Stability in Home Automation Protocols

I use ZWave, Zigbee, WiFi, cable and web on my HA. A little bit of all i might say. During my adventures with Home Automation Protocols for the last 4 years, my experience so far is that almost none of them are stable or trustworthy at all… Ok i know that new protocols for home automation are emerging everday, but still no install and forget kind of thing…

I keep a HA journal for the last couple of months; whenever i have a problem, i keep a note… I see that if i am not here to maintain the whole system, it will simply crumble. Let’s say if i sell the house with this system, i am pretty sure the new owner cannot use it or will stop using it after 1 week.

ZWave keeps losing connections to nodes, every once in a while i have dead nodes (even they are mains powered and when i remove and add it works for another 1 month), zigbee again loses connections, pressing a button doesn’t necessarily means this light will go on, WiFi keeps losing connections etc. etc. Yes i can hear that most of you will say mine is rock stable for XX months, i made very sure that the range of all protocols are perfect; but still having these problems. As a result, wireless protocols sucks. Web related HA entities are, as you can guess, depending on the web page stability; my openweather i.e. sometimes works, sometimes not…

Cable connections are more stable compared to wireless protocols but the problem is there are many places in the house where i cannot simple lay out new cables… The most stable component in my HA installation is an alarm system from 1990s (all cable sensors) and its IP module connection to HA.

I miss the golden days of buy, install and it works pretty well lifetime. I hate checking out if my zigbee light really is off or zwave shutter is really closed when i go to bed, as it was programmed in the HA automation. I woke up in the morning just to find my balcony light was on whole morning since it lost its connection and missed the automation command.

Anyhow, my whole home automation adventure turned into making the system more stable instead of adding new automation components and elements. Just wanted to share…

I wish you all healthy days…

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Well if you stick with commercial solutions they work pretty solid.

My experience with zigbee is Mixed, but zwave and wifi are Fine, especially if you have powerful WiFi hardware with good coverage.

I see it as a balancing act. While commercial solutions can offer more stability (as long as they aren’t discontinued which seems to be a growing trend), you tend to lose the flexibility and control we gain with HA. I struggle with ZigBee (a lot of nearby WiFi I think interferes with it)… But my experience with Z-wave has been relatively solid.

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There are very reliable building control systems in the commercial world. But many people don’t want the disruption of rewiring or the cost of the gear.

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Since stability and reliability is the top priority for me, I generally see two flavours of devices that I incorporate here:

  1. Actors
  2. Sensors

For the sensors I’m rather liberal. I use them to monitor temperature, energy consumption, opened/closed windows etc… They provide the information upon which I can automate.
But the more important part is the actors. In the beginning I was playing around with various products, some based on Zigbee, some Wifi. The problem with them is that they mostly rely on some other device to operate (not taking Zigbees ability for direct pairing into account). And for me it’s no option to say “sorry honey, can’t turn on the lights in the bath right now, I’m updating the routers firmware”.
As a result I’m phasing out these devices I have previously installed and am replacing them with products from a fairly popular solution here in Germany. They use a proprietary wireless protocol. But the key benefit is, that, additionally to being paired with a hub, they can simultaneously be paired with peer-devices which they control. So for turning on and off a light I don’t go through HA, the devices do that directly and offline. But since the light-switch is connected to the hub as well, I can also control the light via HA.

Or put differently: everything has to be working like in a regular house, no matter if I’m updating HA or some other part of the infrastructure. HA is only a layer on top that is able to take control if necessary, but not required.

For me I try and use wired and do so extensively for lighting and security. Where I do have to use wireless WiFi is way ahead in terms of reliability over Zigbee and ZWave, but I realise for battery powered devices it is not so suitable.

Nice approach… For sensors, aside from Motion sensors, the other sensors might be send their value 5 minutes later than expected, no problem. But for motion sensors it is important.

WiFi is more manageable than zigbee and zwave and i blame middle solutions. Like although OpenZwave is very nice, since Silicon Labs Zwave is not open source, it has problems. Zigbee is again nice but this time different manufacturers apply different solutions to their zigbee products. WiFi; well it is at least what we are using for some years and know more or less how to handle problems… That doesn’t mean it has its own problems, but here we are…

As again for “Actors”, when i press a button, i expect that a light goes on or off. Seeing it is off on HA and light is On in reality really press my nerves and i remember multiple times that i reboot the server or debug at 1:30 at midnight just because i can’t go to bed unless i solve that problem…

My friend is rebuilding his house at the moment and he had several Cat6 cables laid out to each and every switch, window, door and plugs in his house. I think that still is the best way to go as of now…