Absolutely right JD. This question is the number 1 question we get from users in many different forms.
I’ll outline the most common symptoms folks experience when using locks:
- My lock is 10ft from my hub
- I can lock/unlock using my mobile app but my codes aren’t being programmed
- Some of my codes are being programmed while others aren’t
- My codes are being programmed but I’m not getting notifications/actions aren’t being executed when the codes are used
- It works in the mornings but not in the evenings
- It was working till recently and now it’s having trouble
- I’m can see the lock/unlock events in the history but I don’t see the user code/name
- I moved my lock closer/next to my hub but I’m still having issues
- One of my locks is working perfectly, the other one (closer to the hub) is having trouble locking/unlocking/programming codes
- I’m not (or stopped) getting notifications/events when I lock/unlock my door with a user code
- I’m getting lock/unlock notifications but I’m not getting the user information
Folks often assume that because the hub is getting some notifications/events the mesh/hub are fine. Often the hub/mesh loses the subsequent event(s) if they come in quick succession which causes issues like I get the unlock/lock notification but it doesn’t tell me which user unlocked/locked the door. This is because a user lock/unlock action contains 2 events and a weak mesh will deliver the first message (lock/unlock) but lose the second message (user name/code).
Adding a repeater (atleast 1, Z-Wave limits 4 hops per message so while you can have more than 4 repeaters the message will traverse only 4 hops, so make sure that you lock is no further than 4 hops away from the hub), followed up a Z-Wave repair, resolves these issues.
For plugin type repeaters which can be moved around and placed in any receptable:
The Monoprice 27481 and Monoprice 15654 seem to do well with Locks as repeaters. We recommend the 15654/27481 if you have older ZWave Locks and the 27481 if you have newer zwave plus locks.
If you want to use in wall/hardwired repeaters, the new GE Z-Wave Plus (avoid the older Z-Wave models) GE 14291 Paddle Switch or the GE 14292 Toggle Switches are excellent choices for creating buffered repeaters and work well with the newer Z-Wave Plus and older Z-Wave locks/devices.
Another very common misconception is that all devices are repeaters:
- I have lots of Z-Wave devices near my lock, shouldn’t that work as a repeater:
- Battery operated devices do NOT act as repeaters.
- Most AC/Mains powered devices are repeaters, in general you’re safe with a Z-Wave Plus mains powered device or a ZigBee mains powered device to act as repeaters (except bulbs which don’t act as repeaters)
A hub alone doesn’t make for a good quality/reliable mesh and locks are beaming devices and often very slow to respond to messages (varies by brand). This puts an bigger load on hub/mesh and having repeaters makes a huge difference.
A general rule of thumb to troubleshoot when using locks:
- Add a repeater within about 10-20ft of the lock (Z-Wave/ZigBee also benefits), move the hub 70+ft from the lock so that the device connects to the (buffering) repeater instead of directly to the lock
- Change your lock battery, new batteries tend to perform better with programming locks. Some locks become unreliable with battery levels starting at 75%, see this topic for details
- Reboot/power cycle the hub
- Do a Z-Wave repair (if you have a Z-Wave lock)
- Reboot your router
Sometimes when things are running “slow” even with a repeater, it may have to do with the latency of the internet/mesh. Rebooting the hub and the router go a long way in improving the latency and subsequently you’ll also see a more “responsive” lock.
When there are a lot of Z-Wave devices in the mesh, that too can cause issues sometimes. The hub / mesh aren’t perfect and the mesh tends to degrade over time (from orphaned devices to routing issues). SmartThing, at one point, was looking to detect a degraded mesh and automatically do a Z-Wave repair. Until that feature is deployed it’s advisable to reboot the hub and do a Z-Wave repair when things begin to slow down or have trouble.
WHERE TO INSTALL REPEATER: Folks often put the hub and the repeater in the same room as the lock. This defeats the purpose of the repeater (holding messages until the lock is ready to receive them) because the lock will connect directly with to hub rather than through the repeater. So, it’s better to have the hub further away from the lock (70+ft), possibly in a different room, and the repeater close to the lock so that it forces the lock to connect through the repeater and take advantage of the buffering. Doing a Z-Wave repair after changing the positions of the hub and repeater should help fix the mesh configuration. Ideally exclude the lock and repeater, then pair the repeater first followed by the lock and finally do a Z-Wave repair to get optimal mesh routing.
CHECKING DEVICE ACTIVITY/EVENTS: In the new ST app when you open the device page you’ll see the device activity at the bottom of the page. In the ST Classic app when you open the device page you’ll see the activity in the Recently tab. If you don’t see the device events (e.g. an unlock event when the lock is unlocked) that’s a clear symptom that your mesh is having issues with message delivery.
And on the topic of locks, a little write up on limitations of some locks.