ZWave and Scenes Unreliable, Slow - Need Some Help Troubleshooting

Hello all,

new HE user from SmartThings. I'm having a rough go with Z-Wave. Wasn't perfect with SmartThings but much better than HE.

I know it's not useful to say it's just flakey and unreliable so I'll try to be specific. I feel like I'm chasing my tail trying to track down the latest device that didn't do what it was supposed to.

Currently, I'm having issues with scenes. I have 5 scenes (Lights Dim, Lights Bright, Lights Off, Lights Sleep, Lights Full) that control about 10-15 Z-Wave light switches and dimmers. There are some older Leviton dimmers, (the ones that toggle on/off just using the lower paddle) some Leviton DZ6HD, some of the new GE plug-in modules and some Honeywell dimmers)

This morning my lights were on because the Lights Sleep scene didn't go. So I started switching between Lights Dim and Lights Sleep and it's very very slow to respond (10-15 seconds) if it goes at all. I'm using the "activate scene" button. It's just SO slow and unreliable.

I'm watching the current logs as I hit the activate scene button and I'm just not seeing much. If I activate a scene with 12 devices, I might see an event for one or two of them.

I'm pretty good at troubleshooting and narrowing things down but I don't understand the logging. What should I expect to see when I trigger a rule? What I'm used to for logging with other systems would be something like:

  • Scene X (or rule) activated
  • Light 1 sent ON command
  • Light 2 sent DIM 50% command
  • etc.

but it doesn't seem like it works that way. I'm not super impressed with the logging. It just seems like it's missing a lot, hard to read or isn't a fluent conversation.

Do I need to turn on debugging or logging for each device, rule and scene so I can see what's really going on?

thanks,
Dan

post screen shots of your zwave details.. all of it.. so we can see what your mesh looks like and if you have any orphaned /incomplete pairings.. also if you have non zwave plus devices you may need polling .

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I would suggest that you install Tony Fleisher’s (@tony.fleisher’s) excellent Z-Wave Mesh Details app:

[BETA] A Z-Wave Mesh Tool [C7 and 2.2.4+ Only]

It can often give insights into which devices are causing issues.

It can be installed manually or, preferably, via Dominic Meglio’s (@dman2306’s) excellent Hubitat Package Manager:

[BETA] Hubitat Package Manager

And welcome! Sorry things aren’t going well for you.

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thanks, guys - I will do both of those things shortly. I appreciate the help. I just gotta figure out how to do a good scrolling screen capture of the ZWave page.

It's actually going really well, I'm loving Hubitat. I do see a lot of these threads about Z-Wave in HE not being as reliable as ST. Every system has its weakness but HE seems so much better overall. The solution may be switching to Lutron and ditching Z-Wave for lighting.

But until then... I'd love to get Z-Wave working as well or better than ST.

As mentioned, one of the most difficult things I've run into is that I can't tell the difference between my device not receiving a command and hubitat not sending it. I can't seem to find any consistent logging that confirms that hubitat sent a command.

Retry on commands seemed to be built into SmartThings drivers, and the Hubitat antenna gain seems lower than that of other hubs. This makes mesh strength so much more important with Hubitat. I just shrugged my shoulders, got a bunch (6 currently) of Ring Extender Gen 2 devices, and sprinkled them around. The Ring Gen 2 devices have Z-Wave 700 series chips and also have internal battery backup. They can report power fail events (switch to battery) to the hub so you can do an orderly shutdown.

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Tony's Z-Wave Mesh Details app is pretty cool. Checking that out now. Here's a capture

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Check out the triangles in the first column, showing which devices can talk with the device of that row, and the devices tat the device of that row can talk to (not the same).

Am I looking for anything in particular? Are my numbers abysmal? Things work pretty well overall especially if I'm sending an individual command.

They really aren’t that bad. The Z-Wave network seems to be searching a bit on those slow devices that are paired S0, trying to find better routes, but you’ve only got one device at 9.6kbps.

Because they are controlling external access, you do want them to have secure pairing.

How can I troubleshoot when things don't happen as expected. For example, I just triggered my "Lights Off" scene and nothing happened. Right now it's super unreliable. An hour or two later, it might be OK. It's just so inconsistent.

I triggered "Lights Off" and none of my lights turned off however Hubitat seems to think that they are off... but they are definitely on.

If I look at the status of the device, it shows OFF even though it's ON. If I hit refresh, it changes to ON, it's true state.

What's going on here?

BTW - I'm having this problem with two Honeywell Z-Wave plus plug-in modules.

it almost seems like my problem is that hubitat doesn't know the true state of the devices when they change. I made another post about my garage door opener that was pretty much the same problem - hubitat didn't know the garage door state had changed so there was no reason to act on it.

Tonight one of my door locks wouldn't lock as part of my "Sleep" scene. I ran the scene several times but it wouldn't lock it. There are two door locks in the rule, one 15 feet from the hub and the other is in a detached garage about 30 feet away.

I was able to instantly lock the house lock via the device page. I'm also able to lock/unlock the detached garage lock just fine from the device page.

So I created a new rule with just an action to lock both the locks. Wouldn't go. So I removed the detached garage lock from the rule and it ran instantly.

So both locks seem to be working fine as far as ZWave goes but when I put them BOTH into a rule, the inside door lock stops working.

any thoughts on that?

What type of locks, and do you have any repeaters in the mesh?

Do you have z-wave locks in all your scenes? Because if so, that would explain a big part of this.

Because they use beaming (to preserve battery life) and because they have S0 security (which is talkative), z-wave locks really do a number on a z-wave mesh. A single lock event can cause delays for other devices like lights. But if you have more than one lock trying to do something at the same time? Paralysis for the mesh.

I wrote an app specifically for this, because I have 5 smart locks. It locks them one at a time, with small delays in between, and has retries if a lock doesn't respond. It is triggered by turning on a virtual switch, so you would put that virtual switch into your scene, instead of putting the locks themselves in there.

Now, an even better solution is to switch to zigbee locks. But that's not always an option, for cost reasons and other reasons. But it's true that my zigbee locks are far, far less hassle than my z-wave+ locks.

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Interesting, thank you... yeah I have two door locks and two garage door openers. They are GoControl and Schlage BE469.

I don’t have the locks or openers in scenes (not possible since scenes don’t let you select door stuff) but they are in rules that contain other zwave devices.

Thanks for the app - I’ll start experimenting with shuffling things around with this new info in mind and give the app a try.

The thing that bums me out is that all this worked ok on SmartThings. That tells me that HE is the problem. And like I say, both of these locks work fine individually at the device level. It’s when I put them together in a rule that it seems to go south. That smells like bug to me.

I sent a note to support I’m hoping they will work with me to find root cause.

this could easily be a mesh problem and cannot compare to smartthigns as your mesh will be different once you rebuild it..

also a buggy device or lock will work from the panel as it has time to do retries etc to get the command through. however, with other devices at the same time it can still cause failures while it is trying to retry the command or do route changes to get the command through.

They are Schlage BE469 locks and GoControl door openers.

I don’t have any repeaters. Aren’t all my newer ZWave dimmers acting as repeaters?

Or are there standalone repeaters that would be even better than a dimmer as a repeater?

Hopefully Lockdown will help you. I found that my z-wave locks worked fine individually also, but failed when doing them together. (Such as in a rule.) They're so chatty, they saturate the z-wave network.

I can't find the thread, but someone had talked to an engineer behind the scenes at SmartThings. SmartThing's solution to making this work apparently involves resetting their z-wave radio in the middle of operating the locks. The user doesn't know this is happening. But an unfortunate side effect is that lights stop working randomly when you lock a door. I actually experienced this when I had SmartThings.

That's not a solution the Hubitat team will do. Break one thing to fix another. So I ended up writing Lockdown in order to spread out the lock commands.

But I also switched out the z-wave chips in several of my locks to convert them to zigbee. The way that locks work on z-wave is just a flaky protocol, in my opinion. You have to work around it too much.

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I have kwikset locks, and you can change out the chip to switch to zigbee. I don't know if you can do the same thing in Schlage locks.

Very interesting info, thank you. Yeah I guess each platform has different ways of solving the same problems. Sounds like SmartThings took the approach of just solving it for the user with some duct tape while Hubitat takes the approach of not using workarounds in code/procedure but leaving the user to figure it out for themselves.

All this has me reconsidering zwave. Funny how things STILL aren’t ANY better than the X10 days. I mean, really, amount of time wasted troubleshooting is the same then and now. Sigh. :slight_smile:

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