Setting up a smart home command center with Z-Wave

Controlling the Z-Way Server

During the installation of the Z-Way software on the Raspberry Pi, the installer imports a service into the system. If the Z-Way configuration interface cannot be reached or the service reports an error, you can query the status of this service via the terminal in Debian-typical style (Listing 2). If required, the service can also be stopped or started in the same way (Listing 3).

Listing 2

Server Status

 

Listing 3

Restart

 

The start-stop script proved to be important during the test. Although the service launched after rebooting the Raspberry Pi (you could log into the web front end), it did not list any devices, even though they were still present before rebooting. As soon as you restart the service while Rasp Pi is running (restart), Z-Way lists the lost devices again.

In order to analyze problems that cannot be solved at first glance, it is always worth taking a look at the service logfile z-way-server.log in the /var/log/ directory (Listing 4). The log contains numerous bits of information about events during start-up and operation – including incorrect login data for external services, the failure of Z-Wave devices, or bugs in the program itself. In addition, the aforementioned Expert user interface is useful for finding errors.

Listing 4

z-way-server.log

 

Z-Way Apps

You don't necessarily want to start the PC for every action in your home, especially considering that you always have a computer at hand in the form of your smartphone or tablet. In the Android and iOS app stores, you will also find various apps that are based on the extensively documented Z-Way API and enable you to control your smart home via your mobile phone. In addition to the two official apps, Z-Way for Android users and ZWay Home Control for iOS users, there are a number of alternative applications, including the Z-Way Control app, for example.

In our test, however, the Android apps in particular did not make a convincing impression. At the time of testing, the official Z-Way app for Android was unable to log on to the server software due to a change in the authentication method. Despite correct access data, the app only reported Can't connect!.

The alternative app Z-Way Control made it possible to log on, but this app only displays the web interface used on the PC in a web view. The advantage of the application is that it loads parts of the website locally and saves data volume during access via a mobile Internet connection.

Conclusions

If you want to use a Raspberry Pi as your home control center and integrate Z-Wave devices into the installation, you will need the RaZberry board or the UZB stick. The RaZberry is particularly well-suited, because the installation requires hardly any time or effort, the costs are kept within limits, and the USB ports remain free for other applications. The UZB offers the advantage that the GPIO of the Raspberry Pi remains usable for other tasks, and the stick also works well on conventional computers.

The Z-Way server is an easy way to get started, since the software can be installed without a great deal of Linux knowledge and even more complex tasks can be easily configured in the web interface. For this, however, you have to be satisfied with Z-Wave devices only – integrating devices from other Smart Home standards is not possible with Z-Way.

In case of problems, you can get help either from the official support or from the Z-Wave.Me forum. Developers will find good and detailed documentation for the module and the APIs provided by Z-Way on the RaZberry homepage.

In addition to FHEM, there are other open source home automation solutions that support the RaZberry and Z-Way as interfaces. These solutions include OpenRemote and Freedomotic. However, for anyone who values the broadest possible support for a variety of services and protocols, as well as a broad and committed community, it makes sense to integrate the RaZberry with FHEM.

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