Jump to content

Zwave Tips and Tricks


lilyoyo1

Recommended Posts

I decided to start this post due to the many posters that are starting out and having the exact same problems with their zwave devices. 

Hopefully, others will chime in as well with what they've learned over the years. This will give new users an easy place to go to for reference and help vs digging through the forums looking for it.

Zwave Boards and updates

There are now technically 3 boards. The 300, 500, and 700 series (Polisy only. Currently in testing). The new 500 series has been out for over 3 years now (I'd say at least 4 years), so unless one purchases a used ISY994, most likely they have the 500 series board. The ISY994 does not have and will not receive a 700 series board. Likewise, Current boards will not be compatible with Polisy but your current zwave devices (once ready) will be able to be used with the 700 board. 

If you are starting out with zwave and can hold off, you are better off waiting and getting the zooz dongle and polisy when its ready. You can find the dongle on Amazon . Note: in order to take full advantage of 700 series features, all devices must be 700 series. All series are still compatible with one another but all must be at the same level to fully utilize whatever added benefits the new series brings. 

I would disregard any Instructions about zwave board updates at this time  Currently, there are no new firmware updates for either board. The 300 was updated many moons ago and haven't been since. I'd be highly surprised if there are any in the wild that hasn't been updated. Should this change, I'll update this post with the correct firmware. 

DO NOT UPGRADE YOUR ISY PAST 5.0.16C IF YOU HAVE THE 300 BOARD!!! YOU WILL RUIN YOUR SYSTEM!!!  If you are not certain which one you have....ASK!!! Its much easier to avoid issues than it is to fix issues simply by asking and verifying.

The immediate physical differences between the 2 boards is that the 300 series card has a blue light in the back of the isy while the 500 does not.

Choosing Devices

There are many caveats when choosing zwave devices. I won't touch this but will answer questions if someone has any. The main thing is to choose zwave plus devices at a minimum. At this time, there aren't many 700 series devices but if given a choice, I would go with 700 series of the same device to future proof yourself. I'm not going to go into great details about this as it'll make things more confusing but should someone want to know why, they can always ask and then I'll explain the particulars. Zooz, Leviton, Aeotech are a few companies that currently make 700 series devices. Yale is coming out with a new module for their locks in January (currently released to dealers. Not yet available to open public). Newer locks sold by them will also be available (I do not have a specific date yet). 

Zwave devices are backwards compatible so 700 series devices will work with the current 500 series board. You won't realize the benefits that 700 series has while using the 500 board but device control and status (where applicable) will  function as normal. The same applies if you were to use the 300 board with 700 series devices.

I also recommend sticking with well known manufacturers such as aeotech, fibaro, homeseer, and ge. Quality or lack of quality issues aside, you'll find more help and support with them than some fly by night no name company. There is a second tier of companies that many (including myself) such as dome (personal favorite) and enerwave. Saving money is great. However ask yourself if those few dollars are worth the hassle and no help.

In addition, if you are still using the 4.0 branch and are having issues with adding general devices (especially multi channel), you need to upgrade to the 5.0 branch. You should probably update anyway regardless. If you're on 5.0 and have Leviton devices. You definitely need the latest 5.0.16C in order for their newest devices to work properly. 

Mesh Network and Repeating

If you only have 1 or 2 devices for your network, there is really no point in asking for help in regards to why the isy won't talk to them or intermittent communication issues. The advice from everyone will be the same. Add more devices. This can be in the form of a repeater such as those from aeotech. You can also use in wall receptacles or plug in modules. I prefer in wall receptacles since plug in modules can be unplugged or moved to a different location by someone. Keep in mind embedded devices such as receptacles will not have the range of external devices so you will need more if you go that route. 

Battery powered devices do not act as repeaters. You can have 100 of them but if they are not constantly powered such as a plug in module or outlet, you will not be building a strong mesh network. This leads to the next step. Beaming devices. Make sure your repeaters that are closest to security devices (such as locks) support beaming. Personally, I recommend a beaming devices be closest to any battery powered device as well as simply buying devices that support beaming. That way you don't have to wonder and worry. Generally this isn't an issue with zwave plus but you never know. With the amount of companies telling shortcuts, I added it just in case.

Range

Many people feel the range on the new 500 series is worse than the 300 series. There is some truth to that. From my experience, an all 500 series (zwave plus) has really good range. Regardless, I still believe in repeaters no matter what (I'll be getting to that later). My general rule is a repeating device 20-30 feet open air (line of sight). 20 feet if embedded (such as in wall switch or receptacle) and 30 if exposed. I cut those numbers in half if there is a wall in between. Once I add up what I think I need, I add 1 extra to the count. Why? I could be wrong. It easier and cheaper to buy 1 extra device than move things around until I find the right location mixture. 

My second and biggest reason is that zwave devices can heal themselves. This is especially important for small installs such as those where one is trying to control some locks. Obviously a large install or zwave only install makes this a moot point. By adding extra devices, you are potentially adding a secondary path for the signal to route through vs shutting down the single route you have causing a headache. 

A note on range since some will argue about greater range and question why they still have problems. Do not fall for the hype. All tests are done in open air under perfect conditions. The increased range will help if you have a modern home with an open floor plan. HOWEVER- older homes with doors and walls everywhere will still suffer from range issues that any other wireless device suffers from. This is made worse once devices are installed in metal boxes, behind fish tanks, etc. Save yourself the headaches and simply buy extra devices

Controllers as repeaters

I see many people on here having problems with the Isy controlling their single lock 10 feet away. This is less a range issue but a system issue. Controllers make poor repeaters. Their job is to send a signal to a device and move on to the next device. If they have to wake up a device, wait for it to wake up, send a signal (especially if it's encrypted), wait for a response.....I'm sure you see where I'm going.

Imagine a company. Your controller is the director. The beaming devices are supervisors and leads. If the director tried to tell everyone what to do and keep up with everything else, nothing would get done. When you have a controller without beaming capable repeating devices, that is what happens. They've either moved on to another task during that process or their que gets filled and something gets missed. 

Beaming devices can hold that message until the device wakes up, send it to the device, and wait for the response. During this time, the controller can handle its other duties and get the message when ready. 

Adding Devices

When adding devices, I always add within 3 feet of the isy. This is generally a requirement of security devices (such as locks) but it's one I follow with all my devices (including insteon and my hue with the hue hub). This allows me to verify the isy can control things without issue before installing in it's final location. This way, if there is an issue, I've taken the isy out of the equation. I add devices in the order I'm installing from closest to farthest. While this isn't necessary, I still do this from when zwave first came out.

Earlier I said there were caveats with zwave and here is another one. This capability  is called Network wide inclusion. If a device supports it, then you may get away with installation and adding after the fact. BUT....why set yourself up when range could still potentially be an issue. Now, if you have a house full of zwave with devices that support NWI, then you may be ok.

For the most part, most devices can only be added to one controller. Yes, there are some variables such as primary and secondary controllers but for a newbie, that's advanced information that can cause confusion. Should more detail be needed, ask and I will explain. The best way to add a device is to exclude it first and then add it. Personally, I factory reset my devices manually and still do that process but at the very least exclude then include. Excluding clears all links regardless of what it was added to. Once all devices have been added, I will generally wait a day before doing anything with them. I've found that they sometime will populate nodes hours after being added. Once done, I will run a network heal (5.0.16c and below) After that is done, I'm finished and can program to my heart's content. 

If you are running 5.3 and above, network heal is no longer there. This isn't on UDI but zwave itself no longer supporting network heal (official zwave +) along with the fact that network heal caused more issues than it solved. 500 series devices are self healing. Should a heal need to be done, you would do it on individual devices by right clicking on the device you want to update and using update neighbors. 

 

 

 

In closing, I hope this helps someone and others will leave what they learned behind. This post isn't about device specific support but general zwave help which is why I didn't go into specific devices. 

Hopefully this be stickied for newcomers to find @Michel Kohanim

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks  lilyoyo1   this is very impressive and useful for those beginning with Zwave. I fully concur with your recommendations to buy only Zwave devices from the major companies. I have no experience with Fibaro but, having used several of the cheaper brands like Zooz, Inovelli, etc, I now try to buy only GE/Jasco and Homeseer.

One more comment on adding devices. while you are right that it is always better to add new devices close to the ISY, this is not always easy, especially with wall switches. And as they say, if Mohamed can not come to mountain, then the mountain goes to Mohamed....   In several instances I have temporarily moved my ISY close to a new switch. As I have a Google Wifi router with additional 'pucks', it is quite easy to do this.

Again  lilyoyo1 Great Job

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, asbril said:

Thanks  lilyoyo1   this is very impressive and useful for those beginning with Zwave. I fully concur with your recommendations to buy only Zwave devices from the major companies. I have no experience with Fibaro but, having used several of the cheaper brands like Zooz, Inovelli, etc, I now try to buy only GE/Jasco and Homeseer.

One more comment on adding devices. while you are right that it is always better to add new devices close to the ISY, this is not always easy, especially with wall switches. And as they say, if Mohamed can not come to mountain, then the mountain goes to Mohamed....   In several instances I have temporarily moved my ISY close to a new switch. As I have a Google Wifi router with additional 'pucks', it is quite easy to do this.

Again  lilyoyo1 Great Job

Thank you. I would recommend making a pigtail which is what I use. I simply cut up an extension cord, made a hot, neutral, and load with it and plug it in when needed. I'm your case it's easy with your Google WiFi but a pigtail is easier and faster

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 minutes ago, lilyoyo1 said:

Thank you. I would recommend making a pigtail which is what I use. I simply cut up an extension cord, made a hot, neutral, and load with it and plug it in when needed. I'm your case it's easy with your Google WiFi but a pigtail is easier and faster

I understand, but when installing a new wall switch it connects to my ISY in most cases and then no additional tricks are needed. If not, with one of my 3 Google Wifi 'pucks' all I need to do is to connect my ISY with an ethernet cable to one of the GW 'pucks" and "voila"  I have the ISY and the wall switch close to each other. However, your system is excellent for most, especially those who have a different router.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

20 minutes ago, asbril said:

I understand, but when installing a new wall switch it connects to my ISY in most cases and then no additional tricks are needed. If not, with one of my 3 Google Wifi 'pucks' all I need to do is to connect my ISY with an ethernet cable to one of the GW 'pucks" and "voila"  I have the ISY and the wall switch close to each other. However, your system is excellent for most, especially those who have a different router.

Yeah. I can't move mine around. I use ubiquity and they are in the ceiling. Lol

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 hours ago, lilyoyo1 said:

Yeah. I can't move mine around. I use ubiquity and they are in the ceiling. Lol

 

I bought a 100' ethernet cable for <$10 and just move my ISY around the house, plugging into wherever I have an ethernet connection. Works well for locks that are already installed and need attention etc. Just dont trip :) and additional advice; do this when your wife is out as they typically dont like blue cables snaking all around the house :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, dbwarner5 said:

I bought a 100' ethernet cable for <$10 and just move my ISY around the house, plugging into wherever I have an ethernet connection. Works well for locks that are already installed and need attention etc. Just dont trip :) and additional advice; do this when your wife is out as they typically dont like blue cables snaking all around the house :)

"Daddy! Thanks for the new skipping rope!"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, dbwarner5 said:

I bought a 100' ethernet cable for <$10 and just move my ISY around the house, plugging into wherever I have an ethernet connection. Works well for locks that are already installed and need attention etc. Just dont trip :) and additional advice; do this when your wife is out as they typically dont like blue cables snaking all around the house :)

There are nice little Wifi bridges or "travel" routers you can use for this.

https://www.amazon.com/TP-Link-Wireless-Travel-Router-TL-WR902AC/dp/B01N5RCZQH/ref=sr_1_7?keywords=wifi+bridge&qid=1585426719&sr=8-7

https://www.amazon.com/IOGEAR-Ethernet-2-WiFi-Universal-Wireless-GWU637/dp/B018YPWORE/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=wifi+bridge&qid=1585426695&sr=8-3

https://www.amazon.com/RAVPower-Filehub-Hotspot-Extender-Streamer/dp/B08229WMSM/ref=sr_1_16?keywords=wifi+bridge&qid=1585426763&sr=8-16

And many more out there.  They are very convenient when needing network access from a device that only has ethernet.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On ‎3‎/‎27‎/‎2020 at 1:45 PM, lilyoyo1 said:

I decided to start this post due to the many posters that are starting out and having the exact same problems with their zwave devices. 

. . .

Thanks @lilyoyo1, excellent write up. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 11 months later...
On 3/27/2020 at 1:45 PM, lilyoyo1 said:

DO NOT UPGRADE YOUR ISY PAST 5.0.16C IF YOU HAVE THE 300 BOARD!!! YOU WILL RUIN YOUR SYSTEM If you are not certain which one you have....ASK!!! Its much easier to avoid issues than it is to fix issues simply by asking and verifying.

I like it, no one will see it tho ???

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, ronbo said:

So I am interested in any information on using  primary & secondary controllers. Can someone point me in the right direction.

 

Ron

You have to be more specific. What controller will be your primary and which will be your secondary?

Not all controllers play nice as a secondary controller so you can cause more issues than you solve even attempting to do so. If you're a zwave newbie with limited knowledge, this isn't something I'd recommend unless you have a test platform as help from the forum and UDI will be limited since you're involving something else that most probably arent using

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ive been using Insteon since it’s inception. I’ve also used ZWave for A number of years, but in a limited fashion. I’m familiar with the fact that things need to be included in excluded from the network and typically you have a single controller.
I guess what I’m really looking to understand, is is it possible to have the ISY as a secondary controller that can activate routines based on the occurrence of a Z wave event. I have close to 40 and stay on devices, but I do have A Zwave lock that is integrated with my alarm system controller that I would like to be able to use to trigger routines like perhaps on a keypad unlock event.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, ronbo said:

Ive been using Insteon since it’s inception. I’ve also used ZWave for A number of years, but in a limited fashion. I’m familiar with the fact that things need to be included in excluded from the network and typically you have a single controller.
I guess what I’m really looking to understand, is is it possible to have the ISY as a secondary controller that can activate routines based on the occurrence of a Z wave event. I have close to 40 and stay on devices, but I do have A Zwave lock that is integrated with my alarm system controller that I would like to be able to use to trigger routines like perhaps on a keypad unlock event.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

That would depend on your alarm controller and whether or not they allow you to have a secondary controller. You would want to check with them prior. Depending on your firmware, you may need to remove your devices from the isy, reset the board (at this point, you should have learn mode available) and then add it to your primary controller after the other devices are added to it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.


  • Recently Browsing

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Who's Online (See full list)

    • There are no registered users currently online
  • Forum Statistics

    • Total Topics
      36.6k
    • Total Posts
      368.1k
×
×
  • Create New...