Getting started - integrate existing Honeywell TotalConnect hardware to new ST system (zwave, ecobee, lynx sensors)?


(Joe) #1

I currently have a Honeywell Lynx system. It has z-wave sensors for doors/temp/water. It also acts as a “hub” for about 25 z-wave switches (all Cooper Aspire). I originally had Honeywell z-wave thermostats in the house, but have been switching them out to Ecobees.

All, except the Ecobee stats, are accessed via Honeywell TotalConnect. I want to move away from TC and Honeywell as much as possible.

What are my options and where do I start?

From what I have read here, the Cooper Aspire switches will work with a SmartThings Hub. Can the Ecobee thermostats also be accessed through that hub?

What about the alarm system? I’ll need a central station provider either way, but it would be nice to have everything integrated into one interface/app, if possible. If I understand correctly, I would save on monthly central station fees since they would only be providing alarm functions and not the z-wave device integration portion.

With a hub like SmartThings, do I need an on-site computer running 24/7? Or does the hub operate as a standalone unit? I realize I would need a device to connect to the hub - I just want to make sure a computer isn’t necessary to keep the system running.


#2

( i’ve moved this to projects so you can get individualized answers based on your own needs and preferences. :sunglasses:)

You don’t need a computer. The combination of the smartthings hub plus the SmartThings cloud provides the processing required. You do need a apple or android smartphone and a 24/7 internet connection for many of the home automation features.

Hub Model

At this point, for security the only smartthings option I could personally recommend is the smartthings/ADT security panel model. There are no long-term contracts – – you can pay for the ADT central station monitoring feature on a month by month basis. If you follow the links on the SmartThings site to “security” these now all take you to that particular model line. It should be somewhat less expensive than what you were paying now, but it’s not super cheap. But it should be much more reliable than most of the super cheap options.

In particular, it is the only smartthings model line which has cellular backup for communication with the central monitoring station. All of the other model lines rely on Internet notifications.

It’s also the only model line which can contact the central monitoring station for smoke alarms.

Ecobee

The ecobee will work fine with SmartThings, there is an official integration as well as some third-party apps you can consider to add more functionality.

Zwave switches

Most of the Z wave switches can be reset and then just added to SmartThings. If you give us the exact model numbers we can say more. Some of the multi button scene controllers may not transfer easily.

Security Sensors

Honeywell separates its devices into different categories, with “security” devices being different from “Z wave” devices. The important thing to note is that the security sensors are using a proprietary communications protocol, and will not be able to work with smart things.

This type of architecture is pretty common in security systems, and in fact the ADT/SmartThings model line has its own set of dual logo security sensors which also use a proprietary communications protocol, not Z wave. Only the dual logo sensors can be used to trigger an alarm to the central monitoring station.

(Z wave is a good protocol for lighting systems, but it’s just not quite a good match for security for some complex technical reasons including the fact that there’s no enforced sequencing.)

Other Factors

I’m tired today, so I don’t want to go into a lot of details about reliability, but you should read the following FAQ (this is a clickable link):


(Yves Racine) #3

(Joe) #4

Thanks for the detailed response.

No 24/7 computer needed - excellent. I have several iOS devices available for control functions.

Regarding my switches, I have several Cooper/Aspire (about 25 total switches):
RF9501
RF9517 (accessory)
RFWC5 (5 button scene controller)
I also have the Cooper remote control, which is basically needed to set up the switches and associations. I use that to configure the network and then transfer the network to the Honeywell for remote access. I keep the Cooper remote as the “master.” Transfering “master” status to the Honeywell system caused too many issues for me.

The 9501/9517 combinations have served me fairly well. Only a few hiccups. The scene controllers, however, are a complete disaster. Originally, they seemed to have conflicts with the Honeywell Thermostats. Now that the Honeywells are removed from the network, they still randomly lose their scene associations and have other flaky behavior. I keep them in the wall, but can’t use them for anything. A few years back I was in communication with a Cooper person about my issues. They claimed to be investigating my problems but ended up never getting back to me. I have since realized that virtually all my issues were due to the scene controllers being on the network.

Regarding Security:
With the Honeywell sensors being proprietary, I will stick with that system. Everything is less than five years old. While I have never been happy with the Honeywell, I’m not sure ADT (or almost any other system) will provide me with enough of an “upgrade” to justify starting over from scratch. (Although I will check into it).

On Z-wave for security… I’m guessing that my Honeywell Lynx uses z-wave for the security portion. When you state that z-wave isn’t good for security systems do you mean specifically z-wave? Are there other wireless systems out there that provide a better option? My setup must be wireless. Due to the home design, wired security is not feasible.

I looked at the ADT link you provided. The smoke/fire/CO/water/Intrusion monthly cost is with a buck or two from what I am paying now. My current service includes the “home automation” features of Total Connect.

Money isn’t necessarily the driving force here. It’s more about getting value. My real issue is that I can’t stand the Honeywell interface/software. Even being stuck with the Honeywell alarm system, I figure I could switch to “alarm only” monitoring service and cut my monthly cost by more than 50% (pricing I have seen online). Then switch my z-wave switches to a hub like SmartThings that allows for more options and a better interface. Get more and pay less.

SmartThings Cloud…
From the looks of it, the hub is not being controlled by a direct connection to the user device. It goes through this cloud. Is that correct?

If so, does that present any security issues? Is there any cost involved with use of this cloud service? Does it present any limitations (other than an additional point of potential failure as noted in the “Outages” link).

Thanks for the links. They are helpful. My system is currently a cell connection as we just received access to broadband. This will require upgrading the Lynx system which I am reluctant to do. That’s why I’m looking into other options.


#5

I’m sorry, today really isn’t a good day for me, so I’m going to leave others to answer most of your questions. If @tgauchat comes by, he does a great job of discussing the cloud issues. :sunglasses: but there are lots of other community members who can go into those details as well.

The RFWC5’s are not going to work out of the box with SmartThings and may not be fully reliable, but the other Cooper switches should be fine.

The Honeywell lynx does not use zwave for the security sensors. Only for the home automation options like lights and locks. For the security sensors they use what is sometimes called the “ademco frequency” at 345 MHz. (Zwave in the US is at 908.4 MHz)

https://www.alarmgrid.com/faq/products/honeywell-5814

As I mentioned, that’s pretty standard for low-cost security systems. There are many wireless protocols that can be used for security systems, typically proprietary ones, so that won’t be a problem. It’s just a Z wave protocol itself which isn’t a good match to That use case. It’s very good for light switches, though.

The SmartThings/ADT security panel doesn’t have any charge at all for the home automation features after you buy the initial equipment. The only monthly cost is for the central monitoring station coverage. That could change in the future, but that’s been the way it’s been marketed from the beginning.


(Joe) #6

No need for apologies. You have been very helpful and I appreciate the responses.

My RFWC5 units are, IMO, junk. They don’t work properly on their own. No loss that they won’t work with a SmartThings hub.

Good info on the wireless security system. Doesn’t seem to make sense for me to go ADT or another vendor at this point. All ADT could offer is the ability to communicate with the hub. It would also involve ripping out everything I have now and starting over. Not to mention it being a DIY project. in my rural area, there are limited vendors. That’s why I went with the Honeywell - it was the ONLY qualified installer I could find.

Keeping my alarm the same, I could eliminate the home automation features and cut my monthly cost by more than half. While SmartThings/ADT doesn’t charge for the automation features, it is effectively included in the price when I compare it to what I have now (Their Alarm + Free Automation is the same cost as my Alarm + Automation).

In addition to features and reliability, cost is one reason why I am looking to move automation to a separate system.


(Justin) #7

This is how easy it is to connect your Honeywell Z-Wave thermostat to SmarThings and Alexa. Let me know if you have any questions!


(Joe) #8

Thanks for the video, jnewbury2280.

I did have 3 of the Honeywell z-waves. Worst thermostats I have ever owned. The screen is difficult to read. Settings are buried in special code screens. Every few weeks one of them would go bonkers and send out a high temp alert of >250F. They also caused issues with my z-wave switches - would randomly “associate” with light switches. I also have four zones in my home and the Honeywell system had max of three on the network.

I replaced them all with Ecobee units. My only regret is not having done it sooner. IMO, Honeywell makes horrible consumer equipment. Doing everything I can to minimize anything from them in my home.


(Justin) #9

I never had any issues with mine but I only had one and it came with my total connect alarm system. I never looked or touched it after connecting it to SmartThings. It was basically on auto pilot.

The Ecobee thermostats are no doubt superior in every way including the higher price.

I will be making a video on them also since I got 2 for my new house. I think they are the best on the market now.