I have a bunch of wifi lights, but they are not always reliable and are neither too responsive. Been looking into actual mesh networks such as Z-Wave & Zigbee (Hue) and I was wondering if they are still relevant today? All the Z-Wave or Zigbee items are almost 2x the price of wifi devices. Is Z-Wave or Zigbee still worth the investment today? Is there any actual alternative to Hue lights?
(You may have to define what you mean by ‘relevant’)
EDIT: to be more helpful:
WiFi tends to be cheapest, followed by Zigbee, followed by Z-Wave.
You can get fairly cheap (~$10-15 each) Zigbee components such as bulbs and switches: check the IKEA Tradfri range, and the Aqara range. I don’t use Hue, but I understand that the Tradfri plays well with it.
I have a bunch of WiFi devices, with no reliability issues. I have a good WiFi access point, and make sure that I don’t use any cloud based shenanigans: I flash all the devices so they work locally. Not a plug and play solution, though.
Yes, Wifi has a number of disadvantages in this space. Firstly, and probably the biggest issue - there is no application standards at the moment. Wifi gives you the communications path, but it does not tell devices how to communicate in a standard way - ie actually how to turn a device on and off. Both ZigBee and ZWave have standards for everything that is done to ensure that all ZigBee bulbs can communicate with any ZigBee switch from any manufacturer.
Secondly, Wifi is very power hungry. ZigBee and Zwave (and other protocols in this space) are designed to support low power devices - ie sensors, locks etc - so they can run on batteries for a long time. The move in ZigBee is to “Greenpower” - with very long life batteries, or no battery at all (as other energy harvesting systems also do).
Hue lights are just ZigBee bulbs - there are dozens of alternative ZigBee bulbs - they are all broadly the same, supporting the same application layer so will communicate with any ZigBee system (including Hue gateways).
i have a lot of wifi devices in my network, but i got the problem that when you have too much wifi devices, the router cant handle so much, i had a fritzbox 7490, but also the fritzbox got problems with more than 40 ore 50 devices, when i was connecting a new sonoff, another device was disconnecting all the time, than i have bougt unifi aps, with this is ok, but this is also expensive to add some good aps, and also these devices has a limited of wifi devices.
So now i almost use zigbee devices, because of the router functions and the possible to handle a lot of devices and also expand it with some router devices, i am extremly happy with that and prefer that now.
I can speak from experience and spending hours/days trying to solve network problems.
what i also like by the zigbee devices, the most use really cheap button batteries, i also used 1 zwave aeotec multisensor, this one has 2 cr123a batteries, they are really expensive and when you have a lot of these devices, it gets really expensive when you need to change all of them, also the battery lifetime by zigbee is really good!
Unfortunately all smart home Wi-Fi devices decided to use the cheaper more interference prone 2.4 GHz band. For instance your microwave oven likely wreaks havoc. If they would use the 5 GHz 802.11a or newer standard they would hsve less range but a more reliable connection.
Battery life among other things has already been mentioned. Since I am a Wi-Fi engineer for a large school I knew to avoid Wi-Fi smart home devices. We only provide minimal support for 2.4 GHz on our campus of over 4000 APs.
I just did a search of homedepot, lowes and amazon and sadly beside few rare silvania bulb, couldn’t find any affordable alternative to Hue lights. Only strong alternative seem to be the ikea lightbulbs, very affordable and can be hacked to work on hue bridge. Some of the other Zigbee bulbs were on clearance which did worry me a bit.
Yes just doesn’t seem to make sense that a router has to handle each lightbulb separately.
But my understanding is that Zigbee is also 2.4 Ghz… so same issue?
So from all your replies - no one mentioned Z-wave, so I guess dead standard.
Anyway, if I get a good deal on a hue bridge, I will invest and try to get some ikea + hue lights.
Definitely not true. Very much alive, and arguably the most robust out of the three you started this thread with. Just expensive.
Oh wow just found that the Aqara movement sensor uses a CR2450 battery… no kidding this is more power efficient.
I’m not familiar with the US stores, but in Europe, Hue bulbs are generally a lot more expensive than others from the likes of Osram, Paulmann, Innr and many cheaper Chinese alternatives.
If Hue is cheap in the US though, then it’s a good solution.
They shouldn’t require hacking - they are standard ZigBee bulbs so should work with any ZigBee system unless Hue actively tries to block them to force you to buy Hue.
Yes, it’s also using 2.4GHz. In my experience it should not be an issue. I appreciate that Bruce has different experience, but I worked with a large hotel chain in Memphis helping set up a ZigBee system. They had a ZigBee network in every room of their hotels (a few hundred rooms) and also had 2.4GHz Wifi in the hotel - everything worked fine.
Not at all - it’s broadly on par with ZigBee with a similar, or possibly higher user base. ZigBee tends to have a more popular use commercially while ZWave is probably more popular for home users.
Zigbee is narrow band so it may be impacted less. I just use Z-Wave right now because of those concerns. Our experts here say Zigbee is much less impacted by interference.
I couldn’t be happier with my Aqara sensors since I got them. The battery lifes are just amazing, almost a year now and not one critical yet.
You can even see that once the weather got warmer again the reported charges have even gone up
i also use zwave, for controlling the heater, the devolo thermostat was the only one that looks nice, they are not so big and ugly things like all other thermostat i found on the market and they use AAA batteries, and i never had problems with zwave since now, but all other zwave devices i have tried has the special batteries i explained bevore, and these are the reason i dont use any other sensors.
because otherwise the costs that are incurred permanently are too high for me.
I use both wifi (lifx, off Unifi APs) and z-wave (mostly Aeotec gear). There are occasionally issues with both, but generally reliable. In fact firmware issues have caused me the most problems (Aeotec Wallmote dual/quad). When my IP network is disrupted - power outages, etc - then the lifx bulbs can occasionally be a bit fractious, but settle down quickly.
Just on the power side of things, many of the Aeotec z-wave devices can be powered directly, or at least recharged, via usb. All of my aeotec multisensor 6 units are powered by usb, which makes them a lot more consistent, and I don’t have to worry about replacing expensive batteries multiple times a year.
I am now actually looking for z-wave TRVs for a new hydronic heating/cooling system, but none of the companies actually release them with the Australian z-wave frequency
I think we are “stuck” (or is that “blessed”) with having to mix and match these technologies given their individual strengths and weakness… and the availability of products in different markets.
While I’d love to have only WiFi devices (I’ve got full WiFi all over my block) so I’d not have to deploy a 2nd (or 3rd) network type (Z-Wave / Zigbee). I just can’t find Electrically Approved Devices here in Australia to replace the Fibaro Wall Dimmers (which don’t require a seperate Neutral). I’ve also not seen a WiFi equivalent of the Aeotec 6-1 sensors (that I run off USB power) for WiFi. As pointed out… even if there were such devices, we would then also need a corresponding Binding.
And OpenHAB is flexible enough to tie them all together as one system.
I think WiFi is fine when you have line of sight to the router, but if you have dead spots in your house then it’s a pain in the ass. I have WiFi devices that have been running for years with no major problems, but every once in awhile some of them will start disconnecting/reconnecting repeatedly. Usually a router reboot fixes it, but that’s not ideal.
There are some really nice Z-Wave sensors out there, but as noted the switches/plugs are typically 2x the cost and CR123a batteries for sensors are expensive (and I can’t find rechargeables in Canada). Also, Z-Wave can be finicky when adding devices and difficult to troubleshoot. But when it works, it works extremely well. And if I’ve learned anything, it’s that reliability is worth a few extra bucks…particularly for things I use on a daily basis.
So if I were starting from scratch, I’d use Z-Wave as much as possible. And I’d probably supplement with Tasmota-flashed WiFi devices, which might offer the best bang for the buck.
People to just stare at the actuator price tag fail to understand where the hidden cost is.
It’s missing bindings so it’s about your time you need to invest to fiddle with scripts and generic bindings to get this to work.
It’s about the risk of a vendor or product line to be withdrawn from the market that you will need to replace (lack of compatible alternatives).
It’s about the risk of getting hit by a botnet or similar - ZWave/Zigbee, while not perfect, are a lot less susceptible simply because they’re not IP hence not directly attackable from the Inet or hacked devices.
It is about certification for electrical safety etc you need to have ready for your home insurance.
It’s about outages / malfunction / interference / debugging efforts due to WiFi coverage and the overloaded 2.4 GHz band.
And what if you want to sell your home one day - can you convince the buyer that all your selections are not just Chinese junk he needs to replace ?
I clearly second Russ’ conclusion:
Unfortunately I started by buying cheap Chinese Z-Wave junk. I am getting ready to replace one sensor due to excessive battery usage.
this is the problem with wifi i have talked about.
That is an issue with a poorly designed Wi-Fi router. .