Author Topic: New to Vera with some questions  (Read 1871 times)

Offline jeubanks

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New to Vera with some questions
« on: February 08, 2018, 10:48:06 pm »
To start out I'm currently running SmartThings as my primary and I have a pi setup with Home Assistant and I have the new Hubitat Elevation box that I'm checking out as well.  I just ordered a Vera Plus as well.

I'm completely new to Vera, but on all of the sites for devices I see vera everywhere and very few places do I see SmartThings.  Now, for the most part I'm happy with SmartThings except until recently I've grown very very tired of all of the outages.  If you know SmartThings you know it is very cloud dependent so if a dog farts on another continent it could cause your whole system to be down for an unknown period of time.  (Exaggeration intended)  :o

I've been reading through the forums, and I'm getting mixed feelings about Vera, but I see the same issues with SmartThings and growing pains with Hubitat, and then complications with Home Assistant, etc etc it's all the same.  The differences are the other systems are all LOCAL processing where as SmartThings is mostly cloud based with some local processing. 

The big question is.  Do I open the box and give it a try, or do I send it back now?  Here's a list of my primary current integrations.  If they work consistently and reliably then other things I can work around or write stuff for.

Integrations:
Lutron Caseta (I have a standard and a PRO Hub)
Philips Hue
0Garage Door Opener (GD00Z-4)
Harmony Hub
Amazon Echo devices (Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show) So Alexa Integration
Google Home devices
Misc sensors (checked and I expect most to work)
TP-Link Wifi Plugs (works standard in Home Assistant component, SmartThings plugin using rpi, possibly same with Vera with HTTP lua script)
WebCoRE for automations with SmartThings.  I think PLEG? maybe could suffice as a replacement.  Does PLEG run all local?

One thing that is of interest is the scripting capabilities with Vera.  It uses Lua? I believe and can be scripted from most anywhere?  I need to do more reading on this, which if anyone has some good links I'm interested.  This is something I like about Home Assistant as it's all Python which I can work with even if it's Python 3.x  ;)

Looking for some tips, advice on whether to unbox the Vera Plus or get a refund?  Opinions, experience.  This community has some posts, but doesn't seem hugely active.  Is Vera slowly dying?

Thanks to anyone who replies.

Also, Vera needs to upgrade their forums.  This forum system is soooo old  8)
« Last Edit: February 20, 2018, 06:52:43 am by Sorin M. »

Offline kartcon

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Re: New to Vera with some questions
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2018, 05:07:33 pm »
jeubanks,

I don't think Vera is dying anytime soon, but they have had their share of firmware woes lately. To their credit, the offending versions were pulled and Customer Service (tech support) has been very helpful in getting systems restored. I can speak to both these points personally. Overall I am still satisfied with the performance, flexibility and overall value.

In my personal opinion, I would avoid cloud based systems simply because I want my system to continue to operate (lights, locks, alarm system) in the absence of an internet connection.

The decision to open the box or send it back is a 'listen to your gut' thing. You can search these forums and find lots of positive and negative comments. The fact that Vera is an open platform, where 3rd parties can write plug-ins to expand the functionality is a double edged sword. Yes, lots of cool things can be added, but this also opens the doors to sub-optimal programming techniques that may affect other aspects of the system while seemingly unrelated.

Overall, I feel that Vera has done a pretty good job providing a product that is both inexpensive and flexible.

My personal experience over the past few weeks: I had a rock solid system controlling approximately 125 devices and a custom built alarm system. As the newest firmware upgrade became available, I decided to do the upgrade. Unfortunately, this occurred on the leading edge of what was to become a two week period of firmware updates and recalls. My system was down for 8 days the first time and 3 days the second. As I stated earlier, Customer Service was helpful in restoring my system, but several nagging issues remained. Finally, they were able to restore me to the point I started at, just before the initial firmware upgrade. To date, my system has been running like it did before the debacle and almost everything I wanted in the firmware upgrade has been addressed. At this point I believe I will wait until the next proven firmware release is widely considered stable before upgrading. The moral of my story: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

Offline HSD99

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Re: New to Vera with some questions
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2018, 05:45:37 pm »
jeubansk,

I think kartcon has nailed it with an excellent summary of the pros and cons. You are clearly an advanced user, and you'll find a lot of kindred spirits on this forum who are doing some extremely advanced work.

Offline jeubanks

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Re: New to Vera with some questions
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2018, 11:25:25 pm »
Thanks all for the replies.

I have now had my Vera Plus online since Thursday and I've been having fun with it.  I have gotten a lot of things added and I've received great support from thesmartesthouse.com in regards to getting more devices (I'm replacing a bunch of relay's) and on questions and concerns with Vera itself.

So far I'm happy.  As I said in my earlier email I had been using SmartThings, but I was tired of the outages and internet hiccups and my home internet connection is not the greatest and it does go down sometimes as well.  So I really wanted a local system.  Home Assistant was good and getting better and I still have an rpi running it.  Makes a nice dashboard for systems :).  However I need something stable and that can be expanded and handle multiple device types.  I think Vera may make the cut I'll give it a few weeks and find out.  In the meantime I'm going to have lots of questions.

Offline HSD99

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Re: New to Vera with some questions
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2018, 11:34:58 pm »
Congrats!

You may want to put your Vera on a UPS or battery back-up. When Vera reboots, it does make contact with OpenWRT's NTP servers to set the time.There is no RTC hardware in Vera---if your internet is down and Vera reboots due to a power failure, you're  stuck. Or, if you want, you can run your own NTP server locally. You'll need to edit the config file on Vera to change the NTP servers. A firmware upgrade will overwrite the edited config, so hang on to a backup.

Offline Tillsy

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Re: New to Vera with some questions
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2018, 05:45:33 am »
You may want to put your Vera on a UPS or battery back-up. When Vera reboots, it does make contact with OpenWRT's NTP servers to set the time.There is no RTC hardware in Vera---if your internet is down and Vera reboots due to a power failure, you're  stuck.

Is this for real?!?  Are there plans for such a major oversight to be addressed?  Surely in the very least Vera could stamp the current date each day, and in the event of a restart looks up that date and uses it temporarily UNTIL it makes contact with an NTP.  Otherwise what an insane design flaw...?!

Offline jeubanks

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Re: New to Vera with some questions
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2018, 05:16:00 pm »
The tip on the UPS is a good one.  I already have it on my system UPS for now.  However today after installing a couple new switches in my family room / office area I realized I need another UPS for other devices as well.

Offline rigpapa

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Re: New to Vera with some questions
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2018, 05:40:59 pm »
You may want to put your Vera on a UPS or battery back-up. When Vera reboots, it does make contact with OpenWRT's NTP servers to set the time.There is no RTC hardware in Vera---if your internet is down and Vera reboots due to a power failure, you're  stuck.

You'd want your router and (as may be) cable modem/edge devices on UPS too, then. And any switches between Vera and those. No point in being awake if the link is still down. Based on another conversation a couple of weeks ago, I now run my house Vera on PoE, sourced from a switch that is UPS-backed along with everything else needed.

Have you tested this over an interval? Because ntpclient's config on my Veras asserts that it would attempt to update every 10 minutes, so in theory, it should be recoverable on that interval. But, if the Vera services can't start when time is broken, or recover gracefully when time recovers, that's a bummer. It would be interesting (well, to me, I like that kind of stuff) to see if it does recover, and if not, why.
Author of Reactor, DelayLight, SiteSensor, Rachio, Deus Ex Machina II, Intesis WMP Gateway, Auto Virtual Thermostat and VirtualSensor plugins. Vera Plus w/100+ Z-wave devices. Vera3 sandbox.

Offline jeubanks

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Re: New to Vera with some questions
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2018, 06:22:53 pm »
Yeah, it doesn't make sense to have the vera hub on UPS if your switches and internet paths are down due to power.  I have all of my primary gear on UPS but it looks like it's time to expand the UPS's. 

The Vera hub will run with POE?  Really?  How interesting.... I have two injectors sitting and doing nothing at the moment. 

Offline rigpapa

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Re: New to Vera with some questions
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2018, 08:51:13 pm »
Yup. TrendNet TPE-104GS PoE splitter with output selected to 12V. No problems.
Author of Reactor, DelayLight, SiteSensor, Rachio, Deus Ex Machina II, Intesis WMP Gateway, Auto Virtual Thermostat and VirtualSensor plugins. Vera Plus w/100+ Z-wave devices. Vera3 sandbox.

Offline HSD99

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Re: New to Vera with some questions
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2018, 11:01:51 pm »
It was implied that the network equipment was also on a UPS.  :)
Vera does not have native PoE support. You'd need to use a PoE extractor like the TrendNet.

Offline rigpapa

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Re: New to Vera with some questions
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2018, 12:03:45 pm »
It was implied that the network equipment was also on a UPS.  :)

Just being thorough/clear. I'm often surprised by what people don't realize needs to be protected. Or does. Certain members of my family insist on plugging their laser printers into their UPSs, for example.
Author of Reactor, DelayLight, SiteSensor, Rachio, Deus Ex Machina II, Intesis WMP Gateway, Auto Virtual Thermostat and VirtualSensor plugins. Vera Plus w/100+ Z-wave devices. Vera3 sandbox.

Offline jeubanks

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Re: New to Vera with some questions
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2018, 10:49:31 pm »
Well with some time in the game now, things are going... well ok. 

Lutron Caseta not well supported unless using Caseta PRO bridge and using Lutron RadioRA2 plugin.  Ok... done
PLEG is cool.  Doing a lot of stuff with PLEG
AltUI is much better than the default UI7

Still working on a TTS/Media player integration other than Home Assistant.  For now I have my buttons using a scene and using lua code to send an http request to Home Assistant to play media to Google Mini's.

Also still no solution for TP-Link Wifi Switches other than the same of using a scene and lua code to Home Assistant.  I also still have some zigbee devices in Home Assistant because they just wouldn't work with Vera.

The whole vera is "local" is questionable.  The NTP issue is documented and I took care of that.  However some plugins do require internet and it seems that those can "hang" the vera during a luup.reload() and that's not a good thing.  The Philips Hue2 plugin and Harmony plugin were both hanging my system and not letting luup to fully restart.  I had another internet outage to learn this.  Actually my "normal" internet connection is still down.  I'm just going to replace it with a couple LTE gateways and put them in front of my load balancing router.  8)