Beginner zwave question: hub vs stick

Just getting started with Home Assistant. I have a bunch of Caseta switches, and some LG TV’s I have been experimenting on.

I want sensors (temperature in particular) and maybe other items, and zwave looks like a good posibility.

I am presently running Home Assistant in a HyperV VM for experimenting. It will eventually go into real hardware in a network closet, but it is awfully handy to be able to test in a VM.

HyperV won’t allow USB passthrough, at least not for this application.

There are some options: RPi to be a network bridge, but apparently a Vera hub (under $100 apparently) is also supported.

Are there any real downsides in going that path? It would appear that it would permit use on physical hardware, but would also allow me to easily switch and experiment, e.g. for new versions, on a VM.

Other than the $60 or so extra cost, any reason not to go this way? Will I lose anything down the road by not using a stick?

Will I gain anything?

Can I keep Vera off the internet (more precisely, if I keep Vera off the internet will everything still work locally)?


Why not run Home Assistant or Hassio on your RPi ?
I am running Hassio on raspian lite with a zigbee/zwave USB stick

Dont go zwave. The forum is littered with zwave frustration.
Zigbee is possibly a better option.

If you take time to learn about the Zwave system, its idiosyncrasies, and the protocol and its limitations in physical and virtual space, you won’t have any problems. If you want direct control from HA, you need direct attach physical hardware such as a USB stick or an RPi zwave/zigbee shield. If you go the hub route, you’ll have to configure the nodes through that hardware, then tell HA to control the device through the node (light, switch, outlet, etc.). Whether that requires an app or service to use that hub and configuration really depends on what hub you get. I want to say I’ve seen some people enable USB pass through with HyperV but maybe it was something else. You could set up a secondary HA installation on other hardware that only talks to Zwave and then use MQTT statestream to pass status and control between the two, but at that point, just run everything off one device. The choice is yours, but I personally went with a USB stick.

EDIT: I might have the wrong impression of a hub. I know someone that originally went the hub route a couple years ago and had limited control from HA. Can’t remember what hub though…

Zigbee is getting better, definitely much better, but zwave is currently more stable, and more standardized. I use both, and both work well for me. It really depends on what your needs are. For example, I would not use zigbee switches to cover a 4000 sq ft home.

As far as hub vs stick. I chose stick because I did not want another piece of hardware to worry about or have to create MQTT sensors to bridge. I wanted as few things to configure as possible. I see frequent posts about MQTT or node red breaking with a new update, etc.

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Z-wave is a pain in the butt. The process seems simple but I always have trouble. Many people will say Z-wave is easy but when you have 75+ nodes it becomes difficult to manage.

One good thing about the hubs is that you can reboot home assistant and don’t need to worry about impacting the z-wave network. In contrast, if you run off USB stick, each time you restart HA the z-wave network will restart. It needs several minutes to settle in. I wish I didn’t restart so often but I do, mostly because of mistakes I make in code.

Another good thing is if you want to reset HA / start over (which I have a few times for no good reason), you won’t have to do a lot of work since the z-wave network remains intact.

And…now that I have a second HA server for testing my code (and to help with all of my reboots) I think it will be easy to connect more than one HA instance to a hub.

I tried the Vera Hub last year and didn’t see any benefit. I had trouble with a device or two and for some reason felt at the time that I didn’t have all the power I would have with USB stick. It’s been a year and I’m going to look at it again over the next few weeks. I’ve heard that mixing Z-wave and Z-wave plus is a no-no and I’m toying with idea of splitting up my z-wave network - though I haven’t decide how yet.

EDIT: Be sure to read this thread

Thanks to those who replied. Let me try again.

I picked zwave at random seeing a lot of sensors.

I really could care less - zigbee vs zwave.

Most of what I am doing is using Lutron Caseta. But I want a bunch of temperature sensors around the house, and might add some presence indicators. I really have no firm plans, a lot of this is just experimentation and play after all the dimmers and switches.

There are just WAY too many choices out there for device families, hubs, etc. I just spent an hour or so looking at Xiaomi trying to decide if it was a good choice, but could not find anything as basic as “what hardware do I need to hook it to Home Assistant”. I had previously seen the Sensative strip sensors, which looked very nice (zwave).

What I would really love is for someone to say “buy this, it works great with Home Assistant, and has an IP connected bridge/hub”. Or even if I really should get a USB stick I can do that, it just removes a nice feature (anyone who hasn’t done development work with a VM does not know what they are missing).


One day when I get more time I might love to build my own sensors with components as I’ve seen a lot of documentation for. But right now too many things on my plate.

If you re-read my post I kind of give you the major points of a hub device vs direct attach hardware. Others have provided a pro or con for a hub or hardware as well. I won’t tell you to buy one thing over another. What one person says works great, another may have issues with and vice versa. What works well in one scenario may not work well in another setup. I’ve personally only used direct attach hardware, so the info I have on hub hardware is based on what I have heard and seen from others that have used them. Here I’ll summarize:

Direct attach hardware:

  • Aeotec Zwave Z-Stick
  • RPi Zwave/Zigbee shield
  • HUSBZB-1


  • more direct control over nodes and parameters from HA
  • possibly cheaper than a hub
  • no external cloud service required
  • highly configurable with addition of Zwave sensor entities
  • many device makers and types supported and with some programming knowledge, support for other devices can be added


  • HA reboots could take a while before Zwave network is ready
  • placement of host hardware limited by device network location/range
  • slight learning curve with “roll your own” hardware config
  • reliability of system is questionable
  • limited support
  • based on open source software so updates and compatibility may be limited

Hub hardware:

  • Samsung SmartThings
  • Wink Hub 2
  • HomeSeer
  • Vera


  • rebooting HA is faster since network controlled separately
  • network range/reliability possibly better
  • possibly more support for hardware
  • allows “remote” install of HA since hub is not direct attach


  • possibly higher price
  • limited customization and control through separate app or cloud service
  • may not support certain brands or device types and updates limited to manufacturer
  • possibly only endpoint control devices appear in HA (light, switch, motion, etc), no node control/config sensors
  • “2-way” communication may not be possible meaning HA can control devices, but hub won’t update HA unless you enable polling

Here is the Zigbee / Z-wave Plus stick I use. Z-wave works well. I have set up zha for Zigbee but have not tested with a device.

Good follow up. Basically you need temp sensors throughout your house. You want temp sensors that you can easily purchase, and work well with HA. Once you get the recommendations, you can decide which controller you need.

Do you have a smart thermostat? I have an ecobee, and several sensors. That works very well in HA and does not require any hub at all. I’m sure there are other similar thermostats and temp sensors.

I have a programmable but not connected thermostat; that’s on the list as well.

I should add that I have a strong preference for items that can operate locally, without cloud access. I do not mind if cloud access is used for configuration, or even is a feature, just so it is not a requirement for operation. I plan to screen all communication for all “smart” devices to the internet, and to the rest of my network.

I think i went down the wrong path when I started out to go either Zigbee or Z-wave; Here is what i purchased. RF Modules XBee3 USB Adapter 802.15.4
should this support Z-wave?
I thought i would be going the zigbee route due to a specific device I wanted to hit, but int he intervening months I think I’m better off going z-wave.