NewB seeking help please - set up for new house - Zigbee, Zwave, dimmers, hardware, thank you!

Have you considered stepping outside the ST ecosystem? Especially with the direction things seem to be going. If I was automating a new house of that size, I’d probably do Lutron RA2 for lighting, and go with Hubitat as my hub. You still have to build out your ZW or Zigbee mesh for other devices, but that is easy enough to do with outlets.

Also, don’t get hung up on the number of hops. A zwave plus hop covers about three times the distance of a Zigbee hop, so they end up covering about the same square footage. Maybe about 20% better for the Zigbee, but then you have to account for Wi-Fi interference, which isn’t an issue with Z wave.

Where the extra Zigbee hops come in useful is if you have an Adobe or Stone or cement building and you need the extra hops to get signal around the corners because you can’t get it through the walls.

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“I’d probably do Lutron RA2 for lighting”

FWIW:
I have Lutron in my home and am very satisfied with its stability and reliability.

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I use Lutron in my own home as well. :sunglasses:

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I would recommend doing a mix of zwave and zibee so that you will have a strong mesh for both, that way you do not have to worry about a new product later on, that is zwave if you decided to go 100% zibee. You have both.

Also just from a basic thought don’t change too many switches at once that are daisy chained together (same circuit) without confirming they power up and work before moving on. NOTHING worse than trying to track down which switch has a loose wire when you changed 5 at once on the same circuit. I did that once :frowning.
:frowning: now I only do two at a time. I moved into a house where the circuit layout was not logical.

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many thanks and what you said makes sense. i also considered it - the zwave switches, particularly the innovella dimmers, seem to have the visible LEDs i like - closest to the lumitron dimmers.
i just bought i think 11 cheap $25 zigbee switches on amazon, and 1 3 button zigbee - i think 1 button is the actual switch, and 2 are for scenes or other things.
the smartthings hub can handle both zigbee and zwave, so i wouldn’t be totally locked into a single ecosystem, though i kind of wanted to go that way. i also seriously considered (and still am considering) insteon, but then ceiling fan control and the like.
i’m still wondering, is the hub v2 actually better than the hub v3? seems that way in the specs to me.
cable/internet is being installed sunday so THEN i can actually start to do something - not sure i can set up the smartthings hub and switches without wifi, and i’d rather not use my cell as a hotspot to get it going.
GREAT idea bout debugging the switch installs, i want to do a bunch at once, but one at a time is probably the play.
here’s the question - if i wear gloves and am very careful, am i looking for trouble doing it with the circuits live? otherwise, circuit panel, switch, circuit panel, switch ad nauseum.
i’ve also been trying to figure out 3 way and 4 way switches, i may start putting numbers 3 and 4 on switches - if i have more than a 3 way circuit, i think i max out at a 3 way switch, right, and then just have the 4th switch as more of a remote without wiring?
thanks again!!!

Yes.

Always cut the power before dealing with mains wiring, whether removing a device or adding one.

thanks again - in reading reviews online (and there are some conflicting things) i saw that zigbee SEEMED (from what i’ve seen) to work more reliably, where some folks said they had issues installing some zwave devices, or the network reaching (where i saw the suggestions were to remove the other switches and rebuild the mesh for more intelligent hopping.

if i add a second smartthings hub (say v3 which i understand can work wirelessly) are the hubs “smart enough” to direct hops to the closest devices?
thanks again!!!

First rule of Home automation: the model number matters.

Different smart switches are wired differently. Some have physical traveler wires, some don’t. So there’s no one answer to your question, it depends on the specific model switches being used. :sunglasses:

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You can’t add a second hub to the same network in the smartthings platform unless they are the Wi-Fi mesh models. For all the other models, you have one hub per network.

You could have multiple “locations“ on the same account and each location have its own hub, like one in the main house and one in an outbuilding, but then each owns its own devices so there’s no question about routing.

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Local architecture, weather, and other devices always affects home automation. Some people will find Z wave works better at their house, some will find Zigbee works better, most often it just means they need to follow the tips in the wireless range and repeaters FAQ and strengthen the mesh for whichever one is problematic.

There are two exceptions.

Zigbee is better at sending signal through high humidity, rain, or snow. This is counterintuitive, because normally lower bands are better, but This has to do with the specifics of how the two protocols handle signal dispersion. Very technical, but real impact.

On the other hand, Z wave does not have any issues with Wi-Fi interference, and zigbee definitely does. This is why historically in multiprotocol platforms zwave has been chosen for fixed position devices like door locks and wall switches. Then you don’t have to worry about boosted Wi-Fi in those areas. (This was covered in detail in the zigbee versus Zwave FAQ in the community wiki.)

So small details make a big difference.

Outside of the smartthings platform it is not true that Zwave is less reliable. It is true that On the smartthings platform they have been making a lot of backend changes to the Z wave deployment over the last year and that has led to a lot of craziness and devices failing which previously worked just fine. :disappointed_relieved: But you will still find, for example, that Z wave light switches are much more popular in the community than Zigbee ones.

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I’m starting to look at hubitat - it looks amazing. i MAY continue with smartthings, and use both (i think i can do that) but if seems like hubitat is more robust, and it seems that it has “snares” for the lutron controllers, so that may be yet another option - and more research. THANK YOU!

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Thanks again for all your help and suggestions. I know this is a smartthings community and i’d prefer to keep one “grouping” - i.e. hub - and though i’d PREFER zigbee OR zwave plus, i think it can make a lot of sense to have both networks going so i have more flexibility. maybe. I’m wondering, since I have smartthings, does it pay to consider hubitat instead? it seems more powerful. though, i think smartthings can do most if not all that i want - and if i want to go the lutron route (i am SO confused) it looks like i can add a lutron “hook?” i’m also at least THINKING about insteon (buddy swears by it) and i love my nest cameras and thermostats - so i may have 3 or 4 different platforms, interfaces, etc. - is that sort of the norm, or am i overthinking this?
i also found site, smartest home i think, that has zooz switches that seem very low cost - some zooz switches and i may be in business!
i’m also looking for labor day sales.
if there is a quick start guide on the site somewhere i’d be grateful. i read the zigbee/zwave article - it was helpful, but it seems overall it shouldn’t make a difference which protocol i go with - zigbee better for concrete, zwave better to avoid wifi interference, and lutron better for overall lighting - but i don’t know if it will reach the corners of my house. sigh. Thanks again for any and all help - it is appreciated!

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That’s a lot of questions in one post, let me see if I can answer a few of them at least :sunglasses:

  1. Zooz. Zooz is the house brand for The SmartestHouse. They are a retailer who carry other zwave brands as well. Zooz devices are well engineered, well reviewed, and priced as a budget brand, so they are very popular. You can also contact the company if you’re going to be buying a lot of devices and see if they can offer you a quantity discount. @thesmartesthouse is on their staff and participate regularly in this community if you have any specific questions.
  1. multiple protocols. Smartthings is a multi protocol cloud-based system. A few things run locally, but most don’t. Just as one example, you can’t even change the mode from home to away without the cloud. And their app always requires the cloud even if your phone is on the same Wi-Fi as your hub. They didn’t have to design it that way, but they did.

If you want to only use zwave or only Zigbee, to be honest, you would be better off getting one of the hubs that does just that particular protocol. For example, if somebody only wants to use zwave and they have a good technical background, I would probably recommend they look at homeseer. Or Vera. If they don’t have a strong technical background, depending on the exact devices they want, the ring protect system is worth considering. But there are other options as well.

  1. Lutron. Smart things has an official Lutron integration which works fine for Caseta light switches but appears to have been orphaned by the transition to the new platform. Their fan switch has been out for over a year, but still doesn’t work with the smartthings integration. Lutron says it’s up to smartthings, smartthings says it’s up to Lutron, it appears no one is working on it. The integration also does not support pico remotes.

There are many people who are using Lutron Caseta switches with smartthings and are perfectly happy, but they are certainly competing systems including Apple HomeKit and Hubitat which have much deeper integration with Lutron.

  1. Hubitat. “Powerful” is a word that can mean very different things to different people. The habitat radios are notably weaker than those in smartthings, so some people end up getting several hubs to cover even a medium size house: but then it’s a system that can work with multiple hubs. So is that more or less powerful?

It’s a very interesting, tiny company, that was started by former smartthings users who really really wanted local operations. And there’s no question that it has that. It is not a cloud-based system. Also, the founder already had Lutron equipment and liked it, so it works very well with Lutron. But there are some other devices that smartthings works with that it doesn’t. So again, the details matter.

They have an excellent community and you can ask further questions over there.

  1. more expensive options. If you have the money and you want more than just lighting, then the two major candidates for Home Automation for a large home are Control4 and Crestron. You can expect to pay about 10% of the cost of the home plus an annual maintenance fee of a couple of thousand dollars. But these systems will combine security, Home Automation, and home theater, and do them all reliably and with a lot of features.

You probably won’t be able to do your own programming, so when you want to change things that means a call to the installers. There are a lot of people who find out to limiting, but there are also a lot of people who are happy to pay for a system that works.

I have mentioned previously that if I had the money, I would get a control4 system, but I don’t.

https://www.control4.com/

(Control4 users Zigbee, but it’s a proprietary profile so it can’t use the devices that work with smartthings and vice versa. It does have integration with some third-party systems, including Lutron.)

Crestron considers Control4 a budget alternative, which is probably all we need to say about them. :wink:

  1. Insteon. It’s a good system, been around for decades, many people are very happy with it. You just have to see what will meet your own preferences and priorities. As I mentioned above, the one thing they don’t have is smart locks so if you had in mind a bunch of rules based on those, Insteon will probably not make you happy.
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Also, I don’t know if this part was a comment or question, but there is a thread in the deals category of this forum for Labor Day sales. :sunglasses:

Labor Day Sales 2020

I’m not quite sure what the specific question is here. If your hub is centrally located, and your house is normal US residential construction, and it’s a cube, and you lay down a good backbone, then both Z wave plus and Zigbee should be able to cover it.

Lutron Caseta cannot, it’s generally only suited to homes of 2500 ft.² or smaller. But Lutron has multiple systems, and Lutron RA2 could definitely handle it.

https://www.lutron.com/TechnicalDocumentLibrary/3682773_RA2_HWQS_comparison.pdf

and again, THANK YOU!
in no order:

  1. i have a buddy who is or at least was a control 4 rep - C4 seems to be top, and every expensive - and i don’t want to have to call someone every time i want a change, etc. -
  2. insteon - i prefer open source, though another buddy swears by it. i’m still considering adding it as well - since hubs are rougly $80 to $120 (insteon, smartthings v3, hubitat) it is not a deal breaker - the greater considering to me i guess is will the stuff work, and how many more megs do i have to get for my phone to install, operate, and frankly keep track of the different apps!
  3. i spoke to the electrician who will be doing some work in the house. i can run wires, etc. - so, installing a single switch? can do that in my sleep. 3 way switch? okay, NOW i need to slow down. he told me zooz was a decent brand, but the cheapie switches i bought on amazon (zigbee, almost no name) can be a concern - he wanted me to get UL switches only - so i may cancel that zigbee brood that is coming. he may also help me out with the more complicated wiring, so that is a major plus
    soooo i went from “deciding on zigbee” to deciding on both - i don’t care what kind of simple toggle switch i have - i care a bit more about the dimmers, as there seem to be some choices (i’d really like to see the LEDs like i can on some lutron switches) but not sure it’s worth hubitat or the hook just for that (but i might do it anyway) :slight_smile:
    I did buy a bunch of stuff from smarter house today i’m pretty excited about - mostly the motion sensors - i was going to pay an electrician to replace the floods with at least light sensors - now i don’t have to. ditto the garage lights - in the past i had these horrible motion sensing adapters that screwed into the socket - and didn’t work - now i think a sensor can get around that
    outdoor lights - on a simple (or 3 way) on-off switch (versus my current heathkit type of night sensor with ir for brighter) - i think i can emulate that with smart things - have it go on in a 50% or so brightness during dusk (via my home location - i love this stuff!), then have it go off at 10 or 11 at night, and if the motion sensor detects movement, it can brighten to 100% for X minutes
    this is getting a lot better than me just wanting to know the lights are all off over night
    truthfully with the cost of electricity, you could probably leave all the lights on for 10 years before you break even on the cost of a hub and a couple of switches.
    i’ll look more into the lutron stuff, but i think i’ll shy away from it. as long as the mesh holds up, i don’t see why these switches can’t get the job done.
    thanks again - i hope to be able to report success, as i continue to lurk and learn more.
    one thing i couldn’t find - any idea if the smartthings hub v2 can use the S2 zwave protocol - and either way is it a big deal?
    i do like that i think my hub can control my wifi tplink casa switches, i never enabled that, and have been using the kasa app, but i’d love to consolidate operations.
    THANK YOU AGAIN!
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I agree with this. UL or ETL for anything that will be wired into the mains. :sunglasses:

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Insteon is generally chosen instead of smartthings, not in addition to it. They are competing products and they don’t integrate. The only people I know who are using both are people who already had a significant Insteon lighting setup and then decided to add smartthings in order to get some specific devices. But again, they don’t work together very well.

Yes. That’s normal. Don’t go into this expecting everything you get will integrate cleanly together.

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