To Protect and Conserve: Catch the Z-Wave - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 31 Old 06-05-2013, 01:06 PM - Thread Starter
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I don't know about you, but I have invested a lot of money in my dedicated home theater and devoted a lot of time to the build. I am currently very content with all the equipment I own and do not wish to upgrade right now; I simply want to enjoy my theater with my family. But with all that investment of time and money, I am very wary about whom I invite over and even more about whom I decide to show my rack filled with thousands of dollars of AV equipment. It's well hidden from visitors, and most don't know there's an equipment room behind my screen.

I think most people would agree that security systems are boring, and not many invest in them. The good news is, I discovered a way to not only help secure your home and protect your theater, but also to automate your home for very little money using Z-Wave.

Some may think that a Crestron or Control4 automation system is needed to automate their home. Although these systems are powerful, I am not a big fan of automating too much in the home. There should be a balance between what I manually control and what is automated. Furthermore, I don't have hundreds of dollars to spend on a single dimmer for my lights. Rest assured there are ways of doing this for very little money.

My primary goal was to install a security system in order to protect my family and everything I have invested in throughout the years, principally my theater. After doing so, I found out that I can save some money by automating my lights and thermostats at the same time. For example, kids seem to think that lights turn off by themselves. Simply having a system that turns them off automatically or manually from your smartphone can help save you money in the long run.

What is Z-Wave? Here's the Wikipedia definition:


"Z-Wave communicates using a low-power wireless technology designed specifically for remote control applications. The Z-Wave wireless protocol is optimized for reliable, low-latency communication of small data packets with data rates up to 100 Kbps, unlike Wi-Fi and other IEEE 802.11-based wireless LAN systems that are designed primarily for high-bandwidth data flow. Z-Wave operates in the sub-gigahertz frequency range, around 900 MHz. This band competes with some cordless telephones and other consumer electronics devices, but avoids interference with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee and other systems that operate on the crowded 2.4 GHz band. Z-Wave is designed to be easily embedded in consumer electronics products, including battery operated devices such as remote controls, smoke alarms and security sensors. Z-Wave was developed by a Danish startup called Zen-Sys that was acquired by Sigma Designs in 2008."

What do you need to get started?



Alarm Panel: First you need an alarm panel. There are many companies that can help you choose the right panel for your home. If you want to do this before the installer comes over, determine in advance what you would like to protect. Of course, I suggest adding window and door sensors to the theater room. Also, make sure the alarm panel can integrate itself in one way or another with a Z-Wave controller. That way, you will be able to easily integrate dimmers, thermostats and door locks.




Z-Wave Controller: After choosing the alarm panel, the next step is selecting a Z-Wave controller. In order to add Z-wave devices in your home, you need a controller to enroll them into your system by receiving all the devices' specific addresses. There are many controllers out there; among the most popular are the Mi Casa Verde controller and the Honeywell Tuxedo touchscreen with built-in controller. The Mi Casa Verde is a small green box that hooks up to your network and has a built-in web interface that is used to assign and add Z-wave devices, but you will need to download a third-party app for both iOS and Android devices to control them.



An easier way of doing this—with an additional cost—is the Honeywell Tuxedo touchscreen. The 7-inch touchscreen is a Wi-Fi–based Z-Wave controller that can be used with or without a Honeywell alarm panel. I found it easier to add Z-Wave products with the Tuxedo as it has a friendlier user interface with graphical icons. This touchscreen can display 7-day local weather forecasts, it can be used as a digital picture frame displaying both pictures and videos from an SD card, and of course, it can automate your home with some basic Z-Wave devices.



Z-Wave Dimmers: As a wireless standard, Z-Wave has become extremely popular, especially when it comes to home automation. You can find several products on the market from different manufacturers, which means you can mix and match as needed. If you happen to like the Leviton scene switch but would like to use GE dimmers, you can do it. As long as they all use the Z-Wave protocol, you can do what you like. I haven't seen much difference between one manufacturer and another in terms of dimming performance. There are many devices available whether you are looking for a wall dimmer, on/off switch, lamp dimmer, lamp switch, or even Z-Wave electrical outlets. I've seen some dimmers as low as $44 at smarthome.com and amazon.com.

Here's a tip from the pros: When installing dimmers in your home, preset them to turn on between 85 and 90 percent. You won't see the difference between 85 and 100 percent, so this saves 15 percent of your light bill. I also found that installing dimmers on the porch lights not only helps reduce annual energy costs, but increases bulb life as well.



Z-Wave Thermostats: Z-Wave–controllable thermostats let you pre-program the time you would like to turn on the heat or A/C. If you're not fond of pre-programming, you can use your smartphone app to turn on the air or heat before you leave the office. Another interesting feature is the ability to set a maximum high and minimum low on the thermostats in the case your kids play around with the thermostat. All this can help cut energy costs at the end of the year, and every penny counts.


Other Z-Wave Devices: I have recently tried Z-Wave door locks, such as deadbolts from Kwikset and Yale RealLiving. This is great in case you forget your keys or simply don't wish to give a key to the maid or whoever needs to temporarily enter your home. I found this very handy when watching a movie in the theater room. When expecting guests but the party has already started, simply release the deadbolt with a click on your phone. Did you forget to lock the door and it's too late to turn back? Lock it from your phone. The Kwikset lever is also useful if you have a small room for all your equipment and want to restrict or limit who goes in using code or a key. These types of door locks are useful and are not very expensive.




Cameras: If you're using a Honeywell system with the Tuxedo touchscreen, you can install Honeywell cameras at the front entrance and even in the theater room. If you don't want people touching your equipment or simply wish to protect the grounds around your home, all these cameras can be viewed from your smartphone or the touchscreen keypad. You can even get notification alerts with the picture of the person entering the room or the front door. You choose what you would like to monitor and when to receive picture notifications of certain alarm events. I use a camera in the rack room with all my gear. If my wife is stuck and having a hard time turning on some equipment, I can walk her through it on the phone while watching her physically do it. It has saved me boat loads of time.

I admit it wasn't easy to convince the minister of finance (wife) when I got into securing and automating the house. This is something that I have slowly built up over the years. Start with a security panel, a Z-Wave controller, and a few dimmers and see how you like it. Now that I can automate some lights in my house, my wife and I have a better sense of security at home and when we leave. There are many options out there, and I strongly recommend taking a look the automation section of AVS Forum for additional information. It's a great way to find out what works, what doesn't, and share user experience between fellow AVSers.

For all the products mentioned here, you can find more information from these websites:

http://www.micasaverde.com/
http://security.honeywell.com/
http://www.yaleresidential.com/en/yale/yaleresidential-com/Real-Living/product-details/Key-Free/Key-Free-Touchscreen-Deadbolt/
http://www.kwikset.com/Products/Details/Electronic-Locks/912TNL-TRL-ZW-11P-SMT.aspx
http://www.smarthome.com/_/Dimmers_Lighting_Appliance_Control/Dimmers_Wall_Switches_Keypads_Touchscreens/Z_Wave_Compatible/_/z/1QV/23V/nav.aspx http://www.security.honeywell.com/hsc/products/alarm/vi/tcv/index.html


Are you protecting your HT? Are you automating?
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post #2 of 31 Old 06-05-2013, 04:28 PM
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Since I am a Crestron programmer, I always find it a bit funny when people talk about things always being expensive when it comes to Crestron. Obviously, programming is expensive and they tend to favor non-DIY options

But, looking at the 'tutorial' for a simple z-wave dimmer, (GE) it doesn't really explain more than adding it to your z-wave system. So, there is a learning curve that goes on there as well.

But, how open or closed this is always comes into question for me.

For example, I wanted lighting control in my home, so I went with Insteon for my dimmers. I dredged (and am still dredging) through the Insteon forums to get information about how to control their products because they have a non-public control protocol! Took hours of research to get some basic commands, and a lot more research to figure out how to setup scenes, and still am banging my head against the wall to figure some aspects of the product out... Yet it works with Crestron. Which means it works with AMX or any standard serial enabled control system. I would bet it would work with any Ethernet system as well. Dimmers are cheap, and I can add as many as I want really.

Now, I'm not knocking z-wave, but most A/V equipment comes with IR and perhaps RS-232/Ethernet control - how do those modules get written to go from z-wave to 'standard' protocols? How does the 'average' consumer get from here to there?

If it is all module based, then how is this different than just buying 'iOS' and 'Android' enabled devices?

I do see there is a Serial to Z-Wave controller out there, so how do programmers make use of it for control of the z-wave products?

I mean, I like all this stuff, but controlling my locks, alarm, lights, and thermostat all have solutions that exist in one form or another from many inexpensive providers and offer up open control capabilities. Controllable thermostats are all over, and things like Nest provide phone controlled products which may not require any sort of automation at all (how often do you change your temperature really?).

And, on a forum called AVS, when Z-wave doesn't actually focus on control of either the A or the V, what are we left with? smile.gif

Controllable lights like Radio RA are great, they publish protocols, have incredible reliability and a brand name which backs them, but cheap solutions exist elsewhere and all major control system manufacturers tend to be able to control them. The hard part is the closed environments where manufacturers protect their protocols and limit user interaction. Where you can get a light to turn on or off, but you can't get it to have 4 preset levels that you can easily pick, or set it easily to multiple scenes within a room. It can be very frustrating to work with these products, and the more 'open' the standard is on the manufacturing side, the worse it tends to be on the consumer side.

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post #3 of 31 Old 06-05-2013, 06:17 PM
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Which alarm panel do you have displayed there? Does the use of an alarm panel require monthly services from the manufacturer? Not sure how the alarm panel fits into the scheme of things.
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post #4 of 31 Old 06-05-2013, 06:41 PM
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I've been using Z-Wave for over two years now- I have the Vera2 controller with 12 devices including 3 thermostats, 2 entry door locks, outlets, switches, etc.
While I estimate the system's been 99% reliable- that's not good enough for an alarm system- that needs to be 100% reliable 100% of the time.
To me it's not a big deal if the foyer light fails to turn on when I enter my pin into the front door keypad or the toothbrush sanitizer fails to turn off 3 hrs after being activated- but it would be a big deal if a door or window were forced open and the alarm sensor failed to communicate with the controller.
Battery operated Z-Wave devices are the most problematic because they're low power devices and they sleep most of the time to conserve energy- which sometimes causes the controller to loose track of them and loose communication with them when they activate. It happens quite often with the thermostat in our MBR- it's the only thermostat I own that's battery operated- and sometimes takes 3-4 tries when I poll it for the temperature. If that happens with a battery operated alarm sensor- that could be a major disaster.
Z-Wave is really useful for many things, but from my experience- I just don't think it's particularly well suited for an alarm system.
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post #5 of 31 Old 06-05-2013, 07:02 PM
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I would think the window sensors are almost always asleep. If the controller loses contact with them, it seems that reliability would be less than 99%.

Is any alarm system reliable 100% of the time? I have no idea, but even ones that are hooked up to the house power will lose their function when the house loses power no? Are you planning on switching to something better? I'm in the market for this kind of thing now, mostly for security, less for other features.
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post #6 of 31 Old 06-05-2013, 07:03 PM
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But most (all?) of these z-wave alarm panels do not use z-wave for the alarm sensors. They use the same 315/433MHz sensors that all the other wireless alarms use.

How well do all these things work together though? Can you get the status of the alarm sensors (non-zwave) into vera? can you trigger programs in vera from the honeywell touchscreen? can you display custom information on it? The limited interoperability and feature differences across manufacturers has kept me away from z-wave.
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post #7 of 31 Old 06-05-2013, 07:12 PM - Thread Starter
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The alarm panel is definitely not necessary in order to use z-wae. I apologize if that is what most understood. The Tuxedo keypad (shown above) can be used standalone without an alarm pane. But again, I strongly recommend one for anyone who has a lot of gear.

The alarm panel I suggested does NOT transmit in Z-wave, but it does integrate with the Tuxedo keypad. The picture shown above is another alarm panel by Honeywell which happens to be wireless for those who can't wire anywhere and happens to include a but-in z-wave controller.

Sorry for the confusion everyone.

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post #8 of 31 Old 06-05-2013, 07:15 PM
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Good points Rob. Also, I have a question. If you are using wireless signals to connect sensors to the control/wall unit, can't these frequencies be blocked relatively easily (like the cell phone blockers) making the whole system impotent? It seems that if I am really concerned about security I need to have a hard wired system with battery backup.

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post #9 of 31 Old 06-05-2013, 07:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AV_Integrated View Post

Since I am a Crestron programmer, I always find it a bit funny when people talk about things always being expensive when it comes to Crestron. Obviously, programming is expensive and they tend to favor non-DIY options

But, looking at the 'tutorial' for a simple z-wave dimmer, (GE) it doesn't really explain more than adding it to your z-wave system. So, there is a learning curve that goes on there as well.

But, how open or closed this is always comes into question for me.

For example, I wanted lighting control in my home, so I went with Insteon for my dimmers. I dredged (and am still dredging) through the Insteon forums to get information about how to control their products because they have a non-public control protocol! Took hours of research to get some basic commands, and a lot more research to figure out how to setup scenes, and still am banging my head against the wall to figure some aspects of the product out... Yet it works with Crestron. Which means it works with AMX or any standard serial enabled control system. I would bet it would work with any Ethernet system as well. Dimmers are cheap, and I can add as many as I want really.

Now, I'm not knocking z-wave, but most A/V equipment comes with IR and perhaps RS-232/Ethernet control - how do those modules get written to go from z-wave to 'standard' protocols? How does the 'average' consumer get from here to there?

If it is all module based, then how is this different than just buying 'iOS' and 'Android' enabled devices?

I do see there is a Serial to Z-Wave controller out there, so how do programmers make use of it for control of the z-wave products?

I mean, I like all this stuff, but controlling my locks, alarm, lights, and thermostat all have solutions that exist in one form or another from many inexpensive providers and offer up open control capabilities. Controllable thermostats are all over, and things like Nest provide phone controlled products which may not require any sort of automation at all (how often do you change your temperature really?).

And, on a forum called AVS, when Z-wave doesn't actually focus on control of either the A or the V, what are we left with? smile.gif

Controllable lights like Radio RA are great, they publish protocols, have incredible reliability and a brand name which backs them, but cheap solutions exist elsewhere and all major control system manufacturers tend to be able to control them. The hard part is the closed environments where manufacturers protect their protocols and limit user interaction. Where you can get a light to turn on or off, but you can't get it to have 4 preset levels that you can easily pick, or set it easily to multiple scenes within a room. It can be very frustrating to work with these products, and the more 'open' the standard is on the manufacturing side, the worse it tends to be on the consumer side.


I understand. I am also in the custom industry and have many friends that are both Crestron and Contro4 installers. Both systems are very powerful and offer a multitude of solutions. What I liked about Zwave is that it offers a much more basic and simpler type of automation for anyone wanting to dim a few lights. I personally started off with Z-wave and later added Lutron RadioRa2 system to have more control over the system. Crestron in particular IS very expensive and that's the truth. But it can do whatever the customer wants and that is the price you must pay. I simply think people ought to know about Z-wave as it is become extremely popular because of it's price point and simplicity.

People who are more technical and wish to have more control over their system such as using RS232 protocols, I can understand Z-wave being a little more limited. Z-wave requires little-to-no programming because of it's simplicity. There are many solutions out there and I strongly recommend doing some research on the forum because their are many knowledgable people.

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post #10 of 31 Old 06-05-2013, 07:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsteak View Post

Which alarm panel do you have displayed there? Does the use of an alarm panel require monthly services from the manufacturer? Not sure how the alarm panel fits into the scheme of things.

For the most part no. The Zwave products require no monthly fees. If you decide to go with an alarm panel, some might offer you a central monitoring fee which monitors your system for you and sends the police if their is an alarm. But this is not necessary. With the newer systems on the market, you can receive an SMS and you can quickly view your cameras (if you have some) and see if it's a false alarm, or if you need to contact the authorities immediately.

I believe the panel I showed in the picture is the Lynx 5100 - link is below.

http://www.security.honeywell.com/hsc/products/control/wi/ly/329673.html

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post #11 of 31 Old 06-05-2013, 07:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeadEd View Post

Good points Rob. Also, I have a question. If you are using wireless signals to connect sensors to the control/wall unit, can't these frequencies be blocked relatively easily (like the cell phone blockers) making the whole system impotent? It seems that if I am really concerned about security I need to have a hard wired system with battery backup.

Good question. I have never heard of such a thing. There are usually tampers in each sensor, so if the sensor stops communicating with the panel (for wireless systems), the alarm would go off. If battery is low, you would usually get a message saying so. Wireless sensors have existed for years and have only gotten better with time. Frequencies are in the low end of the spectrum thus travelling much further in distance than in the past.

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post #12 of 31 Old 06-05-2013, 09:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VinnyS View Post

I understand. I am also in the custom industry and have many friends that are both Crestron and Contro4 installers. Both systems are very powerful and offer a multitude of solutions. What I liked about Zwave is that it offers a much more basic and simpler type of automation for anyone wanting to dim a few lights. I personally started off with Z-wave and later added Lutron RadioRa2 system to have more control over the system. Crestron in particular IS very expensive and that's the truth. But it can do whatever the customer wants and that is the price you must pay. I simply think people ought to know about Z-wave as it is become extremely popular because of it's price point and simplicity.

People who are more technical and wish to have more control over their system such as using RS232 protocols, I can understand Z-wave being a little more limited. Z-wave requires little-to-no programming because of it's simplicity. There are many solutions out there and I strongly recommend doing some research on the forum because their are many knowledgable people.
I guess what I always run into is what I consider in this industry is almost this kind of pompousness from manufacturers. That systems end up being closed off to consumers, or "Here's what you get, so you better like it and not complain" type of mentality. It's almost worse with lesser expensive products because consumers want things which cost less, but they still often want to be able to go further with them than the manufacturers want you to, and they lock it down. They prohibit it. Or, at the very least, they make it extremely difficult to work with. I don't know enough about Z-Wave to be saying that it is the case with them, but I have seen it from many others. Nest thermostats are a great example of a product targeted towards the top tier customers, but then specifically excluding those who own control systems who would almost definitely purchase their product if it were more open.

Just frustrating in this industry to see it happen over and over and over again...

On the other hand it keeps me employed. smile.gif

For the DiY crowd, Crestron can be had for just a few hundred bucks and the Yahoo forums for Crestron are pretty darn good. Literally, if you have an iPad and $300 you can put together a current generation Crestron system with the magic of eBay and some visits to online forums and some questions.

Certainly not an easy DiY project like Z-Wave markets towards, but that's the same type of marketing from Insteon and what Zigbee is shooting for. I guess they are all competing for the low-end dollars which is fine, No issues there, but still frustrating that they don't open things up more.

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post #13 of 31 Old 06-06-2013, 03:13 AM
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Ok... so basically a big splashy z-wave ad but not much usable info? And you admit you already moved on to RA2. rolleyes.gif
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post #14 of 31 Old 06-06-2013, 04:22 AM
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It's revenue, pays the bills. At least I hope that's the case.

I think getting the Z Wave Alliance into Home Depot and Lowes would help a lot. Maybe it's there and I didn't notice? Maybe getting exposure in more HGTV type shows?

It might cost $millions, but the sight of Phil on Modern Family installing a Vera Controller and some dimmers, successfully, might help.

Advertising these days is so fragmented. People don't watch TV like they used to.

I really hope Z-Wave flourishes.

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post #15 of 31 Old 06-06-2013, 06:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok... so basically a big splashy z-wave ad but not much usable info? And you admit you already moved on to RA2. rolleyes.gif

This was more of an introductory piece to show awareness of Z-wave and it's capabilities. Again, this is a more basic system at a cost effective solution. Anyone who wishes to do more in-depth programming and such, Lutron, Crestron, Control4 systems and more should be considered.

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post #16 of 31 Old 06-06-2013, 09:02 AM
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For anyone interested in the Z-Wave side- micasaverde, the maker of the Vera Z-wave controller has a very informative user forum:
http://forum.micasaverde.com/index.php
I learned enough there to get my Z-Wave system up and running and to keep it going for 2+ years now.

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post #17 of 31 Old 06-06-2013, 09:55 AM
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I have the Vera3 and Z Wave stuff. It's kinda a fun hobby and I have had any reliability issues. But then again, my setup isn't real sophisticated . . . YET biggrin.gif
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post #18 of 31 Old 06-06-2013, 11:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

I think getting the Z Wave Alliance into Home Depot and Lowes would help a lot. Maybe it's there and I didn't notice
Yes Lowes sells the GE dimmers.
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Originally Posted by VinnyS View Post

This was more of an introductory piece to show awareness of Z-wave and it's capabilities. Again, this is a more basic system at a cost effective solution. Anyone who wishes to do more in-depth programming and such, Lutron, Crestron, Control4 systems and more should be considered.

I get that but it still provides more questions than answers. There are a lot of potential dealbreakers that go unmentioned.

I would say Insteon is easier to get started with.
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post #19 of 31 Old 06-07-2013, 09:03 AM
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Radio Shack carried a complete Z-Wave line up to about 2 years ago- but it just didn't sell, so they dropped it.
Worked out nice for me though- ended up getting the bulk of my modules for around $10 each, and my Schlage entry door locks for $65 each from the Shack biggrin.gif

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post #20 of 31 Old 06-07-2013, 11:43 AM
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I've been looking into this a bit lately.

I originally came across the Honeywell Lynx 5100 and 2Gig alarm systems. I think they are pretty simplistic and will get someone going pretty quickly. The things that bothered me a bit was one, these are all-in-one systems and are a bit limited and two, you seemed to be nickle and dimed with the automation fucntions. In other words, you have to pay (per month to alarm.com) $5 for Z Wave, $5 for cameras, etc. While I do want a monitored system, it was going to be around $40/month by the time to add most of the good features.

Then I came across the MiCasaVerde, which can interface with the DSC alarm systems. I think, while a little more expensive and not quite as easy to setup, will be a much more robust system. And then you can just pay for the monitoring and the VeraLite controller can take care of the Z-Wave automation stuff.
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post #21 of 31 Old 06-07-2013, 01:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AV_Integrated View Post

...

For example, I wanted lighting control in my home, so I went with Insteon for my dimmers. I dredged (and am still dredging) through the Insteon forums to get information about how to control their products because they have a non-public control protocol! Took hours of research to get some basic commands, and a lot more research to figure out how to setup scenes, and still am banging my head against the wall to figure some aspects of the product out... Yet it works with Crestron. Which means it works with AMX or any standard serial enabled control system. I would bet it would work with any Ethernet system as well. Dimmers are cheap, and I can add as many as I want really.

...

Insteon is cheap and I control my Insteon system with HCA, some aspects of which I like a lot. But it is notoriously unreliable. I can't count the number of dimmers I've replaced and they always wait until they are out of warranty to fail. But their most common "trick" is to simply not operate until the power is cycled. My dear, intrepid wife has gone from asking if "it's an Insteon thing again" when a light won't come on to going to the breaker panel herself to shut the circuit off for a few seconds. Ridiculous.

The fourth row of lighting in my home theater is so unreliable I've simply disconnected it. Pretty embarrassing when you have guests over for a movie and all the lights fade to black except that last row. I've got to get the ladder out and climb into the attic to manually pull the wire off. I finally just left it off. These are all Dual-Band, btw, and my house was finished in 2007, so we're not dealing with old wiring either.

Bottom line... I would never, ever install Insteon in a client's house. I wouldn't dream of taking a chance that my good name could be tied to such iffy reliability. It's performance is inexcusable in a professional install. It's worse than X10!
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post #22 of 31 Old 06-09-2013, 12:48 PM
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I have had X-10 for more than 25 years. I became very tired of "you can't control that from here" and its variant "it worked for months then stopped working and nothing has changed".

Over two years ago I converted most of the units to a Leviton Vizia+ z-wave network for lights. Currently there are 23 units in my network. I chose z-wave because I have a 65 year-old house with two electrical panels and no neutral wires at most wall switches. It now meets my basic requirements but it has been a hassle getting there.

If you are going to do it yourself You should be aware of:

Wall zone and area controllers have four buttons. This imposes serious constraints on what you can do and how you use it.

Z-wave is seriously range-challenged and the in-house range is usually nowhere near the frequently cited range. In my house the inter-unit effective range appears to be about 15 feet. Appliances, metal electrical boxes, plumbing, aluminum as in siding, all reduce the range. The units signal strength is directional. Usually not in the best direction at that. Somewhere on the web I found a manufacturer's document telling about all the considerations for range. You really should search and read it before you plan.

There is a maximum of five hops between the sending unit and the receiving unit. In my ranch-style house with a detached garage this means I still have some of "you can't control that from here" . My work around is to have three controllers whose times are set 1 minute apart. They are placed in the North (living room), near center (library/HT), and South (master bedroom) end of the house. All have the same event programs.

Excluding outdoor units for Christmas lights, things are about 99% reliable. Which would not do for a security system. I will shortly be replacing my alarm system with a HAI system for home monitoring and security.

If I were to start over I probably would not go z-wave. But, I don't know what I would do.

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post #23 of 31 Old 06-09-2013, 03:23 PM
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Z-Wave has been dead-reliable for me. I use a Vera2 for the home automation controller, and it works very well for that. However, I would use a dedicated security system as it has better communications with the sensors including battery level, tamper-sensing, etc. In my case, I use a Visonic Powermax+ which is a very reliable system for me. However, the Visonic Powermax+ has a seriously flawed network module called the Powerlink, and this stupid thing sends clear-text data to Israel as part of it's normal operation, and email alerts have to go through their proprietary server as well. the beautiful thing for me, is that I was able to junk the Powerlink module, and connect the Powermax security panel directly to my Vera2, and integrate the two product together with a Plugin. I have all the security system remote access/control and email/SMS alerts I need now, and it all works very well as a combined system.
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post #24 of 31 Old 06-10-2013, 08:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by humbug2 View Post

Z-wave is seriously range-challenged and the in-house range is usually nowhere near the frequently cited range. In my house the inter-unit effective range appears to be about 15 feet. Appliances, metal electrical boxes, plumbing, aluminum as in siding, all reduce the range.
+1
That was the biggest roadblock I ran into as well- till I finally found a location for the gateway (Vera2) that can reliably connect with all my devices.
For all the bragging about being a "self healing mesh network" it certainly didn't materialize as advertised.
I find the battery operated devices have the shortest range and the most time-out issues. The AC operated stuff like outlets, wall switches/dimmers and 24v powered thermostats seem pretty reliable. It's the entry door locks and "AA" powered temperature sensors that occasionally give me issues. Thankfully- the entry door locks work 100% without Z-Wave assistance so there's never been any lock-out issues with us- it's just impossible to get the status (locked or unlocked) of the lock- or impossible to get the temperature from the temp sensor sometimes.

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post #25 of 31 Old 06-15-2013, 07:07 PM
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If all I want to do is install a single dimmer that controls the light in the room, can I do that without a z-wave controller? For instance, could a Harmony remote control a z-wave dimmer?

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post #26 of 31 Old 06-17-2013, 09:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sulakd View Post

If all I want to do is install a single dimmer that controls the light in the room, can I do that without a z-wave controller? For instance, could a Harmony remote control a z-wave dimmer?
Z-Wave devices need a gateway (like the Vera2, Vera3, Vera Lite) device to connect portable controllers, tablets, computers, etc to the end device (switch, dimmer, etc...).
No, Z-Wave is RF won't work with/through a Harmony remote which is generally IR.

If you just want to start with a single dimmer in one room and want to go with Z-Wave for future growth, you could get a Vera Lite, and a dimmer module. With those two items you could control the light from any computer/laptop or Android tablet.
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post #27 of 31 Old 06-17-2013, 01:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by replayrob View Post

Z-Wave devices need a gateway (like the Vera2, Vera3, Vera Lite) device to connect portable controllers, tablets, computers, etc to the end device (switch, dimmer, etc...).
No, Z-Wave is RF won't work with/through a Harmony remote which is generally IR.

If you just want to start with a single dimmer in one room and want to go with Z-Wave for future growth, you could get a Vera Lite, and a dimmer module. With those two items you could control the light from any computer/laptop or Android tablet.


As replayrob said, AND/or, you can always pick up a GE Remote Controller. It's a Z-wave remote and controller. You would have to enroll the dimmer within the remote. A big misconception is that you can enroll Z-Wave devices within multiple controllers, that is false. So, you either pick up a Veralite or the ones mentioned above, Honeywell Tuxedo Touchpad or a Z-Wave handheld remote (GE, Leviton and maybe others) that exist on the market.


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post #28 of 31 Old 06-17-2013, 03:04 PM
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I had two lamps on two lamp modules and just the cheap GE remote than pictured above, to beta test things. It worked fine on its own. Now with the Vera, that's another thread . . .
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post #29 of 31 Old 06-17-2013, 06:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by NickTheGreat View Post

I had two lamps on two lamp modules and just the cheap GE remote than pictured above, to beta test things. It worked fine on its own. Now with the Vera, that's another thread . . .

I have to agree that the MiCasaVerde products are a much better alternative then the GE remote. I was simply trying display what is available on the market.

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post #30 of 31 Old 06-18-2013, 08:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VinnyS View Post

I have to agree that the MiCasaVerde products are a much better alternative then the GE remote. I was simply trying display what is available on the market.

Oh I was agreeing with you. The Vera is an expensive solution for just a couple of lights. The OP could do like me and start with the GE controller, and then buy a Vera if desired later smile.gif
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