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    Need basic understanding of Z-Wave protocol

    I would really appreciate it if someone could help me understand what I am missing here.


    Do Z-wave devices only have a range of about 10 feet?


    I started with HA long ago with X10. I then moved to a mostly Insteon setup, and I have been happy with it for several years now. But I decided to start incorporating Z-wave devices since that is the protocol that seems to be the standard (at least for the immediate future anyway).


    So I installed a USB hub (Nortek HUSBZB-1) and bought a few Z-wave outlet switches. They were easy enough to set up, and they worked well within the room with my HS computer. However, moving an outlet to any other part of the house caused it to be unreachable by the hub (status unknown, no response when turning on and off in HS interface).


    So: WTF?


    Does Z-wave not use any sort of PLM to enhance connectivity? Do I have to have repeaters every 10 feet? What if I just need one outlet downstairs?


    I must be doing something wrong as z-wave technology seems even less robust than the crappy old X10 stuff. But Z-wave is the de facto standard right now, so... again, WTF?


    Same results with the Zigbee device I tried. I am perplexed.


    Just want to add: I realize since this is such basic information, it is probably available already somewhere in the KB or buried in some old forum topic. I did a cursory search and didn't come up with a straightforward enough explanation. But, more important to me, I judge a technology on how intuitive and easy it is to implement. I have no problem if something is complex when you dig into it. But I am fairly savvy technically speaking. So, if I can't get something to work in its most basic capacity right away, I consider it a failed technology.

    Even installing the Z-wave hub required manually installing drivers from Windows Device Manager. So, my introduction to Z-wave has been extremely poor. I'm hoping someone with more knowledge will be able to point out that this is largely due to my ignorance rather than z-wave being the half-baked and clumsy solution that it at first appears to be to me.

    #2
    Are you using Zigbee or Zwave ? With Zwave you should get apron 100 meters + depending on obstructions.
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    A founder member of "The HA Pioneer Group" otherwise known as the "Old farts club!"

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      #3
      Do Z-wave devices only have a range of about 10 feet?

      no

      Does Z-wave not use any sort of PLM to enhance connectivity?

      No Z-Wave is using proprietary wireless 908.42 Mhz transport.

      Do I have to have repeaters every 10 feet?

      No.

      But Z-wave is the de facto standard right now.

      It is not the de facto standard. There are many transport protocols today. (X10, UPB, Zigbee, Insteon, WiFi MQTT are other standards)

      IE: Insteon is a combination of RF and powerline.

      Here have a Z-Net POE box in the attic for years now with no issues relating to distance from the attic to any Z-Wave devices. It runs on a Linux RPi and Homeseer 3-4 running in Linux has no issues connecting to the Z-Net like device.
      - Pete

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        #4
        Z-Wave will self optimize the network. If you moved the devices and expected them to function immediately you were mistaken. Another option is to go into the Controller function and do a Full Optimize of your network. That will cause the controller to ping each device for it's signal strength and determine which ones can be directly reached by the controller and which ones will need relayed.

        I have a 5000sq 3 story home with over 70 Z-Wave devices and my SmartStick + in my concrete basement. Z-Wave works perfectly throughout the entire home and even out to the garage. Response time is almost instantaneous. After my first Full Optimize, I selectively go into each node and if possible (I.E. 2nd floor has an AEOTEC repeater that has a direct link to node 1 (The stick), I manually set the path so that devices that have multi-path routes go to the AEOTEC which then relays to the controller.

        Just be warned, you get to do 'ONE' full optimize per customer. You can do more, but anytime you do it, it will wipe out any custom routing you've created yourself.
        You can optimize a specific device (Z-Wave tab in the device properties) and Test Connectivity, but no Full Optimizes after you've gone past 10 or so devices and the network has had a chance to self optimize.

        And BTW, if you happen to edit any of the Status graphics or values in the Status Tab, Doing a Rescan in the Z-Wave tab will gnarffle any changes or customization you've you've done in the tab including wiping out any custom graphics you've defines or control ranges.

        Comment


          #5
          Thanks much for the responses and insights, but my concerns remain. What I gather is:
          1. You really can't have a reliable z-wave setup without multiple devices to create the mesh 908.42 mhz network. So, unless I really want to invest in a lot of z-wave devices, I'm left with the option to only control devices that are in the same room as my HS server.
          2. When you move a device, it can take a bit for the network to calibrate. Good to know. How long should I give it? Minutes? Hours?
          3. I did try the optimize option (thanks for the heads-up regarding the ramifications, George). But at the moment, I only have one z-wave device (outlet). So, referring back to #1 above, there isn't anything to optimize really.
          4. I misspoke when I said z-wave is a ' de facto standard.' What I meant was, it's way more ubiquitous than other options (e.g., Insteon). It is what you find in the big box stores. It is what Homeseer seems to want us to use. It's like the old Betamax vs. VHS deal. I know which one I prefer, but in the end I just want to invest in the one that will be around longer and have the most support.

          Insteon worked from day one. I installed one outlet on the other side of the house and it worked perfectly. No need for multiple devices or signal repeaters, etc. Also, there are several Insteon devices I rely on and for which there seems to be no Z-wave equivalent. Regardless, if Insteon is waning, I need to move toward another option. But, right off the bat, z-wave seems like a less reliable, and less functional option.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by Pete View Post
            Do Z-wave devices only have a range of about 10 feet?

            no
            Thanks, Pete. Then I guess my question is: what would cause my HS/Z-wave hub to be unable to connect with my z-wave device when it is more than 10 feet from the server/hub?

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Gprev View Post
              Thanks much for the responses and insights, but my concerns remain. What I gather is:
              1. You really can't have a reliable z-wave setup without multiple devices to create the mesh 908.42 mhz network. So, unless I really want to invest in a lot of z-wave devices, I'm left with the option to only control devices that are in the same room as my HS server.

                Yes, with only one device there is no network to optimize, so if you move it too far way there is no routing it can take to get back to the controller or for the controller to find it. Just add a couple more plugs and place them each about 100 or so feet farther from each other or on different floors. That should at least establish a backbone network where other devices can couple to. As you add even more the higher speed devices (there are 3 speeds) will take presidence over the older lower speed devices.
              2. When you move a device, it can take a bit for the network to calibrate. Good to know. How long should I give it? Minutes? Hours?

                An hours should be sufficient, but you have to understand that for it to work, there needs to be traffic on the network so each device can be controlled or reached for it to find it's best path. If you have an idle network then there is no reason for the devices to try to get a better path. Make sense?
              3. I did try the optimize option (thanks for the heads-up regarding the ramifications, George). But at the moment, I only have one z-wave device (outlet). So, referring back to #1 above, there isn't anything to optimize really.

                Yup, as in Number 1, there was really nothing to optimize. Try what I said above. In my case, my 1st device was my basement ceiling lights, in which the in-wall switch is a WS-200 HST switch and about 20 feet from the controller. The 2nd, I think, was a wall dimmer for my hallway which is right up the stairs from the basement. The 3rd was somewhere in the Family Room.. You get the drift. The 2nd either found the stick or, for sure, found the WS-200 and then determined if the WS-200 was better than the stick and set it's route. Same for the thirds and so on.

                So if you have other outlets, which a much easier than wiring live wires in a wall box (I'm a little nuts and wire hot, lots of electrical zzzzzz experience! LOL Then it should be really simple to do the hop scotch approach I detailed above and establish a rudimentary backbone. When you get to 10-20 devices, then you can feel safe to do a Full Optimize to let HS and the Z-Wave plugin make it's own decision on each device being it already has a path to each device.
              4. I misspoke when I said z-wave is a ' de facto standard.' What I meant was, it's way more ubiquitous than other options (e.g., Insteon). It is what you find in the big box stores. It is what Homeseer seems to want us to use. It's like the old Betamax vs. VHS deal. I know which one I prefer, but in the end I just want to invest in the one that will be around longer and have the most support.

                Until something better comes up, Z-Wave is the standard for high power (120-220V) control IMHO. Zigbee is great for sensors, reporting devices and other uses. Insteon is also pretty good as it also provides a bridge from X-10. But the future of Insteon is iffy as the only company making it has put itself up for sale and may go TU at any time. Z-Wave was a PITA until a few years ago when they made the proprietary protocol and licensing open so that many, many manufacturers can create a lot of creative Z-Wave toys. And the good thing, every device still requires Z-Wave certification so it's pretty much assured to work!

              Insteon worked from day one. I installed one outlet on the other side of the house and it worked perfectly. No need for multiple devices or signal repeaters, etc. Also, there are several Insteon devices I rely on and for which there seems to be no Z-wave equivalent. Regardless, if Insteon is waning, I need to move toward another option. But, right off the bat, z-wave seems like a less reliable, and less functional option.

              The reason that Insteon probably worked is that if it could not reach the PLM, it probably defaulted to X-10 to communicate which can do it throughout your home even tho it's as slow as molassas. But @Michael, the Insteon author would know a whole bunch more about it than I would.

              But yes, slow and steady with Z-Wave, and a thought out plan, wins the race.
              ...

              Comment


                #8
                George, thank you so much for all the great information. Immensely valuable and I appreciate you taking the time to help. I will use this as my guide going forward. Have a great New Year!

                -George (also)

                Comment


                  #9
                  One other item to consider is that if you use a Z-Net, since it's hardwired via eithernet, an option is to centrally locate it which may bring it to your devices.
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                    #10
                    Originally posted by Gprev View Post
                    Thanks much for the responses and insights, but my concerns remain. What I gather is:[LIST=1][*]You really can't have a reliable z-wave setup without multiple devices to create the mesh 908.42 mhz network. So, unless I really want to invest in a lot of z-wave devices, I'm left with the option to only control devices that are in the same room as my HS server.
                    This is not accurate. I am not sure how you came to this conclusion. There is a lot of info on z-wave and radio communication in general on the Internet.

                    I have a single z-wave radio (z-net)n that covers my entire house 1800 sq. ft. house. Most of my devices (about 90% of the devices) are one hop away from my z-wave hub, so they are in direct communication with the z-wave hub and don't rely on the mesh . If you are only getting connectivity within a 10 foot range there is something seriously wrong with your z-wave network. Exactly what is wrong is difficult to diagnose from the limited info we can gather from the info in this post.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by drhtmal View Post

                      This is not accurate. I am not sure how you came to this conclusion. There is a lot of info on z-wave and radio communication in general on the Internet.

                      I have a single z-wave radio (z-net)n that covers my entire house 1800 sq. ft. house. Most of my devices (about 90% of the devices) are one hop away from my z-wave hub, so they are in direct communication with the z-wave hub and don't rely on the mesh . If you are only getting connectivity within a 10 foot range there is something seriously wrong with your z-wave network. Exactly what is wrong is difficult to diagnose from the limited info we can gather from the info in this post.
                      I came to that conclusion because: 1) z-wave devices have repeaters built into them for just that reason, and 2) I could see no other way for me to get a device to respond if it was more than 10’ from the hub/server.

                      Perhaps the problem is with my USB stick hub (Nortek). Maybe its radio is just too weak to reach outside the room it is in. Perhaps, I should have started my question from that angle: What is the standard one-hop range for a z-wave USB stick hub?

                      I will look into the ZNet interface although I was hoping to test z-wave more without spending too much.

                      Also, on a different note, I was only looking for some guidance here. I had assumed the issues I was having were related to my inexperience and ignorance with z-wave. I’m not sure why a couple of the posts above had to be passive aggressive and condescending. I’ve had HA as a hobby since 2004. I know generally what I’m doing. I just haven’t worked with z-wave before, and I was surprised that the results I encountered were so different from other HA technologies I’ve used. If you find my questions insultingly basic, or you’re offended that someone would question the z-wave design and implementation, I apologize.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by George View Post
                        Just be warned, you get to do 'ONE' full optimize per customer.

                        And BTW, if you happen to edit any of the Status graphics or values in the Status Tab, Doing a Rescan in the Z-Wave tab will gnarffle any changes or customization you've you've done in the tab including wiping out any custom graphics you've defines or control ranges.
                        I think that we can agree that this is a software issue, correct? If so, why do people put up with this behavior? Why has this not been fixed/ Argh - Thanks for posting!

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                          #13
                          Originally posted by drhtmal View Post

                          This is not accurate. I am not sure how you came to this conclusion. There is a lot of info on z-wave and radio communication in general on the Internet.

                          I have a single z-wave radio (z-net)n that covers my entire house 1800 sq. ft. house. Most of my devices (about 90% of the devices) are one hop away from my z-wave hub, so they are in direct communication with the z-wave hub and don't rely on the mesh . If you are only getting connectivity within a 10 foot range there is something seriously wrong with your z-wave network. Exactly what is wrong is difficult to diagnose from the limited info we can gather from the info in this post.
                          I did not see anywhere that the OP has a Z-Net. So centrally locating it, as I'm sure you did with yours might not be an option. Like with me, his computer that he has his stick plugged into may not be in any optimal place. So until we get all the information, I suggest we don't come to any hasty conclusions like it's software. Let him try some basic troubleshooting first. No one has complained about range of the Nortek stick or the Z-Wave plugin.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Gprev View Post

                            I came to that conclusion because: 1) z-wave devices have repeaters built into them for just that reason, and 2) I could see no other way for me to get a device to respond if it was more than 10’ from the hub/server.

                            Only devices marked Z-Wave Plus have repeaters but they are used only when a path cannot be resolved to an end device by discovery. And also, only devices (Z-Wave Plus or not) that don't require a neutral can't repeat Z-Wave as they neutral is required to energize the transceiver for it to transmit status or restransmit.

                            Try it on a no neutral device and try local control. Won't reflect back to HS it's status. The 2 wire ones are sort of like X-10 but Z-Wave. Receive only and it's up to HS and the plugin to manage and keep track of the status. When 2 wire devices are added they are added as a simple switch or dimmer and not a multi-level device. So there is a trade-off if you try to go cheap with a 2 wire device or only have a box that doesn't have a neutral.


                            Perhaps the problem is with my USB stick hub (Nortek). Maybe its radio is just too weak to reach outside the room it is in. Perhaps, I should have started my question from that angle: What is the standard one-hop range for a z-wave USB stick hub?

                            I've not heard of any Nortek issues with the radio being weak. Maybe you can tell us exactly where it's located?

                            I did have some luck, as my server is in my basement, getting a 6 ft USB extension cable and plugging the stick into it, hanging the stick from the rafters so that it's up against the basement ceiling and right under the floorboards. Whether it helped or not, or if because I started adding many more devices, it can't hurt if you want to relocate the stick somewhere closer to the center of the home. With good quality USB 3 extenders (even though the stick only uses USB 2) you can probably get 12-18 feet easily with the USB 3 extenders. USB 3 has much better shielding and multi-path lines to carry the higher bandwidth which translates to less impedance of the USB 2 signal.


                            I will look into the ZNet interface although I was hoping to test z-wave more without spending too much.

                            Again, I wouldn't recommend going whole hog into another technology until you really determine that you have to move your computer / add more devices to create a backbone, etc. Adding a ZNet adds another layer of abstraction and another processing device that moves away from local USB control to having to deal with IP address schemes.


                            Also, on a different note, I was only looking for some guidance here. I had assumed the issues I was having were related to my inexperience and ignorance with z-wave. I’m not sure why a couple of the posts above had to be passive aggressive and condescending. I’ve had HA as a hobby since 2004. I know generally what I’m doing. I just haven’t worked with z-wave before, and I was surprised that the results I encountered were so different from other HA technologies I’ve used. If you find my questions insultingly basic, or you’re offended that someone would question the z-wave design and implementation, I apologize.

                            No need to apologize that's the way that a lot of people are short with people. I have to admit, that on bad days, I've been known to also be a total butthead but on topics that particularly irk me. That's the way on the Internet. No one knows if you're a dog! People love to hide behind the anonymity of a board 'handle". I shared my real name/address/phone with people that I've helped and have helped me and also traded with a lot of people here.
                            And yes, rjh Rich can tell you my real name is George and loving it! LOL

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Krumpy View Post

                              I think that we can agree that this is a software issue, correct? If so, why do people put up with this behavior? Why has this not been fixed/ Argh - Thanks for posting!
                              No we don't agree, Unless Rich rjh says it may be a software issue, which I have personally not heard of on a Nortek, then no, I personally do not agree.

                              Comment

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