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General => Vacation & Rental => Topic started by: Michele on November 09, 2011, 01:12:32 pm

Title: Vera reliability
Post by: Michele on November 09, 2011, 01:12:32 pm
This is really an issue for everyone but is of particular interest if you want to control a vacation home that isn't within driving distance.  I am concerned about the reliability of the Vera system.  While the Vera hardware may be pretty good, I'm worried about the cheap made-in-Communist-China wall wart power supply that feeds it.

If that dies, you lose control of your network.  (The same is true for the power to your router and modem for that matter).  I've found that these power cubes are definitely the weak link in system reliability.  I have a bunch of them and they seem to fail at random with no warning.

Does anyone have a solution for a more robust power supply than these little plastic trinkets?  THe only thing I can think of is to connect two of these cubes in parallel to provide some redundancy.  It seems like it should work but I haven't tried it.
Title: Re: Vera reliability
Post by: guessed on November 10, 2011, 12:05:55 am
I've not had any problems with the Vera-supplied power supply, but I eventually replaced it as part of a broader solution to provide battery-backed capacity for "those moments".

What I have now [roughly] is outlined here:
    http://forum.micasaverde.com/index.php/topic,7186.msg45545.html#msg45545

and works well.  The downside is that any sort of "timer-based" restart of Vera now needs a more custom [low voltage] solution, as compared to using an ordinary [line voltage] timer.

If it came down to it, and I had a Vacation property, I'd chose to be able to use a regular timer, over my fancy battery backup.  I get, maybe, 1-2 [short] power down events/yr compared to the potential of a Vera lockup, and the chaos that would cause.

Anyhow, in my experience it's not the wall-warts that die... it's usually something else that goes awry that needs to be gracefully/robustly handled.


Also, I'd think it'd be more dangerous to try and parallel any form of Wall-wart, at least without using some sort of electrical isolation between the two.  Seems like you'd be more likely to cause a serious failure event unless there's appropriate electrical isolation between the two.
Title: Re: Vera reliability
Post by: Michele on November 10, 2011, 02:11:08 am
Yes, I'm going to agree that simply paralleling two wall warts may not be the greatest idea.   What might work though is a DPDT relay held closed by one power supply.  If it dies, the relay opens and switches in the backup supply.  But I really like your SLA battery idea - that ought to be quite robust.

It's unfortunate that there's a whole bunch of single points of failure that can take down the system: Vera itself, the router, the modem, the power supplies for each of those, the ISP, even a tree falling on the cable outside the house.  I'm considering a dual WAN router to address the latter possibility, using a 3G  modem for the backup net access.
Title: Re: Vera reliability
Post by: anthonyris on November 12, 2011, 06:16:54 pm
I replaced the stock Vera wall wart with a universal power supply. My original AC adapter was making a buzzing noise, and I was afraid the smoke would escape from the cheap black box...

As for general reliability, Vera now lives connected to an analog $3 appliance timer module that turns off every night at 4am and back on 15 minutes later.

Has saved me untold roundtrips to the summer house to reboot Vera when she was flailing.
.//A.

This is really an issue for everyone but is of particular interest if you want to control a vacation home that isn't within driving distance.  I am concerned about the reliability of the Vera system.  While the Vera hardware may be pretty good, I'm worried about the cheap made-in-Communist-China wall wart power supply that feeds it.

If that dies, you lose control of your network.  (The same is true for the power to your router and modem for that matter).  I've found that these power cubes are definitely the weak link in system reliability.  I have a bunch of them and they seem to fail at random with no warning.

Does anyone have a solution for a more robust power supply than these little plastic trinkets?  THe only thing I can think of is to connect two of these cubes in parallel to provide some redundancy.  It seems like it should work but I haven't tried it.
Title: Re: Vera reliability
Post by: Michele on November 12, 2011, 08:14:57 pm
Interesting.  My old Hawking HRGZ01 gateway used to lock up every two weeks and require a reboot, but so far my Vera 2 has been running for a month and a half without incident (well except for when I added that GE switch and the whole network collapsed).  The timer reboot idea is a good one though, just in case.
Title: Re: Vera reliability
Post by: mcsincnj on November 15, 2011, 01:34:04 pm
My experience is quite the opposite - My VERA2 was operating properly for 2 weeks   -  I had cameras, locks and switches with scenes set up.

Last week, I returned to the vacation home to add additional switches and set my cameras to turn on a light when viewed remotely. All seemed to go well until I paired a GE wall switch with the system - I paired it, and healed it... and then all hell broke loose - my existing locks and switches were reporting as "not configured" Nothing was working properly. So, I looked on this blog and couldn't find any answers. So I requested technical support on Friday. Saturday, when I had not received anything except an automated response, I called and receive a Voice Mail telling me to leave a message. I did. Saturday evening, knowing I needed to get something happening, I did a factory reset and proceeded to add all of my devices back - I had a FOSCAM XML that I can't find, so when I finally do get it working again, I need to get that back as well.

All seemed to be going well when VERA froze. Logon says "Server Busy" - so I provided another request but much more detailed to technical support - On my way home early yesterday morning (Monday 11/14) I am periodically checking my emails from my phone.... TS was finally responding to my first cry for help, telling me they needed more information.... So, I replied and referenced my second very explicit email and ticket number - more than 24 hours has elapsed and no emails, no call NO NOTHING -

I am dead in the water with my system over 10 hours away..... If I had to do this all over again, I would not. Tech support at this moment is non-existent. The video I watched on the website made it look very easy to set up.... I guess that is how it is, if everything goes right, but if there is a problem, you are left to your own resources scouring this help site. Yah, but this woman on a video telling you how easy this is and how happy you will be and suck you right into an initial cost of 238.00 plus every switch is 50.00 or more each – I have over 500.00 in a system that at this point in time in not operational.

I see the backups on the settings page, but no way of accesses them b/c I can’t get to the VERA, and I think they are for the Dongle (sold separately) – spend spend spend and no TS – please give me a break!

All problems are user/system specific and the only people who would understand them is an actual support staff. Posting a question on this site is great as long as you are not under any constraints; but when dealing with a remote location, support is not available and you must leave at a certain time, this method of answering questions is about as arcane as using pony express. VERA as system for security of your vacation home is not a viable solution.  Look at something else… I am very disappointed

So, we will see if the moderators take this down or actually leave this post up, since all other posts are singing the praises of VERA. Nothing is perfect and to have only positive responses seems a bit off… So here is a BIG NEGATIVE. BTW, I sent an email to TS last night letting them know I was not happy and that I was going to post a negative on the blog web site – maybe that is why I am not getting any support, however, that was after I responded to their email as well as telling them when I would be at my home phone.

FRUSTRATED IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT!
 


 >:(

Finally!!!!  :)   5:30 PM EST
I was able to get someone with tech support - it took them 1.5 hours to get it back to an acceptable condition.
I am committed to this system, but now realize that there could be issues to deal with that will be frustrating at best.  ::)
Title: Vera reliability
Post by: DaveL17 on November 15, 2011, 05:58:59 pm
Interesting. Last two posts both say that everything seemed to be running smoothly until GE switch includes.

I mounted two GE outdoor modules last weekend in anticipation of holiday decorations, but haven't included them yet (plan to do that this weekend.) Maybe I'll do one more backup just to be sure...
Title: Re: Vera reliability
Post by: Michele on November 16, 2011, 01:02:44 am
Very interesting.  That appears to be the same thing that happened to me.  My network was fine until I added a GE dimmer switch (mod. 45606).  When I plugged Vera back into the Ethernet, the entire Zwave network was inoperative.  Every node reported the "trasmit failed" error.  Both sensors I have reported tripped, although they weren't.  And a "heal with stress test" didn't.

The only difference is that MCV responded to my support ticket in 24 hours and was able to restore it.  It's been running fine since then except that the GE switch has mysteriously vanished from the Dashboard.  But I sure as heck am not going to try to reinclude it.  Fool me once, etc.  I've ordered a different brand switch that I will try in that location.  Not sure what I'll do with the GE.  Anyone want to buy a slightly used GE wall switch of death?
Title: Re: Vera reliability
Post by: mcvflorin on November 16, 2011, 03:41:31 am
@mcsincnj

The Tech Support staff doesn't work on week-ends and usually Monday there are more messages in the queue, hence the later response to your ticket.

Quote from: mcsincnj
So, we will see if the moderators take this down or actually leave this post up, since all other posts are singing the praises of VERA.

This means that you see the full half of the glass, which is a good thing. :) No negative posts have been removed so far, we don't do this kind of things. You can find them if you look around the forum.
Title: Vera reliability
Post by: DaveL17 on November 16, 2011, 06:06:47 pm
Anyone want to buy a slightly used GE wall switch of death?

I love this.

Oh, and no thanks!
Title: Re: Vera reliability
Post by: DaveL17 on November 21, 2011, 10:30:37 am
I mounted two GE outdoor modules last weekend in anticipation of holiday decorations, but haven't included them yet (plan to do that this weekend.) Maybe I'll do one more backup just to be sure...

Well, the GE outdoor switches were included without incident.  They respond quickly to signals and report their status without issue.  I suppose that the outdoor switches could be immune to the problems noted above with the GE in-wall devices; or I could just be lucky.

Dave
Title: Re: Vera reliability
Post by: Michele on November 22, 2011, 04:25:29 pm
I vote for the former.  I also have a GE fluorescent lamp module installed just 10 feet from the spot where the GE switch didn't work.  The module works fine.  So I guess it's not all GE Zwave devices that don't work, just their switches.  And their model 45600 remote control which I have yet to get to control anything in my network.
Title: Vera reliability
Post by: DaveL17 on November 22, 2011, 04:32:31 pm
Of course, my outdoor switches aren't contained within metal boxes....
Title: Re: Vera reliability
Post by: Michele on November 23, 2011, 02:13:15 am
Well yes, I'll admit my GE switch did work when hanging out of the metal box by its wires but that was just a bit too hillbilly-esque for my decorating tastes.  The Intermatic works well parked completely inside the metal box.

I'm actually fairly surprised any switch will work at all from inside a metal box like that.  It's hardly the ideal antenna support tower.
Title: Re: Vera reliability
Post by: DaveL17 on November 23, 2011, 06:46:21 am
All my in-wall switches are Leviton units (non-dimming) and I couldn't be happier. 

I don't know where the antennae are on these things, but I'm guessing that it's right up front under the plastic plate.
Title: Re: Vera reliability
Post by: Minnies on November 23, 2011, 08:53:24 am
I have quite a few GE switches and dimmers. I also have Leviton/Monster and Intermatic. I use the Intermatic only in the garage (game room) for fan and light because they are too noisy. All told I have about 75 devices installed. This is in a rental home where security and reliability are of the utmost importance.

Each time I install a new device, or group of new devices as I tend to do these only twice a year, I do the full system heal process twice. If any modules are not having as many neighbors as I expect I do individual module heals. This includes the battery operated modules like door sensors (which a re a pain by the way). Doing it this way I have never had a system lock up that required intervention. Yes I have experienced some down time, whether it be the network, communications or something like that. But not once in over a year have I needed to do a manual restart. One clude I received some time ago was to change the settings to eliminate the nightly heals. With manual heals my battery devices stay in synch whereas the nightly heals messed them up with no one around to place them in communicate mode.

Note I have not yet done an update to version 3.2 as my 2.78 is operating well.

My $0.02
Title: Re: Vera reliability
Post by: Les F on December 26, 2011, 10:40:32 am

My rental is 3 hours away so is a real pain if something fails.   My vera has been rock solid.  What has not been solid was the Motorola Netopia dsl modem (had one fail), the cheap UPS that I originally put on the system failed within a year.  I put it on UPS to at least try to extend life of power supplies, smooth power out (get a lot of power blips at the cabin).  So what have I done to make things as stable as possible?  I spent money on a decent APC UPS.  Make sure wherever you have all your 'stuff' is ventilated well. 

Now this may be overkill but I picked up a spare dsl modem off ebay, set it up (and tested it at the cabin).  Labeled everything. 

Not sure what kind of friends or arrangements you have at your place, but my cleaning person has agreed to at least do a quick check lights etc while on the phone with me.  (I have cheat sheet there showing what should be lit, its much easier to deal with someone on the phone that is not a technical person if they already have a piece of paper showing how things should look) and is willing to swap out router, or modem if asked. 

To me the cost of purchasing the extra bits is easier/cheaper than a single drive down and back.  You could do same with wall warts. Call it overkill, but I hate going down there, working and turning around and coming home.  Or having to explain to a renter they won't be able to check their email. 

To some this is overkill, to me its me being proactive so that vera is available and the renter can get their wifi as well.

Hope this doesn't muddy the waters further
Les
Title: Re: Vera reliability
Post by: haveitall on March 21, 2012, 09:32:47 pm
You know, I was thinking this through ...

Modem/Router/Network gear on appliance switch 1
Vera 1 (main, on appliance switch 2) - maintains luup code that watches the internet.  If the internet goes down for more than a few minutes (hour?) then it cycles the power on appliance switch 1.  It could cycle the power on appliance switch 3 if it detects Vera 2 has failed, or if the user logs in and chooses to do so.
Vera 2 (backup on appliance switch 3) - maintains luup code that watches vera 1.  If that goes down, or if a user manually logs in, he can cycle power on vera 1 (appliance switch 2). 

This should be 'fail-safe' - but I was wondering how you can use luup to watch Vera 1 and detect a real-time (sub-hour) failure?  Any thoughts?

[I have had great success with Vera - but it is not built to run a nuclear power plant - it will fail.  I just want to handle it gracefully that time that it happens when I really wish it didn't.]
Title: Re: Vera reliability
Post by: anthonyris on April 07, 2012, 02:53:58 pm
Having a vacation house and a rental property over 3 hours ago, I struggled with the reliability of many of my devices - Vera, cable modem, router, Ooma, Ted, Microcell, etc.

We have a fair amount of power and Internet outages that cause decidedly ungrateful hangs. The result was an unending stream of something not quite working right. One device didn't get an IP addy, another one lost connection, Vera in a coma. Was a real drag, and frankly not worth the hassle.

Finally, after experimenting with various software monitoring, lua code, watchdogs, cron job reboots, blah blah, I had an epiphany: every cluster of devices I have are now connected to good ol' analog appliance timers. $10 bucks apiece. Cable modem and router now reboot at 5am every day, and LAN devices at 5:30am. As a side note, I added a whole whose surge suppressor to my AC panel too, as I have dozens of $$ z-wave devices.

I haven't had a significant issue since I hooked up the timers. Was something ironically enjoyable about pressing in a springy switch to set the on/off time...

Sometimes ya just gotta go retro.
.//A.
Title: Re: Vera reliability
Post by: Minnies on April 07, 2012, 08:31:05 pm
I have quite a few GE switches and dimmers. I also have Leviton/Monster and Intermatic. I use the Intermatic only in the garage (game room) for fan and light because they are too noisy. All told I have about 75 devices installed. This is in a rental home where security and reliability are of the utmost importance.

Each time I install a new device, or group of new devices as I tend to do these only twice a year, I do the full system heal process twice. If any modules are not having as many neighbors as I expect I do individual module heals. This includes the battery operated modules like door sensors (which a re a pain by the way). Doing it this way I have never had a system lock up that required intervention. Yes I have experienced some down time, whether it be the network, communications or something like that. But not once in over a year have I needed to do a manual restart. One clude I received some time ago was to change the settings to eliminate the nightly heals. With manual heals my battery devices stay in synch whereas the nightly heals messed them up with no one around to place them in communicate mode.

Note I have not yet done an update to version 3.2 as my 2.78 is operating well.

My $0.02

I should provide an update as I have been experiencing all sorts of problems over the past few months.  First I had a Schlage deadbolt fail which may have created problems as I was not able to exclude it properly.  Then, in the midst of trying to get things running normal again MCV reset my controller to 3.20. I have not had a clean day since. Now I experience the nightly heals and eery other day or so a device that does not work. But worst of all I do not get very regular device updates. I need to poll llight switches to see their state. The most incredible thing is that for me to go back to the older version I need to be on site which means it will be this way for 4 more months. Ugh!
Title: Re: Vera reliability
Post by: stealthjumper on August 14, 2012, 02:34:49 pm
I have had the return loop systems in my homes is definitely the better choice if you are able to install it without major disruption of your home’s interior. If the installation proves to be too costly then I would opt for the temperature controlled by-pass valve. My primary motivation for installing either system was convenience. I just got tired waiting for the water to get hot! I can't attest to the water savings covering the cost of either solution but I'm happy with the result anyway!
Title: Re: Vera reliability
Post by: Qrp on November 03, 2012, 01:24:19 pm
To prevent tenant tampering with Vera, the DSL modem, and Linksys router, I installed all three into a pelican case which can be secured with a combination lock. All three devices take 12.0 Volts, so I purchased a TDK Lambda switching power supply from Newark electronics, and all three devices are powered from this one source. I drilled ventilation holes in the pelican case, and installed a computer fan to force air into the enclosure and keep everything cool - to improve reliability. Since the fan when running on 12 volts (from the common power supply) is louder than I wanted (the whole system is in the master bedroom for connection considerations), I used a LM7808 voltage regulator to reduce voltage to the fan so it runs more slowly and quietly, while still providing plenty of air.

When all is said and done, there is one 120v power cord and one phone cable coming out of the enclosure. It has been operating reliably for a year now. I also have the tenant's wireless net set up as a subnet with no access to the subnet that the Vera resides on, so tenants have no access to the Vera via WiFi.

Chip