I have just moved into my Grandma’s house. She is only here in spirit. Some say she still haunts the basement. The home was built in the late 1940s and everything in the electrical system is ancient and in need of replacement. At my old home I was using an old Intermatic HA07 controller with several GE/Jasco dimmers and a couple of old Intermatic wall wart dimmers. This got me by most of the time. At my new home I wanted to do more.
My awesome older bother has a massive Zwave system in his home and he was nice enough to present me with a VeraEdge home controller to use in my new home. So, I gathered up my old parts that I brought with me and some new pieces and went to work.
Here is a list of the new items I have for Grandma’s house:
1 - VeraEdge Home Controller
1 - Dragon tech WD-100 In-Wall Dimmer
1 - Dragon tech PD-100 Plug-In Dimmer/Lamp Module
1 - Aeon Labs MiniMote
1 - Domitech Zwave light bulb
1 - Schlage BE468 Lock
1 - Leviton DZPD3 Lamp Module
Here are the old items:
1 - Intermatic HA07 Controller
2 - Intermatic HA09 Hand held remote
3 - GE/Jasco in wall dimmers
When I got my old Intermatic wall warts out, they were no longer working. The plastic on these old first generation units had turned a nasty brownish color. So, out they went.
As Grandma’s house is an older home there were several challenges with the electrical wiring. In the basement room that was going to be my new theater room, there was only an old ceramic base with a pull chain mounted to the ceiling with no wall switch. The Domitech Zwave light was the perfect solution for this location. No rewiring or installing new switches with the accompanying new electrical wire. All I needed to do was replace the light bulb.
In the main basement rumpas room after decending the stairs you had to walk clear to the other end of the room to turn on the lights. I do not know what they were thinking when they did this. I can just imagine Grandma stumbled around in the dark looking for the switch. There are two different sets of lights in this long play room. For each set of lights you had to venture deeper into the darkness of the basement to turn on the lights. At least this would frighten curious children out of the basement. It was always fun when I was younger to lure my brothers and sisters to the back corners of the basement, turn off the lights then bolt for the stairs in the dark. Much screaming would ensure. These two switches and the stair light switch were a good match for my GE/Jasco in-wall dimmers. My new music room will be in the far corner of the basement and a good match for the Dragon tech in-wall dimmer. I kept all of Grandma’s old furniture and lamps in the living room. I installed the Dragon tech plug-in module on the North wall lamps and the Leviton on the South wall lamps.
After installing all of the modules I set about setting up the VeraEdge home controller. I simply plugged it into power, set it next to my router, and connected the VeraEdge to my router with the supplied ethernet cable. Done. Now on to the actual fun.
The instructions that came with he VeraEdge consist of a small trifold card with pictures of the power supply, controller, and ethernet cable with arrows pointing to them and a name. On the last page was found the contact information for support. One of the fold out pages directed you to the home.getvera.com website to setup your controller. Accessing the website revealed the login page. As I am a new User I clicked on the new user button. My network was then searched for a Vera controller. A list of controllers was displayed and I selected the one listed. This started a firmware update/upgrade. While this was proceeding I was able to setup my new user account at the Vera website. Once this was completed I was redirected to my local VeraEdge which automatically ran the setup wizard. Even though I had just setup my new account on the Vera website I was asked many of the same questions again. I suppose this is for users that have multiple homes using the Vera system in different locations. Once the new controller had all of the info it needed it moved on to adding devices.
The VeraEdge presented me with a nice list of different device types to choose from. I selected Dimmers and lights. The next list was of specific devices that Vera has compiled the instructions for. I selected the Domitech LED Bulb. The VeraEdge then presents me with detailed instructions for adding the device. In this case I was instructed to turn off the power to the bulb. After selecting next the VeraEdge starts a 60 second countdown and presents me with the instructions to turn on the power to the bulb. And let me know that the bulb should flash twice. This worked without a hitch. I then gave the new device a name and added it to a new room that I named Theater. The wizard then asked me if I wanted to move on to the next device. As I am not a wizard type of person, I opted out of this and went to the main menu system to try out my newly added Domitech LED light. From the main menu I selected Devices and I was presented with a list of my devices which can be sorted by room, type, and list. There it was, my new device. I turned if on and off several times from the screen. The response was very quick. At least as quick as turning on an actual switch. I tried dimming the light. So, far so good. The Domitech LED light when turned on was an instant on. I prefer it to slowly dim on. So, I tried to change the parameter on the device. After going into the device options menu and adding a configuration setting per the instruction that came with the Domitech light I set it’s parameter 1 to a 1 instead of the default 0 and saved then applied the changes. This should allow for the light to return to the last dim level when turned back on. This did not work. I will have to look into it further to see what I have missed.
I then proceeded to add my GE/Jasco in wall dimmers. After selecting Add Device from the devices menu I found that my units were not to be found on the list. I selected Generic Device from the list. The next screen then instructed me to refer to the manual that came with my device for the appropriate instructions for installation and inclusion into the network. After selecting next, the controller goes into include mode and begins a 60 second timer. I added all three of my GE/Jasco devices without a hitch giving them names and assigning rooms.
I then went to add the Dragon tech in-wall dimmer in my music room. After placing the controller and device into inclusion mode the VeraEdge failed to find the device. When I was installing the GE/Jasco dimmers I found that they were too big for the old metal switch housings and I was forced to replace the housing with new plastic ones that were deep enough for the dimmer. When I installed the Dragon tech dimmer it was not as deep as the GE/Jasco and the metal switch housing was a bit deeper than the others so, I did not replace this one with a plastic switch housing. So, after pulling the switch out of the grounded shielded metal housing I tried to add the Dragon tech dimmer again. Still nothing. After speaking with my brother, the Zwave expert, he told me that some devices after failing an attempt to be included that the device needs to be excluded before trying to re-include it into the network. This apparently resets the device. After doing this I was able to add it to the network without any problem. I then reinstalled it into the grounded and shielded switch box. Yes, it works fine on the network. The inclusion mode is the only mode that is hyper sensitive to signal strength. During normal operation the Dragon tech is having no trouble participating in the Zwave network.
While I have been adding devices I have not needed to move the VeraEdge from it’s installed location. In the past you needed to have the controller within one or two meters of the device you were adding. This made for a nightmare of having your controller connected to an extension cord with a long ethernet cable while dragging it around your house to build your network. Thank you VeraEdge!
I then added the Schlage lock to my network. I failed on my first three attempts to add it because I did not read the instructions correctly. I was trying to utilize a user code instead of the program code that came with the Schlage lock. My bad. When I was installing the lock I also found that the hole in the door was too small and needed to be cut larger for the new lock. After I put the batteries in the unit the instructions tell you to close the door and press the Schlage button. The Lock then does an auto calibrate to set the depth and position. Of course, I pushed the button before I closed the door so I could see if the lock worked. This required me to reset the lock and follow the instructions again.
Adding the Aeon Labs MiniMote was easy. It is included on the VeraEdge list of devices and Vera gives you all of the instructions for adding the MiniMote.
The old Intermatic controllers posed a bit of a problem. I still wanted to use them. Before I received the VeraEdge I was using my old HA07 as the primary and my HA09 units as secondary controllers. I had only installed my GE/Jasco in-wall dimers and the Leviton lamp module on this small network. I did try to have the VeraEdge copy the Zwave network from my HA07 unit so that I did not have to completely start from scratch on the network. I was able to do this but, the VeraEdge reverted to secondary mode and I could not fide a way to switch it back to the being the primary controller. So, I deleted everything and started from scratch. I was able to add my Intermatic devices to the Vera Edge. This copied the Network data to the old Intermatic units. The VeraEdge shows these units as “no longer connected.” These old units do not send scene/events like new devices do, they use groups to set up scenes. So, to use these old units I went around the house and added devices to the individual controllers groups to get them to turn on and off the selected lights. It was a bit of a pain.
In contrast the new Aeon Labs MiniMote was a breeze. I was able to build several scenes on the VeraEdge then assign the scene to the buttons on the MiniMote via the VeraEdge. I did have a couple of small complications. The MiniMote has 8 scene buttons. When you build a new scene on the VeraEdge and use the Add Scene wizard selecting the Device option, you can select the MiniMote as the trigger device. You are promoted for a scene number. It is asking you to select scene 1 thru 8 on the MiniMote. This is not very clear. Another problem occurred when you go into the Device settings on the VeraEdge for the MiniMote and enter the Select Scenes for Device Buttons section. Which allows you to assign scenes that you have already made to buttons on the MiniMote. You can assign the scene that you just made to the MiniMote at list location also. When you do this sometimes the VeraEdge creates a second duplicate scene. If you then go back and delete the scene the MiniMote still shows that it exists. Looks like a bit of looping going on. You can also add a scene selecting manual or schedule triggers. It seems to work better when making a scene just for the MiniMote to use the Manual option. Then after the scene is setup going to the MiniMotes device settings on the VeraEdge and adding the scene to the MiniMote using the Select Scenes for Device Buttons option.
I did have a more complicated yet simple scene that I wanted my VeraEdge to preform. I wanted to have my living room lights turn on when I unlocked the Schlage dead bolt using a valid code but, only during the night. I made a simple scene with two triggers. One triggered by my Schlage lock and a second triggered by a scheduled event set for after sunset. Well this did not work. This provided me with an logical OR, I need a logical AND. Triggers can be restricted to certain times when setting up scenes using the wizard. But, this menu did not allow for a nighttime setting. It only allowed for entering a specific set of days and times. After a bit of reading on the internet I was able to solve this problem. The VeraEdge utilizes Luup code. After finding a list of Luup Lua extensions on a wiki (http://wiki.micasaverde.com/index.php/Luup_Lua_extensions) and a couple of examples of Luup code, I came up with the following Luup code to preform the task.
if (luup.is_night()) then
It did not seem that I needed to do this in such long form. After all, is_night is already true or false based on wether it is night or not. But, I tried several shorter versions that did not work. I added this code via the little L symbol to the Schlage Deadbolt Device Trigger in the scene.
That gets Grandma’s house up and running. Look for more detailed writeup on each item coming soon.