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swechsler 03-25-2019 07:14 PM

Smart Hub recommendation needed
 
I am currently using the Lowes Iris hub to control a Schlage Connect (Zigbee) lock (that's the only thing it needs to control - it's for a rental home), but the Iris system is being shut down at the end of March, so I'm looking for a replacement. I'm currently considering the Samsung Smartthings system, mostly to change access codes after guests check out, and to unlock the door remotely to let in maintenance people. My requirements are reliability, no monthly or yearly fee, and app access through both IOS and Android. I don't even need Wifi; I have an ethernet connection close enough to the door.

Would Smarttings be my best bet, or there any other solutions I should consider?

hmurchison 03-25-2019 11:01 PM

They don't have their mobile apps ready but I'm increasingly becoming more interested in the Hubitat controller www.hubitat.com. Runs most stuff local and has a power rule creation tool.

ezlotogura 03-26-2019 05:40 AM

no personal experience but a lot of people like Vera
https://getvera.com/

jeremyhelling 03-26-2019 07:05 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ezlotogura (Post 57805626)
no personal experience but a lot of people like Vera
https://getvera.com/

This.

Also, this topic has been discussed quite a bit on this forum with lots of good information on many options. Search is your friend.

swechsler 03-26-2019 10:03 AM

Do any hubs support more than 4 digits in a door code? That's a restriction with both the Iris and Smartthings hubs, even though the lock supports up to 8 digits.

ezlotogura 03-26-2019 10:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by swechsler (Post 57806874)
Do any hubs support more than 4 digits in a door code? That's a restriction with both the Iris and Smartthings hubs, even though the lock supports up to 8 digits.

probably but you'll have to do some research as you are doing. 100% not the answer you want, but with Control4 + Kwikset Zigbee Pro locks - yes you can do more than 4 digits. I have more than 4 digits for my codes. So its possible if you have the right hub I assume. C4 is overkill for your needs if you are purely looking at controlling a door lock.

https://community.getvera.com/

maybe try there to see what they say

jeremyhelling 03-26-2019 03:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by swechsler (Post 57806874)
Do any hubs support more than 4 digits in a door code? That's a restriction with both the Iris and Smartthings hubs, even though the lock supports up to 8 digits.

VeraLite will allow for more digits. Our Schlage locks have a character range of 4-8 and the default is 4 from the factory. When I connected these to my VeraLite the min and max are both set to 4 by default as that's the default setting a the lock itself. You can manually change the number of characters (at the lock itself using the programming instructions) from 4 to say 6 and a couple of things will happen. First, the codes on the lock will all be deleted since they were 4 digits so keep that in mind before starting. The second thing that happens with the VeraLite is that you need to go into advanced settings to change the range within the advanced settings for each lock. I would suggest changing the max to 8 (for a range of 4-8 matching the lock's range capability) but keep in mind that you can ONLY change the number of digits at the lock itself in the case of the Schlage. Once you decide what number of digit codes you want and set this manually at the lock & make the adjustments within VeraLite you can then add and remove codes from VeraLite so long as they adhere to the # of digits you set already. Make sense?

So in the case of the VeraLite it's entirely possible and simple once you realize the limitations of the lock that the hub must work with. Other locks and hubs may differ but that's the combination that I have experience with first-hand.

swechsler 03-26-2019 04:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jeremyhelling (Post 57808284)
The second thing that happens with the VeraLite is that you need to go into advanced settings to change the range within the advanced settings for each lock. I would suggest changing the max to 8 (for a range of 4-8 matching the lock's range capability) but keep in mind that you can ONLY change the number of digits at the lock itself in the case of the Schlage.

Hmm, your instructions didn't sound familiar to me, so I went back to my Amazon orders, and it turns out that we have a Kwikset 914, not a Schlage (my wife bought it without consulting me). Still Zigbee, though, but I don't recall seeing any instructions about changing the number of digits in the code. Still, support for a longer code is part of the hub, not the lock. But it does seem as if VeraLite will do it, plus they're offering 30% off initial purchase to Iris users.

jeremyhelling 03-27-2019 07:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by swechsler (Post 57808752)
Hmm, your instructions didn't sound familiar to me, so I went back to my Amazon orders, and it turns out that we have a Kwikset 914, not a Schlage (my wife bought it without consulting me). Still Zigbee, though, but I don't recall seeing any instructions about changing the number of digits in the code. Still, support for a longer code is part of the hub, not the lock. But it does seem as if VeraLite will do it, plus they're offering 30% off initial purchase to Iris users.

Yes and no. The lock itself MUST be able to do longer codes. The hub can't make a lock do something that it's firmware isn't designed to do. A hub can only work within the parameters of the lock's firmware. So if the lock is limited to 4 digits it doesn't matter what hub you use or what settings you set on the hub.

VeraLite isn't Zigbee, it's Z-Wave which are two different things. Some can be backwards compatible to some degree but the reason I chose to stick with the Z-Wave protocol was that it's more universal than other options on the market. IRIS (Lowe's) for instance is Z-Wave so I can use most IRIS labeled products on my VeraLite but you can't go the other way with most Z-Wave products that aren't labeled IRIS on the IRIS hub. At least that's the way it was at one time. Either way, IRIS is being decommissioned so who cares about backwards compatibility that direction? Zigbee is similar in that items need to be labeled Zigbee to be used with a Zigbee hub. Unless something has changed you needed Zigbee labeled devices for Zigbee hubs. Also, straight Z-Wave devices like the Vera line-up tend to have more adjustability and control. I'm not sure that your Zigbee or ISIS hub would have the user access to the settings I'm talking about.

My info isn't super current due to the fact that I researched this ad nasuem years ago and Z-Wave was the most universal with the most devices available at the lowest cost. In addition, the Vera platform was the least expensive that I owned and had full feature access w/o monthly fees or upgrade fees. Now I've had 50+ devices for years now and all work flawlessly on the oldest and cheapest hub Vera makes. I can only imagine how good the new ones are but, in my case, if it ain't broke... why fix it?

IMO you should be on the lookout for a VeraLite for cheap if you need only the front door lock to work. Make sure your 914 is Z-Wave compatible though as I think they made versions of that that were only one protocol so you would be stuck with whoever makes a hub that works for that protocol if you wanted to keep the lock. Otherwise there's a deal right now where you can get a Schlage Z-wave deadbolt for about $100 and a VeraLite should cost about half that in good working order. I know those devices will do what you're looking to do as I personally use them for exactly what you describe daily and have for years. Beyond that, you're going to have to seek advice elsewhere as I'm no expert on other protocols as I don't need to be. Z-Wave/Vera or die for me! :D

jeremyhelling 03-27-2019 07:48 AM

...it looks like the VeraPlus also has Zigbee support and starts at $99 so if you have 30% off that's $70 for a killer controller to transition to. I just looked at the controllers Vera offers to update with what the differences are these days and it looks like the specs are far greater than my VeraLite. Again, my VeraLite handles 50+ devices so I can't really say those "upgrades" offer real-world increases in performance to justify the cost to upgrade for me personally but for you just looking to get into Vera it would probably make sense. $50ish for a used VeraLite that's old tech versus $70ish for a brand new VeraPlus that's better in every day is kind of a no brainer. For me I'd have to buy a new controller, migrate my entire network to the new controller and then sell my VeraLite so I don't see it being worth all of that effort even though the monetary consideration isn't substantial.

swechsler 03-27-2019 07:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jeremyhelling (Post 57811362)
...it looks like the VeraPlus also has Zigbee support and starts at $99 so if you have 30% off that's $70 for a killer controller to transition to.

You're correct, and I knew that, *I'm not sure why I wrote VeraLite. While the 914 was available in both Zwave and Zigbee versions, the one my wife bought is Zigbee. And I do know that the lock supports up to 8 digits, at least when programming via the keypad. I assume it's the same way using a hub.

* ETA: now I do, it's what you wrote...but no matter, VeraPlus is what I need.

swechsler 03-27-2019 08:13 AM

One more question: it's not obvious from the Vera website if door codes can be changed using the Vera app. Can they?

jeremyhelling 03-27-2019 08:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by swechsler (Post 57811422)
You're correct, and I knew that, *I'm not sure why I wrote VeraLite. While the 914 was available in both Zwave and Zigbee versions, the one my wife bought is Zigbee. And I do know that the lock supports up to 8 digits, at least when programming via the keypad. I assume it's the same way using a hub.

* ETA: now I do, it's what you wrote...but no matter, VeraPlus is what I need.

Quote:

Originally Posted by swechsler (Post 57811506)
One more question: it's not obvious from the Vera website if door codes can be changed using the Vera app. Can they?

I can only speak to the VeraLite (and likely other Vera controllers) since that's the one I'm using and it supports at least 8-digit codes. It's a text field you can enter any number you want so I'm not sure that 8 would even be the upper limit if a lock were to have say 20-digit code maximums. This would be silly but the point is that the Vera ecosystem is quite flexible and that's one of the reasons I chose it initially so I'm continually amazed when I read posts of people talking about silly limitations from other hubs/controllers and somewhat less amazed when I hear shortly thereafter that that hub/controller has been discontinued.

I can change, add and delete codes from my VeraLite. This is why I said that I've found it's better to do it this way since I can name them whatever I want so that I know what it actually is down the road. Otherwise you end up with a hashed code and don't know which one it is you're deleting which can cause confusion. If I create a code manually at the lock it will show up on my Vera dashboard but it won't have a label and the code itself is hashed so I can't even see what the code is to know which one I'm deleting. It's best to delete all of them and enter them again with a label. Then, years down the road, I can tell which is which at a glance.

One more thing about Vera... while the controllers are more expensive than say a SmartThings controller that is because they have beefier hardware. This us for good reason. The Vera controllers handle all commands locally. To me this was important because I don't want to depend on a "cloud" connection to have my scenes and controls work. Sure if my internet goes down I won't be able to view status or control devices remotely but this is but one part of what SmartHomes are for. If the company becomes defunct your $99 device is now a paperweight along with all of your connected devices until you buy a new one. If Vera goes Tango Uniform tomorrow my controller, scenes and all connected devices will continue to function exactly as they do today for the foreseeable future.

jeremyhelling 03-27-2019 08:32 AM

...one important distinction to what I said is that I use the web interface to manage codes. The app is more for basic commands like lock/unlock and doesn't have the full settings control that you get from the web interface. At least this is the case with the VeraLite that I use so I would imagine all Vera controllers are the same as they use the same interface.

swechsler 03-27-2019 08:34 AM

Hmm, that's a pretty important distinction and I didn't think to mention it in my OP. With Iris, everything can be done through the app. It's pretty handy to be able to change the codes with the app rather than be dependent on a computer; my son is the one who manages the home and he needs to be able to change the code when he's out. Even with Iris, code changes are easier on the app than the website.

jeremyhelling 03-27-2019 09:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by swechsler (Post 57811642)
Hmm, that's a pretty important distinction and I didn't think to mention it in my OP. With Iris, everything can be done through the app. It's pretty handy to be able to change the codes with the app rather than be dependent on a computer; my son is the one who manages the home and he needs to be able to change the code when he's out. Even with Iris, code changes are easier on the app than the website.

Yeah, with IRIS everything can be done through the app... for a few more days and then the entire thing will be broken forever. lol

The trade-off in this case is that you are dependent on a system that requires IRIS's cloud to function which is why your controller will become a paperweight in less than a week. For me it doesn't really matter if I use the app or a web browser for the specific purpose of changing codes. I change the door codes so infrequently (I just changed mine for the first time in years) that using a web browser once in a while isn't a big deal especially when considered with the positives that come with the Vera ecosystem. For instance, Vera offers WAY more control and customization than any other controller I looked at and I wouldn't even want that level of control in my app as it may include potential security weaknesses and would certainly make it more complicated. Apps are for quick management of devices rather than deep-dive programming so I completely understand why the devs decided to keep the app lightweight and streamlined. Even if I had to change the codes more frequently I wouldn't see needing to use a web browser as a big deal. I already have the page bookmarked so I can access it quickly so it's not much different than the app in this respect.

Why can't your son (or whoever manages the codes) simply open a browser rather than the app for the times he needs to change a code? Kind of seems like a silly deal breaker when most of the other options you're considering don't even offer this user control.

jim tressler 03-27-2019 10:04 AM

Ill second hubitat.. tried vera for a while and really like hubitat!

smoothtlk 03-27-2019 10:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jeremyhelling (Post 57812072)
...For instance, Vera offers WAY more control and customization than any other controller I looked at and I wouldn't even want that level of control in my app as it may include potential security weaknesses and would certainly make it more complicated..

I would say Vera is mid level amount of control / customization. There are many systems with less and quite a few with much more capability.
Not sure what the security weakness you are referring to...are you saying that with customization is at a compromise for security? Not seeing that. More complicated - yes, with more customization capability will generally increase the complexity to configure.

But, when implemented well, will decrease the complexity to the end user (intuitive, one button that does the action needed, sized correctly for the device (not just scaled) personalized with the home / equipment / capabilities, etc.

ckronengold 04-05-2019 07:26 AM

Seems like your requirements are pretty simple, so maybe an off-the-shelf solution like SmartThings or Vera make sense. Having corporate support for the apps that you need is some decent peace of mind.

That said, I recently got a Hubitat and absolutely love it. Tons of flexibility and a dedicated support community that is cranking out apps and functionality at an impressive pace. The hardest part is simply discovering that there's already an app or driver already created for what you want to do.

swechsler 05-24-2019 05:46 AM

No vera for me
 
Well, I purchased a Veraplus hub, and it turned out that it's not compatible with the Kwikset lock (even though they're both Zigbee capable). So Smartthings is looking like the only solution.


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