Z-Wave Controller Compatibility Frustrations Grow as Dealer Vents

Back in January 2016 our post Say Hello, Z-Wave Goodbye seemed to strike a chord with readers. We wrote…

…even though Z-Wave is a ‘standard’ there’s a growing issue that needs to be addressed. Every time a new device is launched you have to ask yourself – is this supported in my Z-Wave setup?

Well, now one of the UK’s largest smart home retailers has started to express their frustration too. Here’s the conclusion from their recent round-up of new Z-Wave devices…

To be frank, we’re really disappointed with how the device and controller manufacturers fail to work together to ensure that their devices work perfectly out-of-the-box in the most common controllers!

This isn’t a new situation by any means, it’s been like this for YEARS and we find ourselves asking the same question over and over again – exactly how many devices do they expect to sell if they don’t WORK in any of the controllers? It doesn’t matter one jot if the device is “technically compliant” if it DOES NOT WORK!

It seems absolutely crazy to us that this situation continues to occur, it’s not like these devices are dreamed up on a Friday night and roll out the factory on a Monday morning to hit the retailer shelves the following day! Devices like this typically take months and months to develop, why not work with the controller manufacturer during that time to ensure that the devices work perfectly once they go on sale?

Sadly it seems that our constant pleas are ignored and that we’ll have to bumble along with the way things are for the foreseeable future 🙁

Now, it’s one thing for Automated Home to criticise the situation, we’ve no skin in the game.

But when a company like Vesternet, whose livelihood depends on selling Z-Wave, starts to show their frustration publicly like this, then surely it’s a pretty strong sign that something’s badly wrong.

Z-Wave has become just another frustrating smart home system, full of compatibility complications for home owners.

So Z-Wave, how are you going to fix this, and fast?

[UPDATERead Z-Wave’s Reply here]

Vesternet Blog  :  z-wavealliance.org

12 Comments on "Z-Wave Controller Compatibility Frustrations Grow as Dealer Vents"

  1. Derek Holtham | October 2, 2017 at 9:18 am |

    Well said, Mark – and Vesternet!

    I’ve been using HomeSeer since 2011 and I have lost count of the number of Z-Wave devices I have bought and had to return because they don’t actually work properly (or at all) in HomeSeer.

    For some time now I have made all my purchases through Vesternet, because of their returns policy and their service quality.

    As Vesternet say, it is incredible that device manufacturers and controller manufacturers don’t seem to collaborate to make sure all devices work with all controllers from day 1.

    The status quo hardly inspires confidence in Z-Wave technology.

  2. Totally agree. On the verge on binning my entire Z-Wave / SmartThings setup due to compatibility hell. How can things be this bad in 2017 still??

  3. Completely agree. I’m still waiting for Qubino and Vera to sort out the lack of scene buttons working on the modules. I think it’s been over 2 years, and each time I ask Vera, there is no update.

    It’s depressing.

  4. Stuart Grimshaw | October 2, 2017 at 3:29 pm |

    Here’s an example I came across today, 2 devices from 2 manufacturers, 1 reports the battery level 0-255 and the other reports it 0-100 (as a percentage) so even when the devices are hardware compatible, they’re not software compatible.

  5. So it seems our recent blog review has stirred up quite some debate 🙂

    The quote above should really be read in context with the rest of the review piece, because in isolation it does make things seem grimmer than they are.

    While it’s certainly not all rosy in the Z-Wave world there are of course 100’s of Z-Wave products that do work perfectly out-of-the-box. You can pretty much guarantee for example that ALL Fibaro devices will work fully in the Fibaro controllers right from the day of release. And Vera do eventually get there with most devices, albeit that it does seem to take them time to do so because they seem to be more focused on integration with other technologies such as Nest, Hue, IFTTT and Alexa. All good things to have of course, but focusing on core device compatibility would likely be valued more by the end-users.

    Part of the problem with Vera & Fibaro is that device compatibility is tied to firmware release which can mean delays due to development cycles. A newly released device may only need a quick fix to get working, but it could take several months for that to be available in the controller.

    For HomeSeer, Indigo and others, it’s often the case that the smaller development teams just don’t have the resources to keep on top of new device releases while also working on new functionality of the core software. It’s probably a tough call to juggle priorities between working on adding support for a new Fibaro device that’s been asked for by a handful of users and coding new more requested features like HomeKit integration.

    Athom Homey takes an interesting approach to this in the form of Apps that can be updated independently to the main controller firmware, meaning that compatibility issues can often be resolved much more quickly.

    So ultimately we don’t think that there’s anything particularly wrong with the underlying Z-Wave protocol per se, we just think that there’s definite room for improvement when it comes to the controller and device manufacturers working together.

    Whether that situation will improve or not is difficult to say, but it’s why Vesternet offer many initiatives to help customers on their Smart Home journey. Things like our compatibility platform, on-site content, customer product reviews, community Q&A, blog posts and our pre-sales and post-sales support really do make a difference!

  6. @Martyn – thanks for taking the time to comment.

    We can’t help feeling there’s a bit of back peddling going on here though. What we quoted was your CONCLUSION after all. We happen to AGREE with everything in that conclusion, as do many others.

    It goes without saying there are good points about Z-Wave. But that does little to elevate all those frustrations you describe when things simply do not work together.

    The fact that “ALL Fibaro devices will work fully in the Fibaro controllers” is a pretty telling statement. That’s just further proof of your points.

    Your conclusion was spot on. Don’t go soft on us now. Have the courage of your convictions and help us all get a better Z-Wave ecosystem.


  7. As a potential customer of a Z-Wave system, I am slightly put off from a Fibaro system by the article and comments made.

    My proposal was to use various Aeotec and other non smart products with the Fibaro system and products in a development. Is it the case that these non Fibaro products will not be compatible or difficult to implement.

    All Z-Wave installers seem to advise that the Fibaro system “just works” with everything.

    Can anyone please confirm, as I though I had stumbled on a decent, reasonably priced setup which can be implemented into standard British electrical wiring and can be installed piecemeal over time.

  8. Hi James,

    The answer really is that it depends on which products you wish to use.

    I would suggest contacting Vesternet to discuss your requirements in detail as we’re certainly in the best position to advise you further.

  9. Thank you Martin.

    The trouble with contacting Vesternet is that their technical department is only contactable by online ticket submission.

    I would love to be able to just to speak to someone (briefly) who can advise whether the Fibaro product is the best way forward or whether an alternative Z-Wave product is better, and whether the Fibaro relays (to work with the non smart elements) and the Aeotec products work with the Fibaro system.

  10. If all the Z-Wave units aren’t 100% compatible with each other then I don’t really see the point of Z-Wave as a whole.

    Its certainly putting me off.

  11. Hi James,

    The problem with phone calls is that they are never “brief”, no matter what the initial intention, which is why we no longer offer phone support.

    Our ticket system (which is essentially just an email chain back and forth) allows us to help 100’s of customers every day by linking to guides, product information and other such resources, all things that aren’t easy to do on a phone call. It also provides a full conversation trail that can be referred back to as discussions progress which helps customers to have a record of what has been said. That’s especially important when dealing with products that may need to be connected to AC mains.

    From our side it also means that anybody on the team can assist on an ongoing basis, as opposed to customers having to wait to talk to a specific person who then has to rack their brains and try and remember what was discussed in previous conversations.

    Don’t forget that we offer our pre-sales advice service for FREE – sure, we certainly hope that you’ll buy from ourselves as opposed to some other on-line retailer, but there’s certainly no obligation to.

    So I would recommend taking the time to make contact and take advantage of that offer, ask as many questions as you like in order to make yourself comfortable before moving ahead.

  12. Hi Steve,

    Z-Wave is simply a communications protocol, in general all Z-Wave devices are “compatible” with each other because they all *speak* Z-Wave.

    The issues arise mostly at the controller level where sometimes specific support needs to be added for a device in order for it to work fully. It’s here that more work needs to be done to improve the end-user experience.

    As mentioned previously, it’s not all doom and gloom in the Z-Wave world and there’s no problem with anybody making contact with Vesternet to discuss their individual requirements. We’ll always do our utmost to offer impartial and honest advice on anything Z-Wave and Smart Home related.

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