Thanks for that URL. The PDF "Specifying a Vizia RF system" says more-or-less the same things I've been saying for a few years (since Z-Wave was introduced). They say you need a node every 30' "typically" while I've said 20-25' for reliability, especially in in an unfriendly RF environment.
A couple of their dealers were claiming wildly inflated range figures. One even claimed Zensys used super-secret technology that gave ultra-long range even through metal. ;)
Be careful of the max hops issue. The standard systems are limited to 4 hops which may be inadequate from the "far side" or beyond. Leviton's high priced spread has 7 hops which should be adequate but whether a non-Vizia remote can iniate longer-lived signals is a question you should look into.
I'm not up to speed either. I looked at it early on and decided it was too limited so have only checked on it sporadically as others have asked questions (which has been infrequent). I noted the Echelon white paper which spoke to the range issue way back when.
There were issues with secondary controllers being unaware of events for which they were not the master and there were issues with the necessity to erase/reprogram the whole system if a single node failed (and could not be removed from the network - there were a lot of early device failures). Whether these were just growing pains that have since been solved, I can't say. You might want to review the threads here where the author of CharmedQuark discussed some of these issues. With multiple vendors it may be that some have addressed the issues while others have not.
BTW, I found a reliable source for the 64KB EEPROM and am again actively (if slowly) working on roZetta. I've decided to switch to PureBasic for the PC side so I can supply interfaces for Windows and Linux (and Mac when there's an Intel Mac release of PB). I'm gradually grasping PB and hope to be trying to figure out how to enumerate the COM ports (USB->serial included) with PB under Linux sometime next week. Tibbo has virtual serial port drivers for Linux so I need to learn how to detect those as well.
I'm basing it on a combination of answers from *tech support and 30 years of real world experience in the industry -- 24 of those years spent installing and trouble-shooting.
*For example, ACT makes a line of Z-Wave devices with 4-hop capability. They test to 100' in open space. In my experience with RF devices, I've found that works out comfortably to a 30 foot "real world" range with room to spare.
Now, if you're asking for 100% reliability in any and every possible construction type, use a hard-wired system. But if you want to know what Z-Wave can do, it works well with up to 30' spacing. If you are installing a number of Z-Wave devices throughout the premises and one path becomes blocked the system will reroute the signals via another unit.
Is it 100% reliable? No, nothing is, but it's close enough and with redundant pathways it approaches 100%. Considering the most popular HA protocol is X10 with all of its quirks and foibles, Z-Wave is a serious contender. It can and does handle mid to large homes reliably. There are numerous homes in the 5-8,000 sf range successfully using Z-Wave with only 4 hops. With the release of
8-hop systems, Z-Wave can now control extremely large homes... reliably.
A little more info on Z-Wave range. According to Intermatic's Z-Wave FAQ:
"Question: How far will a signal travel?" "Answer: With an open field or no interference, the radio frequency signal will travel 200 feet. The average distance that signal will travel in a house is between 50 to 100 feet."
PB doesn't do any serial comms. Under Windows that's not much of a problem as I have VB code that uses Win32 API functions to enumerate the ports and handle comms. PB treats the Win32 API as if its functions were native PB functions so it's even easier than under VB.
I haven't looked at Linux serial I/O in detail yet as I want to finish the Windows app first. I do need to twiddle DTR to put the ZX40a chip into command (i.e. bootloader) mode.
Charles Sullivan suggested the same thing as you (I think - Linux is new to me) but I was hoping that, since the DeviceManager in Ubuntu shows all the hardware and "dmesg | grep tty" will also list the ports, there might be a way to enumerate them using PB so I can just list them in a menu.
I plan to make the source available (except where license restrictions prohibit it) so I may just leave this for the Linux users to do themselves.
Anytime you visit a wiki type site take what they say with a grain of salt. I found it a good link because it had links to other vendors of Z-Wave equipment. The general details are also useful and can be confirmed at the vendors site with a bit of digging.
I've done ~10 Z-wave installations so far and would be glad to answer any questions you may have. I also have a Z-controller serial interface you can play with. Please contact me direct (dan at starwolfsystems dot com).
- Every network must have a master controller. Its a hand held in many cases, though there are several serial ones out there that can be master
- Once setup, the lights will work with the master powered down, but without some sort of command device (handheld, computer, etc) how are you going to initiate actions?
- The routing algorithm in the master "knows" all devices and provides some level of routing optimization. How "smart" the routing actually is seems to vary, and most vendors are a little cagy on it. This also means that unlike X-10 you can not add and remove without updating all the controllers in the network. You also must have devices join the network in their intended physical location.
- I've done both better and worse than 25ft between modules. However, I am yet to see a home where I could not get things to work properly.
At this point I am only installing ViziaRF. Levition has worked out the kinks within their own product line quite well and will fix things when issues are found without fingerpointing. HAI has teamed with them as have other HA vendors like Somfy to insure working solutions that do not require a lot of X-10 style hacking.
This is not to say that Insteon and others are not there or going to get there, but right now, for me, Vizia is the best choice. YMMV.
Looks to me like you have no "real world experience" with Z-wave either. Your criticism of Dave H, therefore is based on... what?? Something you read in a book?? Something you "experienced" nine years ago?? You're an asshole, Bass.
$40 to $110 and up, and they vary tremendously in functionality. Low end Intermatics are 6 button, others have LCD screens and can do timed events and other higher end functions.
Any remote that is included into the network will work anywhere in the network. Not sure if there is a limit on slave controllers outside of the size of your wallet. I've done 10-12 slaves (including wall controllers) without an issue. Leviton also offers IR remotes to activate wall controllers, an interesting touch and low cost.
There is an controller to controller update feature. Takes a couple of minutes (max) each
Via the master controller you can force a remove. Then you have to go update the slave controllers. Until that is done, commands will be sent to it until it responds or command timeout occurs. On the wall controllers, the green light flashes while commands are being sent. It doesn't take long for most of them. If it continues to flash and then turns red, it means it could not reach a module, and its time to get the master controller. The master controller can do a check and tell you which one is not responding. A very useful tool. Note this is for the Vizia units, I can not speak to the other brands.
Not sure. Have never had a scenario where I could isolate and test that explicitly. I have seen the auto rerouting though.
As I understand it, Zigbee/Z-wave does not want the users having that kind of access. I have also heard rumors of at least one vendor going to offer it anyway as part of a debugging tool fir installers. Homeseer also offers some software that offers some insight into the routes that only works with their Z-controller. I have not used it.
Again, I have not done quantified testing. During partial installs, I have occasionally found what looked like a "you can't get there from here". Finished the install, and everything worked. In a couple of installations I clearly have 30ft+ jumps that work fine, one of which is to an external garage.
Its easier to look at the number of controlled loads and cost accordingly. New work is much easier, and you can reduce runs considerably with some forethought. The wall controllers make switch layout easy and minimizes the number of wall boxes required. Retrofits are more of a hassle, depending where the load switch is. Levition also makes non-RF Vizia which means loads that you never want to have controlled can have matching switches (i.e. garbage disposal). By way of examples, a 2400 sqft ranch style house with 4 bedrooms I retrofited has 38 controlled loads, 6 wall controllers and
5 handheld remotes. A new 4500 sqft house I will be doing soon has 62 controlled loads and 12 wall controllers, and is starting with 6 handhelds. YMMV.
Just about all of them. They all work reasonably well, but for appearance sake, its best to stick to one brand. Leviton also has the best overall product line breadth.
No idea, but HAI has one and I have been told all of their new thermostat line will support it when released. Probably get more gouge at EHX. Where I live now there are Mastercool evaporative coolers are the norm, and there are no externally controllable thermostats for them. I have been pinging HAI on creating one.
The West Coast EFX is coming up in a few weeks in Long Beach. It will be interesting to see what the vendors are pushing in terms of integrated lighting control.
Good idea given the number needed and the cost. I'm biased towards remotes as its increasingly more difficult for me to get around so no wall switch, no matter how many loads it controls, is really convenient. $6 for a Palmpad is hard to beat.
Plus, I have a couple of Prontos that can send X-10 RF.
Hmmm. I thought the biggest selling point was that it's easy to retrofit.
About 30 years ago I had a condo just down the beach from the Convention Center (#1 Third Place).
Thanks for the responses. Yours is the only credible reporting on Z-Wave that I've seen here since it was introduced.
No. You use the handheld during setup. You can use it as a remote but it's not needed for routine operation.
It varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.
If you can navigate the instructions without calling the engineers who wrote it incompetent amateurs you can handle it. If not you may have trouble.
You replace it.
It happens seemlessly, on the fly.
No. Your suggestion was based on supposition without experience. In real world applications a 30' spread has been found to be reliable. As in all things RF, there are cases where a particular unit cannot reach another particular unit at the rated distance. However, most applications provide multiple paths so the signal is simply rerouted. One of the strengths of Z-Wave is this ability to reroute as needed. Say for example, after the system is working normally you install a new appliance with a large, metal surface which blocks or cancels the signal. Affected Z-Wave devices will find another route.
The above was directed at Dan. I don't install any more. I sell home automation systems online. What we're seeing is people initially experiment with one to four modules. Later they buy between 10 and 20 units. Ocasionally someone will order 30, 40 or more lighting controls.
I don't know what you consider an average home. My place has 3800 sf under A/C and 2200 sf of enclosed lanai plus the garage. When I become well enough to climb around in my attic I'll be installing the ELK-M1G in my home. I have over 40 light switches and dimmers, 8 fans, 2 HVAC systems, a swimming pool / spa controller.
If the nodes are within 30 feet of another and it doesn't take more than 4 or 8 hops (depending on which system you're using) you'll be fine.
That's like asking how much does a car cost. There are too many variables to give a concise answer.
Dave has complained a few times about the price of the Z-Wave SDK. He seems to believe that unless a product line can be developed by a garage operation inexpensively the technology is doomed for HA. I disagree. There are very few people in this world who might like to develop a home-brew version of Z-Wave. While we enjoy working in this field, the HA market on the whole does not hinge on our interests. What most HA end users want is simplicity and control at a reasonable cost. Companies with the wherewithal to develop and market Z-Wave don't bat an eye at the SDK's cost. OTOH, if Zensys decided to make their SDK cheap enough that folks like Dave could buy it, they would then have to deal with many fold more tech support issues (not trying to denigrate Dave; it's just a fact of life that the more people working independently on something the more will require help).
Whether one agrees or disagrees with the above, there is another option for folks wanting to develop Z-Wave stuff on a shoestring budget. Control Think offers an SDK for under $150. Here's a link:
I have no connection with Control Think so I can't speak for the product but for those interested in doing some experimentation, the price seems reasonable.