SmartThings Hub Zwave Range Issues

I am currently a long time user of Vera (I have a VeraLite hub, which is an older one) and currently switching over to Smartthings (v2 hub). I am speculating that the Smartthings hub has much less zwave range than the Vera, but I was wondering what thoughts everyone has on that. I’m really thinking that Smartthings might not work for me based on the range issues I’m having. Explanation:

I have zwave devices in a detached garage (maybe 30 ft from the house), and several switches down in the edge of the yard in a chicken coop, perhaps 70ft line of sight to the house. And Zwave devices (about 25 or so) all throughout the house. These have all worked flawlessly with the vera. No issues whatsoever in even pairing the devices that are down in the yard. I’m not sure whether the switches in the chicken coop are pairing with the hub itself or are communicating through a repeater switch. But the hub is on that side of the house, so its likely they communicate with the hub (or at least the first one i paired probably is, and the others might be communicating through that one).

So heres my issue, i decommissioned my Vera, and added all the zwave switches in the house to my v2 ST hub, effectively building a whole-house mesh network. So then i started on the outdoor switches - the garage and the chicken coop. The Chicken coop switches absolutely will not pair, after many attempts. The garage switches did pair after 4-5 attempts, but the connection is much less reliable that I had with Vera. Vera worked 99.5% of the time. I open the garage through vera, it opens. Vera automatically closes it at night, every night. I cant even recall a night where it didnt close it successfully. But with ST, I’m lucky to have it close it 1 out of 5 attempts. It seems that the range is just too close to the edge.

I tried a zwave network repair last night to try to get it to find the strongest neighbor to communicate with, but that didnt help. I suppose I can play around with this more, but the only conclusion I can think of is that ST is just weaker signal/antenna wise.

I did find this on the ST site:
“Generally speaking, the switch should be able to connect and communicate with the Hub within 60-70 feet with a clear line of sight. Any walls between the Hub and the device can reduce that range by 25-30%. Keep this in mind when installing your in-wall switch or dimmer.”

And this on the Vera site:
The underlying Z-Wave technology used in a Vera system specifies a range of about 330-feet (100-meters) when used outdoors with no obstructions…To play it safe, we recommend you cut the range estimate to 100-feet (30-meters) for a “line of sight” installation (no walls or obstructions in between), and perhaps half that distance (50-feet) for a typical indoor home installation with signals passing through walls."

Thoughts anyone?

I can’t comment on the range differences between the two hubs, but I’m wondering if converting the distant devices to Zwave Plus devices might solve the range issue with the ST hub.

any error messages during the repair?

I guess its an option, and one that I had thought of. But i’d rather not go that route, since it would end up being an experiment anyway, one that would cost a good amount of money. I think I have about 7-8 switches that are currently outside of usable range, that worked 100% of the time under Vera.

How do I check that? I’m pretty new to ST (just got the hub 2 days ago). I initiated a Z-Wave repair from the ST Classic app on the phone. I assume it finished, since those usually dont take too long, but not even sure how to know that.

A couple ways. If you leave that screen up on the phone it will show errors and start/complete messages there. You can also login to the IDE and look at the hub event logs.

I’m not an expert on meshes, but I’m thinking you’d only need one or two to hit the hub and the others to hit those and get repeated.

I logged into the IDE, found the logs, and found this from last night: “Z-Wave network repair started”. I saw nothing beyond that in regards to network repair. Should it have logged a “finished” entry?

yeah, there should be a completed entry

How long does the repair normally take? I did add about 15 devices or so last night. Guess I’ll give it another whirl

They are both certified Z wave plus hubs. They should have the same range.

The issue is almost certainly one that comes up whenever you are moving devices from one hub to another without the option of using controller shift – – you can only add about two dozen devices at a time, and then you need to give the hub time rebuild all the network tables. Preferably about three days.

Meanwhile, your new network doesn’t look exactly like your old network. Not all the repeaters are in the same places, not all the tables are built. And yes, it’s a good idea to run the zwave repair utility to speed up this process, and it’s essential to run that utility if you are using older Z wave classic devices, not zwave plus devices. ( note that vera automatically runs this utility every night. Smartthings only runs it when you manually start it.)

Eventually, after you have all of the devices added to the hub and it has had time to rebuild all of the address tables and communicate the appropriate pieces to all of the individual devices, it should work exactly the same way as the previous one did. But that whole process can take a month or so depending on how many devices you had.

If the two controllers support controller shift, you can bypass all of this, which is what you do when you replace one vera hub with another or one wink hub with another. But that’s an optional feature, and smartthings doesn’t support it. So you’re just left with having to have patience until you get your entire network rebuilt.

The one tip I can give you as a former field tech to speed things up would be to move over all of the repeaters first, adding them in order from closest to the hub to physically farthest, so that you have laid down a good backbone before you start adding the battery powered devices. But that’s up to you. A lot of people prefer to work a room at a time, and there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just going to take a little longer.

See the following FAQ. Start with post 11 in that thread, then go back up to the top and read the whole thread.

And here’s the FAQ on Z wave error messages:

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mine usually takes 10-15 minutes

It’s very different to run one on a well-established network and to run one when you are setting up the devices for the first time. The typical maintenance run for under 100 devices would probably be about 15 minutes. But a typical first time run even with only two dozen devices might take two hours. And even then you might not have all the battery operated devices updated yet.

We always used to tell people before Z wave plus to wait until the next day before testing for improvements.

From Dr. Zwave:

This healing process can take many minutes to even hours depending on the size of the network.

Vera support gives the same timeframe:

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Hmm ok. I rebooted the hub and started a new repair. I get this below in the logs. Now to see if it finishes, since the last one didnt after 15+ hrs. FYI I currently have 25 devices, all hard wired except 2. I have about 20-25 more to add, but suppose I should wait before I add anymore.

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If this one doesn’t finish after a few hours, try adding just the five hardwired devices that are physically closest to the hub and run a repair on those. That should certainly finish in under an hour. If it doesn’t, I would get in touch with SmartThings support.

By that I assume you mean to exclude and delete the other 20?

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Yes. Sometimes you just have to start clean to troubleshoot exactly where the problem is, and by only adding five hardwired devices that are physically closest to the hub, you’ll be able to verify if the zwave radio in the hub is working correctly.

One question about verifying the completion of the repair. Is there a good way to check the logs other than looking at all events? I have about 40 ping events already after the repair event started. By the time it finishes (if it does), it will likely be buried in a mound of events, which would required significant effort to try to determine if it finished. Sorry for being such a noob.

@massination

Are you using chrome? on Windows? Can you do a ctrl-f and then type finished?

Yes, I can do that. :slight_smile: But i started a repair last night and this morning when i looked through the logs I had hundreds of other events on top of the “started” event. Since 200 is the limit on what it displays, I had to keep scrolling all the way to the bottom, about 10-15 times to get it to display it all. Thats fine if thats what I need to do, but just didnt know if there was a repair status somewhere out there that I could look at instead, or even the ability to download the log and open it in Notepad++ or something. I look at logs all day for my job, and logs in a browser arent as fun to deal with.