Z-Wave connection issues

I moved into a new house this summer, and have been working hard to get my system all set up properly, adding new things to it, etc. I have been having a ton of issues with my Z-wave devices, and I’m hoping I can get some advice here on how to proceed.

Before I dive in, please know that I have scoured the forums here and the internet elsewhere trying to find advice that will help me. Some of that information has been helpful, and some not so much, but I am past the point of generic answers and need some specific recommendations for my personal setup and issues.

My workshop/garage is detached from my house and set back 50 feet from my back door. I have a Z-wave Range Extender in the kitchen, 4 feet from the back door and in visible range of the back of the workshop. I have another Z-wave range extender in the workshop window facing the house.

The door leading into the workshop has a Schlage Connect Z-wave deadbolt on it, actually the one that I had on my front door at my old house. This is where we run into the first set of issues. The lock runs out of battery power about once every 4-6 weeks. My new Schlage Zigbee locks in the house don’t have this issue. I read that this was probably due to the lock being too far away from the network, thus the additional range extender I added in the Workshop window.

The Lock also has some issues staying connected to the network. It will randomly become unavailable, and I don’t have any clue why.

In an effort to provide more Z-wave support, and to try to do some more automation in the garage, I replaced the in-wall light switch with a GE Z-wave switch in the workshop. This switch is literally within 3 feet of the lock and 2 feet of the window range extender.

After doing that install, I connected the switch to SmartThings, and tried to set up some automation. I also ran multiple a Z-wave repairs to try to get the best route set up. That was last weekend.

Not long after doing the repair, the switch decided not to connect to the system any more. When I look at the device list in my IDE the device shows as offline. The switch itself still works, it just does not want to connect.

I have been wondering if the issues are due to the long distance between the house and the workshop, so I just bought ANOTHER range extender and placed it in the yard halfway between the two points (hiding next to a lavender bush in a plastic waterproof box… we’ll see if my wife notices it or the extension cable I ran).

I just ran the Z-wave network repair again, and here is what I see (reverse order):

  • Z-Wave network repair finished
  • Network repair for Workshop Door [0D]: Failed to update route
  • Range Extender - Back Yard rejoined
  • Network repair for Workshop Lights [0E]: Failed to update mesh info
  • Workshop Lights rejoined
  • Range Extender - Kitchen rejoined
  • Range extender - Workshop rejoined
  • Z-Wave network repair started

So, what I see here is that 1) Light switch is actually part of the network, despite being unavailable. 2) The Lights can’t update the mesh info (which the post about Z-wave everyone here points to does not actually explain), 3) My workshop door lock is not able to update the route (a bad thing, apparently).

Okay this is where we come down to the questions, which I hope some of you amazing people can help me answer.

  1. Am I doing something wrong here? Is there something I should be doing differently about this setup?

  2. What is the best approach to fixing these issues? Should I remove all of these things from SmartThings and add them back in one at a time? Is that something that would actually work? If I do that, should I do it in some specific order or over some specific range of time?

  3. Is this a lost cause? Is Z-wave really this bad?

Thank you in advance for any and all assistance you can give me.

That’s honestly a really good question. If that’s the case, we’d see people complaining about zwave on all other platforms besides ST, but since I don’t keep track of that or have visibility to other platforms, I have no idea. Also, manufacturers are still investing in zwave, so I don’t think zwave is bad. You do have to ask yourself why though companies like Amazon support zigbee vs zwave in their voice assistants, and what drove them to that decision. I don’t know, perhaps zwave support is on Amazon’s roadmap?

What I speculate could be just the way ST implemented and manages zwave on their platform compared to others. I’ve personally taken old zwave devices failing in ST and moved them over to another location (different platform), and they work just fine. In fact, the ones I’ve left there are still working just fine.

A few months ago I started having tons of issues with zwave and zwave+ devices, after months and months of no issues, surprisingly at the same time ST’s hub firmware started to be upgraded to improve zwave on their platform. That’s when I decided to replace all my zwave devices with zigbee devices. It was over a hundred devices (including locks), and now I’m down to just a handful of zwave devices.

Long story made short, the remaining zwave devices (regular and plus) are working just fine, and I don’t get any of those repair messages you linked to in your post. My zwave repairs take 5 minutes or less too. I attribute the improvement to significantly reducing the number of zwave devices, as well as ensuring any remaining devices are healthy, are zwave plus where possible, and behave well in the mesh.

What about my zigbee move? Well I’ve never had a problem since with any of those devices I’ve moved, and performance has been outstanding (well over 200 zigbee devices now). I may not have an outbuilding like you, but I do have a mailbox sensor sitting at about 50ft from the closest repeater (inside the house). It’s never failed - even when getting smashed and being knocked off the box into the neighbor’s yard across the street.

So getting back to your original question on what assistance we can help with. I’d say be open to using zigbee devices, focus on zwave plus devices and upgrading your old zwave devices, and/or experiment with hub placement in combination with those other 2 ideas, as well as re-adding devices starting closest to the hub and working outwards.

I don’t think there’s any silver bullet in resolving things like this, and my experiences are just that, and may not be relevant for you or even an option. What works well for me might not work well for you or others, but I was in a similar situation like you and those are the actions I took.

Amazon owns Ring, Ring uses zwave for their security system. :sunglasses:

True, but do you think we’ll see it in an Echo device some day? Perhaps?

I do want to add that one of my employees recently added Ring security and sensors, and he’s been quite happy with it so far. I believe he’s only had 1 issue with a sensor and range, but Ring was quick to help.

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I say this pretty often (I was a network engineer and worked with both zwave and zigbee before ever getting smartthings), so you may have seen it in some of the other forum postings that you read, but you don’t need the single purpose zwave range extenders. They can’t do anything that another Z wave plus repeating device in the same location wouldn’t do, and they are using up hops.

They were useful back in the third generation of zwave, but now that we are in the fifth (Zwave plus), they are not needed and can cause problems. They only exist because people who are unfamiliar with the protocols think they are similar to Wi-Fi boosters, which they are not.

Z wave is limited to four hops per message. So the first possibility is that you’ve used up too many hops with your range extenders. :disappointed_relieved: this could also explain why sometimes messages get through to a particular device and sometimes they don’t: it may depend on the path they are taking.

So let’s start with the basics. What is the brand and model and physical location of each of the Z wave devices you currently have connected to your hub. All of them.

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Maybe, but not until they offer the equivalent of zigbee’s “simple setup.” (That is, until echo’s “discover devices“ can add them without requiring physical manipulation of each device.) I do think it’s likely echo might be added to the Ring base station at some point.

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Have you opened a support ticket? They will have additional insight to help with a diagnosis.

Do you have more than those 5 Z-Wave devices listed in the logs from the repair? Only two non-range extender devices? The lock and an in-wall switch?

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Wow, thank you so much for the responses, everyone!

@Brad_ST I have not opened a ticket, as I honestly did not think about it. If that’s the best route to go, then I’m happy to do so.

@johnconstantelo Thanks for the commiseration! I am definitely open to using Zigbee, especially considering the issues I have had with Z-wave. My other deadbolts are both Schlage Zigbee, and I have some Sylvania Zigbee switches throughout the house. Also, I had a feeling that I might have to remove and re-add the devices from start to finish, so that’s probably next on my list.

@JDRoberts You just blew my mind. I had no idea that Z-wave is limited to four hops per message, and that could definitely be one of my problems. As you mentioned, I was going off the assumption that it worked like a wireless mesh network, and that I just needed to have better coverage. Does Zigbee have the same limitation?

As for the Z-wave devices I have now, it is only the ones I mentioned before. The three range extenders are all Aeotec Range Extender 6 Z-Wave Plus, the light switch is a GE White Enbrighten Z-Wave Plus Smart Light Switch, and the deadbolt is a Schlage BE469NX Camelot Z-Wave (not plus). Part of my plan here is to expand the rest of the system out in the workshop/garage over time (lights, garage door, etc.), so I have been assuming getting these working well would be the best way to start that.

In case it helps, here is a diagram of the layout (green star is my SmartThings hub, upstairs in my office):

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Zwave is a wireless mesh network. It’s just a wireless mesh network with a limit of four hops per message. :blush:

The Zigbee profile that smartthings uses has a hop limit also, but it’s 15 hops into the hub and 15 hops out. However, each hop is shorter than a Z wave hop.

First steps I would do:

Get rid of the range extender that is inside the garage. Then run a zwave repair and show us what error messages you get.

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Second JD’s recommendations .

Couple questions / suggestions, when you mention zwave repeaters do they support beaming? And the new GE switch, is it zwave plus and does it support beaming?

Other suggestions, draw a complete map and list of your devices and consider options to relocate the hub and powered zwave devices to optimize the mesh.

Yes, both device models the OP mentioned support beaming.

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@JDRoberts I unplugged the Workshop range extender and ran the repair, and here are the results (reverse order):

Z-Wave network repair finished
Network repair for Range extender - Workshop [09]: Failed to update route
Network repair for Range extender - Back Yard [0F]: Failed to update mesh info
Range extender - Back Yard rejoined
Network repair for Workshop Lights [0E]: Failed to update mesh info
Workshop Lights rejoined
Range Extender - Kitchen rejoined
Network repair for Range extender - Workshop [09]: Failed to update mesh info
Range extender - Workshop rejoined
Z-Wave network repair started
Z-Wave network repair finished
Z-Wave network repair started

I’m not sure why it started and finished then started again. I only activated it once.

Honestly, if I can get this to work without the extender in the back yard, that would be my preference.

@Madisonriver I can’t move the hub (it is next to my router and central to the house right now), and while I had originally planned to put the switch in the kitchen by the back door in part to help with this issue, I found out after buying it that there is no Neutral wire in that location. I’ll be getting a new switch for that, but honestly at this point I will probably look for a Zigbee one…

I don’t want you just to unplug it. I want you to remove it from the network. We need to get the address tables rebuilt.

After you have removed it from the network, run the Z wave repair, then show us those error messages.

@JDRoberts Gotcha, done.

Z-Wave network repair finished
Network repair for Workshop Door [0D]: Failed to update route
Range Extender - Back Yard rejoined
Network repair for Workshop Lights [0E]: Failed to update mesh info
Workshop Lights rejoined
Network repair for Range Extender - Kitchen [0B]: Failed to update mesh info
Range Extender - Kitchen rejoined
Z-Wave network repair started

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Ok.

Physically move the kitchen range extender into the same room as the hub, then run the repair again.

BTW, your first post said the FAQ doesn’t explain the error message

But it does, in post 25.

Since the kitchen repeater did not report its neighbors, we have to get that fixed before we go any further.

So we are physically moving that device to see if the issue is the range to that device, or if it’s something else. :sunglasses:

(BTW, kitchens and garages are almost always the toughest rooms to get signal in and out of, except basements. Lots of big metal objects, frequently water pipes in the wall, sometimes ceramics. It can get tricky. Absent installer tools which smartthings does not give us, it often just takes trial and error to get the device locations right.)

Okay, that makes a ton of sense. I saw the earlier response in that thread, but I admit I did not read down to yours. I really appreciate you helping me out with this.

I moved the Kitchen range extender to the same room as the hub (office), then got this:

Z-Wave network repair finished
Network repair for Workshop Door [0D]: Failed to update route
Network repair for Range Extender - Back Yard [0F]: Failed to update mesh info
Range Extender - Back Yard rejoined
Network repair for Workshop Lights [0E]: Failed to update mesh info
Workshop Lights rejoined
Range Extender - Kitchen rejoined
Z-Wave network repair started

So, based on this, it looks like while the devices are connecting, they are not able to share their mesh information?

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It looks like a range issue. You weren’t getting signal down to the kitchen, so you weren’t getting signal from there out to the outbuilding.

The kitchen extender was fine once you put it in the room with the hub.

Is there a room Other than kitchen on the same side of the house as the garage that you could move the kitchen extender to? (Like I said, kitchens are often problematic.) preferably with a window?

Our next goal is to move the kitchen extender someplace inside the main house where we have good communications with the hub and then see if we can get a good connection to the yard extender from that. We’re not going worry about the garage switch or the garage lock yet. we just want hub to kitchen extender to yard to be clean first.

I’m tired now, so I’m going to let other people continue with this, but you get the idea. Build out from where the hub is, 1 hop at a time. :sunglasses:

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@JDRoberts you have been amazingly helpful and gracious! Thanks for putting up with my back and forth. I’ll take it from here and see if I can get it figured out on my own, then report back on the thread with what happens.

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I know you, @JDRoberts, dislike repeaters but I never snapped to the hop limitation. I’m sure it was mentioned, just never thought about it hard enough.

I’ve got a good z-wave mesh but I’m using three Aeotec repeaters to get it. Wall full of kitchen appliances sitting between the centrally-located wiring closet and the great room.

Pretty sure I’m at the max 4 hops getting to 3-gang box of switches and dimmers at the north end.

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