For those who have or had Vera


(Steve S) #1

… How does it compare to ST? Vera advertises a guarantee to work with any/all Z-wave devices, which seems appealing. I’m interested in setting up something for my parents, but ST is not ready for anything other than super-techy people at this point.

Do they have “Apps”? Could I write an app that arms an “alarm mode” when all people have left the house?
Can you use a phone as a presence detector?

What are the main advantages of ST over Vera (why would anyone who already had Vera switch)?

I will stick with ST myself, but I cannot inflict this on anyone else at the moment - my wife is barely putting up with the inconsistencies (almost all related to Presence detection with the iPhone apps).


(Blake Westerdahl) #2

I’ve had the Vera for about the year and a half. I would disagree with the statement that it supports any/all Z-wave devices. Devices need to be added for the system in the same way that ST adds them. I have found that ST is much more responsive. For instance, support for the First Alert Smoke Alarms was submitted to Vera at the same time as ST and Vera users are still waiting. As near as I can tell, Vera can only add device types with a major firmware upgrade (only been three in the year and half I have had one) whereas ST can add them as often as weekly.

Apps are a little different on Vera… What ST calls apps is generally considered a “scene” in the Vera system. Vera does have a very good scene creator for simple situations (if ____ happens, do _____). The built in functionality can’t do anything that requires conditions (if _____ happens and it is night time, do _______). To do this you either need to be able to write LUUP code or this is where apps come on Vera. They add additional functionality (data logging and graphing, conditional scenes) and ip devices (foscam cameras, sonos). Vera itself doesn’t support any kind of presence detection. There does appear to be app that can use the iphone for presence detection but I haven’t tried it. A word of caution about Vera apps: they are all User generated. The great DataMine logging app, for instance, was just abandoned by its author so it won’t get updates or bug fixes unless another user picks it up.

I would say the main advantage of ST is the mobile app and the support from the company. All mobile Vera apps are from 3rd parties. Some work okay, most are crap. Almost everything that is great on Vera has come from users. The Vera company itself is not responsive even on bug fixes and tech support.

The two main advantages of Vera are the browser based interface and moderate local control. While ST needs a constant internet connection, the Vera can do most things locally. Vera does need some internet connectivity: without major hacking it doesn’t have a reliable internal clock. If it is disconnected from the internet for more than a day or two, the internal clock will drift by hours and all your scheduled events will essentially be ruined.


(Todd Wackford) #3

I knew I was on the right horse.


(Andrew Urman) #4

I’d also like to give a soft offer to anyone who has a Z-Wave device that is not compatible with SmartThings. If the device isn’t broken or an incompatible Z-Wave version (rare but exist), you can send it to me and I will have it typed for you and send it back. I’ll even include a small gift like a sticker or something.

Every system has its trade off’s, but the way we’ve built our platform makes it easy to rapidly adapt to new things. As @trotsky40 said, adding a new device can be as simple as throwing it into our weekly server release.


(Chrisb) #5
If the device isn’t broken or an incompatible Z-Wave version (rare but exist), you can send it to me and I will have it typed for you and send it back. I’ll even include a small gift like a sticker or something.

Great… now you’ve awoken my instinct for free stuff. I’m going to have to start hunting for obscure z-wave items so I can earn a free sticker. Darn you SmartThings! :slight_smile:


(Steve S) #6

Ok this is great info! I will proceed with SmartThings for my parents… at least I will have the same system and be able to help better!

And @urman - what a great offer!

Please don’t take my OP as criticism… I love my smart things setup (26 devices and 2 more should be arriving today!)

Thanks for the great writeup @trotsky40!

I have been blown away by the support at SmartThings - I am really excited about where this is going (especially when they reach ready-for-my-parents status)


(Curt W) #7

I currently have a Vera 3 and have also have used Homeseer Pro. I have not used Smartthings yet but am going to order a hub after sending this note. The fact that there is someone at Smartthings - @urman - that would actually make such an offer was enough for me to make that decision.

I concur with Blake’s comments regarding Vera Apps and support - it is almost like the company is a ghost, they go dark for months at a time to key inquiries.

On the positive side for Vera:

  • The device itself is relatively stable
  • It is very flexible for conditional eventing and the interface is relatively usable (given the power it has)
  • It works with most of the z-wave devices I’ve thrown at it (the one exception is the Leviton 1-button scene controller discussed in this thread (http://build.smartthings.com/forums/topic/is-anyone-working-on-leviton-vizia-rf/ ).
  • iVera IOS app - not terrible, but from the videos i’ve watched, looks like ST has a lead

Challenges I’ve had with Vera

  • Leviton Scene Controller mentioned
  • Aeontech motion sensors - very unreliable with Vera
  • Mobile charging pack that allows you to walk around to include/exclude fails (2 of them have)
  • The mere act of carrying the unit around to include/exclude is a pain
  • Don’t support my oregon scientific 433 mhz weather station (or i just haven’t worked that out)

I’ll gladly send you one that is still in the package - i recently completed a new home building project so have extras since i could not get them to function.

I have about 80 z-wave devices in my house including Schlage lock, Intermatic and GE receptacles, Leviton Switches, motor actuator for windows, Aeontech motion sensors, Intermatic motion sensors (don’t work) so can give you more feedback once i get the unit.


(Tony Policano) #8

I agree! ST is awesome! Support is excellent! I am trying to figure out of the iSmart Alarm system is Z-Wave so I could repurpose the devices I have already. I also don’t wanna have two sensors on each door :slight_smile:


(Col Hack) #9

Vera was a very promising HA system when it came out a couple of years ago and was still actively developed. Now it’s just a bunch of sales and marketing people trying to sell what they’ve got. There’s no active development going on and I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the original software developers have moved on and there’s no one left with enough knowledge to pick it up.

Physical Graph is a young company and the investor’s money is still flowing. So it’s in “party-on” mood for now. When that money runs out and they don’t get acquired like Nest did, that mood may change. They do have some interesting ideas, but nothing really revolutionary, short of their infamous “cloud-only” manifesto which in fact makes SmartThings unsuitable for real-time applications.

When Apple built their Mac 30 years ago, their killer idea was to build a computer “for the rest of us”, something that anyone without technical knowledge could use. SmartThings is still way too geeky and unreliable for an average Joe to figure out.