Currently, all the switches in my house are z-wave plus models I purchased years ago. I recently started to have a couple fail on me and need replacing. It’s been long enough since I’ve had to make any real purchases in the home automation area that I’m curious to know if there have been any major changes. Since I already have a pretty extensive z-wave network, should I go ahead and replace the switches/dimmers with new z-wave devices? I also have a bunch of zigbee plugs that I bought on clearance from Lowes back when they were getting rid of their Iris stock. Those are the two main categories of devices I’m currently using. I’d prefer not to buy anything that requires additional hardware over the switch itself (such as another hub), but I’m not 100% opposed to the idea if there are devices that are substantially better than what I’ve got. Thanks in advance to anyone who can offer some guidance here.
You are going to likely get ten different recommendations from ten different people. I went through similar circumstances where my cheap Chinese Z-Wave stuff got unreliable and most of it was the cheap stuff from Amazon, Lowes or Home Depot - often because I needed something right away and got what I could.
Where I’ve landed for all my Z-Wave and Zigbee stuff is Inovelli, they have proven time and again to me that they have the most reliable and configurable devices around and they stand behind them. I also think Aeotec, Zooz and Fibaro make good gear.
In the past year I’ve replaced 75% of my entire network, both Zigbee and Z-Wave, with Inovelli for hard wired stuff. My Aeotec and Fibaro battery operated devices have served me very well and Zooz also makes a good product, although I only have a handful of them they are sturdy and reliable so far.
As an addendum, one company that I loved as stand-alone switches before Z-Wave was Leviton and they are a huge name, but their Z-Wave stuff is the worst crap I’ve put in my house. When you look at it they are just white-boxing the same cheap Chinese stuff I had fail on me. I bought five of their Z-Wave devices and all five have failed, generally from power interruptions, and are absolute garbage. This is what you’ll find on Amazon and in Home Depot quite often now.
I know there are lots of folks that have had good luck with Leviton but not me, I’m so disenchanted I won’t even buy their non smart devices any longer. The reason I went with them is I missed my pre-made smart outlets, and Leviton is really the only one still making them (rather than using the plug in devices), so I recently got a bunch of Shelly’s that I put on dumb outlets to make them smart and it’s worked many multitudes better than that Leviton junk and am over the moon to have clean smart outlets again without the plug-ins (although I still use a lot of those too and love ThirdReality for those).
Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll check out the Inovelli stuff for sure. A followup question I have, and I’m sure this is another one where there isn’t one “correct” answer, is whether there’s an advantage currently to either zwave or zigbee if I’m going to be replacing things any way. Like I said, I have both types of devices currently. The only reason all my switches are zwave is they were more common back when I initially dived into the home automation scene.
Yup, another where you’ll get widely differing opinions! Search the forums, there are quite a few discussions on Zigbee vs Z-Wave.
For me, I like them both and actively use them both. By having a 50/50 mix in my house I’m certain to find the right device for any given situation and not worry about the protocol. For instance, I wanted a small and reliable temp/humidity with a readout and my choices were wifi or Zigbee (ThirdReality) so I went Zigbee since half my network is Zigbee I knew it would work.
I would suggest a 50/50 but some people have ideas about how one should be for battery nodes while another for mains nodes, but I have a mix of battery/mains for both protocols and haven’t seen a difference and, in fact, I find Zigbee to be quite a bit faster to respond in my environment than Z-Wave.
Another vote for Zooz for Z-Wave. I don’t think either protocol is more advantageous than the other necessarily. ZigBee is a little more robust with group support whereas Z-Wave is dependent on multicast which is a little more cumbersome to setup. I think the bigger gotcha most people run into is not building out either properly and running into connectivity issues. Like @CO_4X4, I also have a mix of both, but every light switch is Zooz with Zigbee mostly used for LED controllers and a few sensors.
In 25 years of doing home automation (from back in the X10 days) I can say that having continuity is important. I was all Insteon and I loved it because every device looked and worked the same, then I did a patchwork of Z-Wave and it was a mess of ugly + pretty, reliable + garbage. If you find a manufacturer you like then stick with them! That’s one thing I love about Inovelli, their Z-Wave and Zigbee devices look and work the same so I don’t have some switches with the LED at the top, some at the bottom, some with none some that do this thing and others that do not - everything I have is standardized. Zooz is also good about keeping their aesthetic the same, as is Aeotec.
All my old random devices now just serve as a stop-gap while I wait for my Inovelli device to arrive or as an emergency if an Inovelli dies (which none have yet, knock on wood).