SmartThings Community

Z-wave switches with Instant Update (2016)


(Chrisb) #1

Sorry if this topic has been covered already… I’ve been sorta out of the forums for a number of months now due to a lot going on in life.

If my memory serves me correctly, the patent that requires Z-wave and Zigbee devices to license the ability to instantly update status to a hub has expired. If this is correct, are there now cheaper z-wave switches which will provide instant update of status?

I need to replace a handful of switches that have gone bad and would like to make sure I’m getting ones that will do instant update now if they are available without paying the higher prices for the Cooper or Levitron.

Thanks for any help.


(Alex) #2

I found this on another forum: "…Lutron patent 5,905,442 titled “METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR CONTROLLING AND DETERMINING THE STATUS OF ELECTRICAL DEVICES FROM REMOTE LOCATIONS” has expired.

The only thing I understand that could make the date later than 2/7/2016 would be an extension due to a delay by the USPTO and I can’t find anything showing such an extension."

This is great news! I hope the feature spreads to all applicable devices. I believe when I asked about it to one device vendor, they said that the feature was off by default (likely to avoid the royalty fee) but could be enabled via software configuration so if that is the case, it might not take that long for manufacturers to add it to their devices as they might just have to tell you how to enable it.

In my case, I exclusively installed Leviton Vizia RF+ switches because of this feature. Over the past couple years the prices have dropped significantly and I now suspect it is due to the patent expiring and therefore the feature no longer really representing a major differentiating benefit (yes of course, also the natural market tendency of price going down over time as product gains volume, etc). I wonder whether the cheaper version sold at Home Depot, that does not have instant update, will now get it via some config option. Anyone?


#3

The Lutron patents

The issue is that there are actually two separate patents that may cover this feature. One expired this year, but the other still has awhile to run. And nobody wants to test it because Lutron, the patent holder, justifiably sued everybody there was the first time around (including Control4) and won every time. So all of the manufacturers are waiting for either Lutron to make a statement or someone else to test the waters.

It’s important to note that a lot of people, including me, were confused because the term “instant status” is not under trademark. And it’s not written into the patent itself. So people can say they have instant status even if they are not using the Lutron patent.

Where I got tripped up on this was earlier this year when Homeseer released some new switches right around the time of the first patent expiration that they said had “instant status.” Which they do, but they are not using the patented method, which is implemented using the “hail” command set of Zwave. Instead, they are using “central scene” commands, which is a new method, but which for technical reasons does not infringe on the Lutron patent.

There have always been ways to get the same end result without infringing on the patent, most notably through Z wave Association, so there have always been alternatives. This is just a new alternative. But it was not a device being released because of the patent expiration.

(Like I said, I got that one wrong at the time. But I wasn’t the only one. :sunglasses:)

The current sutuation

all of which is to say at the present time, you can get the same effect as the Lutron instant status patent from a Z wave load control switch that controls (not just supports) any of the following command sets:

Hail
Association
Central Scene

Check the conformance statement for each device to be sure. These are filed on the official Z wave alliance products site.

http://products.z-wavealliance.org

And even devices which don’t have this probably update their status in under a minute with SmartThings, so it’s really only a big deal for things like virtual three ways.

Instant status doesn’t mean the light is slow to come on

Also note that “instant status” doesn’t have anything to do with how quickly the light comes on when you hit the switch that controls the current load to that light. . It has to do with how quickly the SmartThings hub knows that the light came on when you hit the switch. So the only time that matters is if you want the hub to do something different because that light switch was hit. And it doesn’t apply to all kinds of devices–just light switches that control the current load to the light. Handheld remotes and other battery operated devices are not covered by the patent.

As far as specific zwave brands, right now I believe that only Cooper and the high end Leviton models have actually licensed the Lutron patent and use the “hail” command.

The homeseer switches use the central scene command.

Several brands use association from the master switch to achieve the same result, I just don’t remember exactly which ones. (Be careful, as some models only use association to associate an auxiliary switch to the master switch, if the master doesn’t control association, The status won’t get updated at the hub.)

I know that was long and confusing, but it’s a long and confusing and highly technical issue. I hope that helps a little anyway. :sunglasses::bulb:

@duncan @tyler @slagle @jody.albritton


(Chrisb) #4

And virtual 3-way is precisely why I’m looking for the instant update! :slight_smile:

Thanks for the info JD… I almost tagged you in my first post cause I figured you’d have the answer.


#5

If you want virtual three-way, your best bet is Cooper or the high-end Leviton switches. It may work with the others, it just depends on how efficient your network is and how many hops each device is from the hub.

The Linear/GoControl switches also work well (they use association with each other) if you’re just looking to have turning on the auxiliary quickly turn on the master. But the hub may be a few seconds behind in updating the status and acting on it for other devices. But you’ll need a minimote to make the direct association between the two switches.


(Chris LeBlanc) #6

Sorry to dig up quite a dated thread but since this thread pops up at the top of Google I thought I’d ask for some clarity here on a few questions and add some clarity for the devices that our out there.

I have a Leviton Decora Dimmer (DZ6HD-1BZ) and according to the documentation https://www.leviton.com/en/docs/DI-000-DZ6HD-02A-W.pdf it supports both COMMAND_CLASS_HAIL and COMMAND_CLASS_ASSOCIATION (Lifeline)

I also have owned a GE 14294 Dimmer and it supports three separate types of COMMAND_CLASS_ASSOCIATION (Lifeline, Load (Tap?), and Double Tap).

I have confirmed these findings with OZW (I’m currently using Home Assistant for these devices).

What model number of Decora dimmer are you referring to that doesn’t support hail @JDRoberts? Maybe an older generation?

My ultimate question is, does anyone understand how the COMMAND_CLASS_ASSOCIATION types work? I ask because I’d like to group multiple DZ6HD-1BZ instead of the AUX (DD00R-DLZ) for my three way configuration so I get the same interface across all three devices (The DD00R-DLZ does it’s own thing with it’s LEDs), I’m guessing Lifeline type isn’t used to group devices together, only used to group the dimmer with the hub and report it’s “availability” (trying not to use the word status again haha).

EDIT:
Reading about how COMMAND_CLASS_HAIL (obsolete) works it seems like a way around the patent as well so there might be some misinformation in this thread :expressionless:. Hail seems to just report that the device desires to be polled (hence the use of the word HAIL :wink: ) but doesn’t actually send it’s status to the controller. So I assume even a device that supports HAIL wouldn’t work the best in a 3-way because theres probably 4 messages that go out when one device changes, 1) “hey, poll me”, 2) “controller polls”, 3) “device sends info” 4) “controller updates other devices”.

What we probably REALLY need/want is a device that supports SWITCH_MULTILEVEL_REPORT and COMMAND_CLASS_CENTRAL_SCENE. See HomeSeer HS-WD100 (Same as ZWP/ZLink), Inovelli NP-TF5W–TCVCKHOEZP (Same as Zooz).


#7

Wow! That’s a lot of different subjects tangled together, as well as the fact that this topic was two years old before you responded to it and there are literally over a dozen newer threads that discuss central scene commands and various types of instant status, and I’m tired today, so I don’t want to spend too much time in this topic. So I’m just going to try to untangle a few things, and then let’s continue the discussion in one of the newer topics which is more relevant to the current generation of devices. :sunglasses:

I’m going to number the following points, not because of any implied sequence, but just to keep the tangled subjects separated.

  1. “instant status” Is just a marketing term and was never trademarked. So it can apply to many different ways of communicating between dimmer and the hub. It is not limited just to the Lutron patents – – in fact those patents don’t use the term at all.

  2. the Three most common ways to do “instant status” in a zwave network are: the method covered by the Lutron patents (which was implemented with the “hail” command), direct Association, and central scene commands.

  3. “Hail” is actually the other way around from what you’ve described. It was used by those companies that did license the Lutron patents, most notably Eaton cooper and Leviton. Most other companies initially used direct association to provide something similar, but as of 2017 most switched to using central scene commands.

  4. What you describe is pretty much how the Lutron patent worked: The dimmer notified the hub that there had been a change at the wall switch, and then the hub requested the current status. This was to allow it to get the current dim level, which was the trickiest part technically of the whole process.

Direct association works by having the wall device tell both the dimmer switch and the hub to do the same thing. The hub ignores that part of the request, but gets the information without violating the Lutron patent used in Hail.

Central scenes work by having the wall device tell the hub a specific code, And then the hub tells the dimmer switch what to do based on which code it received.

  1. There seems to be a lot of confusion about what direct association does. But it has been discussed many times in other threads in the forum so I’m not going to go over all of that again here. Here’s one thread that discusses how a lifeline Association group in zwave plus works:

Note that per the standard, all zwave plus devices must support lifeline group association.

Also:

also have owned a GE 14294 Dimmer and it supports three separate types of COMMAND_CLASS_ASSOCIATION (Lifeline, Load (Tap?), and Double Tap).

That’s three separate association groups, not types.

https://products.z-wavealliance.org/products/2105/assoc?noFilename=True

  1. That said, the basic purpose of direct association was to allow one device, such as a motion sensor, to send a “basic” (that has a very specific meaning in a Z wave context) Command to another Z wave devices in the same room (like a light switch) without having to tell the hub about it. That’s all it’s for. By associating the two devices together, you are giving the trigger device permission to send one specific type of command directly to the target device without going through the hub first. It’s not very useful in a smartthings set up as then you can’t put any additional logic On the command, you can only use it with other zwave devices, And you can only use it with devices which are physically nearby.

So if you set up the motion sensor to tell the light switch to come on, that will always happen – – even if it’s the middle of the day. Other methods, including central scene, would allow You to only have the motion sensor event trigger the light coming on between sunset and midnight, or only in certain modes, or to also include lights on the other side of the house.

  1. You can read more about how association works in the public specification

http://zwavepublic.com/specifications

  1. “Decora” Is a trademark of the Leviton company and refers to what are now commonly called “rocker” switches.

However The first generation of Z wave switches made by Leviton were not rockers. And so not called “Decora.” Instead, they were a momentary switch where you always pressed at the bottom of the switch whether you were turning it on or off. Some people like this, some people hated it, but that’s just the way it was. Then in 2017 Leviton came out with a new line of “Decora Smart” switches, including a zwave plus Model, which did look just like their dumb Decora switches ( Press the rocker at the top for on, press the rocker at the bottom for off.)

Old style (not Decora)

image

New (2017) style (Decora Smart)

image

Back in the original line there was a set of budget switches, of the kind where you pressed at the bottom whether you wanted to turn it on or off, Which did not license the Lutron patent and so were less expensive. But that line has now been discontinued

  1. You can find further current discussion of all this in the Homeseer switch threads.

Using DZ6HD-1BZ (no aux) or Homeseer WD200 in a 3-way?
#8

I don’t understand this comment. Could you start over, start a new thread, and explain what it is you’re trying to accomplish and then we can give you some suggestions based on 2018 technology. :sunglasses:

Don’t worry about the Z wave commandsets or terms for now: just tell us what it is that you would like to have as the end result and the brand/model numbers of the devices that are involved, and I’m sure we can come up with something.