Wow - I guess I figured out why smart home technology will take many more years to become mainstream and why Apple will dominate this market if Smartings is anything to go by!
That sounds really negative and I guess it is but let me explain the context.
I’m pretty technical I guess having been a CTO of various software companies for many years and absolutely love gadgets. I’m based in the U.K., did my research and the consensus was that smartthings is the best hub around so asked the family to get me a starter kit for xmas.
Problem 1: Box unpacked and everything plugged in trying to bind my multi purpose sensor. Broken and needed to be returned to Samsung which actually happened pretty efficiently.
New sensor installed and wrecking my brain about what to automate first. Answer: garden lights! I love them to come on an hour after it gets dark and given that they are connected to a standard plug / socket in the kitchen that should be easy. Given my ambitions decided to buy some more plugs and Vesternet offers Greenwave Powernode 1 for a reasonable price so bought a pack of 5.
Problem 2: switches arrive and are installed but it appears my house is too big for the switch to reach the hub. Bit surprised by that as my 1 wifi hotspot does reach the kitchen and the ST hub is installed close (but not too close) to that hotspot. Read somewhere that these z-wave devices are mesh networks so now pleased that I bought a bunch of them to install various of them between hub and kitchen. Didn’t work and a few posts / emails later learned that you have to do various “network repairs” and wait a day or so before that actually works. That did the trick!
Problem 3: Walked into the the kitchen the next day to notice the plug developed a rather annoying flashing sequence. Mrs Gadget was not happy about it so a solution should be found. I asked a few people but never got a satisfactory answer but I concluded that it must be that these switches expect to talk to the hub every few minutes and this polling just didn’t happen frequently enough.
Problem 4: Some people reported similar things and suggested that the keep-alive setting in these switches is increased to 255. I can do that! Well actually I can’t as I was using the standard z-wave metered switch device type which does not allow you to pass any additional configuration settings to that switch. I’m surprised that no one thought of that but hey - it seems I have to write my own device handler.
Problem 5: found the IDE create a device driver from the template and as every good developer learns quickly - first try to figure out how to get some debugging info out of the code so I can see what’s going on. Spend a few hours on that and wondered if I lost all my coding skills. After some extensive googling I find out that debugging using the virtual device doesn’t work reliably and hasn’t done so for about a year. Well that’s not handy but armed with that information I attach my device driver to my physical device in the IDE and as by magic. Debug messages appear!
Problem 6: armed with my new setup I add two debug lines to the driver on in the reset and poll commands to figure out how frequently they are used so I can try to add my keep-alive change to those commands. 30 min later I have to conclude that actually they are never called so more googling later I discover that that’s a known issue as well and the solution is a smart app called Pollster but that’s not really recommended either.
That’s where I am at the moment. The garden lights still need to be switched on manually at night and whilst I will continue to try and crack this - most sane individuals would have given up a long time ago and concluded that this stuff just doesn’t work.
If things aren’t easy - it will never reach main stream adoption and this technology seems unbelievably flaky. If the world at large doesn’t sort that out you will soon find that Apple walks in with something that is plug-and-play (and a lot more expensive) but just works and will control the market obviously ignoring any standards like z-wave or zigbee.
Come on Samsung - pull your finger out as not fixing bugs, not considering usability, not having stock and promising things like EVO home integration in the U.K. for many years and not delivering is just not acceptable.
Sorry need to leave now to manually switch the garden lights off.