Experience with Remote Deployment: Sketchy

Background: With two homes, I’ve deployed a ST hub in each location to monitor the environment (starting back in December '15) and provide a modicum of security lighting (see original story here). The main idea is to keep track of temperature at the home in New England during the winter and temperature/humidity in the Florida location in the summer. In addition, I have lighting automations at the New England home to provide a “lived in” look while away from that location and also control air circulation in Florida while away.

Results: mixed. For the most part, climate monitoring seems to work. Or at least I haven’t noticed any problems to date. I watched the temperature & humidity of the Florida location all last summer and was satisfied with the results. This winter, I’ve been able to verify the temperature at the New England location was being held fairly stable in the mid-fifties, which prevents frozen pipe problems (the temperature in the basement runs a bit cooler, but still not below the mid-forties on a cold night).

Lighting automations, however, have not been as reliable. When they work, they work well. Issues so far have been:

  1. one z-wave switch dropped off the network and my kitchen light is no longer operational. The remaining lights in living room and office can still be controlled. The kitchen switch is a Zooz ZEN23 toggle switch. I tried a z-wave repair and no joy. Support did the same thing and nada. So, here I sit over 1500 miles away and don’t know if the switch failed or the network had a non-recoverable hiccup. Later next month I’ll be back there and will troubleshoot the issue.
  2. the office light automation simply stopped working. After I noticed it, I futzed around with it a bit and finally tweaked & re-saved the automation. It appears to be running again. So, once again, it was a Smart Lighting failure that smells a lot like it got dropped from the scheduler…

This week I’m adding two additional GE fan controllers to cycle the ceiling fans in the bedrooms here in Florida. We’ll see if they (along with the existing fan controller) will all keep running over the summer months when humidity and mold problems are most likely to occur.

Upcoming Hub Update: this is what scares me the most right now! As I write this, the forum has numerous reports of hubs that are, essentially, bricked. What recourse do I have if one of my hubs is bricked? Murphy’s Law indicates it will be the Florida hub right after I return to New England.

No doubt, more to come in this adventure…

I’m sure people will be interested in hearing about your experiences, good or bad. So let us know how it goes. :sunglasses:

There have been a few project reports on using SmartThings with a second home and the challenges of remote management. If you’re interested in seeing any of those, you can find them on the quick browse lists in the community – created wiki under “second home”. :sunglasses:



Hi John,

We just wanted to let you know that our support is there to assist you with any issues you experience with the Zooz switch. It may be challenging to troubleshoot if the device is off the network and we don’t know if it still operates manually but do let us know once you’re back at the location and we’ll be happy to help you solve this: https://www.thesmartesthouse.com/pages/contact-us


Much appreciated! I’ll update this thread when I get back up there & investigate!

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The hub update? Flawless! Both hubs are running current firmware and no manual intervention was necessary.

Nice job, SmartThings :sunglasses::beer:

Update: Arrived back home and the Zooz switch was manually operational, but still not controllable from SmartThings. Previously, I tried a Z-Wave ‘repair’ (which SmartThings support also tried). Today, I simply cycled the power on this lighting circuit and also saw no change.

Then I did a SmartThings ‘Replace’ on the device, toggled the switch a few times, and Viola: the switch was back on the Z Wave network and is now working normally with SmartThings and our buddy Alexa.

Why the switch ‘disappeared’ from the network remains a concern. I have not yet tried any further experiments (such as simulating a power interruption), but the main issue is that the switch must remain online for security lighting while we are away from this location.

Will continue to monitor its operation and see how it goes…

Thanks for the update John! It seems as the switch was either not properly configured the first time or there was a range/communication issue. We haven’t heard of these switches just falling off the network before so please let us know if the issue reappears and we will arrange a return to test it in-house and get to the bottom of this.

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The Zooz switch is running flawlessly since returning this spring & coaxing it back onto the Z-Wave network. :blush:

Meanwhile, at the other place…

Alas, same problem has recurred: I am 1500 miles away from that location and five days ago the Zooz ZEN23 switch again went missing from the ZWave network. A piece of our security lighting that had been running smoothly is now not happening.

An attempted remote ZWave network repair didn’t change a thing. Neither did remotely rebooting the hub. Since I coaxed the switch back to life last April, it has worked flawlessly every night until now. Simple Device Viewer reports the last event was received from the switch five days ago. Every other device is still on-line and checking in.

Last time this happened, I was able to bring the switch back to life by doing a ZWave ‘Replace’ and toggling the switch a few times. But my arm isn’t long enough to try that until we return for the holidays.

Is it the Zooz switch itself? Was it caused by the SmartThings hub update to v0.19.19? Or is it yet another of those unexplanable, intermittent ‘glitches’ that seem to plague the SmartThings ecosystem – like false positives on sensors that popped up twice for me, so far?

Since we’re headed back later next week, I will reach out to @TheSmartestHouse to see if they have any suggestions to try or if there is anything I might do to provide debugging help for this product. Do they see a difference in reliability with Zooz devices such as this switch between SmartThings and other home automation products? Now that would be interesting…

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