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    Newbie questions about HomeSeer Z-Troller

    Hi, We bought a new home 18 months ago that came with some Z-Wave locks and a Z-Wave thermostat. They also set us up with a free one year account to a service other than HomeSeer. I played with it just enough to get things working but when I inquired about how that service prioritizes Home Automation security, they sort of brushed me off so I shut that system down. Now, I'm considering buying a HomeSeer Z-Troller and I have a few very newbie questions.

    1. If I buy a HomeTroller Zee S2, can I do all that I need to do from a web interface or do I need a PC??? I work on a mac and even though I run Windows on it through VMWare, it's not a native Windows PC. Do I need such or is it all browser based???

    2. With this other system I used, to set up a new door lock you had to install a battery in the "controller" so you could walk it across the room and bring it near the door lock. I've also watched a HomeSeer video that shows a Troller sitting right next to a Door Lock on a table dock, admittedly as a demo. But I won't have that luxury as my door locks are installed and not near my router unless I want to run a very long Ethernet cable which I don't want to do. So would I need such close proximity at setup capability with a Z-Troller??

    3. And what is a Smart Stick and a Smart Stick+??? And is that the same as a Z-Stick??? Does the HomeTroller Zee S2 come with one??? And if so, why do I need it??? This other system I used had no such thing and I had no problem communicating with my Z-Wave locks and thermostat. If someone could give me the tutorial on what these Smart Sticks are used for, that would be great. Like I said, newbie questions...

    Any help would be much appreciated... thanks... bob

    #2
    Hi, ditto, welcome to the forums. I can answer some of your questions, but I think before you make a decision, reading these forums as you are will help you make the best choice.

    If you purchase a Zee S2 it is a self-contained HomeSeer server (running on a Raspberry Pi) and Z-Wave interface. You do not need a Z-Troller, Z-Stick, Z-NET, etc. with the Zee S2. The S2 is great (I use one at a second home), but it lacks the horsepower of a dedicated HomeSeer server, or one of the larger HomeTroller units. You're limited to 5 plug-ins with the Zee S2.

    Regarding, Z-Wave interfaces, the Z-Troller was a serial interfaced Z-Wave controller, and is no longer manufactured. The Z-Stick is a USB interface (third party) and many have had success with it. In my opinion if you need a standalone Z-Wave interface (i.e. you're not using the Zee S2) buy a Z-NET. It's a standalone ethernet interfaced Z-Wave controller made by HomeSeer (and incidentally, it's the same hardware as the Zee S2).

    Regarding the interface, HomeSeer is configured and managed through a web interface. You will, though, probably need to access the OS on the HomeSeer box from time to time, and that OS can be Windows or Linux.

    You said you run VMWare. You can successfully run HomeSeer in a virtual machine (either under Windows or Linux). I myself am a Mac guy and run my servers in a virtual environment. In my case it's KVM/Qemu under Linux. VMWare will work fine as well. I personally am running HS3 Pro on a Linux Ubuntu virtual machine. I use a Z-NET ethernet Z-Wave interface, plus other hardware I communicate with over ethernet or through ethernet-to-serial interfaces.

    I guess it comes down to how comfortable you are with Linux and/or Windows vs. just wanting an automation appliance you don't have to mess with much other than configuration.

    Feel free to post followup questions, as we're all happy to help out here! Good luck!

    EDIT: I just reread your post, and it looks like you only use VMWare on your Mac, not for servers. You definitely do NOT need a Windows PC to run HomeSeer or to manage it. You can use the Zee S2, HomeTroller-SEL or HomeTroller-SEL-Pro and get a Linux appliance running HomeSeer. Administration is via web interface, no Windows required. If you're comfortable with the UNIX command line then you can use ssh from the Mac to log into the HomeTroller/Zee and administer the OS from there. It is important to note that the HomeTroller-SEL and HomeTroller-SEL-Pro do NOT come with an internal Z-Wave interface like the Zee-S2 does. You should purchase a Z-NET along with these.
    HS Pro 3.0 | Linux Ubuntu 16.04 x64 virtualized under Proxmox (KVM)
    Hardware: Z-NET - W800 Serial - Digi PortServer TS/8 and TS/16 serial to Ethernet - Insteon PLM - RFXCOM - X10 Wireless
    Plugins: HSTouch iOS and Android, RFXCOM, BlueIris, BLLock, BLDSC, BLRF, Insteon PLM (MNSandler), Device History, Ecobee, BLRing, Kodi, UltraWeatherWU3
    Second home: Zee S2 with Z-Wave, CT101 Z-Wave Thermostat, Aeotec Z-Wave microswitches, HSM200 occupancy sensor, Ecolink Z-Wave door sensors, STI Driveway Monitor interfaced to Zee S2 GPIO pins.

    Comment


      #3
      Were you using Nexia? If so, the thermostat may have been your controller and it is not compatible with other controllers.
      Jim
      ----
      Plugins:Z Wave 3.0.1.55, HS3 Pro 3.0.0.208, HS3Touch, HS3Touch IOS, Z-Net, SceneMaster, XBMC, Sonos, Media Controller, Envisalink (52 Virtual nodes), JowiHue, EasyTrigger, Liftmaster MyQ, BLBackup, BLLAN, BLRadar, Pushover

      Devices:Cooper RF9540, Cooper Scene, Yale Locks, Sonos, Phillips Hue and Lux, DSC, Somfy Blinds

      Comment


        #4
        With respect to the locks, you will almost certainly require the lock to be positioned very close to your Zee for inclusion. You can bring the lock to the Zee, or vice-versa. To bring the lock to the Zee, what I've done is before installing the lock, just hook up the batteries and do everything for inclusion, make sure it works, and then install it in its final place.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by 519zwave View Post
          Were you using Nexia? If so, the thermostat may have been your controller and it is not compatible with other controllers.
          Yes, I was using Nexia but the controller, or correct me if my terminology is wrong, was a Nexia Bridge that the builder supplied to all new home buyers along with one Schlage lock (I've since bought a second) and one Trane Z-Wave capable Thermostat controller... Or are you telling me the Trane is the Controller and the Bridge is, well, the Bridge??? I'm a retired engineer and consider myself to be technically competent on topics I know something about but this topic is new so I'm sort of lost in terminology soup for the moment...

          So in answer to your comment I believe the Nexia Bridge was my controller but please tell me if I'm confused again on terminology.

          And I realize I never formally de-enrolled the locks from the Nexia Bridge. Do I need to reset up the bridge to do that or can I do that just from the lock??? If I do a full reset on the lock, will that serve to take care of any de-enrollment as well??? thanks...

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by mikedr View Post
            With respect to the locks, you will almost certainly require the lock to be positioned very close to your Zee for inclusion. You can bring the lock to the Zee, or vice-versa. To bring the lock to the Zee, what I've done is before installing the lock, just hook up the batteries and do everything for inclusion, make sure it works, and then install it in its final place.
            Gosh, that's bad news. I noted that the Nexia bridge required that, thus the reason they had a battery powered option for the bridge so you could walk it over near the door lock or whatever and enroll it over a short distance. Why do they have to be close to each other to enroll??? But afterward the controller can find the Z-Wave device over some reasonable distance???

            It's pretty inconvenient for me to uninstall door locks. Certainly doable but seems pretty low tech to have to do that or run a long ethernet cable across the house... Surprises me that would be the state of the art...

            Thoughts??? thanks.. bob

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by diitto View Post

              So in answer to your comment I believe the Nexia Bridge was my controller but please tell me if I'm confused again on terminology.

              And I realize I never formally de-enrolled the locks from the Nexia Bridge. Do I need to reset up the bridge to do that or can I do that just from the lock??? If I do a full reset on the lock, will that serve to take care of any de-enrollment as well??? thanks...
              Sounds like you will be fine, as thermostat wasn't the controller. I had a Nexia without bridge where thermostat was it.

              With the Znet, I believe if you exclude the device first, then include that will also work fine.

              And yes it is a pain, but taking off door lock and including right the first time is likely worth the 5 minutes extra! However, I have always just taken my znet to the lock with a little longer Ethernet cable. That may be a sound investment to eliminate any future inclusion issues!
              Jim
              ----
              Plugins:Z Wave 3.0.1.55, HS3 Pro 3.0.0.208, HS3Touch, HS3Touch IOS, Z-Net, SceneMaster, XBMC, Sonos, Media Controller, Envisalink (52 Virtual nodes), JowiHue, EasyTrigger, Liftmaster MyQ, BLBackup, BLLAN, BLRadar, Pushover

              Devices:Cooper RF9540, Cooper Scene, Yale Locks, Sonos, Phillips Hue and Lux, DSC, Somfy Blinds

              Comment


                #8
                1. So I'm curious to understand why one needs to have a Z-Wave capable device, such as a lock, to be brought in close proximity to the controller whether it be Nexia, HomeSeer or whatever, one time??? Clearly once enrolled the controller can see the device and connect to it after the setup is complete so the radio in the Z-Wave device is clearly strong enough to reach the controller. So what is the function/purpose of needing to bring the components close to each other at start up???

                2. And I know this is a tad off topic (not related to HomeSeer) but I realized as I've been reading through all this info that when I shut down the Nexia bridge months ago (I still have the bridge but no longer do I have an active account with Nexia) I did NOT at the same time turn off the Z-Wave radio in my home components and I'd like to do that. In reading the Schlage lock manual, there is again terminology confusion (at least for me) between what it means to "Enroll/Unenroll" a device such as the lock and what it means to instead simply shut down the Z-Wave radio in the lock. Again, the Nexia bridge is put away in its box so I can't be doing anything. However, when I do the simple steps in the Scalage lock manual (disconnect battery, reconnect battery while watching Schlage lock inside light and if it flashes once, which it does, then the lock is "ENROLLED". Can I just reset the lock to its factory defaults and kill both this ENROLLMENT and shut off the Z-Wave radio which I'd rather not have on unless and until I reconnect this lock to a HomeSeer or some other controller???

                thanks for the help... bob

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by diitto View Post
                  1. So I'm curious to understand why one needs to have a Z-Wave capable device, such as a lock, to be brought in close proximity to the controller whether it be Nexia, HomeSeer or whatever, one time??? Clearly once enrolled the controller can see the device and connect to it after the setup is complete so the radio in the Z-Wave device is clearly strong enough to reach the controller. So what is the function/purpose of needing to bring the components close to each other at start up???
                  Hi Bob, the inclusion process for older zwave devices (those that don't support NWI - Network Wide Inclusion) was done in low power mode, I believe primarily to ensure only local devices were being included/excluded and for battery powered devices, to reduce the amount of power used during the inclusion process which can take a few minutes.


                  Originally posted by diitto View Post
                  2. And I know this is a tad off topic (not related to HomeSeer) but I realized as I've been reading through all this info that when I shut down the Nexia bridge months ago (I still have the bridge but no longer do I have an active account with Nexia) I did NOT at the same time turn off the Z-Wave radio in my home components and I'd like to do that. In reading the Schlage lock manual, there is again terminology confusion (at least for me) between what it means to "Enroll/Unenroll" a device such as the lock and what it means to instead simply shut down the Z-Wave radio in the lock. Again, the Nexia bridge is put away in its box so I can't be doing anything. However, when I do the simple steps in the Scalage lock manual (disconnect battery, reconnect battery while watching Schlage lock inside light and if it flashes once, which it does, then the lock is "ENROLLED". Can I just reset the lock to its factory defaults and kill both this ENROLLMENT and shut off the Z-Wave radio which I'd rather not have on unless and until I reconnect this lock to a HomeSeer or some other controller???

                  thanks for the help... bob
                  You can either factory reset the devices or exclude them from their network using any controller. This should ensure that they are not active on a zwave network until they are put in inclusion mode and included in a network again.

                  Cheers
                  Al
                  HS 3.0.0.548: 1990 Devices 1172 Events
                  Z-Wave 3.0.1.262: 126 Nodes on one Z-Net

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Also, NWI doesn't work well for devices that require a lot of information being exchanged during the inclusion process -- namely locks. Inclusion will take quite a while as HS and the device exchange security info.

                    I believe that the KwikSet locks had an issue where they would go to sleep during the inclusion process (!), and the solution was to keep pressing a button on the lock to keep it awake.

                    I haven't added any Schlage locks since we've moved to a Z-NET, but didn't have any issues including one Schlage touchpad lock at one house, and two Schlage touchpads and a lever lock at the other. I just ordered an additional for Schlage touchpad locks for the former house, and hope not to run into any problems.

                    Also -- Schlage locks at least (not sure as to others), really should have a direct connection to the Z-Wave interface (Z-NET, etc.) to function properly. At our other house, the lever lock was on an outside gate, and didn't directly see the Z-Stick although it was one hop away from the stick. Controlling and receiving notification from the lock was hit and miss.

                    I ended up getting a USB over CAT5 adapter, and added a second network with another Z-Stick located very close to the lock. All the problems were solved. (This was pre-Z-NET days, so that wasn't an option back then.)

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Thanks Al... That makes sense, what you said about why one needs to bring components close to a controller for the original enrollment. thanks...

                      And since currently I do not have a functional controller (I have the Nexia bridge but no longer an account with Nexia so my guess is firing that up again would likely not bear fruit, I will instead just try the factory reset. I have all the original docs including the original door codes so that shouldn't be an issue. I'm more interested in learing than anything else at this point so I'd just like to see if I can figure out how to shut off the Schlage Z-Wave radios.

                      Both these locks and the Trane furnace/ac controller were all built in 2014 so they are not terribly old. But should I consider buying new components??? Those that meet this NWI deal you speak of??

                      What i'm most interested in learning about is security of these systems. I watched videos from Black Hat back in 2013 where folks showed how one could break in to these lock systems.

                      I'd like to use them again but only if I can believe that I have a reasonable chance of keeping them secure from bad guys. One thing I'd like to know more about is are these devices, say like Schlage locks, updatable??? Like with PC's are there ways to update firmware or whatever in these devices??? If not, then they will likely always be an accident waiting to happen... Thoughts on security of these devices??? I would buy new ones if I found that newer ones were more secure than even the ones I have that are only two years old... Thoughts??? thanks... bob

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Your Trane should support NWI. All the "old" devices I have (2 years or so) support them with a couple of exceptions (very easy to tell -- you try to add the device, and the interface can't find it).

                        The Schlage supports NWI as well, but because of the security, it's a different beast. NWI just doesn't work that well adding locks.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by mikedr View Post
                          Also, NWI doesn't work well for devices that require a lot of information being exchanged during the inclusion process -- namely locks. Inclusion will take quite a while as HS and the device exchange security info.

                          I believe that the KwikSet locks had an issue where they would go to sleep during the inclusion process (!), and the solution was to keep pressing a button on the lock to keep it awake.

                          I haven't added any Schlage locks since we've moved to a Z-NET, but didn't have any issues including one Schlage touchpad lock at one house, and two Schlage touchpads and a lever lock at the other. I just ordered an additional for Schlage touchpad locks for the former house, and hope not to run into any problems.

                          Also -- Schlage locks at least (not sure as to others), really should have a direct connection to the Z-Wave interface (Z-NET, etc.) to function properly. At our other house, the lever lock was on an outside gate, and didn't directly see the Z-Stick although it was one hop away from the stick. Controlling and receiving notification from the lock was hit and miss.

                          I ended up getting a USB over CAT5 adapter, and added a second network with another Z-Stick located very close to the lock. All the problems were solved. (This was pre-Z-NET days, so that wasn't an option back then.)
                          Hi Mikedr... thanks for the response... Here's another real newbie question as I'm trying to get the terminoloagy down. You say,

                          "I haven't added any Schlage locks since we've moved to a Z-NET"

                          So is Z-NET an industry term, a HomeSeer term, what??? I just googled it and I didn't get a very good answer...

                          And someone told me I likely would NOT need a Z-Stick. I've seen the Z-Stick online but still don't quite understand it's function... You can see that I am at Square One... And help getting me out of Terminology 101 would be way helpful and much appreciated...

                          Z-NET??? Z-Stick??? thanks.. bob
                          Last edited by diitto; January 18, 2016, 02:43 PM.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            If you use the Zee S2, it includes a z-wave interface, so you do not need an external one. Other HS options will need a separate z-wave interface. The Z-Net is a z-wave interface that HS sells and sits on a network, rather than directly connecting to the hardware that HS runs on: http://store.homeseer.com/store/x-P1902.aspx. The Z-Stick is just a different kind of z-wave interface that plugs into a USB port of the hardware that HS runs on.

                            Cheers
                            Al
                            HS 3.0.0.548: 1990 Devices 1172 Events
                            Z-Wave 3.0.1.262: 126 Nodes on one Z-Net

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by diitto View Post
                              Thanks Al... That makes sense, what you said about why one needs to bring components close to a controller for the original enrollment. thanks...

                              And since currently I do not have a functional controller (I have the Nexia bridge but no longer an account with Nexia so my guess is firing that up again would likely not bear fruit, I will instead just try the factory reset. I have all the original docs including the original door codes so that shouldn't be an issue. I'm more interested in learing than anything else at this point so I'd just like to see if I can figure out how to shut off the Schlage Z-Wave radios.

                              Both these locks and the Trane furnace/ac controller were all built in 2014 so they are not terribly old. But should I consider buying new components??? Those that meet this NWI deal you speak of??

                              What i'm most interested in learning about is security of these systems. I watched videos from Black Hat back in 2013 where folks showed how one could break in to these lock systems.

                              I'd like to use them again but only if I can believe that I have a reasonable chance of keeping them secure from bad guys. One thing I'd like to know more about is are these devices, say like Schlage locks, updatable??? Like with PC's are there ways to update firmware or whatever in these devices??? If not, then they will likely always be an accident waiting to happen... Thoughts on security of these devices??? I would buy new ones if I found that newer ones were more secure than even the ones I have that are only two years old... Thoughts??? thanks... bob
                              From my perspective the security of z-wave is reasonable. Whoever is going to break in your house isn't going to try and hack your z-wave network. They'll kick in the door or throw a rock through the window... That's what the alarm system is for :-)

                              Cheers
                              Al
                              HS 3.0.0.548: 1990 Devices 1172 Events
                              Z-Wave 3.0.1.262: 126 Nodes on one Z-Net

                              Comment

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