Two weeks down the rabbit hole

I was already down a slightly more mainstream rabbit hole with a handful of Google assistants, Nest Hello doorbell, Tado heating, Harmony Elite remote, TP-link smart bulbs (bleh), some wifi smart plugs & a couple of Shelly no-neutral modules. With rheumatoid arthritis & spondylosis getting in the way, it started out as a way of making life a bit easier. Then I saw Paul Hibbert on YouTube. Ooh the ZigBee!!

I'd been preparing for the arrival of the HE & got hold of a few things off FleaBay. A couple of Mi door sensors, some ST plugs and z-wave dimmer plugs, Z-wave & ZigBee switch modules.

A couple of weeks since the HE arrived and I'm now firmly wedged down the rabbit hole. I’ve been fairly busy and the days of the damned Google Assistant behaving like a cloth-eared unruly teenager are well and truly numbered. I thought my "broken Google" avatar to be quite appropriate! :wink:

The preparation time spent lurking around this wonderful forum has certainly paid off. I've got the Tado Connect, Kasa Integration, Google Home Community, Chromecast Integration and Google SDM API apps set up as well as finding community drivers for all devices bar the Teckin wifi plugs, but I’m not inclined to go down the route of flashing them – see, I have been reading!!

I’ve resurrected an old Android tablet and got ActionTiles dashboards running on it. All routines have been removed from Google Home and scenes are now handled by RM with voice triggers linked in via the Google Home Community App.

I've discovered that I'm not too keen on Z-wave. All the devices (plugs & modules, therefore also repeaters) are within 12 metres of the hub but they're sluggish to respond compared to ZigBee and the Aeon mini switch module seems to have a mind of its own – even after giving the mesh time to settle down.

The Aqara Opple 6 button controller arrived safely (my first time buying through AliExpress after reading advice on here) and I got busy with RM creating groups and scenes. Memories of Boolean & dealing with logic gate chips from many years ago came flooding back! I even bought a little Brother P700 label machine and (at the request of my OH) a handful of Sonoff buttons are on the way to link to table/bedside lamps.

I was going to stick with Shelly for dimmer modules with retractive switches. Then I got the Aqara Opple 6 button and discovered that the Shelly Dimmer2 doesn't support the "begin changing"/"stop changing" command set. Whilst dimming works with the retractive wall switch, it will only accept absolute values from a ZigBee button via the hub. Not dimming on hold/release is a deal breaker so it’s back to the drawing board for no-neutral dimmers. I will be sticking with Shelly for their non-dimming switch modules though.

The Fibaro & Qubino dimmers are quite expensive & my experience with Z-wave thus far has been less than perfect. I know about Lutron but again, the cost is prohibitive. I’ve seen a “Lonsonho QS-Zigbee-D02-Triac-L” neutral-free dimmer on AliExpress but I’m not completely happy trusting the safety of something without a verified CE certificate when it’s connected to mains & embedded in the wall behind a switch! CE in China without an actual European certificate essentially means “self-certification” without any external checks.

I’ve bought a single Samotech SM314 to try, which arrived yesterday. It paired straight away and is working perfectly. It’s a bit thicker than the Shelly so a pattress collar & some longer screws were needed. Unless anyone has any other suggestions for (cost effective & safety certified) no-neutral dimmer modules that’ll fit in a UK pattress box I’ll probably be ordering some more Samotechs.

The Google SDM API was a bit of a faff to set up with all the difficulty being on Google's end but it's done & the doorbell is linked in to HE. A rule to get the porch lights to switch on from doorbell will be written once I’ve changed the unruly Aeon switch.

Once all the lights are done I’ll be looking more seriously at devices such as door, window, (dog friendly) movement, luxe, humidity sensors to enable some true automation. Some roller blind motors and curtain tracks will be on the shopping list at some point as funds (and OH) allow.

Finally, a big THANK YOU to all the community developers and people with in-depth knowledge and experience. You’ve all enabled me to pretty much hit the ground running! :blush:


It took me a month or two and $300 of zwave devices to arrive at that tipping point. Looks like you're progressing waaay more rapidly than I did.

If you decide to go down the energy monitoring rabbit hole, it's hard to find any options better than zwave, but I agree other than that I don't have much desire for zwave on this platform.

1 Like

I would add the raspberry pi hole (pun intended) in there as well, all manner of fun can be had with one of those, including monitoring of any number of metrics using Grafana or something similar, not to mention other administrative or infrastructure improvements than can be added....

I see what you did there.

Please don't throw me into that pi-hole briar patch.

1 Like

If you want to go down the energy monitoring rabbit hole, I think Sense or Emporia are better choices to start with.

I would tend to disagree, at least with sense as I've seen many complain that not only is it cloud dependent (which is prohibited from my network), but I've seen countless complaints that their "sensing algorithm" that is supposed to auto detect new device usage is routinely wrong with which device is actually running.

@ChrisPowys As to your z-wave slugishness, do you have any ghosts in your z-wave table? Honestly all my z-wave stuff tends to be faster than zigbee. Just curious

Yep count me in on this one. I’ve had Sense for 1.5 years and have not been impressed. The most frustrating part is no official API to get data out. There is an unofficial one but it hasn’t worked for me. I wouldn’t recommend.

1 Like

No ghosts. All 5 z-wave devices are mains repeaters (4 plugs & 1 switch module).
The plugs are closest to the HE (3m to 6m) with a stable connection. They're marginally slower than nearby zigbee devices but adequate in their response.
The z-wave module is furthest away (12m) and struggles to maintain a reliable connection. Brick walls in a 100+ year old house & white goods in the kitchen are the likely cause, but (again) other zigbee devices nearby (arranged in similar topography) all function properly - surprising as sub-1GHz should penetrate brick and concrete better than 2.4GHz.
The module is going to be swapped out for a zigbee unit and repurposed in a different (nearer and less obstructed) location. The addition of any further z-wave devices will depend on the module's performance at the new location

I would throw a few beaming repeaters in there to create a stronger mesh. Like you said, old house, likely metal boxes etc. A few aeotec 6 or 7’s will likely clear you up

Totally understand—if local only is an absolute requirement, then neither Sense nor Emporia is going to meet that. However…

I am generally a big proponent of “local only” as a constraint. However in the case of power monitoring and analysis, I just wasn’t able to meet requirements with that constraint. Since it’s not a command/control system, I’ve decided to live with power monitoring being a cloud service because of the value it provides.

This is one of those niche areas where a designed for purpose system is necessary. The vendors doing these systems are not interested in Z-Wave—the bandwidth is too low to support sub-second data collection and wifi is ubiquitous.

FWIW, I’ve some time with Sense detection in a rather complicated environment. Not enough yet to make a definitive statement, but my current view is that it is “marginally adequate.” Machine learning works well on a wide variety of things, however there are limitations, and it’s those limitations that always stand out.

NB: Something to keep in mind, there is a bit of selectivity in the comments that you read. When detection works, people rarely comment on it. When detection fails, people comment on it frequently. Frustrated people are simply more vocal that satisfied people.

If you don’t like Sense's ML detection, look to Emporia use of individual CTs to monitor circuits. Also, both Sense and Emporia also support smart plug integration, though these are at lower resolution due to bandwidth requirements. Emporia will also talk directly with your smart meter if you have one. :slight_smile: