Yeah - there isn’t a way right now to have automations and routines spanning across multiple locations. Of course it is on the (infinite) backlog.
One more thing to keep in mind…
Zwave and WiFi don’t interfere with each other.
Zigbee runs in the 2.4 range, so may run into some WiFi interference in the same band. Usually this isn’t a problem, but if you amplify the WiFi signal it can be.
So if possible, you’ll have more flexibility with your ST installation if your WiFi extenders operate in the 5.0 band instead of 2.4.
Hi JDR. I just wanted to let you know that your post helped me get some distant sensors working. I thought I was going to have to get two hubs, which is how I found your response on that subject. I didn’t know that some devices could relay signals, and that solved my problem. So thank you.
I actually don’t have a problem with having 2 hubs each controlling their own devices and just switching between the locations to manage. Reason being as I am using SmartThings as Home Automation the idea being I should rarely need to touch or manage the devices after I set them up. My main concerns are range. Does anyone know the effective range for the hubs? I just want to make sure that my devices are close enough so that the hub can effectively manage them. If I have to get a hub for my upper and lower level so be it. The nice thing about SmartThings in comparison to other solutions is that we can manage multiple locations on the same account so switching between the locations isn’t a hassle. After reading the posts on here I did realize a part of my problem was that my hub was right next to my access point. So I moved it and it was fine. Now I just want to know the effective range so I know if a need to purchase a second hub to manage my lower level.
Hi. Isn’t the possibility of having two hubs control one device a security concern?
If a neighbour can connect to your wireless relay can’t they do just that and start switching your lights on and off?
No because in a zwave network, you have to connect the second hub as a “secondary” to the first hub as the “primary,” so you have to have access to both hubs before the second one can join the network.
You also have to physically have access to the end device, like the light, in order to get it to talk to the primary controller. This is part of zwave’s security approach. The Pairing process can seem annoying, but the reason why it requires you to press a button or do something else physical with the end device is to prove that you have access to it. Unlike some protocols, you cannot give a controller access to any devices just through software.
So there’s no worry about a neighbor in one apartment suddenly being able to control the devices in the next apartment over, intentionally or not, unless the person who owns the hub in the first apartment has given them permission to do so.
Thanks, makes perfect sense
So is it possible to add another ST Hub or a Vera hub as a secondary controller to a current ST primary controller and use ethernet to bridge the primary and secondary controllers?
this part , yes for Vera, no for ST.
This part Confused me. If you add it as a secondary controller it’s already on the zwave network. So why would you bridge it? So I’m going to say no to this part, but there’s no reason why you would ever need to do that. The Two controllers are already talking to each other via zwave.
That said, it’s not the world’s best implementation of a primary and secondary, and I just don’t know if the Vera utilities will be available in that configuration . But somebody else may.
Because the two controllers are too far away from each other to talk to each other via Z-Wave. Primary ST Hub is in main house, secondary controller is in far away detached garage. Ethernet connects the main house and garage. They would need to communicate with each other via Ethernet.
Can’t be done with SmartThings.
It’s no different than any other Z wave device. You build the mesh network out until you can reach the outbuilding. Otherwise, you have two completely separate networks, one run off of each Controller.
Vera does have an ethernet connection option for their own hubs, but it doesn’t work with any other brand.
SmartThings has a brand idiosyncrasy in the other direction – – it only allows one ST hub per “location.”
So if one of your hubs is SmartThings, you’re probably better off setting up a second network in the other building.
If the devices are on the different Z-Wave networks, can I still add them to the same routines and smart apps that my primary ST Hub uses? Ie, assuming I have a hub in main house and hub in garage, can i turn in 2 lights in main house and 1 light in garage with the same smart app? Does changing mode, change it for both hubs?
Technically the garage isn’t that far at 150’, and I have a small barn in-between. I have a bunch of Z-Wave Plus devices that should easily reach, however furthest it reaches outside is not even 50’ from closest Z-Wave Plus device in my house. And then it’s spotty and inconsistent. Have no idea why it won’t reach.
No. You’d have to have separate rules/instances for each. It’s just the way the SmartThings cloud architecture works. They don’t have a way of handling multiple locations with the same smart app.
It could be possible For some things using IFTTT as a man in the middle, but you would have to do something like send a text with a hashtag from your main house to the IFTTT account for your garage. But it’s clunky.
The zwave plus is still subject to signal degradation from physical objects. With the barn in between you’re going through at least four walls. And rain is not good for Z wave Transmission.
I sure hope someone builds a device for this soon. I just want to control my guest house, which is about 40 feet “door to door”.
There is at least one to two more hops from the first device listed here and the hub. Could also be an issue. I could move the hub to the back of the house (without ‘hurting hops’ elsewhere in the house) and try that?
Outlet inside wall, main home
Outlet outside wall, main home
Outlet inside wall, guest home
Walls are facing each other.
Inside the guest house I have a decent array of devices. Smartstrips,aeon multisensors, open/close etc.
I get SOME connectivity but it’s slow, and updates are horrible (IF they work). I’ve got solid WiFi, and installed a wifi repeater in the guest house for good measure. Using a Unifi wireless system and repeater functionality is baked into the system - any two APs can link up with one as an uplink. It works great, we install a lot of it and i have APs all over the house (hardlined, this is my only WiFi unlink).
I’m BARELY out of range. Is there something else out there that would work in this kind of setup?
I think this is a very common setup and request/requirement. My town is filled with houses with guest houses and it’s not like it’s a prestigious place or anything. I feel like someone has to have solved this with ST, yeah?
What do you guys think? I’m going to keep internetting this too and will update progress as well. Seems like we’re all after the same thing.
The stronger your Wi-Fi, the harder it will be for your zigbee signals to get through. Wi-Fi, particularly boosted Wi-Fi, drowns out zigbee. So the more you do to strengthen the Wi-Fi, the weaker your SmartThings zigbee network will get.
There are many ways to make zigbee and wifi co-exist better, but almost all of them rely on zigbee doing channel hopping, and the smartthings hub does not do this. It’s just a very inexpensive device and consequently it has a somewhat fragile network.
First define the problem
As far as “someone will solve this” there are many ways to solve this if you are not using SmartThings. It’s not that big a deal. Wi-Fi probably would cover the 40 foot range anyway. The Kumostat sensors are very well engineered with a range even longer than Wi-Fi. Vera solve this for Z wave by allowing two of their hubs to be connected via ethernet. Even with SmartThings you can solve it easily just by making each building its own location and giving it its own hub.
So I don’t think an Internet search is going to help in this case. You can’t change the way SmartThings is architected. So most of the solutions that you would find for other controllers will not apply.
You just have to decide what is the most important thing for your particular use cases at your particular house.
Many solutions already exist for automating an outbuilding
You could use a vera hub in the outbuilding and it wouldn’t even need Internet access once you had set it up. Build the second network inside the main house and then move the whole thing out to the outbuilding. Done.
If you need events in the outbuilding to be triggered by things that happen in the main building, then you have to have some kind of connectivity. You could build parallel systems, maybe with Kumostat sensors. You could only use Wi-Fi devices in the outbuilding. Or you could use two vera controllers.
If you insist on running everything off of a single smartthings hub and for whatever reason you insist on not just using WiFi devices in the outbuilding then you’re going to have to build a zigbee/zwave backbone to get signal out to the outbuilding. It could be possible. It’s going to depend on what the weather is like outdoors.
But probably there will be a way that you could use a smartenit relay for zigbee and a good quality Z wave relay and put them in something in your yard to bounce the signal. You will have to have power there, obviously, so that could be expensive depending on what you already have available.
some people have been successful just putting a receptacle on the outside wall of each of the buildings with clear line of sight. Again, you would need one pair for zigbee and one for Z wave if you’re going to use devices of both protocols in the outbuilding.
choosing your solution
So again, there are many many ways to solve the issue of an outbuilding. I can’t tell you exactly what will work at your house because it depends on the local architecture and weather. And, of course, what protocols you want to use in the outbuilding. But there’s probably some ways to make it work although some ways cost more than others.
If you’re willing to use only zigbee in the outbuilding, you can get zigbee repeaters that are very powerful, the signal can definitely go three or 400 feet. Much farther than Z wave plus. But these require some technical skill to set up and again, they are more expensive. But there are a couple of members who live in rural areas and are using them To reach outbuildings.
You also have to think about the walls that you were trying to get the signal through, which is why I mentioned the receptacles people put on the outside. You want to have a device near a window in each building so that you are bouncing through glass rather than through brick or insulation.
If you are using Z wave devices, you can use zwave association just in the outbuilding and that will reduce a lot of lag. Not every signal has to travel to the hub and back again.
Anyway, the point of all this is that you have to decide what is the most important to you. What protocols do you want to use in the outbuilding? If you are willing to just use Wi-Fi, everything becomes much much simpler. But it costs more.
If you are willing to use a separate hub to make a separate network in the out building, again everything gets much easier. But then you give up the coordinated rules.
Are you willing to add devices in the yard? Then you can keep just the one smartthings hub and probably use whatever devices you want to in the outbuilding.
Are you willing to take the time to really plan the backbone of the network? That makes a lot of difference.
So you need to pick which problem you want to solve. Don’t lock yourself in a box saying this must be the solution until you have really defined the problem and the priorities, including your budget. And be open to using a different set of protocols for the outbuilding then you use in the main house. As well as having two sets of rules. All of That will give you a lot more flexibility.
And look at your specific use cases. Do you need to have events in the main house trigger actions in the outbuilding? How much lag would be acceptable? There’s no one right answer to any of this, but the point is that different answers may lead to different solutions.
So I think most people can find a solution to automating an outbuilding. It’s not as simple as just plugging in another device, but it can usually be done.
A note about hops.
In zwave, each message is limited to a maximum of four hops. This is why We would like to put the hub centrally in the building both horizontally and vertically. You are reducing the total number of hops to each outer wall. But as soon as you throw in an outbuilding, yes, then maybe you want to move the hub because now you have at least two exterior walls you have to get signal through.
For zigbee, even though each hop is shorter, you are allowed 15 hops into the hub and another 15 out again. So 30 total across the network. That gives you a lot of hops to play with including if you have to zigzag around some obstacles, like maybe a second outbuilding that is in the way. Also, zigbee’s messaging protocol travels better through rain then zwave does. Plus it is possible to get some zig be pro repeaters designed for outdoors which are 10 times stronger than one you would use inside your house. For all these reasons, plus better battery life you will see a lot more Zigbee devices used outdoors then Z wave.
So just keep that in mind as you plan the backbone of your network. With Zwave it’s easy to run out of hops if you are trying to get to a second building.
I put an Aeotec Z-Wave Plus plug in switch in the barn on the wall closest to the house. There is also a Zooz Z-Wave Plus light switch in the house on the wall closest to the barn. There is nothing between the house and barn. Distance is less than 80’. Does not connect at all. If I put the Aeon switch on a 25’ extension cord, sometimes it’ll work (about 50’ from house now), usually only right after I plug it in, bit after a little while the hub can’t contol it anymore until I unplug and plug it back in again. Plug works ok if inside the house.
But on the interior walls, right? Not on the exterior walls with a clear line of sight between them?
Exterior walls typically degrade signal much more than interior walls. Sometimes the only way to get signal to an out building is to put a repeater right next to a clear glass window, Bounce signal out to an exterior wall plug on that building, from there to an exterior wall plug on the outbuilding, and then in through a window there. But then you used up three hops just to get to the other building. So it does get tricky.