A new z-wave controller hub

Discussion in 'Home Automation' started by bp2008, Jun 15, 2017.

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  1. bp2008

    bp2008 Staff Member

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    For several years I have been using z-wave controllers from Mi Casa Verde / Vera Control, Ltd. to manage and control my z-wave devices. For nearly 3 years I used a VeraLite and was mostly happy with it. Then its z-wave module failed suddenly, never to work again. I replaced it with a VeraPlus last November, but quickly came to dislike the new device. I have to power cycle it every month or so, as it goes unresponsive to network packets. Once, it even took down my entire home network somehow. All local and internet communication just gone. Even DHCP wouldn't work. That was a pain to trace back to the VeraPlus, because it would only kill connectivity after being plugged in to the LAN for about a minute. Power cycling the VeraPlus eventually fixed it, but understandably I no longer trust the device and sooner or later I am going to replace it with something else.

    So I would like to know if anyone else has a z-wave controller they really like. I was thinking about an Aeotec Z-Stick Gen5 (USB, $45) connected to a raspberry pi, running Domoticz or something. But I am open to any suggestions. This is going to be a complex transition and I'd rather not find out halfway through that one of the things I did with Vera won't work with the new system.

    My requirements are:

    * Work with ImperiHome mobile app
    * No forced "cloud" integration.
    * Wired ethernet
    * A simple http API for integration with other systems
    * Needs to work with a wide variety of z-wave devices. I have power outlets (some with energy usage reporting), dimmer switches (one needs its ramp rate reconfigured by the z-wave controller), and even a drapery motor and a door lock (which I have configured to lock every night at midnight).
    * Easily back up and restore the entire z-wave network configuration to a new device in case of a hardware failure.
     
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  2. randytsuch

    randytsuch Pulling my weight

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    I'm running Domoticz with a Gen 5 stick on a pi

    * Work with ImperiHome mobile app
    Dont know

    * No forced "cloud" integration.
    This is fine, no forced clouds.

    * Wired ethernet
    This is fine, new pi's have wifi and ethernet and USB

    * A simple http API for integration with other systems
    I think so. I'm sending HTTP commands now to a couple ESP based devices I have to just built. I can now send an HTTP command to open or close my garage door, or turn on my spa.

    * Needs to work with a wide variety of z-wave devices. I have power outlets (some with energy usage reporting), dimmer switches (one needs its ramp rate reconfigured by the z-wave controller), and even a drapery motor and a door lock (which I have configured to lock every night at midnight).
    I think so. I have a few older zwave devices, and it's working fine with them.

    * Easily back up and restore the entire z-wave network configuration to a new device in case of a hardware failure.
    Not sure. I'm not sure if backup in zwave is a "thing".

    One thing I have, and have needed to use is another zwave controller. I have an old handheld one, maybe from Leviton? I have had to use it to unpair some of my older zwave switches, so I could then pair them to the zstick.
     
  3. logbuilder

    logbuilder Getting the hang of it

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    I don't use z-wave (I'm insteon based) but I know it works great with HomeSeer. Interface is a z-stick plus. Not an inexpensive option but a super flexible and expandable option. I'm a really impressed and satisfied user.

    I think it checks all your boxes.
     
  4. Tibbar

    Tibbar n3wb

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  5. Roger

    Roger Getting the hang of it

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    I am running on a Vera Plus and it is rock solid. Do you know why yours was causing issues?
     
  6. bp2008

    bp2008 Staff Member

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    Never heard of that one before. Looks like the most expensive option yet.

    No idea. Maybe I could put the vera behind a raspberry pi (via a USB network adapter) and proxy connections to it via nginx or something. That should prevent it from taking down my LAN like it did before (wish I understood how it happened in the first place). I could have that pi monitor the vera for connectivity and remotely power cycle it via a web power switch in case it goes unresponsive on its own.
     
  7. tangent

    tangent Known around here

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    Nah, HomeSeer can easily cost more depending on the version/plugins. If you want expensive there are always things like HAI, Control4, AMX, and KNX.

    Since you're in sw I think you'd be happiest with something like Domoticz or If you've got $600 to burn there's HS3PRO
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
  8. randytsuch

    randytsuch Pulling my weight

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    Good point. I just started writing some Lua scripts in Domoticz using "dzVents". dzVents is an addon to Domoticz that makes it easier to write scripts. You can add a lot of usefulness by adding some scripts.

    This weekend, I added a magnetic door switch to my freezer, and now my wife and I get text messages if the door is open for more than a few mins. I also get a text if the garage door is open for more than 10 mins. The garage door and freezer door switches are connected a little ESP board running ESP Easy. Makes it easy to add wireless widgets to domoticz.
     
  9. randytsuch

    randytsuch Pulling my weight

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    Yesterday I saw a Domoticz wiki page for imperihome integration, so that box can be checked with a little effort.
     
  10. tung256

    tung256 Young grasshopper

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    i just got a gen5 stick for my rpi and running into issues. can you suggest a link for setting up the gen5 stick on rpi for a newbie like me? im clueless about linux. but can follow explicit instructions.
    some of the tutorials i found are for geniuses because they assume people know linux already.
     
  11. randytsuch

    randytsuch Pulling my weight

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    My instructions are here
    Randy's home projects: Domoticz Installation

    I think they are pretty thorough, they have the exact steps you need to do, you can just cut and paste.
    Hopefully they still work, it's what I did when I first installed domoticz (date on blog is later than when I really made the instructions).

    So this does assume that you have the pi setup and connected to your network, and can talk to the pi through a terminal program like putty.
    There should be lots of tutorials out there to help you with this basic setup stuff.
    You should lookup and learn some basic Linux commands, it will make life easier of you know a few basic commands.
    I would actually recommend setting up winscp on your PC. It's a little more complicated, but will act as a terminal program, and transfer files from you PC to the pi.
    winscp has a gui interface too, so looks more like a windows program for opening directories and stuff like that.

    I use a MacBook for most of this kind of stuff, and use terminal on the MAC, along with cyberduck to transfer files.

    To help you get going with Domoticz
    Randy's home projects: Domoticz Configure

    I'm pretty sure these instructions are dated now, but hopefully setting up the zstick is the same.

    Randy
     
  12. tung256

    tung256 Young grasshopper

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  13. Nathan

    Nathan Getting the hang of it

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    I run an ISY (isy994i / zw+insteon) to control Insteon and Z-Wave devices along with HTTP based network resources. The scripting language leaves a bit to be desired and their devices support is not always the most current. No forced cloud (but they have a gateway) and a reasonable HTTP based API along with Python/Perl/Java bindings. If you run their beta firmware, they have some new stuff for nicer programming integrations (Polygot/Node server).

    In general, the ISY is a hub in the true sense of the word - you really need another UI to present adjustments of the state. ISY themselves do not do much other than providing an enumeration of all of the devices/programs/states and giving you simple controls.

    I tried Home Assistant on a Pi but the Yaml and their method of configuration drove me mad.

    It meets all of your requirements but I'm not sure about "Work with ImperiHome mobile app" but see my note above about supported devices.
     
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  14. Spudz

    Spudz Young grasshopper

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    I also have a VeraPlus and it is rock solid also. Maybe you got a dud? Might be less hassle to just sell it and get another of the same to know if it was something about your particular box.
     
  15. hmjgriffon

    hmjgriffon Known around here

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    What did you end up going with?
     
  16. bp2008

    bp2008 Staff Member

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    I ended up doing this:

    Vera Plus connects to a Pi 3's ethernet port, and the Pi 3 connects to my LAN via its integrated wifi. Nginx proxies http to the Vera so it can still be remotely accessed (which is the whole point of having it). The pi and wifi have been rock solid. The Vera still stops responding once in a while, forcing me to power cycle it. But it can no longer f*ck up my LAN when it happens.
     
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  17. randytsuch

    randytsuch Pulling my weight

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    On a somewhat related subject, I've been following this thread
    Zigbee2MQTT - Domoticz

    A project that uses some fairly cheap aliexpress gadgets, and then lets domoticz interface with zigbee devices.

    Plan to order the pieces in the near future, and give it a try.

    Randy
     
  18. emersonvier

    emersonvier Young grasshopper

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  19. bp2008

    bp2008 Staff Member

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  20. emersonvier

    emersonvier Young grasshopper

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    @bp2008 I believe you have programmer skills, because you made UI3 so Home Assist is it the best option for you, I have PI3+ and Linear HUSBZB‑1 I do not remember how many device ZigBee/Z‑Wave I have, I need to update my device list, I hope I almost 45 devices connected.
     
  21. hmjgriffon

    hmjgriffon Known around here

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    only thing I have on zigbee is hues bulbs and they give you the hub for free, domoticz can control the lights, don't plan to run anything else on zigbee.
     
  22. randytsuch

    randytsuch Pulling my weight

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    I'm going to use it for xiaomi zigbee stuff so I don't have to go through the xiaomi cloud. It also gives me more options which is a good thing.

    BTW, last weekend I started trying Home Assistant. For now, I'm still using Domoticz, but I plan to migrate over as soon as I get HA operational for what I need.
    HA looks to have a larger user base, so new devices show up there sooner, and it has more options for devices.
    I'm also converting using MQTT instead of http to interface with my ESPs, so this is adding a little time/effort to my migration.

    I am finding the more options is a double edged sword. You have to figure out which one to use when you have multiple options lol

    Randy
     
  23. hmjgriffon

    hmjgriffon Known around here

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    I've already switched to home assistant, it's already doing everything domoticz was doing and more, I love it, I wonder if @nayr is using it, he has to be, I can't imagine he isn't but who knows, he's a strange dude, hahaha.