Best Z-Wave devices to begin with

Hi all, relatively new HA user here. I’ve installed HA onto my UnRAID server in a docker, and I’m working on setting up home automation. My current list of devices is limited to basic configuration of wifi enabled devices (Amazon Echo, Roku devices, phones, computers, etc), and I have an Aeotec Z-Wave Plus dongle (properly recognized by HA).

The next step is to begin building my automation out with more devices, and I’m planning on using Z-Wave for most of it. Currently, I have a wish list of Z-Wave enabled locks, garage door opener/sensor, one or more multi-sensors (light, temp, humidity, motion), and two thermostats. That’s where I’m a bit stuck, actually.

I want to get the best option for the money when it comes to the devices. For the thermostat, I’m waffling between the GoControl Thermostat (currently ~$79 on Amazon) and the Iris 7-Day Touch Screen Programmable Thermostat Works with Iris (currently ~$40 on Amazon). I’ve determined that the Iris device should be Z-Wave enabled, and I like the look and price, but I’m not sure what other features it has that HA works with. Does anyone have this thermostat, and is it worth it? Or should I just bite it and get the two GoControl thermostats for double the price?

I’m also unsure as to what the best garage door control/sensor would be best. Any recommendations on those? I need something that can detect if the garage is open or closed, and also issue the command to open/close it while not losing control from the wall.

I’m looking for devices that are easy to install and configure.

Thanks in advance!

You can test Amazon’s return policy on the Iris thermostat :wink:

For the garage I like the Fortress MimoLite as it does both the open/close and the sensing in a single package; you just need to add some magnetic switches for the sensing. They have a schematic on how to set this up on their site. It is also all local so no cloud services.

For switches/dimmers really consider HomeSeer WD100/WD200 as they just work well; a bit of a premium price but you won’t find yourself replacing them as your system grows due to problems.

For multisensors I like the Aeon MS6 but they are $$$$; the EcoLink PIR work well for applications that don’t need the full feature set.

Try to just buy Zwave+ devices now as well; no reason to be buying Zwave unless it’s super cheap on clearance.

Thanks. How do I tell if something is Z-Wave plus compliant or not? I’ve noticed that some devices just flat out don’t say (I had to find the Iris thermostat on Lowe’s website to check if it was even Z-Wave or not).

You can check here:

It’s easiest if you use the search box and enter your device’s model number. When you eventually get to the product page, one of the details in the list is whether or not the device is Z-Wave Plus.

@malenthis I would probably stay clear of the Iris Thermostat. There isn’t anything I have seen that clearly states it is Zwave. Much of the Iris stuff is Zigbee and I would be somewhat concerned that like the Iris first generation devices, only worked with the Iris hub.
With Zwave I would NOT be looking at quantity, to begin with. Plan your network. I would work from the middle, (items closest to the HA hub) and work out. Start with line powered devices first rather than battery powered devices. Line powered devices contribute to the Zwave mesh, while battery powered devices only make use of the Zwave network.

Do you have a newer or older garage door?

An older garage door will be able to be controlled by wiring a momentary relay across the wall mounted switch. A newer garage door opener will need a security enabled device to control it.

If you have the former and want zwave I used an Aeotec dry contact switch:

and a tilt sensor for position:

If you have the newer one or don’t mind going with something other than zwave then opengarage might work for you. they sell the kits at the website for both old & new openers or you can buy the stuff and build it yourself.

as far as switches I have tried the Aeotec nano dimmers but I didn’t really like them because they were pretty flaky reliability-wise so I ended up using the Aeotec microswitch G2:

or for a cheaper non-zwave alternative the Sonoff is a very popular device. But be aware that you will need (or be able to supply) a neutral at your switch box for either of those to work.

And to help improve the strength of your zwave network you can also use something like this if necessary:

I have no experience yet as far as thermostats go. I’m still trying to narrow find one that doesn’t use a cloud service that I know will integrate with HA and that doesn’t break the bank. Seems to be a tall order.

Ah, that’s a good point. I was unaware that battery only Z-Wave devices didn’t contribute to the mesh. I had planned to plug my lamps in the living room and bedrooms into Z-Wave outlets, but I had planned for that later. I’ll rethink that approach.

I also did some more digging into the Iris thermostat, and found that, while the one I was looking at does have the Z-Wave logo on the back of the packaging, it’s a CT-101, which is not Z-Wave plus. I’m probably going to just snag the GoControl thermostats and call it a day.

Overall, I have no issue adding other automation protocols/standards such as Zigbee, aside from the fact that I’m not looking for complexity.