How to Z-Wave properly?


I have now been using Z-Wave for multiple years. Usually things work well, but a lot of the time things are really messy.

For two days now with multiple hours of work of reincluding my Fibaro Smoke Sensor refuses to send anything other than temperature and battery.

I have excluded and included the device multiple times, manually woke it up until it is initialized. No tamper events are sent.

So why do I have to reinclude the device? It has now happened two times that is simply stops working. Everything is fine, then one day the tamper alarm doesn’t work when I test it. I

I’m really starting to get sick of this. Multiple evenings of including a device that hopefully will never trigger, and when it does, who knows if it has stopped working. At this state I feel I can never use this for anything critical such as a smoke sensor or alarm…

What is the gold standard for Z-Wave, which stick do you guys use for Z-Wave? I have an UZB1 (now also with upgraded firmware).

I mean it seems to work just fine for everyone else while I have troubles with multiple devices? What the **** am I doing wrong? It’s really not sustainable to take days for including one device which then doesn’t work. If I were to fulfill my plan to get 4-5 of these smoke sensors, I’d have nothing else to do…

New USB stick?
Factory reset everything and go again, AGAIN?

There must be something fundamentally wrong. I have 10-15 powered nodes and 1-2 battery nodes within a range of about 40 square meters so signal wise it should be more than fine.

What setups do you run that work just fine?

I have had three instances of Fibaro products also completely and spontaneously cut out: 1 Big Button and 2 Multisensors. Now one of the multisensors lost its connections several weeks after it dropped off the ceiling and bounced across the tiled bathroom floor (forgivable), and the button is in my 7 year-old’s room (similar to the old samsonite ad with the suitcases and the gorilla), so maybe really only one case of truly spontaneous connection drop. All of my other fibaro devices including other multisensors have been rock solid since day 1.

I find battery devices have quirks.

How I judge “fully initialized” is if all these lines are present on the UI page. If reinitialize device is not there, it’s not fully initialized (you can’t reinitialize an uninitialized device).Screenshot 2021-09-10 172956

Also, even fully initialized I have noticed a ZooZ battery device I have will basically freeze the motion detection when it wakes up, but gets back to normal after the motion timer times out.

If you are doing network heals, a battery device will only start the heal when it wakes, that could be several hours (depending on the wake interval) after the powered devices finish and may require multiple “wakes” to heal (again check for Reinitialize the device, to see if heal is complete). My only suggestion would be to disable the heal (if you are doing them) and see if that helps.

I also have a zniffer, so I’m not just assuming about signals and messages. I have about 32 powered nodes (never a problem) and 15 battery (mix of Fibaro, DiMM Ecolink and Zooz) with as I say quirks.


edit: Like the next post; I would also add that if a device gets to be more trouble than what it is worth, I replace it.


I can understand your frustration, because it is exactly mine. My solution (and the reason I started using openhab) was to only use protocols and devices that work. And I mean that in a true sense. As soon as a protocol/ device gives me too much trouble, I try to solve my problem with another one. So I now have a mix of zigbee, z-wave (Aeotec z-wave stick to answer your original question), mysensors and w-lan based devices. Except for z-wave my “communication backbone” is mqtt.

p.s.: my fibaro fail was the window sensors. The one I used automatically left the network, when the battery came loose - and that was supposed to be on intent … I spent ages to find that out … Now I use cheap coolcam window sensors from aliexpress - works quite well.

I am using a lot of technologies as well. Honestly getting really tired of Z-Wavem if it weren’t for wall mounted switches and thermostats which I have already bought and installed, and lack of such for wifi/zigbee I’d probably ditch this…

On paper it should be fine, but when it gets down to it, sadly Z-Wave seems the most expensive and least reliable…

Who was thinking when they decided initial initialization of battery devices of Z-wave would require 20 wake ups? Why not set a flag to wake up more often until initialized, for example.

If I can’t get this working with a masters in computer science I don’t see how many people would…

I am z-waving properly. I don’t have any. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:
I use zigbee and RF 433mHz and wifi.
I used to have X10 but ditched all that years ago.

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I’m realising more and more Z-Wave is crap… They have literally managed to create a mesh network with a bitrate of 100kbps which

  1. Is embarrasingly slow for a bunch of mains powered devices
  2. Should be more than enough to report binary values, yet chokes trying to turn on lights…

“If you use security, the network will slow down significantly…” Come on…

“But it’s the manufacturers, this and that is why it’s tricky and doesn’t work, depends on if you have z-wave this or that or plus or not plus, security enabled or not enabled…”
You literally certify the products, don’t do that if it doesn’t work.

“Zigbee is interfered by WiFi and WiFi can’t handle many devices”
Well my Zigbee with 10+ devices and WiFi with 25+ devices seem to work 100%. Z-Wave can work on 900 MHz, 5 MHz, 2 Hz, as long as the thing doesn’t work properly, I don’t really care.

Here is another issue I have. According to people working on the binding, it’s not that.
According to me the controller is within a meter range of the switch (i.e no signal issues), yet it doesn’t always update the state. So then what is wrong? The switch (certified Z-wave) or USB stick (certified Z-wave) or any of my other devices (certified Z-wave)? It should just work together to be honest…

I’m ranting on, but at this point it’s starting to get quicker to build my own smoke sensor than to try include this shit I’ve paid €50 + €30 + €all the switches and lights…+ lots of late nights for nothing.

The speed is not the issue here. Link budgets on low power devices require low-ish bit rates to get a good budget. All these sort of protocols (including Zigbee) use reasonably low data rates to ensure a good link with low power.

Agreed - this is a bit crap. The problem (IMHO) is that ZWave wasn’t designed by people who know about protocols, so yes, the protocol is now very old, and yes, a little crap.

Again though - security does work (most of the time). The problem comes that if you have poor links somewhere in the mesh, then this will really be highlighted by security as it broadly doubles the amount of communication required.

But, it generally does work (and I know there are plenty of people with problems, but actually, that’s still very much the minority).

Personally I think Zigbee is much better than ZWave - it’s a much better designed protocol, and has security designed in. The wifi interference really shouldn’t be an issue if the system is designed properly (ie put wifi and zigbee on different channels). I worked on the Hilton hotel system - they have hotels with hundreds of rooms - all with 2.4G Wifi and Zigbee - it works well.

From where things are in the SmartHome game at the moment, I would look at Zigbee - I think ZWave will struggle with the changes that are coming through with the big names looking at CHIP/Matter. I did see something recently from the ZWave Alliance saying CHIP was good for ZWave since it offers diversity - this could be right, but the article really came across as them clutching at straws.

We’ve discussed this before - if the binding doesn’t receive any data, then the binding cannot magically show you a status update. The low level network communications is handled by the stick, and if the stick doesn’t send data to the binding, then I’m really sorry, but the binding simply won’t do anything - it can’t just guess what’s happening.

Yep :slight_smile: - probably we’re both off topic here :wink:


Chris is definitely the expert here, so I don’t doubt that. I have been investigating my Z-Wave network a lot in the last months and put quite some time into it. Basically all powered devices work pretty well (I am especially a fan of the fibaro wallis), though battery devices - and almost all sensors are of that kind - as often mentioned in the forum are sometimes beasts. The other thing you should avoid are dead nodes as they create a lot of issues.

Regarding the issue you mentioned I would recommend to check what is happening on the network - I have put a lot of hints here.

[SOLVED] Unresponsive Z-Wave Network: Tools and Approaches to track down the issues

Following these guidelines I was always able to get the devices running again (though I agree everything should just run without putting effort into it!) - btw, I use the AEOTec Gen5+ stick. The main reason is because their support is amazing in case I have an issue.

As far as Zigbee is concerned (I use the deconz binding) I noticed that some of the zigbee door/window sensors (aqara) react a bit faster than the Z-Wave ones (fibaro) but I guess this is not due to the speed (which is not so far off from each other afaik) but rather how quickly they wake up and send the info. Again Chris surely knows that much better. On the other hand at least the mesh seems to work better on Z-Wave than on Zigbee - I need quite an amount of “repeaters” (powered devices - I use plugs) to make sure my Zigbee sensors work reliably.

As far as Wifi is concerned I used a lot of the shellys. They work reliantly but surely they are part of your wifi network. So make sure each device is secured at least by basic auth (by default they aren’t) if unless you want ending up with your guests playing around with them :wink:

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I did suggest a couple of PRs (review pending) for one press initialization. I have been using these changes in a custom zwave jar for several months without issue.



Ah, maybe this is actually something that could be improved from the binding side. I guess setting a low initial wake up and then automatically setting it high when initialized?

I think my way of proceeding would be to

  1. Buy some more switches to replace the last few remaining switch slots in the apartment and hope for a more stable z-wave network/signal when there’s more devices to mesh. I shouldn’t, at least in theory be anywhere near the max amount of traffic.
  2. While the UZB with updated firmware should in theory be just fine, mine is from 2015 and my network was started on the 2015 FW. Maybe I should reset the network and go from the start with 2020/2021 FW.
  3. It would be interesting to try another controller and just see if I can notice any difference, although as I understand it they all use the same chip…
  4. Not sure if it makes sense technically, but it would also be interesting if the official Fibaro controllers would work better with my Fibaro products. But they are quite expensive although easier to pass on in the future in case I were to move out.

I was actually surprised that I was able to migrate my old network setup to my new stick (see the link above) - the reason is btw because most sticks use a similar hardware beneath.

So, I would recommend to migrate to the AEOtec stick. Then remove all dead nodes. Then, if you still have problems, sniff the network next to the stick of the controller to see if you have issues on the network (like a lot of CRC errors).

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I had one of those smoke alarms, it never worked properly and went in the bin. Fibaro products are a bit variable, I have a lot of their kit and it’s often very good but they do unfortunately issue duff firmware from time to time and don’t offer any way to upgrade the firmware unless you buy one of their controllers and associated the devices with that. I have several motion sensors that randomly lose contact with the z-wave controller (and many others of the same model that are totally reliable) and can only be bought back online by re-including them, resulting in a new node and the old “dead” node. These “dead” nodes are handled badly by the OpenHAB z-wave setup, you can’t remove them and they cause long delays so you wind up having to use a bodge via an outdated Windows freeware app with poor documentation to remove dead nodes. It’s a bit messy unfortunately.

If I’m thinking about adding Zigbee to my home, what is your recommended Zigbee stick?

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Generally the best sticks are those using an Ember chipset. There are a few around - some like the HUSBZB-1 are quite old and use an old chipset. These are ok if updated to the latest firmware (which is easy), but have limited memory so it is best to get one of the newer EFR32 chips. There are a few around - one from Elelabs, and this is sold by a couple of companies such as Popp in the EU.

Where would I find this firmware for my stick? I have not found any firmware upgrades for mine.

What stick do you have?


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Ok, take a look at the latest binding docs - they were updated recently to include a link to update this device.

I see the link for TI chipsets but not the Ember ones.