, which I’ve not looked at yet. It’s a cute little energy usage display with an unusual colour liquid crystal panel.

Saved A Ton, Learned A Lot

Home automation gear is tumbling in price now that supermarkets are getting on board, but ten years on there really are very few sensors, and especially key fobs, which match the design and features of the AlertMe products. I was genuinely thrilled to get the entire of my original smart home back up and running thanks to driver advice from the Hubitat and Oh-La Labs communities, with far better response times and flexibility than was possible with the old hub.

With any luck I’ll put together some information on the platforms I have working together, but I couldn’t have imagined back in 2010 that I’d have the same devices integrated with Hue and HomeKit… mainly because neither of those things existed.

So check your cupboards and drawers if you were an AlertMe or Iris customer. Grab a Hubitat hub and those devices will work just fine.

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