Best Device To Spread the Z-Wave Love


(Zachary) #1

I live in a 110 year old house with plaster walls. 3 stories (4 including the basement). Most switch boxes have no neutral.

I am having major issues with range. Pretty much devices will only work (z-wave) in the same room as the hub. Once more than a single wall is introduced, or more than say 25 feet, devices fail to pair or function. (ZigBee bulbs far aways seem to work fine).

So my question is, which device, specifically (brand and model) have you guys found to be the best to hard wire throughout the house to get solid signal everywhere.

PS - Most switch boxes do not have neutral. I have tried a couple of GE receptacles but the Z-Wave range is meh so far…

Thanks for any HELP!


#2

Any mains-powered devices except smoke alarms will also work as a repeater. So pocket sockets, in wall outlets, in wall relays, light switches, plug-in Motion sensors, etc. All good.

In your situation, probably the most helpful thing will be to select Z wave plus devices. These have a significantly longer range than The older Z wave classic, typically about 40% more. And they are fully backwards compatible with the Z Wave classic. Just a couple placed strategically can really help.

Personally, I like pocket sockets as zwave plus repeaters. It’s easy to experiment with different locations, they’re relatively inexpensive, and they add functionality without taking any away. There are a few examples in the following wiki article, but really pretty much any one you like will work.

If you going to put in zwave light switches anyway, just get zwave plus ones. :sunglasses:

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Repeaters

Remember that none of your existing devices will use the new repeating devices until you have run a Z wave repair utility. This is just a hub utility that you can run from the mobile app or the IDE.


(Zachary) #3

I have 6 of the Lowe’s Iris 120 volt pocket sockets coming, hoping they help.

Have done z-wave repair to no avail.


#4

Right, I was just adding a reminder that when you add new devices to be repeaters, your old devices won’t use them until after you’ve done the Z wave repair. And It can actually take a while for each individual device to update, you may not see results until the next day.

The Lowe’s Iris should help, but some community members have reported that they only work as Zwave repeaters when the zigbee switch is turned on. If you turn the switch off, apparently it also shuts off the power to the Z wave radio. :disappointed_relieved:


(Zachary) #5

That’s annoying, I saw some big people were doubting it’s z-wave repeating ability. Unfortunately that is after I purchased!

Any particular devices that you know to work reliably and very well for enhancing signal?


#6

You can’t enhance zwave signal anymore, pretty much everything that is running zwave classic (fourth generation) or Z wave plus (fifth generation) is already running at the maximum strength allowed by law. Enhancing was done for generations two and three, but not anymore.

Now you just have to be strategic with where you place repeaters in order to lay down a strong backbone. The old rule of thumb was two repeaters in every 40 foot zone, but a lot of people don’t like to spend that much money. With Z wave plus, you can usually extend the zone to 60 foot in a typical US house.

But of course you can always run into local architecture issues: foil backed insulation, metallic wallpaper, brick, concrete, some kinds of drywall, water pipes in the walls, tinted glass, big metal objects like refrigerators and automobiles, etc.

Again, that’s why I like pocket sockets, it’s easy to experiment with location.

Also, you probably already know this, but make sure you’re not flooding your network with a lot of unnecessary traffic like excessive polling. Even the best repeater can only handle one message at a time, so if there are a lot of extra messages they can create a bottleneck.


(Zachary) #7

Thanks for all of the info!

Knowing that, which P pocket plug have you guys found to be the best as far as reliability, price, and range extension??

Thanks


#8

We’re using the Aeon Labs DSC06106-ZWUS - Z-Wave Smart Energy Switchwith good success to propagate our zwave network in a 9000 sq/ft office building: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B007UZH7B8/ref=pd_aw_fbt_469_img_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=D8JSAYF8KD707YZ0M3P0

They’re inexpensive and work very well in our plaster/lathe home as well. Make sure you run a zwave repair each time you relocate them.

You can use the default device handler but this one is much better if you’d like to use power use levels in your automations: https://raw.githubusercontent.com/constjs/jcdevhandlers/master/devicetypes/jscgs350/my-aeon-metering-switch.src/my-aeon-metering-switch.groovy

I used these same devices in an ST shop dust management solution: App to Manage Shop / Garage Dust Collector / Vacuum System


#9

The Aeon Smart energy plug is fine, and certainly inexpensive, but again in this situation I would look for a Z wave plus device. The range will be significantly longer.

The Dragontec pocket socket that I mentioned before is only 10% more, but should give you a range of at least 40% more. So depending on the architecture of the house, it could end up costing considerably less.

http://www.zwaveproducts.com/shop/z-wave-lighting/z-wave-plugin-modules/z-wave-plus-plug-in-on-off-switch

Of course if the house is brick or Adobe or concrete such that you need to put a repeater in every room anyway, then the Aeon might be a better choice. Zwaveproducts.com sells them in bundles of two or four, which generally brings the price down to around $25 each.

http://www.zwaveproducts.com/shop/z-wave-lighting/z-wave-plugin-modules/z-wave-smart-energy-switch-2-pack

Note: although officially zwave has a “67% improvement in range” over classic Z wave, that’s in open air. So up to 300 feet rather than 100 feet. But once you’re inside a house with all the various architectural barriers both generations will have a much shorter range. We usually usually find a range of about 40 to 50 feet For classic zwave. Zwave plus will likely be 60 to 75 feet in a typical US home. Very noticeable difference, but not the hundreds of feet you get in open air.


(Zachary) #10

Going to take a look. Would prefer to do Z-Wave plus,spend a little extra but not have issues

I have both the Aeoon Smart energy switch and Gen5 smart plug and both seem to be pretty finicky with so-so range at best.


(Zachary) #11

Are the HomeSteer and Dragon Tech devices the same?


#12

Gen 5 is zwave plus (fifth generation, series 500, and Z wave plus all refer to the same thing) , but I have also heard that specific model is finicky. It may have to do with how they implemented secure pairing. It doesn’t seem to be any similar issue on their other models except for the newest pocket socket. Strange, but it happens.


#13

Honestly, I’m not sure. The light switches are different: The case is the same, but the firmware is significantly different. The HomeSeer light switch has additional features. But I don’t know if there are actually any differences for the pocket sockets.


(Zachary) #14

Thanks @JDRoberts!

Anyone else have suggestions for tried and true devices to spread z-wave through a tough house with planner walls and many levels?


#15

Just had a thought-- if the walls are that old, they probably used a metal mesh lath to hold the plaster. That’s going to kill the signal.

consequently, you may need to think about exactly where the signal can get through in each room, just as someone who lives in a cement house has to.

You may have to literally bounce a signal out the doorway and down the hall to get it from room to room.

In cement houses, people commonly use zigbee rather than Z wave because zwave is limited to four hops while zigbee can use 15 into the hub and 15 out again. So that gives you a lot more hops to play with as far as getting signal around corners when the walls block it.

You might also want to consider using a zwave lightbulb as a repeater. I know several people who use those to get signal down basement stairs or across the garage. These don’t have the same issues as ZHA bulbs–as long as the bulbs on power it should repeat for your others zwave devices. These wouldn’t usually be your first choice in a zone, but they can help solve a particularly tricky issue again, like those basement stairs.

The Domitech at $29 is probably the cheapest.

http://www.zwaveproducts.com/shop/z-wave-lighting/z-wave-light-bulbs/z-wave-plus-dimmable-smart-led-bulb-60w

Know that all the Z wave bulbs may look like a regular A19 bulb, but they’re almost always A21s, which are noticeably bigger. The socket size is the same, they just stick out of the socket further. It’s often hard to find a lampshade to fit. So that’s another consideration.


(Zachary) #16

Of the light switch is off those will not repeat though right?


#17

Correct, but there are multiple solutions for that now. The easiest is to put a smart switch cover over the existing switch. You leave the existing switch turned on. The switch cover has its own batteries and its own buttons. So you still have a switch on the wall, but the bulb always has power even when it looks like it’s off. :sunglasses:


(Zachary) #18

I think k my wife would kill me if I put those switches all over the house. I out in a GE z-wave dimmer and she was pissed. She likes the Lutron Dimmer with the physical slide to the side of the switch.

Getting 6 of the discounted Lowe’s pocket plug ZigBee outlets with z-wave repeating today. Going to see how/of those work.

If not probably will order the HomeSeer/DragonTech z-wave plus plugs…


(Zachary) #19

Are there no z-wave plus in-wall receptacles?


#20

They are just starting to come out. The GE 14313 has been certified, but I don’t think it’s released yet. Amazon has a listing that shows it as not available.

Leviton and Enerwave also have ones in development. I suspect Nortek does as well, although they don’t usually pre-announce products.

Meanwhile, some of the in wall relays are available in Z wave plus and those can be wired to an outlet.