General getting started advice needed

Good afternoon everyone!

I am new here and new to the HA world.

Firstly a bit about me I have worked in IT for 12+years so fairly tech savy working currently as a Senior Network Tech.

Like I said brand new to the HA world although I have been looking on for several months mainly in envy of wanting such a system. I am currently building my home entertainment system powered by Raspberry Pi’s plugged into each TV through the house connected to a central Ubuntu Server which stores all the media and runs a PVR server.

Now is the time I want to start investing in HA and I have been doing lots of reading and trying to decide where to start. Obviously I will take very small steps and complete things in a slow manor (most likely drawn over years) however when I think of HA this is what I would like to achieve:

[ul][li]Automatic control of home heating systems[/li]
[li]Home Security Alarm System[/li]
[li]Smoke/Fire/Carbon Monoxide monitoring/alarms[/li]
[li]Auto Locking/Unlocking of doors when leaving/entering house[/li]
[li]Automatic Control of Lights when watching movies from Media Center[/li]
[li]Transparent/Opaque Film (Saw this online would be perfect for my lounge front window)[/li]
[li]Automation of power to certain devices[/li]
[li]Automatic window blinds[/li]
[li]Control of lights based on LUX and room occupancy[/li][/ul]

As you can see there are many items there and I am sure once I get started I can think of many more.

After doing lots of reading Vera Edge seems like a good option for me what I am concerned about is a) how many devices are supported as on the main website it says 100 on the shop page it says up to 220 so which is it?

Also a bit concerned about the programming of this device in respect for IF,AND for instance here is one thing I can imagine I want to do:

If Light < ThisLevel And PeopleInRoom Then LightsOn

If EveryoneLeavesHouse AND Window1 = Open OR Window2 = Open or Door1 = Open Then SendAlert

I can imagine I am going to want to do some pretty clever and complex stuff. I have also looked into HomeSeer but its very expensive and I know someone will come back and say HA is an expensive hobby and will needs lots of money and controller is least important cost but that’s no excuse for spending a few hundred pounds extra when its not really needed and I would rather spend that cash on more devices.

Also I definitely want a controller device rather than a computer based controller for reliability I mean I could use my Ubuntu Server but I just think its best to keep it off that.

So I guess the point of my forum post today is a) to find out the device limit of the Vera Edge but also to get opinions on whether you guys think its the right device for my based on what I have said.

I have had a rough count up of how many zwave devices I think I could achieve with my ideal setup and its around 80.

Also I guess it will integrate with my media home quite a bit which I would love to get voice activation working for it so I guess VA would also be good for my zwave such as “lights on” but that’s a much more complex thing to think about because of open mics and room detection so will come later.

Sorry for the long post lots on my mind about this I guess so many possibilities. Any responses are greatly appreciated and any tips for getting started received gratefully.

You have thrown out a lot of questions here, I am going to answer a few and let the community comment on their preferences.

The VeraEdge can support up to 220 connected devices of the many compatible devices. The best place to go when trying to decide on devices is, this is where you will find Certified Partner Devices. These have been tested and rated by our team and have the inclusion instructions included in the UI.

We are working on voice control from several different directions, Amazon’s Alexa/Echo, Siri and Android.

Good luck and welcome to the Vera community.

I would get a Vera Plus and NOT a Vera Edge …
Vera Edge can handle the number of Z-Wave devices … but when you start adding devices to control and monitor Vera or using non Z-Wave or Virtual devices … the memory starts getting used.
A Vera Plus has twice as much memory as a Vera Edge.

There are plugins to assist you in doing all the things that you have listed.
You will find the PLEG plugin (I wrote this) provides the automation logic you need.
Lights based on LUX have not been very useful (poor response time and quality of this sensor). Many folks use something relative to sunrise and sunset and maybe modify this based on cloud coverage.
Vera integrates nicely with a number of Alarm Systems. When supported all of the door/motion sensors for the alarm system are available to your automation logic, as well as having Vera Arm/Disarm your alarm system based on your occupancy.
Vera is trying to get into the Security market place… If you have something that you want to secure, I would NEVER use Vera as the security system. You want something that is designed for Security and is extremely reliable.
I have not seen the Transparent/Opaque film commercially available to the residential market place yet … when it does Vera should be able to control it.

The switchable film is cool, and from what I understand you don’t have to be an enterprise to buy it. The problem (for me) is cost – these things run around $60 per square foot.

Thanks for the replies so far. Yeh I realized I was asking a lot just sort of voicing everything in my head.

I do have a very big concern about getting the right device the first time around. As for security I do understand why not to use the zwave network for the security but rather connect to it and I will research more when I am near that part of the project but my main thoughts where we weren’t considering an alarm in the first place live in a fairly good area and have dogs which put most people off so it was just sort of an added bonus, Plus we have a tendency to leave certain windows open when very hot and I was thinking with a zwave system I could possibly programme it to still be in ‘armed’ state ignoring any windows currently open and maybe send us a reminder that its open as it arms just encase we forgot where as a ‘proper’ alarm system I believe all sensors would have to be closed…

As for the film yes I don’t think its easily available yet and I am willing to wait but its soo cool and fits a perfect thing for me. I have a window in my lounge that’s down to the ground and we live in a busy foot area so everyone can see in. I have a blind but sometimes I don’t want to block out the light. So this would be perfect!

Does VeraPlus have a limit on devices? All I can see from the product page is over 200.

Also do these annoying capture/question things ever stop they are way over the top!

I would recommend putting in an alarm system along with a VeraPlus. This will expand the number and type of sensors you can use in your home automation - not to mention the added security…

In my opinion the “right device” is not too important. The controllers are cheap (well, may be except for HomeSeer :slight_smile: ). Settling on the right protocol – that’s important. If you plan to work on this for years, it is quite likely that you will want to (or even have to) upgrade the controller hardware. For now – might as well get the cheapest reasonably capable box (Vera Edge) and see if you can deal with the… Idiosyncratic (to put it politely) software that powers that box. :slight_smile: (You think you have lots of experience, eh? :wink: You think logs are useful for troubleshooting? Turns out, not always. You think firmware upgrades “just work”? Ummm… Sometimes. You’ve seen the UI screenshots and think that’s all you will need to figure out? Wrong. You’ll need to learn Lua (programming language) and PLEG (another programming language). And the list goes on.)

PS. Welcome you to the community. :slight_smile:

All Vera boxes are limited. From what I understand, the first hard limitation is RAM – the entire master process has to fit into RAM, and each device apparently uses couple megs. VeraPlus has twice the RAM of the VeraEdge, so presumably can handle roughly twice the number of devices memory-wise. The second limitation is CPU – the main Vera process is single threaded, and the Plus is not much faster than the Edge, so my guess would be that you’d hit CPU bottleneck before you exhaust the memory. For both controllers – their max device capacity is far beyond what you stated, so if you value your money – get the cheaper one. (Future-proofing is a myth. If you ever outgrow the Edge – buy the more powerful controller then)

That is why I was leaning to the Edge but then the added bonus of Zigbee and possibly BLE sound like it could be helpful?

Don’t count on zigbee just yet as support for it is still in it’s infant stage. The Plus being the first Vera to have support for it. I agree on going Plus rather than Edge as I have both. I actually run a dual vera setup where both talk to each other using http calls. One runs most of the HA side while the other runs most of the sensor side. Since I have several GSD as room mates which are a pretty good deterrent to bad guys I really don’t need a true security system. I’m using Vera with PIR and door/window sensors as well as CO/smoke sensors as more of a setup in case of fire or the likes and as a backup to the pawed homestead security team.

All gang boxes that have the full line, load, neutral and ground wiring setup have ZWave devices for switching or dimming lights. Mostly GE/Jasco paddle ones as I prefer those over toggles. All doors have Schlage z-wave locks on them and also the garage door is zwave controlled. The locks have the pin pad and key as a backup in case of controller failure. The garagedoor has the MyQ system as a backup for that same reason. Call me paranooid but if my controller freezes I’d like to be able to still get into my home. 8)

Since there is a plugin for my Yamaha HTR, it was easy to implement light control when it gets switched on to eg BD or cable mode. I’m working on a Harmony hub integration and am waiting on GetVera’s promised Alexa control rather than using one of the existing community developed ones.

My Tstat is also zwave and talks to Vera. She modifies setpoints based on if I am home or away (geofencing) and notifies me if the temperature gets to hot or cold so my roomies have a comfortable environment while I am at home.

On the schedule is a Zwave controlled water mains controller that can switch off the water coming into the house if one of the water sensors next to the washer/dryer/waterheater, kitchen sink/dishwasher or bathroom sinks alerts to a leak. This to avoid an indoor pool…

This is very interesting – for the stuff that has to work once in great while, and preferably never (water leak sensors, smoke/CO alarms), but when it needs to work, it better be reliable – how do you plan to make sure that it actually works? I have couple motion sensor that turn on the lights. They work most of the time. It is slightly annoying, but I can live with it, because I can flip the switch manually. But for a water leak sensor that never trips – Vera has to remember that it’s there, and catch the message when it comes, and then turn the valve that it never turns… I don’t have these types of things yet, partially because I don’t have a good idea how to make the setup reliable…

I guess it’s possible to have a job (potentially outside of Vera) that would periodically check that certain devices are present, and can be polled/controlled successfully. But even with this setup you’d have to water the water sensors from time to time to make sure they are actually working.

I second the notion of getting a separate alarm system for security. I tried going the route of adding window sensors and motion sensor and such. They work “relatively” well, but not “security system” well. With the z-wave sensors you’ll have less faith the more you use them. Sometimes it can take a minute or two to register, Vera may decide to not connect to them, etc.

I’m now using a DSC 1832 alarm system with a wireless capable keypad. The DSC plugin works great. The feedback is instantaneous and I haven’t had a single issue. EXTREMELY reliable and accurate. I have both wired and wireless DSC sensors and they are both more reliable than the z-wave sensors I have.

I will say, for some things the z-wave sensors are fantastic and handy. For instance if you want to be notified for an alcohol cabinet being opened, a closet or safe being opened, a mailbox being opened, etc. I just wouldn’t count on them for your security. I supplement my geofencing by utilizing both my DSC and my z wave motion sensors for better accuracy and quicker response.

Ok so not that I am ready for the security aspect but I want to check a few things of going down the separate security route like the aforementioned DSC:

1: Can Vera tell if a certain window is open or closed? For instance I also want to utilize automated heating including auto zwave valves on each heater and if a window is open in a specific room turn the heater off. Can that be done with a DSC window sensor?

2: Could I still arm the alarm if one window was left open?

I am using this arrangement for almost a year. The alarms are controlled and reported by DSC panel whereas Vera can see and use all sensors connected to DSC.

How you want to use the sensors is limited by your imagination, as there are many tools available to make it a reality. Also you don’t have to start working on both systems together from the start.

Yes, see the sub-forum for the DSC alarm plug-in.

Actually doing this remotely is problematic. I think it could be done as a force arm command, but haven’t tested. Again, the DSC plug-in forum section would be a good place to ask…