New to ST, care to help a noob with some advice?

Hello to anyone who reads this. :grinning:

As the title implies, I am new to ST and I am just getting into the HA hobby/passion/obsession/prelude to bankruptcy.

I started looking into HA a little over a year ago as part of a garage renovation where I stripped everything down to the studs to rewire the entire 28’ x 26’ garage and thought “Hey! I should put some motion sensors in here!”. The research I did at the time led me to the Vera (no monthly service fees, customize-able, etc.), which is why I started to buy the Zwave “toys”. As time rolled on and I kept waiting for the whole UI saga to unfold, I decided I needed to revisit my research.

So… here I am.

I have read thousands of messages here and at the MiCasa forums and I have to say that both are full of extremely helpful, knowledgeable members. Very impressive and I hope to become a contributing member myself.

Okay, enough intro… get on with it already!

Here are the quasi-HA related items that I have amassed thus far:

  • Amazon Echo
  • SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit
  • Iris Home Automation Comfort and Control Kit
  • 6 x GE Zwave Wireless Lighting Control Duplex Receptacle
  • 2 x Aeon Labs Zwave Smart Energy Switch
  • 2 x Utilitech White Flood Sensor
  • 6 x First Alert Battery-Operated CO and Smoke Detector (4 on-hand, 2 on b/o)
  • Amazon Fire TV (coming in Thursday)

A few things that I think I know after reading many, many messages here (and elsewhere):

  1. If it is a “custom device type”, it can not be run locally (i.e. cloud access is imperative).
  2. If you have many bulbs in an area, you are better off with a controllable switch than “smart” bulbs.
  3. Enclosed fixtures are NOT a good fit for LEDs (unfortunate, since ALL but a few of my fixtures are enclosed).
  4. The ZHA 1.2 standard is your ST friend, but vendors can go off reservation… check the compatibility list!

So, my questions are:

  • Can anyone recommend a good way to increase my ZigBee mesh? I believe I am all set with the Zwave mesh based on the placement of the GE receptacles.
  • Should I pick up one of the Aeon Labs DSA03202 v1 - Zwave Minimotes? Are they that useful?
  • Can someone offer up a non-3-way dimmer switch (assuming I switch out my CFLs with LEDs) and an opinion on Zwave vs. ZHA?
  • Now that I have the ST kit (picked it up last night), any suggestions on the best way to introduce myself to the IDE? I code for a living, so the learning curve should be pretty small.

Thank you for any helpful input!

As far as strengthening the mesh, it just depends on what you need. Pocket sockets are often the easiest because you just plug them in and they serve a dual purpose of acting as a repeater and the controllable socket. Cost is also pretty good.

Osram lightbulbs are also supposed to act as ZHA repeaters according to the manufacturer, although some members have indicated they don’t seem to be getting repeating from them. We have had a couple of members who have network mapping tools verify that they are seeing repeating messages. So I’m not sure what’s going on with the people who are not getting a repeater effect. It may be a batch issue as Osram has done several firmware updates since the model was first put on the market.

In terms of the IDE, there is a link to developer docs at the top right of the community page. That’s a good place to start. Then if you have questions, just ask in the developer section of the forum:

Thank you for the tips and the link @JDRoberts.

I am hesitant to add any bulbs to the initial setup until I can replace some of the enclosed fixtures with something more forgiving to LEDs. I will see what I can find out about the pocket sockets though.

Pocket sockets are also called plug in outlets, wall warts, appliance modules, etc. there are several on the official compatibility list under lights and switches. You can sort by protocol to see all the Zigbee ones together.