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Author Topic: Home automation in 2019  (Read 1130 times)

Offline rAzR

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Home automation in 2019
« on: December 31, 2018, 09:01:01 am »
Hi there,

Long time lurker, first time poster.

I've been reading quite a few threads over the past few weeks as I start planning the install for my new home. Apologies if this has been asked elsewhere, but I haven't come across any threads.

I'm about to start fairly extensive renovations so now is a good time to decide what I will have in my new home. I have previously used Smartthings but they appear to be going down the pan.

I anticipate users of this forum will be understandably biased towards Vera, but also have read some users leaving for Homeseer etc.

As this is my final home I'd like to get a reliable system in place that I can build on in future.

I will have:
- Ubiquiti Unifi Wifi + PoE cameras
- Nest Thermostat and Protects for radiators and underfloor heating
- Fibaro Smart Dimmers for lights (approx 20)
- Texecom Pro Elite hybrid alarm system (both wired and wireless sensors, integrates with Zwave)

I may consider having a Raspberry Pi unify everything in Homekit, and add some things in like Ikea Tradfri LED strips in future. I don't get the impression my needs are particularly onerous (maybe a few rules here and there based on time or ON/OFF conditions).

Would a VeraPlus hub be up to the job or should I be looking elsewhere?

Many thanks in advance

Offline hellovn

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Re: Home automation in 2019
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2018, 11:41:08 am »
I am using a Veraplus and has no complains at all. I have automated everything in my house and am looking for some new ideas :)

Offline rafale77

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Re: Home automation in 2019
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2018, 01:02:43 pm »
As of today, I am afraid that reliable and vera don't come in the same sentence. Vera is a great platform to learn how things work and how they can fail and being part of a community. With the recent acquisition and the perspective of potential new products, there is hope that it will become somewhat more reliable in the future. I am not sure how much automation you are planning but be aware that this can be addictive and your system may grow faster than you expect. As it grows you may find yourself very committed to a platform and making it more and more difficult to migrate to another so the initial choice is very important. The Vera currently has some system scaling challenges with its poor command queue handling and archaic hardware/OS.
If ease of use and reliability are more important than cost, I would recommend Homeseer.
If you plan on tinkering a lot, going through a little bit more learning curve and still want reliability, I would go Home Assistant with my own set of hardware. (Raspberry Pi would work well)
If you want a finished product with some easier setup but do not need as much device support I would choose Hubitat.

All three of these have a great community support.

Note that Nest integration is currently no longer supported by Vera. I am integrating mine through Home-Assistant. A change in the API disabled the plugin some time ago.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2018, 01:11:52 pm by rafale77 »
openLuup (79 devices, 141 scenes, 19 apps) master to VeraPlus (142 zwave nodes, 8 Zigbee nodes, 221 devices,  20 scenes , 2 apps) +  Hubitat (15 Zigbee nodes) + Home-Assistant (API Integrations). Bridged to Siri and Alexa. Homewave. VeraPlus ExtRooted and mios server independent.

Offline hellovn

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Re: Home automation in 2019
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2018, 01:22:23 pm »
As of today, I am afraid that reliable and vera don't come in the same sentence. Vera is a great platform to learn how things work and how they can fail and being part of a community. With the recent acquisition and the perspective of potential new products, there is hope that it will become somewhat more reliable in the future. I am not sure how much automation you are planning but be aware that this can be addictive and your system may grow faster than you expect. As it grows you may find yourself very committed to a platform and making it more and more difficult to migrate to another so the initial choice is very important. The Vera currently has some system scaling challenges with its poor command queue handling and archaic hardware/OS.
If ease of use and reliability are more important than cost, I would recommend Homeseer.
If you plan on tinkering a lot, going through a little bit more learning curve and still want reliability, I would go Home Assistant with my own set of hardware. (Raspberry Pi would work well)
If you want a finished product with some easier setup but do not need as much device support I would choose Hubitat.

All three of these have a great community support.

Note that Nest integration is currently no longer supported by Vera. I am integrating mine through Home-Assistant. A change in the API disabled the plugin some time ago.

I am using the nest plugin for my nest protects and they are working fine.

Offline Jamr

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Re: Home automation in 2019
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2018, 01:41:14 pm »
I second that the WWN add on is still available and working with my Vera.
Nest is still in the compatible products list.
https://getvera.com/portfolio-posts/nest-learning-thermostat/

Offline rafale77

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Re: Home automation in 2019
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2018, 02:14:17 pm »
I stand corrected. When trying it last, it was not able to connect.
openLuup (79 devices, 141 scenes, 19 apps) master to VeraPlus (142 zwave nodes, 8 Zigbee nodes, 221 devices,  20 scenes , 2 apps) +  Hubitat (15 Zigbee nodes) + Home-Assistant (API Integrations). Bridged to Siri and Alexa. Homewave. VeraPlus ExtRooted and mios server independent.

Offline Jamr

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Re: Home automation in 2019
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2018, 02:46:04 pm »
If you are going to renovate, I recommend running as many wires as you possibly can for security (doors windows and motions), networking and your cameras. Wireless is a beast that works some times and not others. Who needs that frustration when you can hard wire once and forget it.
I use and sell Vera's and they work and do almost, (99.9%) of my control and automation needs. The only problem I see is that some of their add ons are getting quite old and have not been updated in quite a while. There is new ones being added but stagnation does seem to be an upcoming problem.
The only other recommendation I could do is your security. I would recommend a DSC hard wired system with an Envisalink EVL4. This system can do anything and will automate arming and disarming with Vera'a geofence feature.
I hope this helps. Please ask if you have any other questions.

Offline bobbydoedoe

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Re: Home automation in 2019
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2019, 11:21:21 am »
If you plan to have google home integration with Vera.  I would go and look elsewhere as Vera have been "working" on google home integration for couple of months if not years already with noting that the end user can test or use

Offline Catman

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Re: Home automation in 2019
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2019, 11:46:27 am »
I am using a Veraplus and has no complains at all. I have automated everything in my house and am looking for some new ideas :)

I do find the polarity of experience here fascinating.  Any ideas why yours seems to work so well? Can you give us a 10c overview of what you've actually done?

Cheers

C

Offline rafale77

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Re: Home automation in 2019
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2019, 12:19:31 pm »
I am using a Veraplus and has no complains at all. I have automated everything in my house and am looking for some new ideas :)

I do find the polarity of experience here fascinating.  Any ideas why yours seems to work so well? Can you give us a 10c overview of what you've actually done?

Cheers

C

Just guessing here and am looking forward to the answer but I think it is a matter of scaling. I believe that I went through this stage when I only had a couple of dozen of zwave devices and few integrations and was willing to put up with the occasional luup reloads. At some point I got past that, starting to scale up and integrating more and found out how limited and buggy the system is. As you will see in the forum, many have turned it into a device/radio bridge. Even as a bridge, it has its strange quirks but advantages too. I like the object oriented device architecture/GUI, the API (Luup), scene and plugin handling (Lua), device overall support (though sometimes requires a lot of expert tweaking). What it lacks is stability, command stack handling and power.
openLuup (79 devices, 141 scenes, 19 apps) master to VeraPlus (142 zwave nodes, 8 Zigbee nodes, 221 devices,  20 scenes , 2 apps) +  Hubitat (15 Zigbee nodes) + Home-Assistant (API Integrations). Bridged to Siri and Alexa. Homewave. VeraPlus ExtRooted and mios server independent.

Offline Catman

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Re: Home automation in 2019
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2019, 01:28:26 pm »
Could well be, but even on my system which is only 30 devices (I just counted) including maybe 5 logical as opposed to atual) the un-reliability annoys.
Just yesterday I had it run out of space (with no user notification apart from reading the logs and the forum), a device that 'for some reason' just lost a setting.

I'm seriously considering moving but I know that's going to take time :D

C

Offline rafale77

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Re: Home automation in 2019
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2019, 01:31:49 pm »
Could well be, but even on my system which is only 30 devices (I just counted) including maybe 5 logical as opposed to atual) the un-reliability annoys.
Just yesterday I had it run out of space (with no user notification apart from reading the logs and the forum), a device that 'for some reason' just lost a setting.

I'm seriously considering moving but I know that's going to take time :D

C

I think you would be better served by hubitat at this moment if you are not overly committed to vera yet...
openLuup (79 devices, 141 scenes, 19 apps) master to VeraPlus (142 zwave nodes, 8 Zigbee nodes, 221 devices,  20 scenes , 2 apps) +  Hubitat (15 Zigbee nodes) + Home-Assistant (API Integrations). Bridged to Siri and Alexa. Homewave. VeraPlus ExtRooted and mios server independent.

Offline Catman

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Re: Home automation in 2019
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2019, 01:58:22 pm »
Interesting.  The problem in any shift will be to decide what's better (or less worse) As I said, my preference would likely be Domotics given past good experience, but OpenLuup seems cheap, requires little additional effort (in that I can run in parallel with the Vera set up as far as I can tell and migrate at will as well as add new devices etc to OpenLuup), and if I find it no better, I'm not really worse off, I can revert to where I am now with pretty much zero effort.

Of course, I may have that totally wrong! :)

C

Offline HSD99

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Re: Home automation in 2019
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2019, 02:17:59 pm »
I am using a Veraplus and has no complains at all. I have automated everything in my house and am looking for some new ideas :)

I do find the polarity of experience here fascinating.  Any ideas why yours seems to work so well? Can you give us a 10c overview of what you've actually done?

Cheers

C

It's a reasonable question. I am one of the Vera users who is happy with my system and finds it to be reliable and problem-free. Let me share my experiences and hopefully hellovn and others can share theirs.

1. Controller/Z-Wave
When I replaced my UI5 Vera Lite with a UI7 Vera Plus, I excluded all devices and rebuilt the network from scratch. This was not as much of a pain as I expected. I spend considerable time experimenting with placement of the VP to obtain maximum RF performance. I added powered devices starting with those nearest the VP and worked my way out in a spiral pattern. I let the system settle overnight and presumably do a network heal. All devices were rock solid. I then re-added the battery devices and again let the system settle. One of the annoyances of Z-Wave it that it can take several days (in my experience) for the system to adjust to new devices. I then rewrote my scenes from scratch, and have updated scenes to take advantage of DelayLight and Reactor when they came along. It is possible for the Vera configuration to become corrupted. Having local backups, hopefully daily ones, is imperative.

2. Plug-ins
Use as few as possible,  and only those that are either rock-solid, as shown by forum experience, or are actively being maintained. For example, System Monitor, Countdown Timer, Virtual Switch, ALTUI, DelayLight, Reactor, LuaView are on my system and work well. I'm sure there are many others; I simply haven't needed them. Be aware that deleting a plug-in does not remove its files from your Vera.

3. External Devices/Cloud Services
These are devices or services that are cloud based and require API integration with Vera to work, e.g. Nest, Alexa, Google, etc.  I don't use any of them. This was a conscious decision and why I chose Vera in the first place. I don't want anything that requires a cloud connection or cloud control due to performance, security and privacy concerns.  I realize that Vera itself uses external cloud resources for backups, alerts and time sync (among other things) and @rafele77 has done excellent work in discovering exactly what Vera does and how to disable or replace them with local functionality.

4. Cameras
Cameras have always been a challenge in Vera, and I stopped using them. I went to an external NVR system to avoid burdening Vera.

5. Routine Maintenance
The battery levels reported by many devices are pretty much useless. Some will work reliably with battery reports of 1%; others fail at 90%. You have to figure out when to change batteries based on experience. I have had battery devices cause network problems under low-battery conditions.
Sometimes devices lose their configurations for unknown reasons and a reconfiguration is needed for both battery and powered devices. Powered devices may require a power cycle. I've had dimmers lock up (not responding to Z-Wave or local control) and a power cycle brought them back. It's rare but can occur. Z-Wave devices with a corrupted configuration can also cause havoc on the network and it can be very tough to troubleshoot.

I use System Monitor to keep an eye on Vera's memory usage. I also extrooted (moved the root filesystem from the internal 128MB FLASH to an external USB 120 GB SSD) using @rafele77's excellent thread. My system was stable prior to the extroot, but I now don't have to worry about FLASH space.

No two people will have the same Vera experience as the layout of your home, local RF environment, types and brands of Z-Wave devices, plug-ins, scene complexity, etc will all be different.

Offline rafale77

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Re: Home automation in 2019
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2019, 02:18:23 pm »
As you can see from my sig... openLuup is what I use and I am very happy with it. All of my work now though has been to try to make the vera more reliable as a device bridge because it still needs it...
openLuup (79 devices, 141 scenes, 19 apps) master to VeraPlus (142 zwave nodes, 8 Zigbee nodes, 221 devices,  20 scenes , 2 apps) +  Hubitat (15 Zigbee nodes) + Home-Assistant (API Integrations). Bridged to Siri and Alexa. Homewave. VeraPlus ExtRooted and mios server independent.