in Home Automation

Z-Wave Greenwave PowerNodes with SmartThings

Back to home automation. As I mentioned in my last post on this subject the LightwaveRF devices are cheap and mostly pretty good. Their downside is that any controller sending an “on” command gets no status back from the device. This means if the command fails to send due to local interference the device will stay off even though the controller will think the device is on.

A couple of other popular home automation protocols get around this by having a means by which the device can communicate its status. Both Z-Wave and Zigbee fall into this category. Another benefit of their having TX and RX capability is that they can create a mesh network – extending the range of all compatible devices in your home.

Of course, this extra functionality comes at a price. You can buy three LightwaveRF sockets for around £33. Most Z-Wave or Zigbee sockets cost around £35 each.

That’s why the Z-Wave Greenwave PowerNode looks so attractive. A full Z-Wave compatible device that also includes power metering (it’ll report the power consumption of the plugged in device). Instead of £35 each, these are currently available from Vesternet for £20, or just £15 if you purchase a pack of ten.

So that’s what I did.

As I’m using the Samsung SmartThings Hub instead of the Greenwave controller I had a few extra steps to jump through on setup:

First, and this seems to be a feature of Z-Wave devices in my experience, the initial pairing needs to be done as close to the Hub as possible. Once paired they can be moved to their intended location.

SmartThings IDEBy default the SmartThings hub recognises them as dumb Z-Wave on/off switches (“Z-Wave Switch” in SmartThings parlance). This means the power metering won’t work. To change this we need the hub to use the Z-Wave Metering Switch device handler.  This can be changed in the online SmartThings IDE under the Device List section.

I now have full – reliable – control of the on/off sockets in the house, as well as logged data for power consumption for all of them. This adds other possibilities like turning on devices based on the power consumption of another – so if a device is manually switched on, others could automatically follow.

We’re living in the future!