My kitchen and bathroom are being rebuilt. All new walls, all new cabinetry, all new fixtures etc. So it’s time to start equipping both rooms with smarts. Thus my question: in your experience, what are the most ‘bulletproof’ of these devices? I want them to be as reliable as possible.
The outlets would need on/off and energy monitoring capability.
The switches and dimmers should optimally also have energy monitoring capability.
One smart outlet will be for a refrigerator. Another will be for a dishwasher. A third will be for a microwave. The smart dimmers will be for two small chandeliers.
Once I built a solid dual (Zigbee/zwave) mesh all of my switches, outlets have been rock solid. My setup is mostly GE and Iris, some of it is 4-5 yrs old and unless ST has issues my devices just work. I think building a solid mesh is the best way to ensure device reliability.
It’s probally safest to stick to zwave and Zigbee devices on this list.
Nothing running on the SmartThings platform is reliable: they can and do push out updates and make platform changes without notification they can break anything, even a Z wave light switch. That’s just where things are at right now.
As far as individual brand/models that are well engineered and would be reliable on a more reliable platform, there are quite a few good choices.
As @sidjohn1 said, the primary issue is to make sure you have a good network backbone with enough repeaters of the right protocol if you are using mesh. But mesh isn’t the only option.
Best of the best switches
In my opinion as both an engineer and a customer the Lutron switches are clearly the quickest and most reliable. They hold a lot of patents, including the original smart dimmer patents, and it’s hard to beat them for home lighting, particularly switches. But they don’t do outlets. And you will have to buy their “smartbridge“ to get smart things integration. (one bridge can support up to about 40 devices.)
Other Brand Notes
As far as Z wave devices, if you look at them as good/better/best, then the GE/Honeywell are at the high end of the “good“ budget category. However, Other than the cheap Chinese imports, the GE are probably the least reliable over time. But they’re very inexpensive, So it’s worth it to a lot of people.
Leviton are at the low end of the “best” category and are very reliable, but do tend to be noticeably more expensive. Also notice, though, that they have a five year warranty, more than double that of almost all the other brands. That in itself is a good indicator of reliability.
At this point I would probably put both Zooz and Inovelli In the “better” category, although they both have new model lines coming out this year which may boost them even higher. Both have innovative designs, but are also trying to keep the prices low. Since both are newer companies, it’s difficult to judge the reliability after, say, four years, but they are certainly at least as good as the GE but with more features.
Linear/gocontrol tend to be very reliable, and fall into the “better” category just because the materials quality and feature selection isn’t quite as good as Leviton’s.
What are your measurable requirements?
But let’s back up a minute. A lot of people who say they are looking for the “most reliable” will end up buying the least reliable, that is the GE, just because of the price.
Because I myself am a Quad And have an engineering background, I will pay more for a truly reliable switch. But I have a quantifiable definition of reliability.
I look at MFOP (“maintenance free operating Period”). My minimum target for appliances and smart home devices is an MFOP of six months, and preferably a year. That means I don’t have to touch it (literally!) after installation. This is also sometimes called “set and forget.”
Unfortunately, at the present time there’s no way to get this with SmartThings. Any individual device might have an MFOP of 12 months, but there will be a smartthings glitch of some kind at least once a month, and usually about every two weeks.
Still, there are certainly differences between brands and models.
If you really truly mean “most reliable,“ as in “longest MFOP,” then I would go with all Leviton zwave plus outlets and all Lutron light switches. Or use Leviton zwave plus for everything if you prefer that option.
If instead you meant “most reliable, but I don’t want to spend more than $35 per switch,“ then that’s a different conversation.
One more thing… I know this isn’t a popular answer, but I personally would never put live energy monitoring on a mesh protocol. You’re going to flood the network, and that in and of itself will introduce unreliability.
If you just want to collect the energy information in the device itself and then get the report once a day or so, then there’s no problem.
But if you want to trigger events based on real time energy monitoring, I would not use either Z wave or zigbee home automation for that. So I would probably go with a Wi-Fi device.
So that’s just something else to keep in mind. When you say “energy monitoring“ how are you intending to use it? And in particular, how often do you need the reports?
Also, energy monitoring for a light switch will almost always cost more energy than you could possibly save. Light switches pretty much by definition are used infrequently For tiny messages. When you start trying to get live energy reports you’ll probably increase the Energy used by that smart light switch 100 times. Not worth it just to get the reports for most people.
For energy monitoring, I’m not seeking constant updates.
What I want is roughly what I already get from various smart plugs. I have one on a dishwasher, and one on a washing machine. I have smart apps that report a cycle is completed if power consumption was above Q, then drops below X for Y minutes.
I’m flexible on this. I first wanted in-wall smart outlets, but on researching I’m finding items such as the Leviton Appliance Module. DZPA-1LW. I’m going to skip putting one on the fridge because the last thing I want is an accidental ‘off’ ruining my food. But I will want them for the microwave and the dishwasher. And just in case the smart plug ceases to work, I can then simply unplug it and not have to take apart my wall outlet to get the appliance running again.
The microwave houses an over-stove light bulb. Would be nice to know when that is on or off.
Also, would be nice to know if, for example, food on a defrost cycle in the microwave is done. Those can take many minutes - would like an announcement when complete.
I’ll find out when I do it what are the power levels involved. The bulb will obviously draw much less power than the oven
Ok… the standard Centralite plug works fine with a dishwasher. It also works with a microwave, but I will still be more comfortable with a plug rated for appliance use.
That leaves switches and dimmers. And I think I’ll be using Hue bulbs and light strips in all non-chandelier instances. So it’s just smart dimmers for chandeliers. Will look into Leviton. Others too, but I’m spending $40K improving the house. It would be folly to not get something good.
For lightning nothing beats Lutron Caseta. Stand alone is rock solid, almost zero lag. I replaced all our switches (and 3 Lutron Serena blinds) with a mix of dimmers and switches and after 11 months, I cannot remember one instance when a Lutron switch failed. Their app is also first class.
On the other hand Smartthings or any switch/sensor/device attached to it is much less reliable. The only problems I’ve had with the Lutron switches is when a smartthings sensor or other device fails to activate them.