Where to go from Vera

I have more than 40 z-wave devices around the house. I couple years ago I upgraded from a Vera Lite to Vera Plus. That’s been a little more stable but I’m still not satisfied with the performance. I still occasionally get devices flaking out until I fiddle with their settings, or just don’t reliably work. And it seems things usually go south when I’m traveling and can’t fix things until I return home - Ugh. It also seems that improvements to Vera have pretty much stopped.

FWIW, the only “programming” I’ve messed with was a script to alert when one of our garage doors is left open. So programming functions aren’t critical for me.

I’s there some other z-wave controller out there that would better suite my needs?

Appreciate any recommendations.

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A number of folk are having very good success with the ZWay UZB stick (or Razberry Pi board) which may be used in combination with the openLuup environment (essentially a much more reliable simulation of the Vera environment) allowing you to link to your existing Vera but also run Vera plugins independently.

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Can provide insight as well

C

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Thanks, I’ll check it out

I have a Vera Edge and a Vera Plus with the usual issues. You might want to look at https://www.home-assistant.io/integrations/vera/ – this is a guidebook escribing how to use your Vera gear integrated with Home Assistant. I’m almost fully migrated now (still to do scene controllers) and it’s been pretty smooth. Plus there’s new capabilities now, like use of NodeRed as a graphical programming tool, MQTT to integrate with other stuff, etc. I’ve become especially fond of NodeRed as an alternative to dealing with scripts, LUUP, etc.

If Vera/Ezlo produced a similar guidebook for how to integrate Vera systems with its new hardware/firmware, I might have chosen that route. But it wasn’t available last year (is it now?) when I started my own migration so I landed on Home Assistant, which I’m happy with.

I’ve heard so much talk about Node-RED (almost all of it positive). Time for me to get educated about it. Though from what little I know it’s not expressly intended for the average user of turnkey (self-contained) solutions like Vera.

I find it is a very easy to undertand and very user friendly .
And can be installed on many operating syatems.

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Here’s a piece of my NodeRed programming. This watches for movement in the front of the house, and rings the doorbell. If it’s dark, it also turns on the front floods for 5 minutes. If it’s evening (i.e., which I defined as no later than 11pm) it then turns the front porch and walkway lights back on.

All of the lights, switches, sensors, etc., as well as lots of other components, appear in NodeRed’s toolbox “palette”. All of my sensors, lights, etc., are ZWave devices. Other components (like “Sunset to Sunrise”, “Delay” and “Evening?”) are palette components that come with NodeRed. There’s a ton of them to choose from. You just drag what you want to use onto the canvas, double-click to set configurations as needed, and then wire them together appropriately to get the desired behavior. Then hit the “deploy” buttom and it’s all loaded into the controller’s active memory where it’s immediately functional. I haven’t felt the need to write any “YAML code” yet…

NodeRed is available as a plug-in into Home Assistant so it’s very easy to use. I haven’t checked to see if there’s any similar way to use it with Vera etc. It would have made my prior efforts to do similar things with my Edge and Plus a lot easier. IMHO, it’s a lot more average-user friendly than writing scripts, luup code, et al.

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Node-red looks interesting but I’m looking for a new hardware controller. A controller made for an end user, not someone who wants to make a hobby of it.

I’ve been with Vera for many years, transitioning from an overloaded VeraLite to a VeraPlus a couple years ago. However, I’m growing tired of having scenes fail randomly after working fine for years. For example, lights that don’t go off at night, a waterfall that doesn’t come on in the morning. To get the scenes working again I have to fiddle with the device settings (e.g., Reconfigure Node, etc) even though I’ve not changed anything in my network in weeks/months.

It also seems like the Vera support has largely come to an end. A useless Apple watch app, and integration with Apple Shortcuts for Siri that is totally unreliable (see my other thread on that)

Maybe it’s time to move on from z-wave entirely but with 40+, mostly hardwired, devices around our house, that’s not an easy path to follow

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Last year I was on a similar hunt. I’ve been doing computer hardware and software for 50 years, but I really want to buy a turnkey system that just works. In my search I didn’t find any such thing. They all seem to require some significant amount of experience, experimentation, gnashing of teeth, and tweaking to get anything mildly reliable. The main way to achieve that turnkey system right now seems to be to hire a local company that does such kind of stuff (alarm systems, high-end audio/video, etc.) who know what works and how to make it happen. If your search uncovers any solution, I bet lots of us would love to hear about it.

My existing system is 100+ ZWave devices. I could have hired a local company to replace it all with something like Lutron Caseta, which would allegedly just work, but that would be pretty painful. So I went hunting around and discovered Home Assistant, which has a vibrant user and developer community, plus lots of help like Youtube videos. A little digging revealed that I could run it all with just a Raspberry Pi and an Aeotec ZStick, which I happened to already have in my desk drawer. So I took a shot to see how it went. The Youtube videos were very well done and getting the hew hardware up and running was refreshingly easy and fast. Took just a day or so to get the first dozen or so devices up and running on the new system.

I didn’t know about the Vera integration at the time, so I just methodically moved each device to the new controller; it might have been easier to keep the Edge/Plus and use the integration to make their devices just instantly appear in the Home Assistant world, essentially using the Edge/Plus as an interface to its ZWave world much like the ZStick.

Along the way, I learned a lot about my ZWave setup. The HA ZWave integration uses the “Open Zwave” project, which has a lot of useful debugging tools and guidance. Among other things, I discovered that much of my previous ZWave troubles was likely worsened by all of the Jasco/GE devices I had installed. Due to a patent issue, they lack certain features and must be polled continuously. This causes a lot of ZWave network traffic and triggers problems. The HA/OpenZwave implementation has mechanisms exposed for controlling the polling behavior so that you can make your system reliable - with a long term goal of replacing those old devices with more modern ones that hit the market after the patent expired and don’t require polling.

I wasn’t lookling forward to the programming needed to make the few automations I want (like the doorbell/lights behavior), but before I wrote a line of scripting code I discovered NodeRed. So I still haven’t had to write any “code”. But I also haven’t had to “fiddle” yet either to keep things working.

It’s not a perfect “turnkey” solution, but it’s made ZWave life a lot better while waiting for the big guys to battle it out. Will Siri triumph? Or Alexa? Perhaps using Zigbee or Wifi? Or …???

Meanwhile, my 100+ ZWave devices seem to be working OK. If you find a turnkey option, let us know!

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A good year ago I move to Home Assistant, very happy I did.

At first, I just added Vera (and all devices) as a Home Assistant device. All works, then added a Z-stick to Home Assistant and began moving devices as time allowed. I run HA on an older PC, -blazingly fast, some run HA on a PI which I do not recommend.

To bad meaningful Vera software updates are basically non-existent.

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There’s two types of home automation. Plug’n’forget systems and endless hours tinkering and fiddling systems.

The problem is finding a system in between. I think I’ve tried nearly every one of the proprietary and open source systems out there and I wouldn’t recommend one over the other.

I’ll stick with the two mentioned here, Vera and Home Assistant. Vera was probably very close to the plug’n’forget model but I won’t go over all the ground that has ensued since. It’s all been covered.

Home Assistant is a completely different beast. Yes the vast resources being thrown at it from the open source community makes it a formidable contender for one of the top spots but it clearly has its own faults too. The endless round of updates and breaking changes is a job in itself keeping up with.

Everyone held their breath as it approached what everyone thought was a V1.00 Stable release only for the Devs to announce that in fact that plan was shelved, it was going V0.100 Beta instead. On top of that they introduced a rebranding of the product as if things weren’t confusing enough.

Well that was the point I bailed at. There’s more to the Home Assistant project than the Devs are letting on. Personally I think the open source community are being used as some form of grand beta testing ground for some commercial product release further down the road. Again that’s just my personal opinion.

I’ve adopted OpenHab which is a much calmer and focused project that moves slowly but steadily and achieves its goal without all the hype. I’m much more comfortable in that environment.

What I am saying here is while Home Assistant receives quite a lot of press here it’s certainly not the answer for the plug’n’forget user. Yes some enjoy hacking a controller code wise to maximise its potential but as far as I can see the Vera controller has been maxed out potential wise. The next stage has to be the next generation of controller after Vera. This should be squarely aimed at the plug’n’go user and leave the code hackers to the likes of Home Assistant. Honestly, Vera is way below your level now guys as can be seen with all the turmoil here.

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Very good analysis. I agree that Home Assistant is basically a huge toolbox, especially when you consider other tools which can be used with HA such as MQTT, NodeRed, et al. There is no shortage of opportunity to tinker and fiddle.

I never got to OpenHab in my search. Since I wasn’t trying to find the “best” system, but rather was just looking for one that would do what I wanted, I stopped looking when I got the HA setup running. It’s quite possible that OpenHab is better, or something else. I stopped at HA when it worked for me.

It’s correct that HA has a lot of releases, each of which brings in some kind of new feature, so there’s lots of opportunity for neverending hobby activity.

But in my own experience, after I got all of my 100+ devices moved over, and a few simple NodeRed “scripts” in place, I could simply forget about the system for months and it would work just the same. There were likely a handful of new HA releases in that time, but I didn’t feel any need to install them.

That is, IMHO, the big difference I noticed after bringing up the HA system. I don’t have a long list of ongoing problems, quirks, and annoyances that I hope might be fixed in the next release. Or might not. Or might break something else. So I don’t feel the need to perform the endless updates. It all seems to “just work” today as well as it did when I installed my last release.

I do have a small list of features that will be worth an update. E.G., I have a handful of scene controllers that aren’t supported currently in HA. But I learned that is because the current HA release is using OpenZwave (OZW) 1.4, which doesn’t support those specific devices. However, OZW is now at release 1.6, which does support them. Some future release of HA will upgrade to use OZW 1.6, and then my controllers should work. When that happens, upgrading my HA might be worthwhile.

Similarly, my ZWave setup is not 100% reliable. Sometimes (few times a month), some light or switch might not go on or off as it should. I’m pretty sure that’s because of the ZWave polling that I still have to use because of my old ZWave devices. I know how to fix that, it just takes a little time and money, but in the meanwhile I can live with an occasional glitch.

Knowing what’s going on, and making my own decisions about what to do, removes a lot of the anxiety and angst.

I agree that there’s a future product release lurking in the HA world. In fact, there’s already a company “Nabu Casa”, which sells HA-based add-on services and has been hiring some of the developers…

I suspect (and hope) that this is heading toward a structure similar to what now exists for Ubuntu Linux - the basic Ubuntu system is open-source and free, and people with the interest and skill can download the system and set up their own computing environments. People (e.g., corporations that use computers) who don’t want the hassle can hire the company behind Ubuntu (Canonical) to use the same Ubuntu toolbox to build a system tailored to that customer’s needs and provide ongoing support. I.e., you can download, tinker, and fiddle to your heart’s content, or you can pay someone else to do it. Similarly, there are a lot of Ubuntu releases. But there are also occasional “LTS” (Long Term Support) releases, which are intended for install-and-forget environments. You can be on the bleeding edge, or keep your current LTS installation for 5 years. Your choice.

Something like that for “home automation” would be a win, IMHO.

Perhaps Ezlo will do it. Meanwhile, my HA setup does what I need.

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Don’t leave it too long between updates in Home Assistant. If you do discover something new that interests you it’s a right pita having to sift through breaking changes to get your system back on track.

I preferred the venv and it took a bit of time to get the correct version of Python updated and working without having to do a complete reinstall from scratch once the intense round of upgrades started. Gladly I was able to help others to do the same.

Node Red is fairly straightforward. The workflow concept is quite easy to follow as is the drag’n’drop. Most automation systems follow similar concepts for automations anyway.

To be honest I never had an issue running on a Raspberry Pi with an SSD. The weak link on the Raspberry Pi of course is an SD card. Once that’s dealt with it’s fairly plain sailing.

Anyway enough chat on Home Assistant. That’s for another day on a different forum :joy:

So, if I may summarize all this with an extended nautical analogy, what you are saying is…

OpenHab is an adults-only river cruise sailing calmly between ports, according to a timetable, and carrying life vests?

HomeSeer is a sporty vintage Chris-Craft speedboat docked just outside your lakehouse.

Home Assistant is a Carnival cruise liner with a thousand partiers aboard who don’t know their destination or when they will arrive?

Vera is a leaky dinghy with a bunch of men bailing (devs) while others row (users), with one at the tiller (who also owns the boat)?

UI7 is represented by a “Smoking Allowed” sign on the poop deck.

This Forum is a pile of short 2x4’s marked “Free Oars!”

AltUI is a Disney Vacations name badge tacked to the side of the dinghy.

Reactor is a whale gun lashed onto its forecastle.

The plug-in Store is an old chest of life vests, unmarked as to which are seaworthy.

Ezlo is a shark in the water that everyone’s heard about for the past two seasons, but few have actually seen?

OpenLuup on RazPi is a stealthy U-boat on the hunt.

Lua is pirate speak.

VeraMobile is a wise-cracking, stubborn parrot.

ImperiHome is an expensive oil painting of a sailing vessel.

Node-RED is sturdy rope.

MQTT is semaphore.

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You wouldn’t be by any chance a contributor over at the Home Assistant forum. The tone sounds so familiar.

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Looks like i was right @LibraSun and the same user name. Explains your post now :sob: :sob: The OP was asking what next. I hope the sarcasm from Home Assistant doesn’t start to creep into this forum. Completely unhelpful.

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Weird, cuz so far as I know, I’ve never visited (much less posted on) the Home Assistant site!? (Please PM me link.) My only home automation system is a VeraPlus, and I’m never migrating to anything else.

After I could not keep my Vera Plus running with the latest firmware. I jumped to Homeseer. I have about 10 more devices & events to change over yet and for the past 45 days I have been more the happy with Homeseer. I have been with Vera for more then 10 years. Vera 2, Vera Lite, Vera 3, Vera Plus and looking to have to move to Vera Edge to make current firmware work or at least try the new firmware I figured it was time to take my money else ware. I do hope that the new Vera Hardware/Firmware works because I still help support several other Vera Systems, but that’s for them to decide on whether to update with Vera or move on?

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This is exactly the same problem I faced and as a result I setup Ezlo and acquired Vera, Centralite etc.
I want to be able to get everything working together, without hassle, but still give me advanced capabilities if I need to.
that is why I am building Ezlo.

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