Did anyone else notice that Smartthings's new lineup switched to the ZIGBEE GE Switches/Dimmers?


#1

I am curious if anyone else noticed this and what it might mean to you? It looks like Smartthings’s new lineup went from the Zwave GE Switches/Dimmers to the Zigbee ones. The Zwave ones are being sold in 2 and 5 pack “sales” which really appear to be clearance sales, alongside the old v1 sensors that are being replaced as well. (https://shop.smartthings.com/#!/packs - though the price still isn’t competitive). Are they beginning to favor Zigbee? Why would they? (I guess perhaps because their sensors are and the switches improve the mesh network?).


(Chrisb) #2

SmartThings has always “favored” Zigbee. Early, early plans had the hub being Zigbee only. Z-wave was added pretty early in, but it was added, not original. All SmartThings devices (Motion Sensors, Presence Tags, original outlets, open/close) are Zigbee.

I’m not familiar enough with all the pros and cons of the new formats to know which is better or why, but it does seem like SmartThings prefers Zigbee for some reason, though I don’t think they will stop supporting Z-wave anytime soon.

That said, because SmartThings devices are Zigbee, selling Zigbee switches makes sense. The switch almost certainly acts as a Zigbee repeater, extending the Zigbee mesh network, meaning all Zigbee devices will communicate better with the Hub.

One of the real problems with the presence (and presumably also with the Arrival) sensors are that they use really low powered radios to preserve battery life. This causes them to sometimes lose connection with the Hub if they aren’t real close or there isn’t a Zigbee repeater near by. More Zigbee device (like a light switch in the garage maybe?) will make this much less likely.


#3

Yeah. I like Zigbee for battery powered devices. I started using GE Zwave switches/dimmers, but I still have a good dozen or so additional switches/dimmers to do and I’m wondering if I should stick to Zwave or go to the Zigbee ones.


(Chrisb) #4

Given that ST is still selling Z-wave in their shop and that their newest hub still have z-wave support… even the new Z-wave+ support, I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that z-wave will not be supported anytime in the near future. Maybe 5, 10, 15, 20 years down the line z-wave might disappear… but who knows… it’s too early to tell in my opinion.

That said, I know of at least one user on here who is adamant that z-wave’s days are numbered and he’s done EVERYTHING in his house with Zigbee. Me? I’m got around 60 devices and probably 45 of 'em are z-wave. I’m sure any future purchase for at least the next 3-4 years will be based on features and price, not z-wave vs. zigbee, so I don’t see a compelling reason to get zigbee over z-wave if the z-wave is cheaper.

Except if you are looking to extend your Zigbee network. If you have or plan to use presence/arrival sensors, then I would recommend getting at least a few Zigbee switches to make it easier for those sensors to acquire and remain on the Zigbee network. I have a Zigbee outlet in my garage and Gen.1 motion sensor in a window facing the street purely for this reason.


#5

I appreciate your thoughts and input. I’m relatively new to the HA scene, and it’s funny because I thought it was Zigbee that was losing to Zwave. I don’t really love that Zigbee runs on the 2.4ghz spectrum, but it is what it is. Just to be safe, I might do what you suggested and mix my switches. I have one hallway, for example, where I have two 3-gang boxes directly across from one another. I could do one box in Zwave and one in Zigbee.

Now we just need the Zigbee switches to come down in price :slight_smile: They aren’t even on Amazon yet.


(Chrisb) #6

Yeah, I guess it depends on who you ask. Like I said, I’m not enough of an expert to know all the pros and cons, but yeah, Wifi interference is certainly one of the downsides of Zigbee.

Found this link: http://www.digitallanding.com/zigbee-vs-z-wave-vs-wifi/

It’s brief, but it does highlight some of the advantages of each standard.


#7

Do you by chance know if the GE Switches/Dimmers, specifically, are identical aesthetically between the Zwave and Zigbee versions?


(Chrisb) #8

I don’t know… but if I had to guess, I’d assume they are either identical over very nearly identical.

Really they just need to change out the radio chip inside the switch so I don’t think they’d make wholesale changes between the rest of the hardware.


(Chrisb) #9

BTW, I found a more details break down of Zigbee vs. Z-wave. Bear in mind this article is nearly two years old, but here it is:

http://www.edn.com/design/analog/4426050/2/The-future-of-home-automation---ZigBee-or-Z-Wave-

Again, not an expert here, but it seems to be that the best analogy might be that Z-wave = Apple and Zigbee = Android.

Z-wave radios are made by a single source. The platform is mostly closed. You HAVE to use the official Z-wave radio software.

Zigbee, on the other hand, is made by many different companies. It’s mostly and open platform that many people can use and play around with. You can use your own software to run the Zigbee radio.

This means there’s probably more flexibility in the Zigbee standard and more options for playing around with it an tweaking it to do exactly what a manufacturer wants to do… but, just like Android, it also means more fragmentation… less certainty that it will all work together nicely.

I think this part from the first article speak volumes:

In other words, the limitations placed on Z-wave make it less flexible on the manufacturer side, but make it very flexible for the end user in the sense that: If it says z-wave, you KNOW it will work.

This is probably further backed up by a comment that a ST person said many, many months ago in this forum… he basically said: “If you find a z-wave device that doesn’t work with ST, let us know… we’ll make it work.” (Again… that statement was many, many months ago… so I don’t know if it still applies!)


#10

I appreciate all of the input. I’m actually fairly familiar with the differences between the standards and don’t really have a feeling either way as to which is better. My feeling is that hard-wired devices are nice as Zwave to preserve interoperability while battery-powered sensors are nice as Zigbee because they use less power but are still very responsive.

In the end, it seems like you can’t go wrong with just mixing things up in the house and making sure everything can be supported. Neither standard is going away any time soon, and, even if one does eventually, they have enough of a foothold in homes that they will still be usable for years and years, probably decade+. I just thought it was interesting that Smartthings snuck the switch to GE Zigbee dimmers/switches in there. I have a feeling they will stop selling the Zwave ones at some point (hence why they are showing up in pack “sales” alongside the V1 sensors).


(Engelwood) #11

They are identical. I ordered a zigbee switch from lowes to build out my zigbee network and improve presence detection. I’ve got it installed in a dual gang box right next to a z-wave switch and you can’t tell the difference. It should be noted that both are the “newer” versions of GE switches with smaller LEDs.

One thing I really like about the GE zigbee switch is it shows the current power usage.

One thing I dislike is there isn’t any way to control the blue LED on the front with the default device type. I’ve got the rest of my home setup to turn the LED on when the switch is on. It would be nice to do the same with this switch. Haven’t poked around in the IDE to see about a fix. Just something to keep in mind.


#12

Thanks for chiming in to confirm that. It’s good to know. Seems like a mixture of the two types makes total sense, I don’t see the down-side to it, especially with switches in close proximity.


(Realy Living Dream) #13

Those are not clearance, that is the normal price $50/1 $95/2 or $240/5. You might have also noticed that those are in fact the incandescent dimmers that require a minimum 40w load. How many people that are doing HA seriously still have that many incandescent fixtures ? Unless it is your chandelier or something and you still can’t really get decorative LED candelabra bulbs .


(Stephen) #14

I recently had Control4 draw up some plans for my new house. They seem to favor zigbee as well. Form what my co-workers tell me, their Control4 systems are pretty reliable.


(Ash (www.smart-dots.com) / Ashutosh Jaiswal) #15

Another reason to choose zigbee over zwave would be that zigbee frequecy is standard across the globe, but z wave is not.considering ST is going global, I think that would make sense.


(Chrisb) #16

I think one of the reasons Control4 favors the Zigbee is that they can use their own proprietary protocol. Their stuff isn’t standard Zigbee HA stuff… or at least it wasn’t when I looked at some of their things a year or so ago. I know ST asked them about it at one point too to see if they’d share their protocol so ST could use their devices. Either never heard back or was told no.


(Benji) #17

At some point, 2.4GHz is just going to be become completely useless and us Z-Wave fans are going to be like:


(Binh Ton) #18

I really doubt that Zigbee uses less power than Zwave. I got the new Arrival Sensor 5 days ago, now its battery is at 75%. I have couple of Zwave door/window sensor (Ecolink) that I bought more than 6 months ago. Their battery level are still either 100% or 99%. I know the battery in Zwave sensor is bigger. I got a lot of false notifications reporting that the Arrival sensor leaving/arriving even though it sit on the table about 20ft from the hub (in different room). I may add a Zigbee device for repeating to see if it improves.


(Benji) #19

Yeah I’ve got a pair of EcoLink’s permanently set to ‘test’ mode so they instantly report constantly, been running for a few months, battery still says 99%…


(Geko) #20

That can benefit manufacturer, but as far as user is concerned, who cares? Even if I’m going to move across the globe, I’m not gonna drag my house with me. :smile:

One of the the biggest advantages of Z-Wave is that it supports multiple controllers, which ensures network resilience even in case of the controller failure. Zigbee network on the other hand, cannot function if the coordinator goes down. Zigbee LightLink attempts to solve this problem, but it only works with lighting so far.