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More ZigBee Home Automation Info

ano

Senior Member
The Zigbee Alliance has updated their site in terms of support for home automation. Its still a bit obscure, but slowly getting resolved and defined, but don't expect it to be at a place where you can buy hundreds of interoperable ZigBee home automation products just yet. Anyway, it might be interesting reading:

http://www.zigbee.org/homeautomation

Today the ZigBee Alliance also released this info:

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Today ZigBee Alliance, a global ecosystem of companies creating wireless solutions for use in energy management, commercial and consumer applications, announced the certification of 17 devices from 10 manufacturers using ZigBee Home Automation, plus enhancements to the public application profile. ZigBee Home Automation is a standard offering control for home appliances, lighting, environment, energy use, and security. It provides a path to direct interoperability with other ZigBee public application profiles, including the industry-leading ZigBee Smart Energy.

Features now include new security mechanisms and support for doorbells and mechanized window shades, along with existing features including control of HVAC systems, power outlets, motorized devices, security and other devices. Product manufacturers will benefit from this standardized approach that makes devices reliable, affordable, easy-to-install and operate.
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So, this is a start....

I wanted to say a bit for those reading this that don't have a good ZigBee background. Unlike other home automation protocols you might have come across, like X-10, UPB, Insteon, Z-Wave, ZigBee isn't a product that you can go out to buy as a product. In all the above mentioned technologies, the actual technology was created for the purpose of selling products. X-10 sells X-10, PCS sells UPB, Smarthome sells Insteon, Zensys sells Z-Wave, etc. ZigBee isn't like that at all. ZigBee is an open standard being defined that companies will adopt and use for products, but at this early stage, just a few companies have adopted the technology to be used in a few proprietary ways.

The power of ZigBee for home automation will be stage 2, when the general home automation protocols are defined and companies can start producing interoperable products. Although its a slow process, I can tell you that it will be worth the wait, and things ARE happening. DON'T assume ZigBee is dead because its taken years to get to this point, this isn't unusual, it definitely is not dead. ZigBee WILL change the home automation landscape, but it also will take time. Just consider it's background and that its different from a product driven technology before you disregard it as not being meaningful for home automation. To date, millions of 802.15.4 radios (ZigBee radio) have already shipped to date, and this is before the full specs are even complete.

Disclosure: I am NOT associated with the ZigBee Alliance or any company that makes or sells ZigBee products.
I'm a wireless analyst that covers the ZigBee market.
 

electron

Administrator
Staff member
ano, after several companies making so much noise about ZigBee Pro, I didn't see a mention of it at all in this press release. Am I correct to assume that all these new certified devices are not compatible with each other? I am really impressed with the number of ZigBee products out already (some really exciting stuff), but I am surprised that they made this announcement, eventho the products aren't interoperable (unless the home automation profile now equals ZigBee Pro). I definitely appreciate your insight (and time)!
 

ano

Senior Member
ano, after several companies making so much noise about ZigBee Pro, I didn't see a mention of it at all in this press release. Am I correct to assume that all these new certified devices are not compatible with each other? I am really impressed with the number of ZigBee products out already (some really exciting stuff), but I am surprised that they made this announcement, eventho the products aren't interoperable (unless the home automation profile now equals ZigBee Pro). I definitely appreciate your insight (and time)!

It is my understanding that "ZigBee Home Automation" is ZigBee Pro, and this is the the announcement of the spec being introduced and the first products being certified, but you are correct, their announcement is very vague. There is a mention on their site that all "ZigBee Home Automation" products are interoperable, and that they are also interoperable with "ZigBee Smart Energy" products.

I've arranged to have a call with Bob Heile (Chairman of the Alliance) next week to get this better defined. Maybe I can even convince to join Cocoon Tech!! I'll update this post with all the information I find when I find it. Some of it sounds pretty interesting.
 

GraysonPeddie

Active Member
I'm interested in ZigBee Home Automation and there's one product that I didn't find that supports Z-Wave and that is the single-button device.

The one I'm interested in is "Button," which is located at the bottom of the page.

I found the website, AlertMe.com, and it's a home monitoring service, but what I saw in images shows me that it works with UK, and I'm in USA. I read through here in CocoonTech, I did a search and found this article from LinuxforDevices, which led me to AlertMe.com.

(Now, I wonder if I could bypass the Linux-based hub and have it directly talk to my Ubuntu server, but I doubt it... :))
 

ano

Senior Member
I'm interested in ZigBee Home Automation and there's one product that I didn't find that supports Z-Wave and that is the single-button device.

The one I'm interested in is "Button," which is located at the bottom of the page.

I found the website, AlertMe.com, and it's a home monitoring service, but what I saw in images shows me that it works with UK, and I'm in USA. I read through here in CocoonTech, I did a search and found this article from LinuxforDevices, which led me to AlertMe.com.

(Now, I wonder if I could bypass the Linux-based hub and have it directly talk to my Ubuntu server, but I doubt it... :))

I had a really informative call with the ZigBee Alliance today, and have lots a good info on ZigBee and I'll be writing more soon. Anyway to answer your question, AlertMe is selling certified ZigBee products, which means that any Alertme Certified device will work with any ZigBee system meeting ZigBee Home Automation specs. (AlertMe is located in the UK, and its designed to work there, at least in terms of 240V.)

But please also note, ZigBee and Z-Wave have NOTHING to do with each other, with maybe the exception that they both start with Z, and both use wireless Mesh networking. Neither works with the other.
 

signal15

Senior Member
Isn't AlertMe the company that sells a sweet product, but it doesn't really do a damn thing unless you pay some monthly fee for their service?

It's about $15 a month for service. How much does Schlage want for access to their Z-wave lock portal? How much are some of the companies that monitor power usage charging? How much for alarm panel monitoring?

The point is that this gets a little ridiculous after awhile. Sell me your product and give me a way to integrate/monitor myself. I don't need some silly portal that only works with your product. Some people might, sell the monthly subscription to them.

Maybe I'm wrong about AlertMe, but everything I've seen indicates that you have to buy a subscription to get *anything* out of it.
 

ano

Senior Member
Schlage, AlertMe, etc... If they require subscription services then I won't buy their products. :)

The great thing about ZigBee is that it is an open standard, so if you really like the AlertMe ZigBee panic button, for example, you could by that and use it with YOUR ZigBee Home Automation system from XYZ. Don't confuse a a company selling a system with a device. If I want to have an ADT system installed in my home, and pay for expensive monitoring, I can, but I also can take that ADT motion sensor, connect it to an HAI panel, and not pay ADT monitoring fees.
 

signal15

Senior Member
Schlage, AlertMe, etc... If they require subscription services then I won't buy their products. :)

Apparently the Schlage Z-wave locks work fine without the subscription. But they don't make that clear on the packaging or website. They want that monthly revenue that you'll forget to cancel.
 

GraysonPeddie

Active Member
So does that mean that I can monitor a door lock without a subscription? In other words, can I have a door lock linked up to a PC-based Z-Wave controller and monitor a door lock directly away from home (via a web server, for instance)?
 

Zanthic

Member
The great thing about ZigBee is that it is an open standard...

only kind of... it is open the way TCP transport layer is open but what you run on top of it may or may not be compatible so there is no guarantee that two Zigbee devices will work together, especially currently as the home automation standards are just beginning to be used and most companies with released products have proprietary methods of packing their data.
 

ano

Senior Member
The great thing about ZigBee is that it is an open standard...

only kind of... it is open the way TCP transport layer is open but what you run on top of it may or may not be compatible so there is no guarantee that two Zigbee devices will work together, especially currently as the home automation standards are just beginning to be used and most companies with released products have proprietary methods of packing their data.

No, this is not true. Initially, before the Home Automation spec was completed, some early adopter companies were creating their own proprietary means of using ZigBee for specific purposes. This still is possible, but any equipment which meets the ZIGBEE HOME AUTOMATION spec, signified with an orange circle and a picture of a house on it, will interoperate with other equipment meeting the spec. This isn't to say that even equipment meeting the spec can't have additional proprietary features, most will, but that piece of equipment will perform as expected.

So lets say you buy a home automation system that supports ZigBee Home Automation switches, then you can purchase ANY ZigBee Home Automation switch and be assured it will turn the lights on and off. Now certainly, if this was a Leviton system, lets say, maybe only Leviton switches had this extra indicating LED that meant this or that, but still the basic functionality will all be there. That is what is indicated by the recent certification announced.

I'll be writing more about ZigBee and the specs because there is some real interesting things happening that most of us here might not know about. Its almost finished.
 

Steve

Senior Member
Well I guess there are several ways to do that. I prefer the way you describe it. It seems Centralite's current thought is that (as announced) they will have 'HA' spec switches that will be strictly HA compatible. It will essentially be the Jetstream switch with a different firmware that is HA compatible. But, they will also continue to sell Jetstream as a separate line. Same exact switch hardware, just with different firmware and expanded options. Makes more sense to me to have the one physical switch and the firware would be low level HA compliant for the basic on/off/dim and all the extra LED stuff, etc would simply only work with their other stuff like bridge, programming, etc. We'll see.
 

signal15

Senior Member
So does that mean that I can monitor a door lock without a subscription? In other words, can I have a door lock linked up to a PC-based Z-Wave controller and monitor a door lock directly away from home (via a web server, for instance)?

Yes. I believe Homeseer and CQC integrate with the Schlage locks. There was another thread on it a month or two ago. Maybe someone with experience with those products could chime in.
 

Rupp

Senior Member
So does that mean that I can monitor a door lock without a subscription? In other words, can I have a door lock linked up to a PC-based Z-Wave controller and monitor a door lock directly away from home (via a web server, for instance)?
No subscription is required when using HomeSeer. I'm doing this now with HomeSeer and my new Schlage dead bolts and lever locks. You can auto lock the Lever locks but only monitor the dead bolts. One nice benefit is you can trigger events based on who unlocked the lock so now when the wife gets home her emails and voice mails are played over the whole house audio system. Here's a link to the locks. I also love the fact that if a door isn't locked HomeSeer reminds me of this when the bedroom lights are turned off. Here's a link to the locks with the latest firmware.
http://store.homeseer.com/store/Schlage-LiNK-C183.aspx
 
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