Setting up a smart home command center with Z-Wave

Registering Z-Wave Devices

It is advisable to set up a password for the administrative user admin on the Z-Wave interface. The system then automatically forwards the user to the initially empty dashboard. The interface speaks English by default, although you can change the language using My Settings.

To teach new devices, you then open the gear menu again and switch to the menu item Devices | Add new. Z-Way lists a number of manufacturers of Z-Wave compatible devices. It is very likely that your device will not be listed; instead, press Add and automatically identify new Z-Wave device at the top of the page.

Now you can put the first Z-Wave device into operation. For example, you can plug a switchable socket into a socket on the wall or insert batteries into a Z-Wave thermostat mounted on a heater. Then switch the device to connection mode. With some products, this happens automatically in the unconfigured state; with others, you have to press a button for a few seconds until a flashing LED signals connection mode. For additional information, see the device's instruction manual of the device.

While the RaZberry module is in teach-in mode, its red LED is lit continuously (Figure 3). The adjacent green LED indicates successful data transmissions to a connected Z-Wave device. As soon as the light indicates success, press Start teach-in (inclusion) in the next dialog and wait until the teach-in process is completed (Figure 4). In Z-Wave jargon, the control center now interviews the device.

Figure 3: If the red LED on the RaZberry board is continuously lit as shown here, then the module is currently in teach-in mode.
Figure 4: To teach new Z-Wave devices, switch them to connection mode and launch the inclusion function in the Z-Way interface.

In the dialog that follows, you can enter the name of the new device and the designations of the various control variables, sensors, and actuators – with a thermostat, for example, the variables might include the target temperature, the actual temperature, or the brightness of the display lighting (Figure 5). The device can also be assigned to a room if a room has already been defined. However, this assignment can also be defined later.

Figure 5: After teaching, assign intuitive names to the new device, the sensors, and the actuators.

Dashboard

The Z-Way web interface is divided into four different tabs. Clicking on the house icon takes you to the dashboard, which is still empty in the beginning – more on this later. In the second tab, the Z-Wave devices registered with the system can be sorted by rooms, named as desired, and illustrated with your own photos.

The third tab lists all the actuators and sensors (Figure 6). The gear symbol displayed on each device takes you to the configuration. Here you can hide the device, add it to a room, rename it, or integrate it into the dashboard. This gives you quick access to the most important devices in your home without having to search for a long time. For a better overview, you can sort or filter the list by elements, tags, or chronological order.

Figure 6: In the overview, the Z-Way interface lists all devices connected to the Z-Wave network. You can also carry out actions manually.

The list can be used both to manage the individual devices and to read off their sensor values (such as temperatures or current power consumption) or to control the actuator of the device.

Expert Interface

If the settings options at this point do not meet the requirements, the URL http://RasPi-IP_address:8083/expert will call up an extended user interface (Figure 7). In addition to the individual switching options and sensor data, the user interface offers a great deal of additional information on the integrated devices. This includes, for example, details of the firmware version and the SDK protocol. As a rule, however, the standard interface is sufficient.

Figure 7: The Expert UI provides important information for problem solving. Experienced users will also find more detailed configuration options here.

The dashboard and the device overview now let you control and read out the integrated Z-Wave devices, but still nothing happens automatically in your house. To set up an automation, you first have to define your own rules or scenarios via the Applications item in the web interface's gear menu and, if necessary, set up external applications.

Z-Way breaks the view down into three tabs: Local contains the existing apps. Below this, the program accepts simple IF/THEN rules, schedules, or actions, such as dispatching email or push messages via external services such as Pushover [7] or Pushbullet [8].

The Server tab contains a kind of app store, which you can use to install further features, including, say, an astronomy module that lets you discover where the sun is in the sky, and control a blind accordingly, and a camera module for the Rasp Pi's webcam. You can also use this tab to update previously installed modules.

Note that both tabs initially list only a few featured apps. A complete overview can be obtained by changing the filter to the right of the search field to All Apps. Clicking on New App lets you set up the selected function. You can add extensions that have not yet been installed to the system by clicking Download.

The best way to explain how the apps work is to use an example: A schedule is created as a new app for time-controlled switching of an electrical socket outlet. In the next dialog, the app is given a name, the weekdays for the action are selected, and finally a time is entered.

After this, you can define actions, such as setting a dimmer, operating a motor, or setting a thermostat. In the case of a power outlet, you simply set the appropriate switch to On or Off. Click Save to complete the configuration. The app should then appear in the Active tab and should switch the device as defined at the appropriate time.

As your home automation system grows, so does the scope of the rules and regulations. Anyone installing many Z-Wave-compatible sensors, such as motion detectors, window and door sensors, brightness and humidity meters, smoke detectors, automated roller shutters, awnings, or even door locks will invest a lot of time in designing the rules. You therefore have the option to save the rules on a computer via the cogwheel menu's Management item and reload them if necessary. The same menu also provides the opportunity to create new users, update the RaZberry's firmware, or remotely access the Z-Way configuration interface.

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