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Remote Location - Two Instances of Homeseer on Different Machines?

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  • Remote Location - Two Instances of Homeseer on Different Machines?

    Hi All,

    I've been an on-again/off-again Homeseer user for well over a decade (mostly off in recent years, relying instead on just my Elk and ISY). But we are in the process of buying a vacation property in a very remote location that may not be visited for up to 3-4 months during the winter. We will have satellite internet there and I can likely configure Dual WAN to failover to cellular if necessary. The property will have an autostart backup generator with a very large propane tank, and I will move a large battery backup/inverter system I rigged up for an existing property to this property (capable of powering Homeseer, router and modem, security and the propane furnace for several days). I want to use Homeseer to monitor the property (connecting to an existing Napco Gemini P3200 security system, which I hope to tie in via the plugin). I also hope to use Homeseer for control of HVAC, and some lighting and on/off modules. If possible, I also hope to figure out a way to delay use of the generator until the batteries on my inverter/battery system go below a certain level, as that should get us through most power outages and preserve fuel during longer outages. But here's my question:

    I have an existing PC that has Homeseer installed on it, and also a Zee. I have this idea that I could run the PC with Homeseer as a "primary" instance of Homeseer, but also leave the Zee up and running with "barebones" plugins running as well on it (Napco Gemini, HVAC, Zwave), but without firing events from the Zee UNLESS the primary Homeseer PC goes down (failed drive, Windows brain freeze, etc.). My thinking is that the primary instance on the PC could produce a "heartbeat" that could be monitored by the Zee, and as long as the Zee sees that, it stays essentially dormant in terms of events. But if the Zee fails to detect the PC heartbeat, it could cut the power to the PC and thus force a restart. If the PC restarted and resumed its heartbeat, then the Zee could just go dormant again. But if not, then the Zee could take over and maintain control of essential items. Of course, I could do the same with the PC, monitoring a heartbeat form the Zee.

    So, here are my questions: Would this work? Can anyone point out flaws or watchouts in this logic? And has anyone else done something similar (if so, Would you mind sharing any scripts or other info you have developed)?

    Thanks in advance!

    Madcodger
    Madcodger

    This would be a lot easier if I knew what I was doing...

  • #2
    Bump. really? No thoughts or experiences in this area?
    Madcodger

    This would be a lot easier if I knew what I was doing...

    Comment


    • #3
      I do not use two instances of HS, but use a single instance to monitor multiple locations. Rooms can be at either location and interfaced with devices that communicate via Ethernet. Rs232 devices are done with IP/serial adapters so it does matter which house the device is located because it looks like an IP address.

      Many of my devices use MQTT as the communication protocol and since it is IP it also makes no difference of the physical location.

      The secret to success it to minimize the complexity. I tend to find that devices that run under Windows or Linux are inherently complex with lots of dependencies. Microcontrollers that have very targeted responsibility are better building blocks. Be careful of Zee/Pi implementations because they usually run off of SD that are designed for limited write cycles couch as with a camera. They are especially sensitive to power interruption and could find it unbootable after one.

      A very important aspect is the infrastructure that you are likely overlooking in your logic. You need a reliable internet connection and a means to reset it remotely when communications are lost. I use a device that is designed for this purpose. It is essentially a power extension with two recepticals. One is cycled when it does not get a ping response from multiple sites such as google and yahoo. The second does the same, but on a time delay. The first is for modem and the second for router.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Michael McSharry View Post
        I do not use two instances of HS, but use a single instance to monitor multiple locations. Rooms can be at either location and interfaced with devices that communicate via Ethernet. Rs232 devices are done with IP/serial adapters so it does matter which house the device is located because it looks like an IP address.

        Many of my devices use MQTT as the communication protocol and since it is IP it also makes no difference of the physical location.

        The secret to success it to minimize the complexity. I tend to find that devices that run under Windows or Linux are inherently complex with lots of dependencies. Microcontrollers that have very targeted responsibility are better building blocks. Be careful of Zee/Pi implementations because they usually run off of SD that are designed for limited write cycles couch as with a camera. They are especially sensitive to power interruption and could find it unbootable after one.

        A very important aspect is the infrastructure that you are likely overlooking in your logic. You need a reliable internet connection and a means to reset it remotely when communications are lost. I use a device that is designed for this purpose. It is essentially a power extension with two recepticals. One is cycled when it does not get a ping response from multiple sites such as google and yahoo. The second does the same, but on a time delay. The first is for modem and the second for router.
        Thanks, Michael. I appreciate your thoughts and advice. Still thinking through the best way to boost reliability. Will chime in as I learn.

        Madcodger

        This would be a lot easier if I knew what I was doing...

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Madcodger View Post
          Hi All,

          I've been an on-again/off-again Homeseer user for well over a decade (mostly off in recent years, relying instead on just my Elk and ISY). But we are in the process of buying a vacation property in a very remote location that may not be visited for up to 3-4 months during the winter. We will have satellite internet there and I can likely configure Dual WAN to failover to cellular if necessary.

          The property will have an autostart backup generator with a very large propane tank, and I will move a large battery backup/inverter system I rigged up for an existing property to this property (capable of powering Homeseer, router and modem, security and the propane furnace for several days). I want to use Homeseer to monitor the property (connecting to an existing Napco Gemini P3200 security system, which I hope to tie in via the plugin). I also hope to use Homeseer for control of HVAC, and some lighting and on/off modules. If possible, I also hope to figure out a way to delay use of the generator until the batteries on my inverter/battery system go below a certain level, as that should get us through most power outages and preserve fuel during longer outages. But here's my question:

          I have an existing PC that has Homeseer installed on it, and also a Zee. I have this idea that I could run the PC with Homeseer as a "primary" instance of Homeseer, but also leave the Zee up and running with "barebones" plugins running as well on it (Napco Gemini, HVAC, Zwave), but without firing events from the Zee UNLESS the primary Homeseer PC goes down (failed drive, Windows brain freeze, etc.). My thinking is that the primary instance on the PC could produce a "heartbeat" that could be monitored by the Zee, and as long as the Zee sees that, it stays essentially dormant in terms of events. But if the Zee fails to detect the PC heartbeat, it could cut the power to the PC and thus force a restart. If the PC restarted and resumed its heartbeat, then the Zee could just go dormant again. But if not, then the Zee could take over and maintain control of essential items. Of course, I could do the same with the PC, monitoring a heartbeat form the Zee.

          So, here are my questions: Would this work? Can anyone point out flaws or watchouts in this logic? And has anyone else done something similar (if so, Would you mind sharing any scripts or other info you have developed)?

          Thanks in advance!

          Madcodger
          Madcodger

          I think the main reason that you are not getting the overwhelming responses you thought you would get is that HA (High Availability) on an HA (Home Automation) system like HomeSeer seems to be a simple matter on the surface but in reality is very difficult, even under the best circumstances.

          HomeSeer is not really designed for an active failover situation as you envisioned and described, if it were we would all be doing it.

          Here is my first try at a list of watchouts with this logic.

          1. How "likely" is it that you can configure dual WAN with failover?

          2. How is the Napco connected to the HomeSeer system? Most alarms are serial so how will you get the serial connection to failover to the backup system?

          3. How is the HVAC system connected to the HomeSeer system? Can that connection be failed over?

          4. How is the Zwave connected? Are you using some sort of Zstick in the PC and a different Zwave radio in the Zee? This will cause issues when trying to have the Zwave network connect to the backup HomeSeer system.

          5. Is the generator and UPS system capable of monitoring the battery status and only starting the generator when the battery falls below a preset level. Most backup generators I have seen don't work this way.

          6. How are you planning to manage the events in HomeSeer? I do not think there is a way to manage the events between the two system in a way that would let you enable and disable them based on the failover you described.

          These are just a few of the challenges I see.

          Comment


          • #6
            Madcodger In theory, Z-Wave supports using both a primary and secondary hub and it should be possible to use the secondary as a backup.

            In reality, it is almost impossible to get this to work properly. If you were to use a secondary hub, each device would have to be associated with both hubs (usually thorugh its Group 1 association capability). This would allow a device such as a dimmer to report to both hubs when its paddle was changed and, thus, keep both the primary and secondary in sync. I've tried to set up something like this once and, in reality, it doesn't work well at all. One problem is that devices are inconsistent in how they report to their associated Group 1 devices. For example, with HomeSeer dimmers, if I press the paddle button, both hubs would get a report and stay in sync. But if I controlled the dimmer *from* a hub, the dimmer would not generate a report so the secondary hub wouldn't know of the change. So you'll have a huge problem synchronizing the hubs and associating them with all the devices.

            Comment


            • #7
              High Availability doesn't exist. Rather, its about software which automates the movement of functionality to redundant components. It's about how fast the functionality is returned which is tightly related to the amount of money you throw at it. And not just at HomeSeer, but at all aspects of the solution.

              IMO, put in effort to reduce the time it takes to return service to normal for the simple / common areas of failure. For the bad stuff, it would be best to have a neighbor check in on things or be able to check in on things when you call for help.

              Regarding drhtmal's #6: "How are you planning to manage the events in HomeSeer? I do not think there is a way to manage the events between the two system in a way that would let you enable and disable them based on the failover you described." One option is to include a "active / standby" virtual device in all events allowing the "active" HS system to perform all primary events while the "standby" performs heartbeat events; including switching the "active / standby" virtual device to "active". All such events need to be dual maintained between both independently running HS installations- or figure out a way to automate the event export / import buttons of HS3. Regardless, unless you are using all IP based sensors where a network load balancer (e.g. haproxy) routes to the "active" system - you still have issues with routing sensor input to the "active" system. A znet or 2 can help, but doesn't get you all the way there.

              Comment


              • #8
                So, THIS is the lively Homeseer debate and dialogue I remember. Thanks, all!

                Without commenting on each point made, I think this may not be my best plan. Instead, I think it may be better to focus on a failsafe mechanical thermostat wired in parallel to the smart stat, and perhaps even a redundant system for monitoring (e.g., perhaps an ISY994 or something from Sensaphone), with both HS and the other device being part of a heartbeat system I create.

                drhtmal asked about dual WAN and I feel fairly good sbout that, but am considering replacing the Napco with an Elk and using a C1M1 tied to a different cell provider (via Telguard) which gives me a third connection for monitoring the place.

                drhtmal also asked about the generator tie-in. My current plan is to use an Outback Radian inverter (designed for solar systems) and tie that into the AC and battery bank. The Radian is pricey but does monitor the batteries and turn on/off the gennie as required, while managing the batteries as well. So, that's doable but the price is freaky high. Cheaper than burst pipes, though!

                Thanks again for all the thinking and replies. Appreciated!
                Madcodger

                This would be a lot easier if I knew what I was doing...

                Comment

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