I’m looking to build a new home that will be complete in about 2 years and want to install all Z-wave devices, but want to try to time this with the next gen of devices. I read that the new Z-wave 700 standard was announced a year or so ago. Are any next-gen devices already in-market, and does anyone have a strong opinion whether or not it will matter? I’m planning on hard-wiring over 100 switches/outlets in the build, so it’s a meaningful decision for me.
As long as you have a neutral wire in each box the decision shouldn’t matter now as this will cover today’s and tomorrow’s devices.
Can you help me understand why the neutral wire matters in device technology?
Almost all smart home device manufacturers use the neutral wire to power the radio, so that the radio can still hear the next command from the network even when the switch appears to be off. That’s what allows you to send the network command to turn the switch on. If the radio didn’t always have power, you would only be able to turn switches off, not on. And the neutral is an easy way to get the small amount of power required for the radio.
That said, it is possible to power the radio from trickle current in a dimmer switch, which really means the switch isn’t all the way off, it’s just dim enough that the lightbulb doesn’t come on. So there are a few models from different manufacturers that take advantage of that method.
Additionally, there are some switches that are battery operated.
So you don’t always need a neutral to have a smart switch, but it does give you the widest choice of devices.
OK I understand the value of the neutral wire there, but I was asking more about whether or not there are a next gen of Z-wave standards that would have improved capabilities that may be coming to the market anytime soon.
There are a lot of good things about the 700 series, particularly once you get to the Z wave LR addon. It is intended to have longer range and to be able to support a higher number of devices. The current standard, the 500 series, has a hard maximum of 232 devices per network. The 700 series with the LR add-on will be able to go up to about 2000.
There are a couple of 700 series hubs now available for purchase, but none that work with smartthings and none that have the LR addon. Those features are in alpha testing now with three or four manufacturers, but are not expected to come to market until 2022.
100 switches is a lot of zwave switches. Smartthings, for example, has been known to play up somewhat with more than 40 Z wave devices, but there are some people who have had many more. @johnconstantelo can speak to his experiences with a large install.
Z wave is, per the standard, backwards and forwards compatible, so your older switches should run with a newer hub or vice versa, although there is a “least common denominator“ effect where you may lose some of the more advanced features in a mixed network, it just depends on each leg. And of course on the hub.
Personally, I like zwave for light switches, but I myself ended up going with Lutron Caseta instead. Lutron has very advanced engineering (they hold a bunch of patents) and use their own proprietary frequency, it’s just that they are definitely more expensive. I ended up using them because my house was built in 1955 and we don’t have neutrals at many of the switch boxes. At the time, several years ago, Lutron was the easiest way to address that issue. I definitely like them And they’ve held up well, but I would’ve chosen less expensive Switches if I had that option.
Ah, this is incredibly helpful and I appreciate the detail.
I was mainly concerned about the LR option as the home will be fairly large (10k+ ft) and while these obviously create a mesh network, I figured it would be better to have a LR option if possible - just in case.
Not entirely related, but do you know if the ST Hubs now support more than the previous limit of 5 hubs?
That limit was for the Wi-Fi mesh model and had to do with establishing a Wi-Fi network.
With the exception of those models, smartthings is not designed to have more than one hub per Z wave or zigbee network.
Sorry maybe I mis-represented “Hubs”. I have 1 hub and 4 connected ST units in my network. I’d like to add more but my understanding was that the limit was 5 total. Was this fixed as a firmware/software update with previous gen models or is there a newer hardware spec that actually lifts the 5 limit cap?
That sounds like the Wi-Fi mesh model. What’s the model number of the hub?
Looks like that would be ET-WV520. If that’s old, what’s the newer model that would allow for more hubs?
OK, that model number is for the old “connect home“ Wi-Fi mesh hub. That model has been discontinued.
The newer model is “Samsung WiFi Router with Plume,” model number ETWV525. It can have up to 32 sub hubs. However, it is not compatible with the model that you currently have, you would have to completely replace both the primary hub and the sub hubs with ones of the new model.
You can tell the difference because the newer model has two logos on it, both Samsung and smartthings, and the model that you have has only one logo.
Are you aware that Samsung has decided to take smartthings out of the home automation hardware business? They are transitioning to partners who will build “works as a smartthings hub“ Devices. Smartthings will offer the cloud and the app, not the hardware. So we don’t even know if a Wi-Fi mesh version will continue to be offered. It has already not received firmware updates as often as the other hub models.
At this point, over 95% of the smartthings customer base isn’t using a hub at all. They have a Samsung smart television or appliance and maybe a dozen Wi-Fi devices and a hue bridge and that’s about it.
Honestly, for a house of that size you’ve really moved out of range of what smartthings is intended for. Or most of its competitors. Most people would be looking at Lutron Homeworks or Control4 instead, although obviously those are much more expensive.
Thanks for tagging me @JDRoberts. He’s right @Wil_Schroter. I had well over 200 zwave devices at one time (my total device count was close to 300 back then) , and ST just does not play well with over 30 to 40 devices, at least from earlier this year.
Perhaps not mixing old and new Zwave stuff together in your mesh will yield better result than me, but others also had the same experience. I can’t find the discussion right now, but it’s been discussed several times already.
Perhaps ST’s Zwave implementation is getting better w/each firmware release, but I wasn’t going to wait. Almost my entire device population is now Zigbee, with just a few zwave devices left. I’m also bouncing up on 275 devices! Ever since committing to Zigbee devices, my ST environment has never ever been better, performed better, and been more reliable. I should have done Zigbee from the very beginning of ST and saved myself a ton of headaches.
My experiences may not typical, and you may not experience what I and others have, so keep that in mind.