Zones and areas and scenes and profiles! Oh my!


Hi All

Sorry for the long first post. I’m quite happy to have found this forum! I have been looking for a place to discuss Z-Wave technology and have not had too much luck, hopefully until now.

I am under the gun because my wife and I decided to remodel our living room. Well, we had just remodeled the kitchen, so I was not too anxious but she enticed me with the promise of a surround sound system! To that end, I ended up with a Harmony 890 PRO remote, which led me to Z-Wave to control the lights.

Problem is, construction is supposed to start any day and I have almost no time to design the lighting scheme for the living room and select the devices to control them. It seems I can also use a thermostat, and that seems attractive as well.

So here I am trying to learn about Z-Wave. I used Leviton Acenti controls in our kitchen and could not be more pleased with them. I see Leviton makes the Vizia RF series (too bad no Acenti RF) but trying to figure out how they work has been a challenge.

I found this:

This page has the “Vizia RF Systems Guide” which is as clear as mud.

This guide discusses 4 concepts I am having trouble distinguishing from one another:


It appears that a “zone” is a device (switch, dimmer) or a group of up to 32 devices. When controlled with a “zone controller” the devices can be switches on or off, or dimmed together.

A “scene” is different in that a single scene has a group of devices and also a dim level for each device.

Okay, simple enough. But what is an “area” and how is it different than a “zone”? Also, the guide briefly discusses profiles, but I don’t think I caught on to what exactly a profile is.

Can someone please help me clear the cobwebs?
Welcome to Cocoontech. I don't actually know the answer to the question, given that I use software rather than the native controller functionality to control my HA setup (incl the zwave bits) , but i'm sure that functionality is great.

It seems to me that areas and profiles and stuff are all logical groupings, and if you're starting contruction, what you should focus on first is selecting the right hardware for your setup. Have you finalized that yet?
IVB said:
It seems to me that areas and profiles and stuff are all logical groupings, and if you're starting contruction, what you should focus on first is selecting the right hardware for your setup. Have you finalized that yet?
Thanks for the welcome and the reply! I agree that I need to select the hardware, but I don't fully understand what the hardware does, so that's why I asked.

For example, Leviton sells dimmers, a 4 button zone controller and a 4 button scene controller (among other things). I am trying to figure out what I need. I did a little more reading, and it seems that a "zone" is a grouping of devices while an "area" is a grouping of zones, but I'm not sure. I know a scene is a grouping of zones with present levels and I am guessing a "profile" is some kind of grouping of scenes.

So, if I have 36 lights all controlled by 4 dimmers, I can combine these into "zones" but I laid out the lights such that each 1000W dimmer can control what I want to be a single "zone." So in this case, if I understand right, a 4 button zone controller would be the same as 4 dimmers (although I need the actual dimmers for the zone controller to control - I would hide them to increase WAF).

Then I can use a scene controller for the scenes. I could put a scene controller in the same 2 gang box with a zone controller, as long as I don't need to use the IR remote.

The next question is, can I use more than one scene controller for the same devices, so that I can have one at each entrance to the room? If so, do they coordinate, so when I change the scene using controller A, controller B has the change reflected on it?

Then, can I also use software from my PC and, for another twist, my Harmony 890 remote? I think I saw there can be up to 5 controllers, but I am not sure what context "controllers" was used in when I read that.

So these are the kind of things I am trying to learn in order to select my hardware.

And, I have not even been able to choost the type and number of recessed lights yet. Selecting lighting makes Z-Wave look like childs play! We have 3, 4, 5 and 6 inch housings, different trims, MR16 bulbd, PAR20 bulbs, cclor tempature, beam spread... And, I have 20+ years experience writing software!
Ah, got it.Well, I can't answer your questions about multibutton scene controllers vs zone controllers as I don't use those. They look nice, i'm just not sold that they'd add value for me above & beyond what I can currently do via the software.

You can absolutely use software to also control, indeed that's what I do. In addition, I can also use my MX850 (URC's comparable product) by hooking up a USB-UIRT to the PC, and technically letting the PC control the lighting. The 890 would tell the PC to do something, and it would use something like the Intermatic USB stick as a controller to blast out the signals. I use CQC, but you've got a few options there too.

Before you get whole hog into multi-button controllers, think about using automation to avoid the manual intervention in the first place. For example, I use a cheap $2.50 magnetic switch mounted on the door of my closet that you can get from automatedoutlet hooked up to my Elk security panel. CQC monitors that switch, and if it's opened, CQC has the light turn on. Hence all I have to do is open the door and the light is turned on. I close the door and the light turns off. Heck, I even set it up so that if I leave the door open for more than 15mins, it automatically turns it off.

I'm not trying to confuse you further, but using that type of automation *could* alleviate the need for all those expensive multi-button controllers in the first place. You could save your $$ for the Elk :ph34r:
Leviton's stuff seems to very proprietary - see the thread about how Elk's Zwave device does seem to work with Leviton's implementation of scene/zone...

"Profile" is definately proprietary from what i can tell and it seems to just let you have different "groups" of saved settings but it seems to be only within the remote... The following threads may or may not help - but should help you see some of my own struggles with this "zwave enhanced" stuff

(specifically scroll to "Email from Lutron" in the last thread)