What are your experiences with various electrical constructions (PVC, Romex, and all metal) My walls are heavy 1941 lath & plaster interior and stucco w chicken wire on the exterior. Openings are Pela aluminum clad with coated glass so house is very wifi attenuating. 840 is only slightly better. Is this going to work? I hate to spend a pile on switches and outlets when I should be emphasizing plug modules. Thoughts, experiences and opinions welcome.
I also live in a lath and plaster faraday cage. In general (and it is very general) the lower the frequency the better the penetration overall, but of course your experience may vary. I've had excellent experience with Lutron Caseta switches, and I have about 25 of them. Most are in metal electrical boxes. They use a proprietary protocol called Clear Connect in the 430mhz band. No issues in a 4000 sq ft home. I have a couple of GE zwave outlets that RSSI and speed would suggest would be problematic but I have a strong mesh with lots of zwave repeaters and the outlets do actually work reliably.
My suggestion would be Lutron for the switches. They have the added benefit of offering several models that do not require neutral at the switch, a common configuration in older homes. It does require a separate hub (the PRO model, by the way) and the switches are pricey, but in my case it has saved tons of aggravation.
Outlets... meh. I tend to use Zigbee plug-ins. With lots of them it doesn't seem to be an issue,
Well, it's not going to help. I have metal boxes in one building and the z-wave mesh still functions well with repeaters. But add in chicken wire, etc? Makes for a challenge. The bottom line, though, is that no one can truly predict your specific outcome. As @brad5 notes, it's tough to beat (or even match) Lutron Caseta for reliability.
Your wire and plaster exterior with the Pela windows should not be too much of an impediment for ZWave assuming all your automation is inside the house.
I would agree the interior walls being lath, cement and plaster form more of a barrier than drywall.
I have drywall and metal boxes and am having good luck with both ZWave and Zigbee.
I suggest you purchase one "economy" ZWave device and see if your construction is really a problem.
Is your cell phone signal good? In the US they generally use the 700 and 800 mhz band so if they are penetrating zwave (900) probably would as well. I think the best advice was given already, get one device and test it in a far corner somewhere. And remember these things are omni directional so if 2 switches can see each other they should make good repeaters for each other.
Many of the switches I own, have the antenna facing out the front of the switch.(Zooz, Inovelli, GE, Jasco). I'm not sure how much the metal box would affect signal propagation beyond the box. Antennas in general have a natural "hole" in the signal near the antenna(like a donut)
Thank you all for your insights. I am just getting cold feet thinking about the $$$ for a couple of dozen modules, wiring up the boxes all for an unhappy family.