Large Project

Hi there! First time poster, long time lurker. :smile:

My wife and I are undertaking a total renovation on a 1914 house and my plan is to implement home automation where it makes sense. We have a 1,400 sq ft back house and I’ve already setup a small SmartThings installation (v1 hub) with 10 or so smart switches and a few smart outlets. So far everything seems to be working well. My question is will I run into problems once I have 100+ devices on the hub? The main house is just over 3,000 sq ft, so I could see having at least 50 switches plus whatever motion / open close senors I decide to use. I know it’s a bit of comparing apples and oranges, but I’m also looking at Control 4 and Crestron Pyng due to their stability. Does anyone have insight or suggestions for a larger project? Many thanks!

Cheers

We have a few users here with over 100 devices and there are varying opinions on this.

Opinion 1 is that the more devices you have, the more likely you are to run into problems. It’s mathematics. If devices have a 1 in 1000 chance of failing on a given day (random odds), then having 100 devices means you would probably have a failure every 10 days with something (a lot of people on here would love that reliability).

Opinion 2 is that the more devices you have, the bigger your mesh network, allowing you to prevent larger issues (with a smaller mesh network, 1 device in the middle going down could quarantine off an entire section of the house because it can no longer reach back to the hub without that extra device).

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I have a 4400 sq/ft home and a backyard with an outdoor kitchen and lots of lanscape/pool lights meshed in. Try and stick with zigbee devices as much as possible. They’re almost bulletproof.

I do have one zwave repeater to help make the hops out to my Jasco light switches though.

I have 130+ devices with most controlled by ST schedules and routines. Over the last 3 years, I’ll bet I’ve seen over 99%+ up time. I’ve become so adverse to having to tap physical switches it’s funny.

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Thanks for the feedback!

It’s funny you mention Jasco switches because that’s what I’m using
too. Right now my back house is all Z Wave with the exception of a
Zigbee bulb. Do you run into any issues with interference and Zigbee?
I’ve got a rather crowded 2.4 GHz range in my area plus I’m looking at
doing a Sonos setup. I thought Z Wave may be better since it’s running
on the less crowded 900 MHz. Are there other advantages to Zigbee that
I’m missing? It does look like GE is now offering a Zigbee switch that
is identical to it’s Z Wave one.

Nice to hear about the reliability. Are you using many motion or
open/close sensors? I’m a little bit worried about processing power and
one hub being able to keep up. I guess we’ll see!

If you do run into any issues with interference, you can log into your router and change the channel (as long as you have that access).

Keep in mind all of the SmartThings branded devices are Zigbee, too. They pair up automatically and work well (as they should!)

Good to know regarding ST branded devices. My only complaint as this point is that the GE Zigbee switches are $58 vs $36 for the GE Z Wave ones. That’s a big pill to swallow for 40 switches. lol

Thanks again for input!

If I had the money I would get the control4 system. But they are really expensive. (As in $40,000 and up, plus maintenance fees.). So typically people looking at SmartThings are not also looking at control4.

Fixed Location Devices like Locks and Lightswitches can get tricky

As far as zigbee versus Z wave, you have more choices of Z wave devices in the low-cost do it yourself category primarily because of the Wi-Fi interference issue. This is particularly true for fixed location devices like light switches, locks, receptacles, and window covering controllers.

That’s because if you’re talking about a small battery-powered sensor, it’s easy to just move a couple of feet to the left to see if you get less interference with local Wi-Fi.

But if you’re talking about light switches or locks you’re kind of stuck with their location. Again if it’s a control4 type installation (they use a proprietary Zigbee) The installer has the tools and the expertise to deal with most interference issues. Since that hasn’t generally been true for DIY people in the low-end of the market, it’s just been easier for many people to go with zwave for those set ups. It doesn’t mean you have to, it’s just something to be aware of. Which in turn means more manufacturers making zwave devices for those purposes.

Channel Control

As far as changing the the channel, you can likely change the Wi-Fi channel if you own the router that is generating the Wi-Fi signal.

I have a problem at my house most weekday afternoons around 3:40. My SmartThings arrival sensor, which is Zigbee, will start losing connection to my network. My assumption is that one of my neighbors has boosted Wi-Fi and a kid who gets home from school around then. Unfortunately, the Zigbee channel for the SmartThings coordinator is randomly set at the factory and cannot be changed afterwards. So since I don’t own the Wi-Fi that’s causing the problem, it’s been very hard to find a solution.

Separately I had an issue where we ourselves had a Wi-Fi booster. If I put it on the west wall of one room, everything past that on my zigbee network lost connection to the SmartThings hub. If I just moved the Wi-Fi booster to the north wall, everything is fine. So sometimes it’s as small an issue as that.

You can likely be successful with either all zwave or all Zigbee or a mix. As I said, I do have a personal preference for zigbee but I will choose based on the specific device I want for a particular location. I originally chose a Z wave door lock, for example, because I knew I needed to boost the Wi-Fi in that area for some cameras and I just didn’t want to deal with interference issues.

Other Factors

There is potentially an argument to be made that zigbee may be more “future proof” then Z wave since the same devices that will runs zigbee will probably also be able to run Google thread in the future. More and more Zwave is standing out on its own. That may not bother you, but it’s something to be aware of.

My personal feeling is that while both Crestron and control 4 are mature, reliable, full featured, stable systems right now, there’s nothing in the SmartThings price range that can say the same.

Looking Ahead

My own guess, and it’s purely a guess, is that by the summer of 2016 there will be a number of home automation candidates with quite good systems in the $200-$500 per room range. HomeKit/Insteon will be one. Works with Nest will be another. Eventually something based on Google Thread may be a third, although it may not be fully baked by next summer.

It’s quite possible that Samsung/SmartThings Will be another candidate, perhaps even the Google thread candidate, but right now it’s not there yet. Reliability, in particular, has just not been there for me.

I’m waiting to draw up my own candidates list until around May, just because I think there will be several new offerings to consider at that time. So I limited my only stage one investment now to specific use cases where I would see an immediate payback and where I would be willing to replace all of the phase 1 equipment in the fall of 2016 if I ended up going with a different protocol. But everybody approaches these projects differently. :sunglasses:

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I’m at 225 devices, about 1/2 zwave and 1/2 zigbee, in a 3000 sq ft home. If it can have a device on it, it does - even the mailbox (zwave to boot!). A healthy and decent size mesh is the key for me.

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Thanks for the great information @JDRoberts! I may wait until a little later in the year before pulling the trigger on everything for the main house. We’re still in the rennovation process, so I’ve got some time.

That’s good to know @johnconstantelo. I’d have at least 50 z-wave switches, so I think I would have a fairly decent sized mesh. With that many devices, what time of naming convention are you using? It seems like a list of 225 devices could get confusing quickly. I know using rooms would help, but that still seems overwhelming. lol

@seeharrison,

It can get confusing, as well as trying to easily find devices in lists that don’t sort well. My naming convention may seem odd, but it’s been working great for my family and I. It does make using our Amazon Echo a little more challenging, but surprisingly it’s recognizing device names pretty good. We’ve also set up Echo groups for devices, and that’s been extremely helpful.

What we’ve done is to name devices with it’s purpose followed by location. For example, each room has a ceiling fan, so the device would be called Ceiling Fan Master Bedroom, Den, etc, etc. The same for Bathroom Vent, Ceiling Light, etc. When looking up devices for Rules or automations, you do have to scroll to get to all the devices for a room, but that only needs to be done once when setting up a Rule, so no biggie. The benefit comes when looking at a Room. Given the limited amount of space you see for a device’s name in each Room, having it’s function spelled out first helps easily find a device in the Room: