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Adding Z-Wave plus Lock - Range is incredibly short


telljcl

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So I picked up a few Z-Wave plus modules in anticipation of replacing my MorningLinc lock.

Got a Kwikset 912 (ZW plus).

So all installed via manual, but can't get it to work unless lock / ISY are in same room (which is what I had to do to pair them).

I have a Aeotec Range Extender 6 also, but it doesn't seem to help . Also removed and re-added in "secure" mode, didn't seem to make a difference, re-added back in "normal" mode.

There is also a  Jasco / Honeywell / GE ZW Plus dimmer in the same room as the lock.

My ISY is on the 3rd floor, repeater is almost directly below on the 2nd, and the dimmer and lock are on ground floor, dimmer directly below other 2 devices, lock about 30' away from it, direct line of sight. Tried repeater in an outlet 18" from the lock - no go.

What is the best way to configure / space / layout all this in order to build a reliable path to the ISY?

I'm sure there must be a way...

Thanks to those who know.

 

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Metal door?  Metal door jambs?  Masonry?  Plaster?  Point being to consider the environment for that poor ZWave radio embedded in the lock -- that's probably the first consideration.  (Others would be the relatively-poor RF range of the 500-series ZWave board in the ISY compared to the older 300 series, which necessitates a secure-capable repeater within feet of the ISY in my experience, and as you've already noted, the need for secure-capable repeaters, and I'll add to that  the need for "beaming-capable" repeaters).

Given my relatively-new home, with a metal fire-rated door and associated metal jambs, I suspect that the z-wave radio in the lock will have a tough time with any devices on the same wall as the door -- conversely the most likely place for a repeater-capable device would be directly in front of the door.  Beware any interior walls - the drywall will impact the RF a bit, but the bigger issue is that any metal ductwork effectively shields the RF. 

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2 hours ago, mwester said:

Metal door?  Metal door jambs?  Masonry?  Plaster?  Point being to consider the environment for that poor ZWave radio embedded in the lock -- that's probably the first consideration.  (Others would be the relatively-poor RF range of the 500-series ZWave board in the ISY compared to the older 300 series, which necessitates a secure-capable repeater within feet of the ISY in my experience, and as you've already noted, the need for secure-capable repeaters, and I'll add to that  the need for "beaming-capable" repeaters).

Given my relatively-new home, with a metal fire-rated door and associated metal jambs, I suspect that the z-wave radio in the lock will have a tough time with any devices on the same wall as the door -- conversely the most likely place for a repeater-capable device would be directly in front of the door.  Beware any interior walls - the drywall will impact the RF a bit, but the bigger issue is that any metal ductwork effectively shields the RF. 

Well thanks for that. My door and jamb are both wood.

Funny - I just replaced my 300 series "old" ISY radio with the newer one because of supposedly better z-wave "plus" range... 

So you're saying I should put the Aeotec 6 repeater right next to the ISY?

I thought the conventional wisdom was to put one midway between fringe devices and the ISY.

Should I then put another one (Aeotec 6 repeater) near the door? 

Does the repeater need to be added to ISY in "secure mode" or not?

Don't z-wave plus lamp modules etc... also repeat the signals to / from the lock?

Should I dump my "new" z-wave board and put the old one back in?

Sorry for the barrage of questions, but z-wave seems to be a bit like black magic.

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6 minutes ago, telljcl said:

So you're saying I should put the Aeotec 6 repeater right next to the ISY?

 

It will not serve a purpose of repeating if it is right next to the ISY.  Z-Wave will try to determine the best routes and it will update change the routes based upon the number of devices as well.  You can't "force" a route.  You can edit the route but it will be updated at a later heal/explorer frame signal.  Repeaters should be at the edges to increase distance from point to point but having too many repeaters will stop traffic as z-wave has a 4 hop max to the end point.

8 minutes ago, telljcl said:

Does the repeater need to be added to ISY in "secure mode" or not?

 

Yes include the repeater in secure mode.  This is necessary if you're trying to include a lock through NWI.  

9 minutes ago, telljcl said:

Should I then put another one (Aeotec 6 repeater) near the door? 

 

Repeaters should be used to repeat.  Z-Wave (on paper) has 150ft line of sight range.  Place repeaters in strategic locations so the signals can "hop" from one to another.  After installing a new repeater you should run a z-wave heal at least twice before trying to add anything beyond that repeater so the routes can be added/adjusted as needed.

A side note on locks in particular.  They are all battery operated.  Why does no one ever include them first before actually installing them in a door???  The hardest/dumbest aspect of z-wave security is how finicky and problematic it is to properly pair a device when it is not really close to the controller.  This is why most security devices like garage door openers etc say to include the device next to the controller before installing at the final location.  For any battery powered device it is always best to include as close to the controller as possible as you may have to exclude/include a few times for the security negotiation to actually work correctly.  

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6 hours ago, simplextech said:

It will not serve a purpose of repeating if it is right next to the ISY.  Z-Wave will try to determine the best routes and it will update change the routes based upon the number of devices as well.  You can't "force" a route.  You can edit the route but it will be updated at a later heal/explorer frame signal.  Repeaters should be at the edges to increase distance from point to point but having too many repeaters will stop traffic as z-wave has a 4 hop max to the end point.

Yes include the repeater in secure mode.  This is necessary if you're trying to include a lock through NWI.  

Repeaters should be used to repeat.  Z-Wave (on paper) has 150ft line of sight range.  Place repeaters in strategic locations so the signals can "hop" from one to another.  After installing a new repeater you should run a z-wave heal at least twice before trying to add anything beyond that repeater so the routes can be added/adjusted as needed.

A side note on locks in particular.  They are all battery operated.  Why does no one ever include them first before actually installing them in a door???  The hardest/dumbest aspect of z-wave security is how finicky and problematic it is to properly pair a device when it is not really close to the controller.  This is why most security devices like garage door openers etc say to include the device next to the controller before installing at the final location.  For any battery powered device it is always best to include as close to the controller as possible as you may have to exclude/include a few times for the security negotiation to actually work correctly.  

 

What is NWI, and is there an alternate way to include the lock w/out using NWI?

After the lock is included, do the repeater(s) still need to be in secure mode, or is it just for the purpose of "including"?

Thanks!

 

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2 minutes ago, telljcl said:

 

What is NWI, and is there an alternate way to include the lock w/out using NWI?

After the lock is included, do the repeater(s) still need to be in secure mode, or is it just for the purpose of "including"?

When a device is included into a z-wave controller it is done either secure or insecure and stays that way until removed.  Best practice is to include the repeater in secure mode so that it can repeat secure network inclusion requests of handling the security keys.  Any powered device will repeat communications but only "secure" devices can be used for a secure NWI process.  For this I strategically place power plugs in locations where I need the Z-wave signal repeated and they are multipurpose because they are power plugs as well.  Same cost (or cheaper) than the so called special "repeater" and they provide the exact same functionality but with additional uses.

NWI = Network Wide Inclusion

NWI is a Z-Wave Plus feature that allows devices to be included/excluded at a distance from the controller.  Generally this works "ok" with powered devices and generally is a hit or miss and sometimes absolute failure with battery devices.  If having a problem with a powered device start the process again by 

  1. Excluding whatever device you are trying to add
  2. Heal the network to ensure there are healthy network routes to the new end point (do this twice at least generally from exp with other systems)
  3. Try the include again

That process tends to work most of the time with powered devices.  Battery devices are a whole different problem.  I recommend if at all possible to include battery devices as close to the controller as possible.  Take the device out of the box at your desk, rack, equipment room whatever and do an exclude on the device near the controller and then do the include on the device.  Especially with security devices because they are finicky and the key exchange is slow and even the smallest disruptions can cause a key exchange failure.  Once the device has been included then go install it.  

If however the device is already installed.  Well time to move the controller to the device.  For this an extension cord for power is good to have and a long Ethernet cable.  For situations like this I have a travel access point that works well.  I'll include the Amazon link for it if anyone is interested.  

https://www.amazon.com/TP-Link-Wireless-Portable-Travel-Router/dp/B00TQEX8BO/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1549495020&sr=8-5&keywords=tp-link+mobile+wifi+router

 

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7 hours ago, telljcl said:

So you're saying I should put the Aeotec 6 repeater right next to the ISY?

I did this and it seemed to help my communications very much.  (I have the older 300 series in the ISY and it did not have a very good range on it's own)

I also have another Zwave device (siren) w/in 8-10 feet of my lock (August lock).  And the lock/siren are about 50ft from ISY with a couple of walls in between.

Have not had any problem with this setup (although I don't use the lock that much, but haven't gotten any errors).

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1 hour ago, simplextech said:

When a device is included into a z-wave controller it is done either secure or insecure and stays that way until removed.  Best practice is to include the repeater in secure mode so that it can repeat secure network inclusion requests of handling the security keys.  Any powered device will repeat communications but only "secure" devices can be used for a secure NWI process.  For this I strategically place power plugs in locations where I need the Z-wave signal repeated and they are multipurpose because they are power plugs as well.  Same cost (or cheaper) than the so called special "repeater" and they provide the exact same functionality but with additional uses.

NWI = Network Wide Inclusion

NWI is a Z-Wave Plus feature that allows devices to be included/excluded at a distance from the controller.  Generally this works "ok" with powered devices and generally is a hit or miss and sometimes absolute failure with battery devices.  If having a problem with a powered device start the process again by 

  1. Excluding whatever device you are trying to add
  2. Heal the network to ensure there are healthy network routes to the new end point (do this twice at least generally from exp with other systems)
  3. Try the include again

That process tends to work most of the time with powered devices.  Battery devices are a whole different problem.  I recommend if at all possible to include battery devices as close to the controller as possible.  Take the device out of the box at your desk, rack, equipment room whatever and do an exclude on the device near the controller and then do the include on the device.  Especially with security devices because they are finicky and the key exchange is slow and even the smallest disruptions can cause a key exchange failure.  Once the device has been included then go install it.  

If however the device is already installed.  Well time to move the controller to the device.  For this an extension cord for power is good to have and a long Ethernet cable.  For situations like this I have a travel access point that works well.  I'll include the Amazon link for it if anyone is interested.  

https://www.amazon.com/TP-Link-Wireless-Portable-Travel-Router/dp/B00TQEX8BO/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1549495020&sr=8-5&keywords=tp-link+mobile+wifi+router

 

Great info - thank you.

I actually did move my ISY last night to the door lock (using a long e-net cable and moving my PLM as well...).

So I think I'm correct in understanding that the NWI was conceived as a way to avoid having to have controller / device right next to each other at inclusion.

But it is only for initial adding (or possibly deleting?) of the device I take it.

So you are using power plugs as repeaters - and they repeat the "secure" signals to / from the lock OK? 

Or is the "secure" part only at inclusion, and thus setting up repeaters etc... in secure mode are an effort to be able to add (include) new devices that aren't near the ISY, but after inclusion the "secure" part is not needed?

So in theory I could include the lock by putting the ISY right next to it, and then have 3 or 4 power plugs or dimmers (not special or "secure" devices) between the lock and the ISY and it *should* work, without any "secure mode" devices involved?

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2 minutes ago, telljcl said:

I actually did move my ISY last night to the door lock (using a long e-net cable and moving my PLM as well...).

 

Was the inclusion process smoother?  BTW PLM is not used/needed for Z-Wave functions so you could leave it when moving around doing z-wave devices.

 

2 minutes ago, telljcl said:

So I think I'm correct in understanding that the NWI was conceived as a way to avoid having to have controller / device right next to each other at inclusion.

Exactly.  A limitation with Z-wave was the distance from controller to device for adding and removing devices.  NWI was created to enable "easier" growth of a z-wave mesh by being able to perform "in-place" include/exclude functions

4 minutes ago, telljcl said:

So you are using power plugs as repeaters - and they repeat the "secure" signals to / from the lock OK? 

 

Yes ALL powered devices will "repeat" a secure signal but only a "secure" device will perform the "key exchange" during inclusion which is why the repeater should be included as "secure" so it can perform the key exchange .... aka a proxy for the controller if you will....

5 minutes ago, telljcl said:

So in theory I could include the lock by putting the ISY right next to it, and then have 3 or 4 power plugs or dimmers (not special or "secure" devices) between the lock and the ISY and it *should* work, without any "secure mode" devices involved?

Technically yes.  Once the key exchange is done the "secure" or encrypted message will be repeated by any powered device that is in the route from device to controller.  See the above topic about how the key exchange must be performed by a secure node during inclusion.

There are some in wall switches now that are coming with security but I'm not too fond of them as having too many "secure" devices can also put a burden on the z-wave network as encrypted messages are larger and it takes more time at the controller to decrypt/encrypt.  In the same token as having too many energy reporting devices that are reporting too frequently can flood a network with only a single controller.

I myself don't use "smart locks".  I have no use for them as my exterior doors are all "french doors" of glass.... I also live back in the woods where if I want to see my neighbors then I DRIVE to their houses :) whom of which are all LE, EMS or ATF

However locks are the bane of most installations and controllers all around.

 

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6 minutes ago, simplextech said:

Was the inclusion process smoother?  BTW PLM is not used/needed for Z-Wave functions so you could leave it when moving around doing z-wave devices.

 

Exactly.  A limitation with Z-wave was the distance from controller to device for adding and removing devices.  NWI was created to enable "easier" growth of a z-wave mesh by being able to perform "in-place" include/exclude functions

Yes ALL powered devices will "repeat" a secure signal but only a "secure" device will perform the "key exchange" during inclusion which is why the repeater should be included as "secure" so it can perform the key exchange .... aka a proxy for the controller if you will....

Technically yes.  Once the key exchange is done the "secure" or encrypted message will be repeated by any powered device that is in the route from device to controller.  See the above topic about how the key exchange must be performed by a secure node during inclusion.

There are some in wall switches now that are coming with security but I'm not too fond of them as having too many "secure" devices can also put a burden on the z-wave network as encrypted messages are larger and it takes more time at the controller to decrypt/encrypt.  In the same token as having too many energy reporting devices that are reporting too frequently can flood a network with only a single controller.

I myself don't use "smart locks".  I have no use for them as my exterior doors are all "french doors" of glass.... I also live back in the woods where if I want to see my neighbors then I DRIVE to their houses :) whom of which are all LE, EMS or ATF

However locks are the bane of most installations and controllers all around.

 

Thanks.

I took the PLM down there also just in case - I know it doesn't have anything to do with ZW but didn't want to possibly confuse the ISY. Don't want to try and run down yet another issue...

OK all that makes sense, so thanks for the clarifications.

I'm only dealing with z-wave at all in an effort to replace a Morninglinc lock, and ZW seems to be about the only game in town for smart locks at this point. I'll scrap the "secure" mode of repeater since the lock is already included.

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7 minutes ago, simplextech said:

Was the inclusion process smoother?  BTW PLM is not used/needed for Z-Wave functions so you could leave it when moving around doing z-wave devices.

If the OP is using the firmware with Insteon support, as I suspect he is, I think the ISY will go into "safe mode" if it can't talk to the PLM.  There's another version of the firmware that that doesn't do that and is intended for installations that don't have Insteon devices (Z-Wave-only installations, for instance).  I believe that it still supports the PLM, just doesn't go dormant if it can't talk to it, so technically anyone could use it and not always be tied to the PLM for things like this.

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Here’s the verbiage from the original firmware post:

3.  Download firmware

- ISY 994i Series including Z-Wave support

 - ISY 994i ZW, Z, or ZS Series (Z-Wave/Zigbee and/or if you do NOT have a PLM)


I’ve always found it unnecessarily confusing in that it doesn’t explain what each does, but instead they try to explain (clumsily, IMHO) when each should be used. You have to dig up an explanation of the behavior somewhere else.
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2 minutes ago, rccoleman said:

Here’s the verbiage from the original firmware post:
 

 


I’ve always found it unnecessarily confusing in that it doesn’t explain what each does, but instead they try to explain (clumsily, IMHO) when each should be used. You have to dig up an explanation of the behavior somewhere else.

 

I do think more explanation would be nice... When I first got my ISY and I didn't have a PLM yet I installed the wrong one I guess as my system was stuck in a safe mode?  So I had to then install the other one... I think I have the right one now as the PLM and z-wave are working... :)

 

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