Author Topic: Vera 6 years later..... Home Assistant!  (Read 4880 times)

Offline Mike Yeager

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 536
  • Karma: +6/-12
Re: Vera 6 years later..... Home Assistant!
« Reply #60 on: July 02, 2018, 04:45:08 pm »
I'm actually thinking of keeping the Vera just for the Alexa integration. I can use virtual switches on the Vera to control from Alexa and simply have Home Assistant pick it up from there. Might add a slight delay, but at least it will be secure (as secure as it has been anyhow). I'm not sure I want to get into the guts of Alexa the way it seems you have to for HA. Maybe somewhere down the line, that will change...

Offline ninkasi

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 195
  • Karma: +10/-0
Re: Vera 6 years later..... Home Assistant!
« Reply #61 on: July 05, 2018, 07:34:19 pm »
I'm actually thinking of keeping the Vera just for the Alexa integration. I can use virtual switches on the Vera to control from Alexa and simply have Home Assistant pick it up from there. Might add a slight delay, but at least it will be secure (as secure as it has been anyhow). I'm not sure I want to get into the guts of Alexa the way it seems you have to for HA. Maybe somewhere down the line, that will change...

Yep, at the moment I'm thinking the same thing (although in my case I use Google Home). Keeping Vera to effectively act as just a bridge to the Zwave kit, but use HA for automation and to control my other non-zwave kit. I continue to be impressed with the way HA can reliably control my (MiLight/LimitlessLED) LED strips, and show status info for my Qnap NAS, and control my projector screen via my Broadlink RF bridge, and show my Solar generation via pvoutput, and show my webcams, and use my cheap Xiaomi zigbee kit, and.... so many things that took me weeks or months to get to work under Vera if I managed to get it to work at all, and I managed to set it all up on HA in less than a day.

Vera has been, and still is, good and would be my default recommendation for anyone starting out with home automation and Zwave. It's cheap, easy to use and, for most people, is generally reliable. My personal experience with their support has also been exceptional. As such I do not regret getting my Vera - it's just that my system has now grown beyond it. Vera seems to start to struggle when you start to expand, adding in non-zwave kit and multiple scenes etc. HA is definitely not perfect, by the way, but combining the two seems like a good compromise for me now.
Home Automation veteran. Rolled own, then MisterHouse and X10, now Vera - mysensor arduino and ESP8266 network - zwave lights, locks, switches - milights - yeelights - google home(s) - Broadlink RM - raspberry pi(s) with various scripts for power and weather station - Logitech Harmony - Imperihome

Offline Mike Yeager

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 536
  • Karma: +6/-12
Re: Vera 6 years later..... Home Assistant!
« Reply #62 on: July 06, 2018, 05:34:27 pm »
I have moved my Home Assistant setup to a 120GB SSD drive. Now I need to find a reliable backup strategy that can make use of my NAS drive. It needs to be as hands off as possible and easy to restore. I realize it doesn't take much to set it all back up, but we shouldn't have to do that. Computers are supposed to make things easier, right? I got my Aeotec Z-Stick yesterday. Haven't even put it into the controller yet. Probably won't until the beginning of the week as I know that as soon as I do, it's going to be off to the races to move things over. I have a few devices that just don't have support under Vera and I'm looking to see how HA handles them. Z-Way did a great job, just the platform itself was for those that wanted to get their hands dirty programming modules. I did quite a few and then decided I had too many other things that needed done...

Offline jeubanks

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 226
  • Karma: +6/-2
Re: Vera 6 years later..... Home Assistant!
« Reply #63 on: July 06, 2018, 09:01:54 pm »
I'm actually thinking of keeping the Vera just for the Alexa integration. I can use virtual switches on the Vera to control from Alexa and simply have Home Assistant pick it up from there. Might add a slight delay, but at least it will be secure (as secure as it has been anyhow). I'm not sure I want to get into the guts of Alexa the way it seems you have to for HA. Maybe somewhere down the line, that will change...

Yep, at the moment I'm thinking the same thing (although in my case I use Google Home). Keeping Vera to effectively act as just a bridge to the Zwave kit, but use HA for automation and to control my other non-zwave kit. I continue to be impressed with the way HA can reliably control my (MiLight/LimitlessLED) LED strips, and show status info for my Qnap NAS, and control my projector screen via my Broadlink RF bridge, and show my Solar generation via pvoutput, and show my webcams, and use my cheap Xiaomi zigbee kit, and.... so many things that took me weeks or months to get to work under Vera if I managed to get it to work at all, and I managed to set it all up on HA in less than a day.

Vera has been, and still is, good and would be my default recommendation for anyone starting out with home automation and Zwave. It's cheap, easy to use and, for most people, is generally reliable. My personal experience with their support has also been exceptional. As such I do not regret getting my Vera - it's just that my system has now grown beyond it. Vera seems to start to struggle when you start to expand, adding in non-zwave kit and multiple scenes etc. HA is definitely not perfect, by the way, but combining the two seems like a good compromise for me now.

What I have come to learn...the hard way... is that most of the "off the shelf" systems... Vera, SmartThings, StaplesConnect, Lowes Iris.... etc etc.  They are "Consumer" systems.  Easy to setup, easy to use, support a bunch of "common" things have some bells and expansion (apps, plugins) and made for a consumer.  The "average" consumer that last report thingy I heard about had something like 15-20 or so devices in their entire setup.....

I'm definitely NOT in that "consumer" category and I really doubt most on this forum or really on any other "Smart Home" forum fall into that "consumer" category.  These are great systems, but they have limits that we all push and that breaks the systems and makes us unhappy. 

Aside from the obvious system faults that we know of and those we create for ourselves by abusing the poor systems.
I've learned it's not the system that is at fault.  I am at fault for being that "dumb user" of trying to use the wrong tool.  I want a Jack Hammer and I bought a ball-peen hammer with expectations that were greater than the capabilities of the product.  This is "MY FAULT" and I accept that responsibility.

Offline Mike Yeager

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 536
  • Karma: +6/-12
Re: Vera 6 years later..... Home Assistant!
« Reply #64 on: July 07, 2018, 09:12:34 am »
Fair enough, but how many people got into this not knowing???

Offline rigpapa

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 462
  • Karma: +65/-0
Re: Vera 6 years later..... Home Assistant!
« Reply #65 on: July 07, 2018, 01:13:47 pm »
Fair enough, but how many people got into this not knowing???

Fair question, if you peruse the messaging at getvera.com and what they claim about their product. None of it is incorrect, of course, but a lot of asterisks would be needed to fully substantiate many of those claims.
Author of Rachio, Deus Ex Machina II, Intesis WMP Gateway, SiteSensor, DelayLight, Auto Virtual Thermostat and VirtualSensor plugins. Vera Plus w/100+ Z-wave devices. Vera3 sandbox.

Offline rafale77

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1153
  • Karma: +52/-22
Re: Vera 6 years later..... Home Assistant!
« Reply #66 on: July 07, 2018, 02:34:11 pm »
Fair enough, but how many people got into this not knowing???

Fair question, if you peruse the messaging at getvera.com and what they claim about their product. None of it is incorrect, of course, but a lot of asterisks would be needed to fully substantiate many of those claims.

As an example the number of devices supported...
There is definitely a bloating and feature creeping happening on the vera over time which has completely overwhelmed the platform capability mostly from a hardware capacity. I have been digging hard in the logs and functionalities of the vera and found several sources of instability. A lot of them are actually poorly designed functions.
1. The zwave handling issues are mostly due to what jeubanks is referring to. There is a great number of device configuration and addition "wizards" in the firmware mostly to automatically configure child devices for some devices which need them and make it easier for the consumer. Nothing wrong with this except they take up drive space and whenever the device gets reconfigures, the child devices get deleted and recreated with new device numbers and forcing users to redo their automation related to these child devices..
2. Why would the devices need to be reconfigured? Because the system is occasionally overloaded (memory/storage or CPU) and drops/corrupt information forcing us to un-pair/re-pair or reconfigure.
3. Why is the system intermittently overloaded?
    - The CPU is too slow to handle all the I/Os and plugins when they all work at the same time on a large setup.
    - The Vera is disturbingly dependent on the mios servers: I have been trying to run it without them and have discovered a great number of issues. The vera wants to create an SSH tunnel to it's relay servers. This happens even if your vera is not connected to an account which I found strange. The vera sends all of it's device and updates that way and it is what you connect to when you remotely access your vera: relay server. This server can be disabled and the vera can work well without it. With a large number of devices this communication is actually very taxing to the vera and causes significant lag to the zwave device management.
      I have managed to disable the SSH tunnel to the server but then comes the next problem: The event server connection. In spite of reporting no internet connection, I discovered that the vera still wants to send every alert (which is device status changes like battery level change, connection loss, alarms...) to its event server, again in spite of the vera not being set up with any account and not having an internet connection. When this link to the event server fails, the vera saves the event on the already limited storage drive in the "/etc/cmh/persist/" folder and they accumulate over time. Initially the frequency of the sync attempts are every few seconds, then every 1m15s, then 1h15s as time goes. The problem is that the vera accumulates these files and I/O requests which eventually overload the vera CPU and socket and makes the vera sluggish and eventually go into a luup reloads and failures to load startup lua and http socket.
      The vera also tries to contact an energy usage server but at least this does not appear to cause any crash. It also attempts to sync it's firmware files on a regular basis though I have not seen crashes from failures to execute these either.
     
An extended internet or mios server disruption will cause the vera to crash and burn and the vera cannot function without a connection to the mios servers as of today because of these bugs. I have sent a message to CC to see if one could disable the RAserversync. I have not found a way to do so yet.

With all this being said, the CPU speed itself remains a major problem: I have tested consecutive zwave sensor trips within 1 sec with variable watches to send an http command to openLuup. What I noticed is that the first command is always instantaneous. The second report from the sensor has some distinguishable lag. While the sensor and the zwave network have already sent the trigger signal the vera is still busy processing the first command and has not yet refreshed the second sensor status. I am convinced the lag is not due to the zwave chip/network because I have tested the opposite: sending very fast successive commands to the vera to actuate zwave devices does not generate lag. It is a status refresh within the vera which is lagging.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2018, 03:40:05 pm by rafale77 »
openLuup (97 devices, 134 scenes, 20 apps) controlling HomeAss + VeraPlus (131 zwave nodes, 8 Zigbee nodes, 199 devices, 20 scenes , 2 app) Bridged to Homekit and Alexa

Offline a-lurker

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 844
  • Karma: +58/-8
Re: Vera 6 years later..... Home Assistant!
« Reply #67 on: July 07, 2018, 09:29:01 pm »
Been following this thread with interest.

On the alerts and as a total hack, it may be just a question of regularly deleting:  /etc/cmh/alerts.json

Refer my post here:  http://forum.micasaverde.com/index.php/topic,38416.msg300050.html#msg300050

I have a GC100 IR device, which opens a port for communicating with the device. If the luup engine is deliberately restarted two alerts are created:

    "Device NOT responding"  and  then  "Device responding again"

For reasons I have yet to determine, these alerts are not always removed from alerts.json. Looking in alerts.json it shows that some of these alerts are months old. In the log it keeps reporting them to the server but the RAserversync doesn't appear to respond to them. You could imagine this could all cascade badly with Vera crashing, restarting, making more alerts and same again all over but worse.

AltUI or some new plugin yet to be written, could run health checks on your Vera. Looking at the number of files in the persist folder being one of those tests.

Another one of interest: on a couple of occasions, on pairing new z-wave devices, duplicate variable ids have been created by the install. Imagine the havoc that could create. AltUI detects them and they can be fixed but how many Veras out there have duplicate variable IDs, without the user knowing. This post discusses the problem but it's a pretty unclear read:

http://forum.micasaverde.com/index.php?topic=38597.0

Another problem that can occur, particularly while writing a new plugin (with a coding error) or a badly behaved plugin, is the continual luup engine restarts that can occur when creating child devices for a parent. Every time a brand new child(s) are created the luup engine is automatically restarted. If the plugin then in error, creates some more children, the process goes on for ever and the child IDs are incremented at an alarming rate. This negative feedback should be caught by the firmware and an error flagged. I suspect this restart loop is encountered quite often and users don't know how to stop it, other than doing a "factory reset".

Offline rafale77

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1153
  • Karma: +52/-22
Re: Vera 6 years later..... Home Assistant!
« Reply #68 on: July 08, 2018, 03:45:14 pm »
@ a-lurker.

I have tried what you suggested by deleting the alerts.json file and emptying the persist folder. I even wrote a script to do it and considered running it as a crontab job but my testing showed that it did not help. My logs are still showing that the vera is trying to sync these alerts. I believe that the alerts are actually active in the nvram and that the files in question are only a safeguard in case of luup reload. My goal is do it without having to do a luup reload. In your case the reload may have emptied the nvram.

Another idea would be to see if using an alternate server to acknowledge these alerts could get rid of them but this is a hefty workaround.
I have experienced all the other weirdness you are reporting as well. I may install ALTUI back onto my vera to fix the device variable ID issue.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2018, 03:47:43 pm by rafale77 »
openLuup (97 devices, 134 scenes, 20 apps) controlling HomeAss + VeraPlus (131 zwave nodes, 8 Zigbee nodes, 199 devices, 20 scenes , 2 app) Bridged to Homekit and Alexa

Offline akbooer

  • Master Member
  • *******
  • Posts: 5952
  • Karma: +257/-69
  • "Less is more"
Re: Vera 6 years later..... Home Assistant!
« Reply #69 on: July 09, 2018, 03:04:42 am »
Another idea would be to see if using an alternate server to acknowledge these alerts could get rid of them but this is a hefty workaround.

I implemented this in EventWatcher under UI5 and it worked a treat... but they changed the server protocol in UI7 and I never got it working again.   :(
3x Vera Lite-UI5/Edge-UI7, 25x Fibaro, 23x TKB, 9x MiniMote, 2x NorthQ Power, 2x Netatmo, 1x Foscam FI9831P, 9x Philips Hue,
Razberry, MySensors Arduino, HomeWave, AltUI, AltHue, DataYours, Grafana, openLuup, ZWay, ZeroBrane Studio.

Offline therealdb

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 116
  • Karma: +1/-0
  • Automate all the things!
Re: Vera 6 years later..... Home Assistant!
« Reply #70 on: July 09, 2018, 06:40:36 am »
I implemented this in EventWatcher under UI5 and it worked a treat... but they changed the server protocol in UI7 and I never got it working again.   :(

Correct me if I'm wrong, but to fix rafale77's problems all he need is to reply with "200 OK" from his alternate server.
If Vera pings the same server, remapping their DNS entry to a local web server seems to be doable and not very difficult to test.
Vera Edge, Fibaro FGRM 222 (12), Fibaro FGS 223 (20), Fibaro FGS 222 (5), Fibaro Universal Binary Sensor (2), Fibaro Plug (3), NeoCoolCam Door Sensor (3), NeoCoolCam PIR (1), Nest (3), Raspberry PI running my own integrations, Harmony Hub, OpenSprinkler, Personal Weather Station

Offline akbooer

  • Master Member
  • *******
  • Posts: 5952
  • Karma: +257/-69
  • "Less is more"
Re: Vera 6 years later..... Home Assistant!
« Reply #71 on: July 09, 2018, 06:59:24 am »
Correct me if I'm wrong, but to fix rafale77's problems all he need is to reply with "200 OK" from his alternate server.

We may not be talking about the same thing.  I was thinking of this...

http://wiki.micasaverde.com/index.php/AlternateEventServer
3x Vera Lite-UI5/Edge-UI7, 25x Fibaro, 23x TKB, 9x MiniMote, 2x NorthQ Power, 2x Netatmo, 1x Foscam FI9831P, 9x Philips Hue,
Razberry, MySensors Arduino, HomeWave, AltUI, AltHue, DataYours, Grafana, openLuup, ZWay, ZeroBrane Studio.