Z-wave "starter's package"

ow did you start with z-wave and HA ?

I want to buy a present to a co-worker interested in HA but hard for him to make th step and it would help me know how did you started. What did you get when you first started. I would buy a bundle but don’t know what it should contain besides a controller.


I started just with the controller and some light switches but I was lucky to get the switches from Vesternet as second user switches. They only cost me ?15.00 each and I got enough to do the whole house. It’s good to be able to control things you can see happen when you first start.

I researched systems and settled on Vera due to no monthly fees, just the upfront hardware costs. I bought the Vera 3, the best model at the time, to ensure it would work for many years. They have a special on the now older systems (newer than my 3) so I would jump on it to save some coin.

I bought a thermostat at the time, a CT30, which since stopped working. Its replacement, a CT101 from Lowe’s was half the cost of the CT30 in 2013.

I also bought VeraMate to allow easy setup and control of Vera.

With this start, your friend can spend the next couple of months figuring all this out, and add more stuff as time and budget allows.

A controller is required (obviously), but anything else is wildly variable.

A couple of light switches and maybe a couple of controllable plugs (the plug-in kind that you could plug a lamp into). You could consider a tilt sensor for the garage door to be able to tell when the door is open versus closed (doesn’t make it controllable) and maybe a door/window sensor or two.

You can do simple things like turn on the inside lights in the garage when the door goes up and turn them off when the door goes down. A door sensor on the door between house and garage could be used to turn on house interior lights when you enter.

So, it’s about the things that could be done with the combination of a few things as well as what those things are.

Your budget for all of this will have a big impact on how much stuff you could get.

I won a set of Hue bulbs.

The real driver was looking at a Nest and realizing a Vera with a zwave thermostat and a temp sensor was cheaper. After that I set up pipe heaters on the vera. Once the house was comfortable and the pipes stopped freezing I got carte blanche from my wife.

I got the best Vera at the time, the Vera 3. Within the same week my door lock and a plug in dimmer arrived for my first simple use of HA. When I unlocked the door the light would turn on… when I hit the lock button on the door the light would turn off. That simple. Next was a thermostat since I traveled a lot and would shut down the house for extended periods of time and didnt know exactly when I would return. Being able to change the AirCon setpoint when I knew I was on the way home saved me an absolute ton of money vs leaving it running, and saved me a ton of hassle vs being uncomfortable on arriving home after a long trip. After that I was hooked.

I typically recommend that newcomers start with a Z-Wave controller, such as the Vera Plus. Then use one or more GE 12719 Plugin Smart Switch(Appliance Module). One might also wish to consider a motion sensor, such as the Ecolink Z-Wave Plus Motion Sensor

This makes for super easy plugin installation and easy portability while you are exploring the capabilities of Vera and Z-Wave.

After that you can advance to installed wall switches like the GE 12722 On/Off Wall Switch and all the other Z-Wave devices.

Just remember that to enjoy reliable Z-Wave operation a robust Z-Wave network mesh is necessary. This means that you should build your network starting at or close to the controller and move outward throughout your house using wired(mains powered) Z-Wave devices rather than battery operated devices that do not participate in the mesh. After building a reliable mesh, the use of battery powered devices like motion sensors and locks should not be an issue.

Hi guys,

thank you for all the feedback. I wasn’t expecting it so fast.

I was thinking about 2-3 plug in lamp modules, a thermostat, a door lock and 2-3 motion sensors for hallways.

Should cameras be a must a have ? Can you do any kind of automation based on them ?

thanks again.

IMHO, cameras are sort of “on a different level”. Leveraging them could be much more advanced, and using cameras directly within Vera tends to slow Vera down.

Given the list of items you’re proposing buying for a friend, can I be your friend? :slight_smile: That’s not an inexpensive gift.

Door locks can be hundreds of dollars, thermostats aren’t far behind, and plug-in modules/motion sensors run $25 and up. That’s all on top of the controller…

it’s easy as we’re teaming up, I’m just the guy doing the digging, cost is divided.

One thing to also think about in this is the method of control. If you are planing on using motion to detect occupancy, tied with time of day, etc to turn on lights, you will be looking at some PLEG to make it work out. If it doesnt work out your backup is hitting your phone or a computer, or pushing the button on the plugin module just to get a light to turn on.

There was a point in my system that logic failed, the plug in module was behind a stupid heavy sofa and my nephew was the only one in my house (no phone access since he was house sitting). He logiced his way through it and the whole time I was gone he was opening the front door, locking it, and then punching in his code to trigger the “welcome home” scene that would turn on the light.

knowing this (after being on that road a while) I recommend you consider some form of wall controller, handheld remote controller, etc as a way to turn on lights. Other than remotes, one other recommendation is the Enerwave in wall switching modules in one load and two load flavors. I like them because I have them in the boxes behind the regular, original, lightswitches in my house and they are triggered by the switch being flipped or by Vera. even if logic, or Vera, fails they will turn on when the light switch is flipped. this all comes down to… home automation isnt fun in the dark

If you are doing this on a budget here are devices I own that have been reliable and economical

RTS ct101 thermostat (Lowe’s iris rebadged) $60

Monoprice PIR sensor $25

smart plug $27.50 shipped

I also have the monoprice door locks, which I got on a 20% off sale. I am not sure I would recommend them because while it has worked flawlessly, they are not the sturdiest things. But since my wife loves our door full of easily broken glass panels, I saw no reason to get a pricey lock that can be bypassed with a rock.