Home Automation - 3 - 4 Month Project [May - Aug] (Canada)

The GE links would work as repeaters but they are terrible for that purpose as they have a firmware bug (this is the reason they are not on the official “works with SmartThings” compatibility list) which causes them to lose touch with the network from time to time. This has nothing to do with SmartThings it’s also why you will see discussions elsewhere from people who have a Hue bridge about the GE’s showing up with a yellow ! So I cannot recommend them as repeaters.

Instead, you can use the similarly priced hue whites connected directly to the smart things hub or the Cree. Or the Osram lightify if you like being able to change the color temperature.

The only thing about using the Hues connected directly is that there is no way to reset them to factory specifications unless you also buy a separate device, the lutron connected bulb remote. It costs about $30 at Home Depot, but you only need one no matter how many bulbs you have. Even though it’s a different brand then the Hues, it just happens to have the exact command you need to reset them after they’ve been connected to SmartThings, which the similar Phillips hue dimmer switch does not. Also, you need a different device handler if the Hues are connected directly. (Other brands of bulbs will not require this device if they use a “blank” method to factory reset the individual bulb. The Hues don’t use a blink method, which is why an additional device is required. But they are excellent bulbs, very well engineered, and now that the price is typically $15 US at Best Buy, certainly worth considering.)

Anyway, the main point is don’t count on the GE links as repeaters. But there are other bulbs that you can consider.

I agree that the iris smart plug is the simplest solution since it repeats both Zigbee and Z wave. Tell your Atlanta relatives to bring an extra suitcase. :sunglasses:

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I ordered six! Picking them up today.

Thanks, doesn’t look like my relatives will be visiting any time soon. Amazon has Hues Whites at CAD $14.99 right now so I might just end up getting those. Have the hues required resetting frequently? Any experience with them?

We’ve never had to reset any of the Hues at our house. That’s a big contrast with the GE links even in the same room.

I didn’t like the first generation of the white only hue bulbs, called the Lux, although we do have two of them and use them. They only go to 600 lm and I like a brighter bulb in most rooms. The newer generation, called “hue white” costs less than the lux and goes to 800 lm and we’ve been very happy with them. We’re eventually planning to replace all the GE links we have with the hue whites. We’re keeping the Hue Lux, which work just fine, but have moved them to places where the dimmer light is OK.

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Thanks for the feedback! It helps A LOT!!! Also any recommendations on z-wave devices? Any lightbulbs? I will most likely end up needing a few z-wave extenders since I am experimenting with a few no name Chinese z-wave window/door sensors and my house is quite large. Also after going through the forums I’ve seen comments on z-wave not being as reliable as zigbee when it comes to ST’s. Is this still an issue?

Zwave and Zigbee are both very reliable third party standards. SmartThings, historically, not so much, although they are working on improvements in that area.

There are a couple of Z wave lightbulbs, but they are A21s not A19s and so although the shape looks the same as a conventional lightbulb they tend to be much bigger. A zwave lightbulb can be helpful as a repeater to get signal down basement stairs, for example, but the aesthetics maybe off for other parts of the house.

As far as other devices, it just depends on the features you want for your own particular needs. Personally, for home automation I like better engineered devices (this is typically reflected in warranty length), but that’s just me. :wink:

The following thread has some detailed discussion you might find interesting:

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Once again, thanks! If I may ask one more question. Typically what is the range you get out of a zigbee and zwave device? On each floor of my house there would easily be anywhere between 60 - 100ft in terms of distance from one end of the house to the other with 1 - 2 walls in between. Earlier I was thinking about 2 repeaters for zigbee and 2 for z wave on each floor. I am also planning on possibly changing some of the light switches (which are also repeaters) but don’t know if they are compatible yet. Will get my keys this week.

Typically the range is 40 feet for zigbee, a little bit longer for classic zwave, and around 60 feet for zwave plus inside a US style house that has a lot of wood and is not airtight. The range will be shorter for brick, cement, or Adobe. Water pipes and certain kinds of insulation inside walls can also be a problem.

So in a cement house you might only get a range of about 15 feet per device.

Mesh networks work by having repeaters pass along messages, like a relay runner passes a baton. Both zigbee and zwave in a SmartThings installation are mesh.

Zwave allows for a maximum of four “hops” Per message, while zigbee allows for up to 30 (15 into the hub and 15 out again). So although the range per hop is longer for Z wave, you might actually get more coverage from zigbee, especially if you have to bounce signal around local obstacles like brick walls.

The following graphic shows the reduction in signal for different types of materials.

In an ideal situation you would have two repeaters for each protocol every 40 feet or so. ( again, in a house with cement walls and floors, as is fairly common in Asia, it might need to be One near every doorway.) Typically light switches. But that’s a lot of devices, and not everybody wants to do that.

If you want to save money on repeaters, use zwave plus for your battery powered devices and put a Z wave plus light switch where you want a smart switch and use the iris pocket sockets as needed to cover dead zones. That would probably be your least expensive network backbone.

But most people fall somewhere in between. They become enamored of the cheap zigbee sensors, then they need zigbee repeaters but they don’t want to use zigbee light switches, so they just fill-in with pocket sockets. :wink:

A min of 1 hues white per room should take care of zigbee range anxiety. Zwave becomes the issue. Especially since the lower priced door/window sensors I can find in canada are zwave based. Same with the garage door controllers. Decisions…decisions :sweat:

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Remember there’s a big difference between zwave and zwave plus in terms of range. They are compatible with each other, so you can have a message go from a zwave classic device to a zwave plus device to another Z wave classic device to the hub, no problem. (The v2 hub is itself using Z wave plus. The V1 hubs started out as zwave classic and then the last group was Z wave plus.)

Also, think centrally. I don’t remember if Canada uses terminology like England: ground, first, second or if it uses terminology like the US, where the first floor is the ground level floor. So let’s say you have a three floor house and we’ll call the floors A, B, and C. :wink:

Although as humans we tend to think in terms of each floor, both zwave and Zigbee are 360° signals. So if you put the hub on floor B and you use zwave plus devices it might actually cover almost the whole house in one hop with just a few dead spots.

Similarly, a repeater on floor B, regardless of protocol, will probably reach some devices on floors A and C.

The antennas are all omnidirectional, so you do get some spread as the Signal moves away from the antenna. It’s rare but possible that sometimes a device directly above or below a repeater won’t get the signal where if you moved it over a few feet it would. Sometimes you just have to experiment.

all of which is probably more than you wanted to know, but the point is for the hub as centrally located as possible and if you’re counting hops, remember that signal also goes up-and-down, not just across. :sunglasses:

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Ok, that info definitely helps rethink the layout. I’ll post updates once I get the keys on Wednesday.

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Is the house brick or wood? And does it have extra insulation in the walls? And do you use radiant heating where there are water pipes in the walls everywhere? And if there is wallpaper, is any of it metallic?

Exterior is Brick, the interior seems to be wood/drywall (typical construction). Heating is all through a central furnace and no wallpaper. The top 2 floors alone (so ground and first) are by themselves around 4500sqft and the basement probably adds another 2000sqft. Its big… for 2 people.

Edit: I should add, most rooms are almost completely open except in the basement. Usually in the ground and first floor theres is only 1 or 2 walls separating the area.

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That sounds pretty typical then, you should get decent range out of all your devices.

Basements and garages are always tricky: lots of concrete, usually big metal things (including cars And appliances), sometimes EM interference from various electrical equipment. often water pipes.

Put the hub on the ground floor, preferably near the center of the house. It will probably reach a lot of devices on the first floor as well.

If you’re going to have devices outside the house that you want to include in your network, put a repeater near a clear glass window and put a pocket socket on an External plug on that wall. It gets tricky if you have outdoor devices on multiple sides of the house, you may need to use either lightbulbs or additional pocket sockets and bounce signal around since it probably won’t go through your brick walls. But you can test this to some extent just by seeing what kind of a Wi-Fi signal you get on your phone when you are walking around outside your house. if you see the signal drop off when you turn the corner, it probably will for your smartthings network as well. So again, you’ll just need to experiment if you intend to have outdoor devices.

Getting signal to the basement may be a little tricky, but it always is. :sunglasses:

I am thinking how I could central mount the hub. This wednesday is going to be mainly planning everything out once I finish moving in. And then start setting everything up room by room.

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Hey @JDRoberts,
Could you point me in the direction of which lutron switch to get and how to reset the hue whites? If I get it (which is almost 100% guaranteed) I might need it just in case.

This is the only one (Lutron Connected Bulb Remote) that can reset the bulbs:


Don’t go by looks, there are several switches with a similar appearance.

I know the US one will work. I’m honestly not sure about the Canadian one, it has a different model number (-C on the end) and I don’t know if it works exactly the same way although it looks like it should.

Here’s the link to the Canadian one at Home Depot in Canada. If anybody tries this, let us know if it works the same way to reset Bulbs


And here’s the link to the LUtron pages about it. Look at the videos in the overview section to see how to reset an individual bulb


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Thanks, you’re a lifesaver! :grin:

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I know that the smartthings power outlet is rated for indoor use, does this include inside a closed Garage? Temperatures here can be as high as 35 Celsius in summer and -20 to -30 Celsius in winter.

You’ll just need to check the temperature range on it. A lot of people do use them in garages, but those typically have some heat in the winter. It’s a plug-in, so it should have a wider range then a battery operated device, I just don’t know the specs offhand.

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