Is Z Wave plus worth the extra money?


(Ernesto Castro) #1

Hi all,

I’m new in this community and trying to automate my home using Smartthings as hub.

Doing some research, I was almost decided to go with GE Switches/Dimmers/Lighting Modules until I came across HomeSeer devices, claiming to be Z Wave Plus.

Then I research a little about the differences between Z Wave and Z Wave plus (I went though the FAQ here).

Now I’m a bit confused/undecided. GE seems to be good product, with 35usd for switches and 45usd for dimmers. Any Z Wave plus alternative is 55usd for switches and 65usd for dimmers. That’s a big price differences (around 50%). Is it worth?

I wouldn’t like to go with an old technology in a new system and regret in a couple of months, but also the differences in price may make me just wait for lower price and cancel my project for now.

Any comments on this?

Thanks very much!


4 gang switch options?
#2

It really depends on each specific use case.

Zwave plus is a big technological jump for Z wave from the previous generation.

The most immediately obvious difference will be longer range. We normally use a rule of thumb of about 40 feet in a typical U.S. House. With zwave plus, that goes up to 60 feet. Since zwave (all generations) is limited to four “hops” Per message, having that extra distance can help a lot in a really big house or if you’re trying to get messages in from a shed or detached garage.

In fact, if you’re planning out your whole network, you may find that your total costs are less if you select zwave plus for the backbone repeaters because you don’t have to place them as close together.

Part of the Z wave standard is that devices be backwards compatible, so you can use a zwave plus repeater with a Z wave classic battery operated sensor, or vice a versa. :revolving_hearts: So the good news is you only need to buy zwave plus devices where you really need them. You can fill-in with less expensive zwave devices if you want to.

There is also a hidden cost savings because zwave plus devices have better battery life. Probably at least a third better for battery-operated sensors, and maybe as much as 50%. So you do get some cost return that way, especially for “busy” devices which have a lot of events.

As far as specific technical advantages that you might not see, the most important is probably a change in the pairing method which will allows you to Pair more devices in place. this is nice for light switches, in particular, which are more than one hop from the hub because then you can wire them into their ultimate location and as long as there are zwave plus devices along the path to the hub, you can probably pair in place. Otherwise you either have to wire it to a power source near the hub and then move it to its true location after pairing, or put the Hub on a really long ethernet cord and carry it to the switch.

There is also a bandwidth and channel management improvement, but i’m not sure how much practical difference that’s going to make in most installations. It may help somewhat in apartment house deployments where there are a lot of systems that are physically close together.

Zwave plus should also allow for “over the air” firmware updates, again nice for light switches or anything else wired to mains power, but I don’t know if smartthings is supporting that yet.

So is longer-range, better battery life, and easier in-place pairing worth the extra cost? That’s an individual decision, not just for each house, but really for each device. :sunglasses:

Some terminology

And a note on terminology: the most current generation is zwave plus. You will also see it referred to as 5th generation or series 500. It’s all the same thing. The series 500 chip is the fifth generation of Z wave and its marketing name is “Z wave plus.”

“Classic zwave” or “zwave Classic” now usually means the third and fourth generations, or the 300 series and 400 series chips.

“Early zwave” or “1st gen” usually means the series 100 and series 200 chips. You rarely see those devices anymore, but you might see one from an original installation. I wouldn’t recommend buying these, no matter how cheap they are, as there were a lot of improvements that came in with the 300 series.

I would still buy fourth-generation, and maybe even third generation, devices if the price were right and it fit what I needed for that particular use case. For example, The gocontrol security essentials package, which is zwave classic, is on sale at a lot of places right now, probably because they’re getting ready to bring out a Z wave plus version. This is two contact sensors and a motion sensor. Sale prices range from around $20-$35, all good prices. If I needed some more Z wave sensors, I’d definitely be looking at those right now because it’s obviously a great value. :tada:


#3

As far as “claiming to be zwave plus,” Zwave is an independent third-party standard. You can look up the certification of any device on the Z wave alliance website.

That’s usually a nonissue for anything sold in the US or Europe. If it has the right logo, it should be either zwave classic or Z wave plus.

It’s a big issue for really cheap items bought from China, though. Sometimes that’s just a translation problem, but you do see things described as zwave plus which are not. They might not even be zwave at all. So it’s good to look those up.

(And, yes, the Homeseer switches are certified zwave plus. :wink:)

http://products.z-wavealliance.org


#4

And regarding specific brands and features of particular device classes, including light switches, which can help explain why some are more expensive than others, see the following:


(Ernesto Castro) #5

I think I would rather go with Z Wave plus (or 500) but also, besides the price… availability is really low. At least amazon list a lot of z wave plus switches/dimmers but no available stock in any of those.


#6

The ones that show “no available stock” are typically placeholders for devices which are not yet available.

Zwave plus devices started getting certified about a year ago, but many are just starting to come to market, in part because the manufacturers want to sell down the inventory of the older generation.

I would expect to see many more available by October.


(Fast, Good, Cheap...pick two.) #7

Not much left to say that @JDRoberts hasn’t said :slight_smile:

When z-wave plus came out I did my home work.

Once built out I’ve had no issues w/z-wave mesh. In thinking about the process of getting to this point, z-wave plus would have alleviated some headaches in the interim.

Ultimately, due to the number of devices I wanted, regardless of new or old protocol, there would not be any advantages (currently) had I chose all z-wave plus vs. Z-wave.

One thing I don’t recall about z-wave plus that would have been very important in my application is beaming. If you plan to integrate locks that would be very handy if z-wave plus smart switches supported beaming.


(Jason) #8

Most hardwired switches and outlets support beaming even from regular zwave. If you looks the specific product up on z-wave alliances website and click on the products

Z-Wave Protocol Implementation Conformance Statement: view or download

It will specifically give you a yes or no on whether or not it supports beaming. AFAIK all of the GE branded hardwired devices support beaming(Pretty sure I remember checking, but I could be wrong)


#9

Beaming is an optional feature, it’s up to each manufacturer whether to support it or not for each device they make. So you just have to check each one. The conformance statement Will have the information if the product description doesn’t.


(Fast, Good, Cheap...pick two.) #10

To clarify…

I have devices (plug on outlets) that perform beaming. What I meant was that the current G.E. switches (12xxx series) do not support beaming.

If the new z-wave plus switches do support beaming that would have saved me at least $60 - $80 purchasing plug-in outlets that do support beaming to my schlage locks.

That would be the only benefit (for my application) I could see between the old / new protocols if supported via the in wall switches.


#11

Right, my point was that just as with previous generations, the zwave plus standard does not require that any device class support beaming. It’s still up to each manufacturer to decide for each model. So just knowing the generation isn’t enough.


(Fast, Good, Cheap...pick two.) #12

Oh gotcha!

That seems strange to me but I’m sure there is some sort of reasoning behind it.


#13

It’s just cost and complexity. To support beaming, a device must be able to store a message in a way that they don’t have to do for any other feature.

It’s the same reason why not all devices support association to the same degree.

Sometimes the device manufacturer is trying to cram a lot of feature support into a very small amount of memory. They have to make some hard choices.


(Jason) #14

Ummm, Actually I think most (if not all)of them do… Even their older 45XXX models supported beaming if memory serves.

12724, 12722, 12725, 12727, 12726, 12721, 12719, 12720, Edit added: 45642, 12731, 45636, 12718, 45639, 45637

All of these say they support beaming.


(Fast, Good, Cheap...pick two.) #15

Now that contradicts what I thought I recall reading and previous discussion on the topic here on the forum.

…interesting

Sure enough they do! Good to know :slight_smile:


#16

Maybe you were thinking of association?

All the references I see to beaming either don’t mention the GE models or list them as supporting beaming.

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Repeaters

If there’s one of mine that has it wrong, just let me know and I’ll fix it. :sunglasses:


(Fast, Good, Cheap...pick two.) #17

@JDRoberts

Old one to follow up on.

One thing I didn’t do (…or think to ask) that might help anyone that stumbles across this…

I installed ge switches throughout my entire house and garage. I was always confused why I had such a problem with my Schlage locks auto-locking from a ST app.

Yesterday I reset 2 of my 3 locks and all was well again. One thing I theorized is that I installed my locks before anything else in my ST system. All of my switches came after my locks had already been installed.

In order for the Schalge locks to take advantage of the beaming feature of these switches, would the locks need to be reset and join the mesh network while the beaming device are already in place?


#18

Under the Z wave standard, it should only require a Z wave repair to get everybody using the right repeaters.

That said, in the past SmartThings support has sometimes recommended removing and re-adding a zwave device in order to get it to use a new repeater.

As I said, under the Z wave standard that should not be necessary. But maybe there something in the SmartThings’ cloud architecture that benefits from that extra step. Certainly can’t hurt to do it, it’s just more work.


New Z-Wave Plus GE products (14 series)
(Fast, Good, Cheap...pick two.) #19

Already done did :slight_smile:

I also ran a repair after pairing the lock because I could not join them “in-place”. I had to uninstall them and pair them in close proximity to the Hub.

I do not use minimotes but seems I read something about using them for this purpose? I need to research.


#20

A minimote can be used to add a new device to the network, but maybe not a security device like a lock. Minimotes are really good for adding light switches that are already wired in place. :sunglasses: