Zwaves devices dying all of a sudden!


I have a running HA up-to-date installed through hassbian scripts on a Pi 3. It holds too a ZWave card on it: I have few zwave devices in it (a Fibaro Eye, a Fibaro fire sensor, an Eontec dimmer socket and a Fibaro Relay module). My system is setup like that since months and working fine !
The few days ago I decided to “clean” my ZWave network as I still had in it few dead devices (devices I played with in past but no more and didn’t exclude them from ZWave network !). So I unpaired all devicer from my ZWave network and then included back in secure mode only devices I really use !
Since then my ZWave network is no more working fine !! Even the permanent powered devices like the Aeontec dimmer socket or the Fibaro Relay are going dead !!! I have healed manually the network restarted it, rebooted the PI, but nothing changes :frowning:
Any ideas what I can investigate to find what’s the problem or some tests to do ?



Have you properly configured OpenZwave and HA for using secure mode?

Well whole setup of OpenZwave has been done ages ago when I installed it and at least there is a key setup in config of HA/OpenZwave. Any way to check that ? What would happen if you try to add devices in secure mode and not configured correctly in HA/OpenZwave ? I guess it would just fail to include the device no ?

Dead says the devices are no longer being seen by the controller. Something altered the communication path. With so few devices, you likely have no redundant paths from device to controller. You may be able to get things stable again by moving the HA hub or put the controller on a USB cable. The powered devices are the building blocks of a Zwave mesh. Get those well positioned first before adding the battery powered devices. If any of you line powered devices are movable, try repositioning them. Zwave radios are low power and anything between device and controller will cut the power drastically. Radio waves don’t walk down the hallways like you do. Radio signals travel in straight lines.

@zarthan Thanks for your explanations and I’m pretty aware of that as I had to take care of that when I created my network !! What is strange is that nothing moved or changed in my setup recently !!
I have one Fibaro device that is main powered and so is doing relay for others that is in direct view of main controler and is still going dead ! The battery powered devices I have are in direct view of controler so they should work without problems no ?
I’m more and more bored of ZWave, it’s really working in bad way and completely unreliable !!! Thinking more and more to remove all that crap Zwave network and replace all by ESP devices that work well and lot cheaper too…

Are you on the latest version?

I had a mega problem with devices keep showing up dead a couple of weeks ago but it seems to have sorted itself out.

Yep I’m and problem didn’t appear after an HA update but out of nowhere (out of cleaning my Zwave system by removing long time dead devices I still had in it !).

Sadly you can’t expect an ultra-reliable network with only a few Zwave devices. Zwave devices rely on having multiple paths to and from the hub/controller. Battery powered devices do not contribute to the mesh i.e they can not forward communications from other devices. If you aren’t willing to commit to a health Zwave network, you will likely be unhappy.
ESP may seem more reliable but you will run into issues. Since it is WiFi, you will need to make sure you cover WiFi dead zones in your property and cover increased WiFi traffic. If you will be building ESP devices, make sure you aren’t putting your self and family at risk.
I have Zwave, Zigbee and ESP devices. At this point, my Zwave and ZigBee networks are very reliable. I don’t use my ESP devices for anything more than sensors. The Sonoff devices I have been using are only used as temperature and humidity monitoring. I am replacing those with a few nodemcu devices. I do not consider the Sonoff devices safe especially after modifying and I want them out of my home.

I fully understand that and it was working fine before that problem unless it took me time to find ggod places for powered/relay devices ! I’m also living in a pretty small flat (50sqm) but I’m still so surprised how radio range of zwave is really bad ! Not being able to cover 10m at line of sight is really strange !! I had requested also some advices at Zwave raspberry card but they have been nearly unhelpful on that !

You are right, it’s not perfect solution and it has its drawbacks too including building not really safe devices by tweaking existing products (Sonoff…). but till now I have been pretty happy with it and at least radio part is a lot less cryptic and weird than ZWave one !

Thanks for sharing your point of view, interesting :wink: What about Zigbee ? I heard it’s boring as there is no communication standard on it so not too boring to setup with HA ?

PS: I found the f*cking issue that broke my ZWave network !! It looks like one of my Fibaro relay device is dead or at least non functional correctly anymore ! I tried to exclude/include it again but not working ! When I include it back it keeps being stuck in Intialisation state as if it was a wireless device ! Before I open the wall switch to unmount it, I added a socket plug at same place to replace it in mesh function for Zwave and boum: all my Zwave network is going back to life (out of the defective wall switch for sure :wink: I guess the main thing that is missing in HA for ZWave would be to get a diagnostic system as right now only controls we have in HA are very basic and don’t really help to diagnose any problems…

Very glad you got this figured out. I use the following script to get the list of devices, hops and neighbours. The script will create a graphic with connection lines etc but I don’t find that particularly useful so I just comment out the image generating part. The list it generates is very helpful in understanding what devices talk to which devices. The OZW_Log.txt file is full of detail. I think those two can go a long way to diagnosing problems.

Your comment about Zwave radio range being bad is not really correct. It is similar to Bluetooth. They are both intentionally low powered and depend on line of sight for connectivity. It wasn’t unusual to loose a BT connection with your phone when it was on the opposite side of your body. In an open space you could be 10m away and still have a good connection. Zwave overcomes this low power by using mesh, allowing member devices to pass along communications to other devices and the hub. Zwave looses something like 30 percent going through a simple plasterboard wall. Add wooden structure, plumbing and heating in that wall, furniture in front of it and you may get nothing.
A Zwave switch at each end of a 3m hallway might sound ideal but if both are on the same side of the wall, the signal must go through all the wooden members, plumbing heating etc. It may seem like line of site but it isn’t.

The only ‘diagnostic’ available via ZWave is the Heal Network/Node function. To see if one of the devices is interrupting the network you’d need a spectrum analyzer and that can get costly. :frowning:

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Thanks for the tool, definitively a big plus for Zwave diagnostic and idea of how the network is building :wink:

Your explanation about range achieves to convince me to get away of Zwave asap and get rid of all ZWave devices I have. It’s completely non-sense for me products with such ridiculous radio range (probably designed for american houses built in paper but here with concrete and all these stuffs) even with the mesh system. It implies that you have multiple devices in each room and no large space in between or you are dead…

Side Note: have a bunch now of Zwave devices to sell if you are based in France :smiley:

Thanks Zartan for all details, it’s very appreciated !

Decide as you must but with concrete walls, you will have issues, no matter what technology you choose. High powered radios cause their own problems. One device drowning out another. Mesh is the thing that helps solve structural obstacles. It isn’t about brute force.
Anyway, good luck.