After a rather disastrous weekend with SmartThings, I wanted to share my experience with Z-Wave Secure Join. I’m posting this here because after a discussion with support that was completely fruitless I’ve begun to believe that the ST staff doesn’t believe there’s a problem with their z-wave routines, despite all evidence to the contrary.
I received a new Schlage Connect deadbolt direct from the manufacturer, firmware version is 7.1. From the beginning SmartThings’s inclusion routines was problematic.
First, one thing that I learned the hard way is that the ST hub will lie to you. It will act as if an inclusion was successful even if secure join failed. For these deadbolts, the functionality is extremely limited if it cannot successfully complete the secure join, you really can’t control the lock. A non-secure join is not a successful workaround. I’ve only found two ways to determine if secure join was successful:
- Look for the Security Class code listed in the device’s list of capabilities.
- Within the IDE select the hub, and then select “Events” and look for the inclusion events. This log only looks like it goes back 200 entries, so be sure to check immediately after adding a device. Why these log entries aren’t visible in Live Logging I don’t know, but at least I do know that I have to check multiple places to figure out just what happened.
Instead of going through a narrative let me just notate all the problems I experienced. Most of these I was able to get past by power cycling the hub in between each attempt. Crude, but out of everything I tried this was the most consistent for ensuring success.
- Brought hub to within 10 feet of the new lock. Power cycled the hub, ensured it had mains power and good network connection.
- Put the hub into Inclusion mode. Sometimes this would work (meaning the green light would flash and there would be entries in the Events log) and sometimes it wouldn’t (nothing would happen).
- When the hub would go into inclusion mode, put the lock into inclusion mode. The first time I tried this the hub would say the device had been added, but going into the Events log the secure inclusion would show as failed.
- Power Cycle hub
- Exclude the lock. Sometimes this would work and the lock would be removed. Sometimes it would not and I would have to try it again.
- Power Cycle hub
- After repeating steps 2-6 multiple times I would manage the get the lock included in the network with secure join showing as success.
This was where I was at Saturday night. The lock was present, the lock manager smartapp was managing it, SmartThings had it in the room, I added it to some routines I have, things were good. Or so I thought.
I left Live Logging open, and sometime around 5am on Sunday morning the lock just disappeared. No errors. No log entries. Nothing. It was just gone. It was missing from the system entirely, as if it never existed. SmartThings support knew absolutely nothing and could provide no useful information.
Of course the lock still thought it was part of a z-wave network, so I had to do a general device exclusion to get it out. Then I had the honor of repeating the above steps AGAIN, running into all the same problems along the way. It remains to be seen whether the lock will actually stay, but if there’s a way to mess it up I’m sure the hub will find a way.
It gets even more bizarre. I have a secondary controller from another vendor just so I can get useful z-wave information. For a lot of the attempts that the hub said had failed, it allocated a z-wave device ID, and there were a bunch of these phantom devices in the system. So whatever ST is doing to the z-wave network seems to have some deficiencies in the routine that cause it to break in incoherent ways.
It’s this instability that is moving me further away from SmartThings. I’ve had the hub coming up on one year in September and while there was a brief period of stability in the Spring it’s been getting progressively worse again. I can’t count on it handling a secure join correctly without double checking it, which makes me think I need to go back through and verify the other secure devices I have are showing up correctly.
Even worse is that now I can’t even count on a device that IS successfully added to remain connected to the system.
Support is terrible when they do respond, and when they don’t the excuse is “well Mondays is a busy day” as if that explains everything.
I do like the platform’s UI overall but after dealing with stability and z-wave join issues for this long I’m not sure I can continue any longer with this hub and maintain the peace in the household.
If anyone has any ideas on what I could be trying differently I’m all ears.