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Thread: HC2 vs Vera - and light switches.

  1. #1
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    Default HC2 vs Vera - and light switches.

    I've been looking at the various HA technologies available and have settled on Z-wave. Light switches seem to be a pain though. Putting controllers behind existing switches is fine I guess, but I'd rather have nicer switches with less faff.

    I found the Vitrum switches that look nice. Then i found the RFXtrx controller which meant I'd be able to use LighwaveRF (nice switches and no neutral required - yay!) and control it from a ZWave controller.

    The next step was choosing a controller. I was pretty convinced by the Fibaro HC2, most of what I've read rates it above the Vera box.

    But then I discovered that the RFXtrx controller wouldn't work with HC2, only with Vera. And whilst researching it it became apparent that the a Fibaro team are not very involved with their own forum discussions which was off putting.

    So now I'm swaying towards the Vera. It seems more configurable (I'm a programmer by trade, so not worried about getting my hands dirty). Cost isn't a huge concern, I'd rather pay more and get the right system.

    The "Wife Acceptance Factor" matters too, and I suspected the HC2 would beat the Vera here. But not if it means crappy light switches! I will eventually want to add much more besides lights - alarm, heating, door entry, triggered scenes from PIRs,etc.

    Has anyone recently gone through this process and looked at the latest (as of March 2014) offerings from each company? Which way did you go and why?

  2. #2
    Automated Home Sr Member Quinten's Avatar
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    Neither controller will have an interface that you'd want to show your wife unless you want a divorce. They are fine for configuration and scheduling, but any user interaction will have you frustrated. I can only speak for a Vera, but there are several 'apps' which use the exposed API and provide a 'pretty' interface. They are still not what I would class swmbo friendly, but at least they'll be able to get to grips with them easily. Not sure if the HC2 has the same 'infrastructure' to support this.

    At the end of the day, any zwave module will work with any zwave controller. I prefer standard light switches and leave the automation to the controller, but it does mean installing the fibaro modules in the ceiling which is like you say, a right pig to do.

    There are also the Duwi switches, but I believe they require a Neutral too. And they are no lookers either.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by DJackson View Post
    I've been looking at the various HA technologies available and have settled on Z-wave. Light switches seem to be a pain though. Putting controllers behind existing switches is fine I guess, but I'd rather have nicer switches with less faff.
    It really depends on what you consider to be too much faff :-) A new deeper back box can be fitted behind most switches in under an hour which would allow you to install Fibaro dimmer modules (can be used in 2-wire or 3-wire set-up) with your choice of switch hardware - stick with your existing "toggle" switches for on/off control and to keep the cost down. Or change them for momentary to get on/off/dim. You can also use "3-position" switches where middle is "off" and up is dim down / off and down is dim up / on. I like the MK Grid Plus (https://www.mkelectric.com/en-gb/Pro...s/default.aspx) or the Scolmore Click MiniGrid (http://www.scolmore.com/click-minigrid.html) range of switches myself. The Scolmore are particularly good as you can get a nice modern look.

    Quote Originally Posted by DJackson View Post
    I found the Vitrum switches that look nice. Then i found the RFXtrx controller which meant I'd be able to use LighwaveRF (nice switches and no neutral required - yay!) and control it from a ZWave controller.
    LightwaveRF is definitely an option and the switches do look nice. They're also pretty much a drop-in replacement for your bog standard light switch, so nice and easy to install. With the RFXtrx433 you can use most compatible devices with a Vera controller - this gives you Z-Wave, LightwaveRF, Home Easy, Byron, Visonic, Oregon Scientific and a whole bunch of other kit all controllable from one controller. The one thing I'd say about LightwaveRF is that at the beginning of the year they ramped the prices up - most of the price hikes have now hit the retail channels, so it's pushing the LightwaveRF gear up into the same bracket as the likes of Z-Wave. In my opinion, this is a mistake on their behalf as clearly LightwaveRF is a lesser technology with only one-way communication (except for their new heating range, which has been "coming soon" for about 2 years now) and simple point-to-point transmission. Time will tell whether they can compete at the same price level.....

    Quote Originally Posted by DJackson View Post
    The next step was choosing a controller. I was pretty convinced by the Fibaro HC2, most of what I've read rates it above the Vera box.
    It depends on what you read :-) As somebody that's used both, I can tell you that they each have their strengths and weaknesses!

    The Fibaro HC2 and HC-Lite have a gorgeous UI, both the Web one and the phone / tablet versions. They also have some really neat features built in, like Security, Heating and Sprinkler "panels" - think of them like mini-command centres. And obviously being Fibaro, they have the best support for Fibaro devices.

    But, the Vera is a much more flexible controller, it has a mass of community developers making plugins that can integrate it with just about anything - it's a pretty open platform, documentation is pretty scarce, but due to it being around a long time, there's a wealth of knowledge in the forums. The Vera UI is crap and the official app isn't much better. But to be honest, beyond initial configuration and tweaking of settings I barely touch the Vera UI directly - most day to day interaction is through phone and tablet apps such as ImperiHome, AutHomation, VeraMate, SQRemote and HomeWave.

    The Fibaro controllers promise much in the future, but a lot of the stuff that's in the marketing hype isn't here right now.

    In my opinion, right here, right now, Vera is your best bet for flexibility and Fibaro is your best bet for a (mostly) pure Z-Wave environment as long as it does 99% of what you want it to do out of the box, as there's little room to add stuff yourself.

    Quote Originally Posted by DJackson View Post
    But then I discovered that the RFXtrx controller wouldn't work with HC2, only with Vera.
    It doesn't work *directly* with the Fibaro controllers, but there are ways to make them interact :-) The HC2 and HC-Lite both support "Virtual Devices" which can call HTTP APIs of third party equipment, so you could for example use a LightwaveRF "Link" (the LightwaveRF network controller thing) to control LightwaveRF equipment from them (I believe that the Link has an open HTTP UI, I might be wrong though). You could also use the RFXtrx with a Vera for the LightwaveRF stuff, which would then be exposed over HTTP too through the Vera UI, so again you could control it from HC2 and HC-Lite via Virtual Devices.

    Quote Originally Posted by DJackson View Post
    And whilst researching it it became apparent that the a Fibaro team are not very involved with their own forum discussions which was off putting.
    To be fair, MiCasaVerde (or Vera Control as they're now called) are just as bad. They're barely present on their forum either.

    Quote Originally Posted by DJackson View Post
    So now I'm swaying towards the Vera. It seems more configurable (I'm a programmer by trade, so not worried about getting my hands dirty). Cost isn't a huge concern, I'd rather pay more and get the right system.

    The "Wife Acceptance Factor" matters too, and I suspected the HC2 would beat the Vera here. But not if it means crappy light switches! I will eventually want to add much more besides lights - alarm, heating, door entry, triggered scenes from PIRs,etc.

    Has anyone recently gone through this process and looked at the latest (as of March 2014) offerings from each company? Which way did you go and why?
    Over the past 3 years I've been slowly migrating from a myriad of HA technologies built up over 14 years or so and it's been quite a challenge. I started out with one of the original Vera controllers and have upgraded through Vera 2 and now Vera 3. Vera has allowed me to integrate Z-Wave into my existing systems and then slowly take over more of the logic side of things as time progresses and I retire out some of the legacy tech. Vera also allows me to use some of the legacy tech directly using the RFXtrx stuff, which has been very valuable in maintaining some backwards compatibility with the older systems.

    All in all, I'm very happy with how things have gone so far and I'm about 75% of the way there now - eventually Vera will be at the centre with a few Raspberry PI based supporting controllers handling some of the remaining logic.

    I could have gone for an HC2 when it came out, but I don't think I would be as far forward as I am now and there was also the cost factor to consider - at nearly 500 it's a hefty investment. But with the HC-Lite now coming in at half the price, I might have been tempted, but I still don't see it as being anywhere near as flexible as a Vera - especially as the HC-Lite is missing a few features compared to the HC2 (noticeably the LUA scripting).

    Having said that, I have been playing with an HC-Lite for the past few weeks and have to admit that I am rather taken with the little fella. After years of the ugly Vera UI, the Fibaro offering is a welcome change and the out-of-the-box functionality is pretty good - the Scene Builder Wizard Thing is much more intuitive than the equivalent Vera functions. So I can possibly see it persisting somewhere in my HA set-up for some time, probably in some sort of Hybrid type system like I described above :-)


    Hope that's given you some food for thought!
    Martyn Wendon
    Vesternet
    Check out my Blog!

  4. #4
    Automated Home Guru Vangelis's Avatar
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    I am currently looking at Indigo (from PerceptiveAutomation) which runs on Mac (not sure what the OPs flavour of PC is). If you are a programmer then this is very flexible (Plugins, customisation, writing your own UI etc)

    It supports Zwave, RFXtrx plus others - also has voice synthesis which was a key requirement for me.

    The forum is well supported, which for me is key..

    Vangelis

  5. #5
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    Another vote here for indigo.

    It's SOOOO configurable, and for the price of most HA controllers, you could buy a mac mini and a copy of indigo...

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the replies, especially yours Martyn!
    (I only just noticed the replies, I don't thin I got the notifications)

    I went with the Vera 3 in the end and am slowly getting there. A few lightwave switches and sockets installed along with a few Z-wave bits. Lightwave supply chain seems to have dried up recently though.

    Numerous times I've come very close to ordering a HC2 - the UI is so much nicer. So far, I've resisted.

    With regards to HC2 and RFXCOM, I see here that "Home Center 2 is not equipped with a plugin for the RFXcom at the moment. This is currently being worked on and when it becomes available will be the download instruction is."

  7. #7
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    Hi,

    If i may just chip in, i've just released my new system i've called BMS Link.

    The allows you to control / monitor and automation various technologies including LightwaveRFand Z-Wave.

    Having dealt with numerous hardware incarnations, i have to say, the Z-Wave system is my current favourite.

    Regarding the lighting conundrum, i've opted for the use of the excellent fibaro dimmers, directly operated by MK retractive switches.

    Please see this post... http://lightwaverfcommunity.org.uk/f...fibaro-dimmer/

    If you'd like to know more about my system, please visit the forum http://forums.bmslink.co.uk.

    You can also look at my live instance at http://bmslink.co.uk:8180 [guest:guest].

    I'll also be adding IR control in the next few days by utilising the SQ Blaster Plus

    Thanks

    Neil

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