Sep 142015

We (my wife and I) are finally home owners. Now that I have a home to play with, I wanted to get back into home automation.

Before buying anything, I needed to survey the market again so I don’t buy something that’ll lose support over the next 5 years.

In the US market, for easily available in-wall switches, there’s X-10, Insteon, Z-Wave, and Lutron’s Caseta wireless. I’ve already got X-10 equipment and I’m not making that mistake again. Insteon’s main claim to fame was X-10 compatibility. Caseta wireless is only made by lutron and has limited compatibility. Z-wave has some drawbacks, like a technically proprietary protocol, etc. The Open Z-Wave project has done a lot to address those concerns.

I did some reading and arrived at this list of serious contenders.

The first 3 are devices with cloud tie-in. Vera has superb compatibility. Smartthings is pretty awesome, just released their second version, but I’m still salty at Samsung for what they did to Boxee. Wink is super slick, but Quirky is in a bit of trouble so continued support isn’t certain.

The last 3 are software running on a local computer. Homeseer is sort of the grandaddy of the bunch, having been around for the longest. I’m still tempted to buy it when it goes on sale because it’s so well integrated, but it is the most expensive option here. Castle OS is pretty awesome too, with awesome speech recognition.

I’m ultimately deciding on OpenHAB. It’s free, which is nice, but more importantly, it’s open and has a rapidly growing international community.

This link is pretty helpful for getting started with OpenHAB

Interface Hardware
Since I’ve decided on Z-Wave and OpenHAB, the wiki page for the Z-Wave binding is probably a good place to start looking.

Searching each device on the Supported controllers table, the Aeon Labs seemed to be the easiest to buy, gen2 and gen5 are about the same price… both have compatibility with homeseer if i decide to go that route in the future. This was a pretty easy decision: Aeon Labs USB Z-Stick Gen5

Light Switches
These were easier to pick out than I expected. The most reasonably priced switch capable of controlling LED and CFL bulbs was in stock at the local Lowes for a lower price than Amazon. A small pile of Lowes 10% off moving coupons later, I’d cleaned out inventory at the 3 closest Lowes stores.

Quick note about these switches, the 12722 will do a Z-Wave hail when switched from the switching unit, but not the 12723 add-on. the 12724 doesn’t seem to send a Z-Wave hail. The 12724 buzzes with a lot of LED bulbs, but the Cree flow LED bulbs from Home Depot don’t seem to buzz.


GE 12722
ZW4005 On/Off Relay Switch

GE 12724
ZW3003 In-Wall Dimmer

GE 12723
ZW2004 Add-On Auxiliary Switch

One thing that makes this easier overall, there are only a few manufacturers actually making this equipment. It just takes a bit of googling to find out who actually makes the rebranded stuff. In the case of the door switches and motion sensor I bought, it was labeled GoControls for Wink, but made by Nortek Controls (which is Linear)

I bought this multipack at the local Home Depot to get started

What’s actually in the box?

Other Hardware

Of course this is just a start. I want to expand this as much as my wife and finances will allow!

To pick additional hardware. I’m starting with this site

And comparing to the OpenHAB Z-Wave binding database

If it matches, I check the device’s capabilities

And use the Open Z-Wave dev documents as reference for the command classes

If it looks supported, I take a peek at the examples in the Z-Wave binding page

  2 Responses to “Back into Home Automation”

  1. How did you solve the problem with the GE switches not supporting associations and OpenHAB? I’m struggling with that problem now so any help you could give you be extremely beneficial.

  2. The GE 12722 switch, switched from the controlling unit will send a z-wave hail. The 12722 switched from a 12723 add-on will not send a z-wave hail. The 12724 will not send a z-wave hail at all.

    I’m pretty sure there’s no way to modify the switch’s behavior, but you can use the OpenHAB z-wave binding to poll the switch for its status every whatever seconds. I’m using 30 seconds as my polling interval. Here’s an example from my items.

    /* GE 12722 Switch with GE 12723 Add-On */
    Switch Light_Outdoor_Front “Outside Front” (Outdoor) {zwave=”4:command=switch_binary,refresh_interval=30″}

    /* GE 12724 Dimmer with or without GE 12723 Add-On */
    Dimmer Light_DN_Den “Den Light [%d %%]” (gDN) {zwave=”3:command=SWITCH_MULTILEVEL,refresh_interval=30″}

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