Category Archives: Best z-wave controller

Z-Wave vs. Zigbee

Both Zigbee and Z-Wave operate through a mesh network. Zigbee travels on a higher frequency (2.4 GHz) versus Z-Wave (900 MHz). Zigbee waves travel further, albeit on a more crowded frequency. Both networks are mesh network protocols, meaning that modules/nodes relay signals, as well as receiving and responding. In essence, the more modules throughout your house, the more distance your network can travel.

Z-Wave allows for up to 232 nodes, while Zigbee allows over 65,000 modules on its network. Zigbee also seems to be making more headway with appliance makers and, given its ability to travel further with more devices, is more apt for commercial projects. The 2.4 GHz frequency also give Zigbee more bandwidth, meaning it can carry more information like Meta tags, through it’s network. Oh, and to top it off, Zigbee is open source, which I generally support.

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All-in-all it sounds like Zigbee is better, right? I think on it’s face, Zigbee is better, especially for large applications. For my home, Z-Wave is the right choice. The strengths of Zigbee are ultimately the weaknesses of the protocol. Confused?

Zigbee can control more types of devices with it’s larger bandwidth, but that also means there’s more code in the Zigbee protocol and ultimately more difficulty with cross-compatibility. Think of it as Windows vs. the Mac OS’s. Whereas Windows kept adding and adding support until the OS was enormous and slow. Mac would clean out its support with each new OS, creating a smaller, more consistent product. Z-Wave is more like Mac in this sense. This may not be the greatest analogy, but you get the point (in reality, Zigbee performs really well, but inter-manufacturer interoperability has been cited as a problem).

Although Zigbee is open source, I don’t believe open source is right for this market. The market is too small. I want a standard by which all devices operate and Z-Wave offers this to me to a greater extent than Zigbee. Z-Wave is a standard (within each country), so when I buy a module from, say Jasco, I know it will work with my Vera 2 controller. Furthermore, I like some of the backwards compatibility aspects of the Vera 2 in particular, potentially allowing me to add less expensive X-10 (and INSTEON) modules. The fact that Z-Wave is not open source is not an issue for major corporations like Verizon and ADT, who both either have or are coming out with Z-Wave home control systems. In order to make an investment in these companies, one has to believe that these companies believe that the technology will survive, even in the event of a hiccup by Sigma Designs (Mitsumi will now also produce Z-Wave chips).

Finally, the upfront cost for a Z-Wave controller that I can easily operate over my iphone is $250 vs. the $600 upfront cost for a controller from Control4. Z-Wave is really more in line with my home automation needs. The more I read, the more impressed I became with Zigbee, and the more I was convinced that I would need to hire someone to install the system. With Z-Wave, I am more confident that I will be able to setup and maintain my network myself, at a lower cost. All the positives for Zigbee aren’t necessary for what I am going to do with my home, and at the end of the day, operation and cost (in that order) are what matter to me.

Review of Mi Casa Verde Vera 2 In The Year2017

What an amazing product! The Mi Casa Verde Vera 2 from Mi Casa Verde is, as advertised, “simple but sophisticated.” After hearing dated horror stories of X-10, I never imagined just how simple it would be to create a home automation network until I got my hands on the Vera 2. Within an hour, I created my first Z-wave network, three HomeManageable Lamp Dimming modules controlled by the Vera 2, accessible from anywhere via IPhone, IPad, and computer. It is immediately evident to me that the Vera 2, using Z-wave technology, has the capability of bringing home automation to the masses. The device is quite easy to set up, which is great, but the thing that I like most about the Vera 2 is the flexibility of the device. There is very little that this device is incapable of performing. If the data can travel through Z-Wave bandwidth, the Vera can handle it. Oh, and you can even integrate X-10 and INSTEON devices into your network (with the additional purchase of a USB device, which runs ~$80), as well as IP cameras. Moreover, anything that you cannot do through Vera’s GUI, you can probably code in Luup, Lua code that very easily speaks with the Vera 2 and your Z-Wave devices. One of the common complaints I heard about the Vera was that it couldn’t process “AND” commands, only “OR”. This is just isn’t true, with a few lines of Luup. The Vera 2 really can do almost anything you can imagine within the framework of Z-Wave’s somewhat limited bandwidth.

The device is not without faults, however. In particular, I found that the attempt to make the setup more user friendly backfired, complicating setup for the average user. My documentation suggested going to findvera.com, and this simply did not work. Also, the act of adding and removing devices can be described as clumsy at best. Last, I do wish that Luup coding wasn’t as necessary as it is with the Vera. Things like the “AND” command are pretty simple to include in the device. It’s pretty odd to exclude it. But more one these points later. My complaints are minor and are overwhelmed by my exuberance for the product.

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Hardware and Software Overview

The Vera 2 looks a lot like a two port Ethernet switch. It’s sort of a shame that the appearance of the box is so drab, given the amazing capabilities held within the metal walls. As far as I can tell, the Vera 2 is a WiFi router with Z-Wave capabilities. There is a physical button for including and excluding modules, as well as two USB ports and a couple LED status lights. It’s easy enough. The thing that really distinguishes the Vera 2 is the software. Installed on the device is a customized version of OpenWrt, a GNU/Linux platform for embedded devices. I’m not nearly sophisticated enough to know much about OpenWrt, but I do know that this software gives you a ton of flexibility, turning what seems like a simple router into a server. This permits so many capabilities from storing and writing files on the Vera 2 to secure, remote access. The most important and impressive capability, in my opinion, is Luup (Lua-UPnP), which easily allows the user to add code to scenes, creating endless possibilities. Imagine, for example that you want to create a scene where you wish to open your Z-wave compatible shades if it is day time and it is sunny outside. You can easily do this with a few lines of codes, creating a timer scene and then adding a few lines of Lua code which checks the weather conditions (a plug-in) and opens the shades if it is sunny and the shades are closed. Amazing right?

The GUI on the Vera 2, UI4, is attractive and intuitive. The first page that you are brought to is the setup wizard screen, a 3-step process of adding devices, creating scenes and adding notifications. Although this wizard makes setup simple, I think it takes a lot of control out of the process. For example, I couldn’t figure out how to add and manage rooms. I feel like this should be an interim step between adding devices and adding scenes. Honestly, I tried to use the wizard and found it frustrating. I recommend clicking the “Dashboard” button on the top right and doing everything from there.

I exclusively use the Dashboard to manage even my fledgling network. This screen is also very easy to use, although it takes a little getting used to. For example, to assign device to a room, you have to first create the rooms, either by clicking the “Manage Room” icon or by creating it in the Wizard. Then, you have to click on the wrench for the device that you want to assign to the room, go to the “Advanced” tab and assign the device to a room from there. Another example is renaming devices. To rename a device, you click on the wrench and then double click the generated name on the device at the top of the window and change it from there. It’s not exactly intuitive, but it’s not too complicated once you’re used to the system. Despite a GUI that could use some refinement, the Dashboard screen is powerful. Click around on it and you’ll quickly get the hang of it pretty quickly. You can set up devices and scenes fairly quickly. For more complex operations, like setting parameters and coding, you will certainly have to reference the Wiki page for some help. Also, the Mi Casa Verde forum is amazing for questions with many incredibly experienced members willing to help newcomers. It is best (and generally considerate) to thoroughly search the forum before asking a question, as many issues have already been addressed.

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Overall Functioning

It’s a little hard for me to give a thorough opinion on the device operationally at this time, given the fact that I only have three lamp modules attached. I can say that I have not had a single issue so far with controlling any of the lamp modules or any scenes. The Vera 2 works very quickly, with only a very, very slight delay to a regular light switch. I can imagine this becoming slightly worse as my network expands and the signals have to travel further, but really this is just speculation right now. I have tried to spread my nodes throughout the house and I really have not witnessed a lag worth noting. I look forward to adding more devices to my network in the very near future and expanding on this review.

I have one small complaint regarding operation (that probably should’ve been addressed in the hardware section). I really wish the feedback mechanism for adding and deleting devices was more than blinking lights. A small LCD or E Ink display would have greatly simplified the adding and deleting of devices. I found it slightly difficult to rely on blinking lights as my indicators and had some trouble adding and removing devices from the Vera 2. It’s not awful, but it could be better.

Overall, my Vera 2 is functioning impeccably.

Conclusion

The Vera 2 by Mi Casa Verde is an incredible piece of hardware for users of every level. Although it is not foolproof, given the complexity of its operation, it really is almost too good to be true. I highly recommend this device for Z-wave users of any level from noobies to home automation veterans, and I look forward to continuing to add devices and more complexity to the Vera 2. I’m confident it will continue to exceed my expectations.

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Samsung SmartThings Hub

Top 5 Best Z-Wave Controllers For Home Automation 2017

There are new Home Automation products everyday,New brands , new firmwares, new products, new protocols. In 2015, Samsung release a new product, SmartThings, Google’s Nest is taking the place of SmartHome Hub, Homeseer S6 was released as a new flagship,…and so on. As the number of Home Automation products increase so rapidly, you may find it more and more difficult to make a decision. Here is an article to give you some tips for you to choose the best Z-Wave controllers, we make a list of products we consider very good. We made a list of controllers that are suitable to be the core of most home automation systems. And for each product we recommended we provided a short review, in the reviews, we listed pros and cons. Most controllers we chosen were able to work with different protocols of different manufacturers’ devices.

When choosing a Z-Wave Controller, usually you should ask three questions before you make a decision. The questions are:

1. The number of devices the Controller will work with?
2. Are there devices use different protocols in the Home Automation System?
3. Is it possible for me to add new devices to the system if use this Controller, how many can I add?

If all of your devices to make a Home Automation System are Z-Wave devices, all controllers we listed below can be choose, all you need to do is choose one you like the design of appearance, the price, and the app is easy to use.

But if some of your devices are different brands use different protocols, it is a bit complex to choose a Controller, because the controller should work with not only Z-Wave devices, it must be a multi-protocol device.

The best z-Wave controller on the market is the SmartThings Hub, it can work with most home automation products. It’s appearance is very graceful. The shortcoming of SmartThings Hub is the customization ability.

If you want to do more D-I-Y work, or you are a hacker with good knowledge of technology, VeraLite is more suitable for you. The advantage of VeraLite is its ability to add various scenarios for different event.

If you still not satisfied with VeraLite, there is a more powerful z-wave controller, Hometroller S6. this is maybe the best Home Controller up to now. It is manufactured by HomeSeer, one of the Giant in the area of Home Automation. The biggest advantage is it can work with different protocol based devices, in additon, the customization ability is more powerful.

To learn more about the top 5 best z-wave controllers, read the short reviews below of them.

 

The No.1 : Samsung SmartThings Hub, 2nd GenerationSamsung SmartThings Hub

Samsung SmartThings Hub
Samsung SmartThings Hub

SmartThings Hub is not only a z-wave Controller, SmartThings Hub supports ZigBee, Z-Wave and WiFi protocols. This means it can support nearly all the devices nowadays and in the coming years since nearly most Home automation products use these three protocols. All you need to do is just plug it into the router via Wi-Fi or Ethernet cable, then you can control it at the web browser of your computer or smartphone. The web interface is designed very humanization, you’ll find it easy to use.

Selling numbers can talk, Samsung SmartThings Hub is the Best Seller among all the Home Automation Controllers at Amazon.

Pros

  • Easy to install and use
  • Well design, beautiful apperence
  • Easy to use interface
  • apps for iOS and Android
  • Supports ZigBee, Z-Wave and WiFi
  • Cheap price

 

The No.2: the most flexible, powerful Mi Casa Verde VeraLite

VeraLite Z Wave ControllerMi Casa Verde VeraLite

Though VeraLite is not the newest product of Mi Casa Verde, it is lots people’s choice,because it is cheaper than the new one, and it supports 50 devices is enough for most home automation solutions. If you don’t need the support for more nodes and don’t use Z-Wave Plus protocol, it is a very good  z-wave controller for less than 10~50 devices.
Vera is a well known Product Range as Z-Wave support. VeraLite make it possible to control all the devices connected to it with a smartphone.

Click Here to See Pricing, Ratings, and Reviews on Amazon.com

Vera’s energy monitor function can make you control your monthly costs and save money on energy bill. If you have any unusual questions, you can find an answer at the Mi Casa Verde community, there are many huge funs of Vera.
Cons

  • Easy to install and use
  • Well design, beautiful apperence
  • Easy to use interface
  • Cheap price

Cons

  • Only support Z-Wave protocol devices

 

Upgraded version of VeraLite: VeraEdge Z-Wave Controller

 VeraEdge Z-Wave Controller

VeraEdge Z-Wave Controller is the successor of VeraLite. It is based on Z-Wave Plus protocol, a updated version of Z-Wave. VeraEdge has some improment compared to VeraLite, new features like longer battery life, better RF coverage and so on. It can support at Maximum 220 devices while VeraLite can only support 50 devices, this is a huge update. It provide one easy, intuitive app spans all platforms (Mac/Window/iOS/Android) so that you can easily keep everything in control at all times, wherever you go. VeraEdge upgrades the hardware specs but didn’t raise the price.VeraEdge is the best way to centrally control your smart home or automate your small business.

Click Here to See Pricing, Ratings, and Reviews on Amazon.com

Pros

  • Easy to install and use
  • Well design, beautiful apperence
  • Z-Wave Plus
  • Medern and easy to use interface

Cons

  • Supports only Z-Wave

Pro Controller: HomeSeer HomeTroller S6

homeseer_hometroller_s6_zwave_plus

HomeSeer HomeTroller S6
HomeSeer HomeTroller S6

HomeTroller S6 is one of the best Z-Wave controllers, it is HomeSeer “Flagship” controller, its price is a bit high, but the quality and its performance worth the price. Besides Z-Wave, HomeTroller S6 is compatible with Insteon, X10 and much more protocols and can work with most popular home automation products, including light switches, thermostats, door locks, garage door openers, surveillance cameras, and so on.

Click Here to See Pricing, Ratings, and Reviews on Amazon.com

If you have too many different devices, and you want to combine them to a home automation system, The S6 is a good choice.With the apps on smartphone, you can control all the devices at your home with a Android or iOS device.

HomeSeer provide a remote cloud service for free remote access with no monthly fees, so owners can access the HomeTroller S6 at any place with smartphone or tablet. HomeTroller also supports control by voice,just like the Amazon echo do.

Pros

  • Support Z-Wave Plus Protocol
  • Compatible with a wider Range of Peripherals
  • No monthly fees
  • HomeSeer’s products are of good quality

Cons

  • Price too high
  • Protocols support cost money

 

Other choices worth considering

In the above content we list the most popular Z-Wave Controllers, these Controller are most home automation users’ choice. But there are still some other excellent devices we didn’t mention, if what we suggest don’t make you satify, you can see the rest devices we mentioned below. To see more devices of Z-Wave Controllers, you can click the link below.

Find more Home Automation Controllers at Amazon.com in detail.

Zipato Zipabox

Zipato Zipabox,best z-wave controller

Zipabox has a quit outstanding apperence, with a big “Z” on its surface. The manufacturer is Zipato, which is a newbee in the home automation area, but this Z-wave Controller may change all the things, as the Zipabox became more and more popular, lots of people will know this company. Zipabox provides a Cloud service for users to store their theme schedules and configures. This means that to work properly Zipabox should connect to the Internet all the time. The server of Zipato is quite stable after change to Amazon Cloud Servers. With the cloud service you can conrol the Zipabox from anywhere only if you can connect to the internet use a smartphone or tablet. And Zipato also provides apps for iOS and Android users. It also provides extension modules to support other protocols other than Z-wave.

Click Here to See Pricing, Ratings, and Reviews on Amazon.com
Pros

  • Easy to install and use
  • Well design, beautiful apperence
  • Can be extended for more protocols

Cons

  • Higher price tag
  • Design looks a bit cheap

 

Recommended products related Z-wave Controllers

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo , or you can call it Alexa, is a voice-controlled Wi-Fi speaker which can recognize what you say just like Siri on iOS, the difference is that Amazon Echo stays only at your home. Most of the home automation Controllers areusually controlled by touching the screen, but maybe voice is a better interface than screen.
You can just talk to it like, “Alexa, turn off the lights” . The lights in your house will dim . “Alexa,tell me a joke” ,then it speak a joke for you. Plus , you can command him to control other devices like curtain, Thermostat. By using a cloud-based voice service called Alexa, it can also provide play music, news, weather, and audiobooks. This is what Amazon Echo do , and how he do it.

Click Here to See Pricing, Ratings, and Reviews on Amazon.com

The Amazon Echo is well-desighed, and its voice recognition technology is really great, the cloud-based voice interactive interface can responds to your commands very accurately. But is it indispensable? It seems that Amazon Echo can be taken place by other devics like Siri or Google or other Controllers. It can cooperate very well with the z-wave controller.

Pros

  • Intuitive, accurate voice-assistant
  • Quick response times
  • No monthly fees

Cons

  • No battery
  • Sometimes can’t understand your command