Migrating a Z-Wave Network

Some people are going to find reasons to migrate a Z-Wave network by hand from one Hubitat Elevation hub to another one. There are steps you can take that will make this a little bit easier than just starting over. In particular, one wants to preserve automations that use Z-Wave devices, and not have to redo them. This would useful for migrating from a C-4 to a C-7. For C-5 to C-7, one can use the Hub Protection Service and avoid all of this work.

First of all, familiarize yourself with this document: How to Build a Solid Z-Wave Mesh

You want to start with your devices closest to the hub and work your way out when building a new network. When you are migrating, you may want to keep the old hub working while building the new one. This will take some planning, as you don't want to just rip out the old mesh from the center, as that is likely to bring it down. Think of your mesh as directional lobes from the hub center. Do one lobe at a time. Think about the physical relationships between Z-Wave devices. In my house I had basically 3 directions I could work in, so I did those one at a time.

The first step is to restore a backup of your old hub to the new hub. Having both running won't be a problem because the Z-Wave radio in the new one has no paired devices. As you migrate, it gains devices at the same time the old hub sheds devices, so there remains no conflict. But, be aware that some other things will only work with one hub at a time, such as Alexa or GH, mobile app, etc.

To move a Z-Wave device, use an external device or the new hub to exclude it from the old hub. DO NOT use the old hub to do this, as this would destroy your automations, that you may want to make reference to. I find either a Minimote or Z-Stick to be a handy way for doing the exclude step, much easier than using the hub to do.

Steps are as follows:

  1. On the new hub go through every Z-Wave device (they don't work yet), and change its DNI by prepending the letter B to the beginning of the DNI.
  2. Exclude a device from old hub.
  3. Reset the device per its instructions.
  4. Join the device to the new hub. When it joins, give it the label "A Remove", and save the device. Then click on the device in the join page, which opens a new page showing the device. Make note of its DNI, and change its DNI by prepending A to the beginning of the DNI; hit Save Device.
  5. Open the same device, the original one whose DNI starts with B. Edit its DNI to be the noted DNI of the added device, and hit Save Device. At that point, that device is now connected to all of its automations.
  6. Remove the device called A Remove, whose DNI starts with A. This was actually the joined device but we've now assigned its DNI to the device used in automations, so we don't need it anymore. It was called A Remove so that it would handily be at the top of the Devices page, and you'd know to remove it.

Proceed in this manner. We are changing the DNIs to get the devices 'out of the way' of the newly joined devices. We don't want the restored backup device DNI to be the same as a newly joined device DNI. This DNI is assigned by the Z-Wave radio stack, and we have no control over it. So by changing all of the old devices to have an invalid DNI, we get them out of the way. Then, by changing the newly joined device DNI (after noting its real DNI) to another invalid DNI, we are getting it out of the way when we change the original device to have its new DNI. Finally, we deleted the temporary place holder joined device, as it is no longer needed.

All of this takes time and care, but for me this sure beat having to open every app that uses a Z-Wave device and track down its new device, and avoids having to rename devices in the migration. What we end up with is the same system we had before, but where individual Z-Wave devices have different DNIs than in the old system.

Note: Some complex Z-Wave devices (those with child devices) will not work with this method. Locks will not work with this method, as they need to join with a secure handshake.

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So if I'm reading between the lines here there won't be a full migration tool available to go from C5-C7 hub? Or is this just a "for now" solution?

The Hub Protection Service will support C-5 to C-7. This post is only about migrating C-4.


Woops, my bad. I saw "For C-5 to C-7" and my brain skipped to the next paragraph not the next line LOL

Would it not be possible to move the Z-Wave stick over to the new hub and then migrate the devices from that to the built-in via some database trickery ? I am less interested in doing a exclusions.

I am intrigued by the C-7, mainly for the backup service (although my C-4 works like a charm),

If I have to go the route of the exclusion, perhaps it could be interesting for you to offer a Minimote or Z-Stick on your store as well so one could pick it up at the same time as the C-7 ? Also, a video explanation of the process would be great :slight_smile:

What about migration of Zigbee devices, is that easier ?

Yes. For these you reset the device, put the hub into Zigbee join mode, and it finds the device and rejoins it in the right slot.


But I don't think C-7 + usb radio stick would really benefit from the backup service. You still wouldn't be able to restore the zwave devices to a new C-7 hub if the usb stick died? So I'm not sure it would buy you anything over a local backup (?).

Or is there some other benefit where the service would be useful for C-7 + usb stick that I'm not thinking of?

The Aeon Z-Stick specifically has a backup option. You can save the config of the Stick and restore it.. to a new stick if needed.

I know of no others that have that feature, but mostly because I bought Aeon's first and those have been my 'standard.'

Maybe Aeon will have a 700 series stick soon and the backups will work across the chipsets...


Good point. I was myopically thinking Nortek.

My initial thoughts were to move the stick and then gingerly move/migrate devices over to the internal one. Of course similar to having 2 hubs. Another thought was that you could move a device easier over, but the C-7 hub thread seems to answer this as the Nortek stick does not have any ability to move devices over.

Therefore, at least for now, it seems an exclusion path is the only way to go.

I guess I will just hang back for some time and see what others will do and emulate. No hurry for me to replace the C-4 as it works fine (knock on wood).

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You can't have 2 zwave radios active on the same hub at the same time (at least on C-5). On C-5 when you plug in a usb radio stick, it disables the internal one.

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One wild thought I just had...

You can join an Aeon Z-Stick to the C-4 (and Nortek) and then make an Aeon backup of it.

Perhaps some wizard programmer can figure a way to convert that backup of a secondary into a primary. :smiley:

Only problem is that this would be disconnected from the database. And the only way to reconnect is the join process described above.

Funny, I thought about that too earlier, but thought it was too OT to post. lol. My z-stick is already a secondary on my C-4.

If only we could migrate from z-stick to C-7!

But I am resigned to the fact I have to rebuild my zwave mesh. Not the first (or probably the last) time. I'll get over it. lol

I was thinking along the lines as simply as copying files from one USB stick to another and all would magically work.. Stupid security ruining everything :grinning:

As said, I'll see what is available in months to come.

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Agreed, but, the tedious part is of course the Exclude/Include. That would be be the 'saved step' and it's not an insignificant savings. :smiley:

Oh man, this sounds so easy. True I have a bunch of Z-wave and Zigbee devices to move, but if I don't have to retype my rules, notification, etc. or rebuild my dashboards - THIS IS GREAT! Thanks so much Hubitat Team. I can't wait for C-7 to arrive.

And I have an old Homeseer Z-troller that is super for excluding zwave devices without using Hubitat on the C-4 hub. :+1:

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Bruce, I've read this post several times as I plan my migration.

I have to say that it is one of the most valuable posts I've ever seen.

Thank you.

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What if one would like to keep using the Nortek adapter on the C-5, or C-7? It would be nice if the HE operating system would allow one to import devices already on the z-wave radio stick, creating devices in it's database as it imports them from the Nortek adapter. I have all my z-wave devices on my Nortek stick, but do not have a backup and my C-4 database is empty, so I cannot backup/restore. What can I do?

It is not possible to obtain the radio information from the Nortek, so as to migrate that to an internal radio. You can connect the Nortek to a C-5 or a C-7 which makes those radios the ones that are enabled, and the internal radios are disabled. Only one radio of each type can be enabled at any one time. So, this really means that you would have to manually migrate your devices to a C-5 or C-7 as described above, if coming from another hub (including C-4) with a backup up database. Without a backed up database, you would have to start over from scratch.

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