My z-wave frustrations - mesh issues?

So maybe my headline is harsh, but here is my story.

I am quite new to Hubitat (3 months). I started with Zigbee devices stupidly (I now know) with battery powered Sonoff sensors, then added powered plugs and bulbs (replacing WiFi smart ones which were causing problems congesting my WiFi network). I'm up to 36 devices and never had more than a 0.5 second delay on anything activating from motion, button press or other event. Works brilliantly.

I have recently added some z-wave devices which comprise two Aeotec Nano Dimmer modules and one Heatit Z-TRM3. I have had nothing but trouble with the devices. They communicate slowly, They do not respond to commands from the hub. I am currently only able to control all 3 devices using local switches or controls, and have no clear way of sorting this out.


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There seems to be no logic as to how the devices talk to each other (the TRM would not pair unless another device was on the network, like it will not talk directly to the hub, and the other two paired seamlessly but it always seems to be the device furthest from the hub which is "DIRECT".

Please can someone provide me with a simple guide to work out why something so simple is so unreliable. Or should I just give up and find Zigbee replacements?

#rantover #veryfrustrated #sorry

All your signals are negative numbers.. You need more mains powered devices in the path..

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In my opinion, yes mostly. Zigbee is just better. Less trouble connecting. Secure out of the box without fuss. Consistent global frequency so no need to worry about what device to buy. Fast(er, for motion). Cheap(er, generally).

Ok,these are generalisations and of course there are exceptions and some great Z-Wave plus devices. I have a few. But overall I much prefer Zigbee.

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:+1: I second the sentiment

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Or if the hub is buried in a cabinet or network rack, move it to an open area with less interference.

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What Angus_M said! I started out here with zwave but after a couple of months of daily reading here about the trials and tribulations of zwave maintenance I tossed about $300 worth of zw devices in my Drawer Of Shame and went zigbee. I did go GE/Jasco for my mains powered devices and I think that contributed to my solid network.

The negative aspect of zigbee, though, is the lack of some types of devices, such as the Fibaro Smart Implant FGBS-222.

My only experience with z-wave is a couple of battery-powered temperature sensors, and for the life of me I couldn't get them to accept configuration instructions to report the temperature every 15 minutes instead of every few hours.

I get the impression that, whether its something inherent in the technology or just a common design philosophy, z-wave battery powered device designs tend to rest on broad assumptions about what you'll accept to maximize battery life, and stick to those assumptions, and the underlying embedded software doesn't seem to be well tested for stepping outside those sorts of "normal" use cases.

Me too!

The most important path to success in using either Zigbee or Z-wave is establishing a robust mesh of mains powered devices. It can take a little while for devices in either mesh to settle down and sort out the best path for each device, especially if you add a lot of devices at one time.

I primarily use Z-wave. I have about 40 devices spread across about 2000 sq ft. They work very well for me.

I do have a growing number of mains powered Zigbee devices (10+) for controlling LED strips and Zigbee lamps.

I have generally preferred the Z-wave switches and dimmers because I can setup 3 and 4-way switching scenarios using direct associations. This allows my system to degrade politely, in the event I have an issue with HE. That hasn’t happened yet, but I would rather do things to help ensure a reasonably high SAF (spousal approval factor) even in a crisis.

The HE staff has created a number of good guides on how to establish strong meshes. Look them up. They work. Here is a link to some of their guides.

https://docs.hubitat.com/index.php?title=How_to_Guides

I wish you further success in growing your system. You made a great start by engaging with the HE community. They will be generous with their help and advice. They will encourage you when you are headed in the right direction and just need to keep pushing through your current challenge. They will also politely (most of the time) tell you when you’re,... let’s just say, not on a path to success.

Welcome to the family @david20!

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All 3 of the devices are mains powered.

The hub is outside of my network cabinet, and within 4m of the TRM controller.

Thank you for the welcome. I really hope I can solve this and build a solid z-wave network alongside the great zigbee setup but with so few (mains only) devices not building a working network I am loathe to spend more money and time extending it.

The reason I chose the Aeotec Nano Dimmer units is because they would allow my existing UK wired on/off (no neutral) switches to continue to work if I had any issues with the HE automation.

I had planned to install more of these (I own them) and one happens to be closer to the hub than the existing so I will install that one and see if it improves the reliability of the mesh (will be 2.5m from the hub).

What should I expect in real world range between devices and expect a reliable mesh?House has brick interior walls but only 2000 sq.ft. across 2 floors.

Are the back boxes metal and same question with your switch plate.

I had a few problems with the back of switches modules not being great repeaters so I changed all the back boxes to fast fix. It's not a easy task to do without damaging the walls but I'm a electrician so I have done it before. If your able to get a electrician to do it then it does help.

Yes the back boxes are metal, but I have poked the aerial wire out of a hole where possible. Note: not possible on the one switch which seems to have been picked as the only one showing DIRECT on the routing.

The switch pates are NOT metal.

I don't suppose you're based in West Yorkshire, UK are you? Not yet found a local electrician and only moved to this area in September...

Unfortunately not, I'm in the south west and although I'm a electrician I haven't worked as one for years. I commission smart lighting controls for a living.

I tried this too at first it did help it seemed. They always worked but they constantly changed routes. But then all of my front plates are metal so I was really pushing my luck. Although I also have loads of powered devices all close together so that helped a lot.

The problem I find with z-wave is even though they go further than ZigBee you seem to need more of them closer together for them to work well.

I personally prefer ZigBee and only buy it, but sometimes a ZigBee devices just doesn't exist or the z-wave equivalent is just so much better. That's the only time I look to get z-wave.

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Thank you. I think my next step is to install a the final 3 devices I own and see if the extra numbers of devices solves the problems in some way.

Part of the problem is I don't understand z-wave well enough yet. I thought that the devices created a mesh between them, so that signals could pass one of a number of routes to get to their destination, but it seems like the controller only stores a single route to each device so if that has any issues it all goes to pot.

One thing I have worked out today is that the Heatit Z-TRM3 device is NOT a repeater. This and the location means I am going to have to look at finding a Zigbee Underfloor heating controller for my ensuite as I do not plan other z-wave devices nearby but already have 4/5 Zigbee devices in that room (3 powered repeaters).

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@david20

West yorkshire here, woo!

/ not an electrician

// offtopic

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So should I flag the post? :laughing:

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Zigbee locks (or Zigbee vs ZW modules) have been more reliable than the Z-Wave locks in my experience. To be fair I've only tested a few - mainly Yale and Kwikset.

I have noticed once a Z-Wave device is paired and settled as part of a strong mesh then it just seems to work. The trick seems to be building a solid mesh at the start of the process which avoids some of the stranger routing "quirks" that can happen.

I have three buildings with HE hubs, and all my devices are Z-wave. I can't even remember the last time I had a problem. It all just works. What I can tell you is that I had lots of issues until I installed dedicated repeaters (two in each building that has more than 100 Sq Ft - one building is a tiny office (no repeater there) while the others are a two-story, 3BR house with basement and also a large garage with living space over it). The repeaters simply cleared things up, and it has stayed that way. I now consider them essential for any system larger than a single room, even if some devices are just a few feet away. Personally, I use the Aeotec repeater. Others here have had good luck with the Ring extender.

I know that mains (hardwired AC) devices are supposed to repeat reliably, and I certainly thought I had enough of them before I installed my repeaters. But I still had problems pre-repeater, and the repeaters solved it all within about three days in the first building where I installed them. Then it did the same for the second. So that's my experience. YMMV, of course. Good luck.

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I have had similar experience and am not sure why either. With repeaters the mesh seems a lot more stable even though I have a ton of switches that should repeat just fine. :man_shrugging:

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Add some aeotec 6 or 7 repeaters..This should strengthen your mesh a lot

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