I Own 16 inovelli switches so far and 4 light strips as well as a few bulbs. Out side of that I have a ton of GE z-wave switches (the ones I’ve slowly been replacing with inovellis) I was going to buy the 10 packs to get some more GE replaced because I love the functionality of the red series dimmers and on/off switches. However, between this z-wave question and the price increase, (which I totally understand, my exemption went away in August and now I’m again paying 25% extra tariff on my products. I respect the way you guys are handling that) I’m not sure about what i want to do moving forward. I don’t want to replace everything only to move to a wifi standard sooner rather than later. So with CHOIP being worked out and companies like Amazon only putting in zigbee effectively giving z-wave the shaft, I expect hubs and z-wave to start to go by the wayside. While z-wave is great, I must admit the couple of WiFi switches I have in closets (where I don’t need a lot of functionality), are so eay to update, I really love the firmware upgrade process on my Wifi switches and sockets. So easy. I know all my z-wave stuff is way out of being current firmware because its a HUGE PIA to update this stuff. I have the PC USB link but for the life of me could not get it to work by joining it to smartthings and figuring out the hex and all that stuff. I can only get it to work by removing the switch joining it to the USB stick then upgrading then removing it and rejoining it to smartthings. clearly not going to do that on a mass scale. I try to update them when I first get them if they are not updated. Anyway, @Eric_Inovelli and @EricM_Inovelli What is invelli’s opinion on z-wave going away and WiFi projects like CHOIP (backed by some big players) and other similar projects all based on WiFi standards becoming the future. Also smarthings (samsung) is getting out of the hardware game (i.e hubs going away) and just focusing on software.
I just updated my red dimmer via ZwaveJS2MQTT in a matter of a few minutes, at least target0 (and I really didnt know what I was doing, first time using the add-on).
I’ll believe the promise of CHOIP when I see it. When you get big companies together, everyone wants the biggest cut of $$$, which leads to everyone spending their time fighting over who gets the $$$ as opposed to working on the tech. And what about privacy? Has Google done ANYTHING that doesnt involve them somehow getting more information on you (and Im a semi-heavy g-user).
I’ll keep buying Z wave and when CHOIP comes out, maybe end of this year, 2022, 2023??? Ill make my decisions then. And hopefully, if CHOIP is the holy grail, I can use home assistant to integrate it into my current setup.
they’re still saying the same stuff about CHIP as they have the past few years nothings changed. Until theres actual products on the market, its a pipe dream.
TLDR: Z-Wave will be around a while as it serves a purpose for alarm companies and heavy tech users. It’s one of (if not the) most secure protocols out there and CHIP will not replace it. However, for the mass market, CHIP will likely be the future (we’re banking on this ourselves as one of the lead guys is on our side helping us). But, there is a challenge of making all these big companies work together. It looks good, but you never know. Lastly, Silicon Labs owns both technologies (ZigBee/CHIP and Z-Wave), and I don’t think they would’ve purchased Z-Wave and continue to develop against it if they were sunsetting it.
Hey @Gtaz19 – excellent question and points. This is something we’ve talked about a lot internally and we definitely have a POV on it as it’s what drives our strategy moving forward.
In a nutshell, we believe Z-Wave and CHIP represent two very different markets. It may not look like it right now, but I believe it will become this very soon for some of the points you just made.
But there are two different points you make here that need to be unpacked separately:
- Is Z-Wave going to stay or leave?
- Will there be a need for hubs?
Short answer is: I don’t believe Z-Wave is going anywhere as it has a ton going for it (one of the most secure protocols, runs outside the 2.4GHz band, and is used exclusively by two of the largest alarm companies). Both Z-Wave and ZigBee are owned by Silicon Labs (Z-Wave was purchased a couple years ago and has been heavily developed against = 700 Series, Long Range, S2, etc). Also, just a side note, the ZigBee Alliance is actually the one leading CHIP (not WiFi). So, as you can see, both initiatives (Z-Wave & ZigBee/CHIP) are being developed and they’re being developed for specific purposes (IMO).
So what are those purposes?
I believe Z-Wave is being developed more for B2B/Commercial (this is why you’re seeing long-range capabilities added as well as security constantly being improved). Now, some of the B2C power users (such as everyone in this community) will continue to use Z-Wave due to it’s capabilities vs ZigBee/WiFi/BT, but the main target for Z-Wave is likely B2B/Commercial.
Whereas CHIP, on the other hand, will be what targets mass market. The big players you mentioned (Samsung, Apple, Philips, Amazon, Google, etc) all want a piece of the pie. And rather than pay extra for proprietary technology and lock people into their systems (this was the old strategy – doesn’t work except for maybe Apple – but even they are realizing that it will not get them new customers, only fanboys like me) they want to create something that is interoperable.
NET: Z-Wave = B2B/Commercial (Alarm companies, industrial) + Power Users, CHIP = Mass Market
Hubs - Will there be a need?
This is a tricky question. I think in the next couple years, the answer will be yes for B2C/Mass Market, and indefinitely yes, for B2B/Commercial.
Truth is, as much as I love Alexa/GH, they are no where near what a SmartThings/Hubitat/etc are. But, they have the manpower and money to catch up – it’s just a matter of time. Do they want to stick around and milk the mass market and leave the power users to the hubs? Idk. This is why I’m saying for at least the next couple years hub companies have time.
The tricky thing, and what can also limit B2C growth for hubs, is that there doesn’t appear to be a ton of margin for hardware unless you offset it with a monthly/residual fee to your customers. SmartThings was likely able to sell their hubs so low bc they were banking on getting people into the Samsung ecosystem where they could make their profits. But other hub manufacturers have to charge a premium as those margins are used to offset cloud costs, overhead, etc. This is where I believe Wink (RIP) had their issues. They didn’t charge enough, nor sell products to offset the monthly costs (your margins decrease almost daily on your customers one time hardware purchase) – this is why they tried (and are currently) to sell a monthly subscription.
Bigger companies such as Amazon, Google and Apple all have other products they can sell (or in Google’s case, data to collect on you for advertising) to offset their cloud costs.
This is also why you see Alarm companies charging a monthly fee and why hubs will still be relevant in the B2B/Commercial segment (people are used to paying these fees).
B2B/Commercial will likely never adopt GH/Alexa as their main hub, so this is why I’m saying that hubs will for sure be always relevant there.
NET: I do think timing for hubs is limited for the B2C/Mass Market (2-4 years or so) but they will always be necessary for B2B/Commercial.
Ok, so where does Inovelli stand?
We’ve had a lot of success with Z-Wave and will continue to develop Z-Wave products. The messaging for these will be for power users in the B2C market (ie: you guys) as well as B2B customers (this is why you’re seeing the 5-Button switch developed).
However, we’re also starting development on CHIP devices with a release in early-mid Q3. They will be launched as ZigBee devices, but the chipset within the switches is the same chipset that CHIP uses and you can update the firmware over-the-air once CHIP launches to be CHIP compatible. These products will be catered towards mass market and you’ll see messaging indicating that in our marketing. Things will be much simpler and easy to understand and digest.
NET: We’re going to play in both camps (Z-Wave and CHIP) and develop products in both channels.
Hope that helps?! Sorry if I rambled.
Appreciate the well thought out answer. I’m still surprised by amazon’s decision to include Zigbee on their 4th gen echos but not Z-wave as outside of wifi, z-wave is the most common switch before zigbee or BT, by a long shot, and they are interested in being the hub. As for hubs and B2B, being that most of these companies don’t work well together, a software like IFTTT that could run locally on a companies server so they’re less exposed seems like it would be able to replace a physical hub ( I guess that is kind of a hub though). on that note it does seem like we’ll eventually be paying monthly fees for most of this stuff which is why these companies would want to remove the hub. If everything is in the cloud, then they can make you pay for access to features of the hardware you own. less likely to be able to do that with things running locally. As samrthtings has handed off their hub making to a third party and no longer going to be making smartthings sensors, outlets ect. I find myself more and more interested in trying out hubitat. I believe you are a smartthings user as well @Eric_Inovelli, are you considering a change or is it something you have even thought about?
He’s been converted!
Yeah, I was kind of bummed about this as well. But, I think they likely made that decision bc Philips Hue is a powerhouse in the industry and they use ZigBee. ZigBee also costs a decent amount less than Z-Wave from a hardware standpoint.
You’re definitely right in that Z-Wave switches are more common than ZigBee/BT, however (and I didn’t realize this until I visited our manufacturer) smart bulbs outsell switches by a long-shot. They don’t require you to wire anything and it’s much less intimidating to screw in a bulb than to wire a switch. Plus, most people start with bulbs (me included). So, AMZ likely based their decision on what protocols are in most smart bulbs, and that would be WiFi and ZigBee (Z-Wave is super niche when it comes to bulbs).
Just my guess!
Yeah that would be interesting! What we’ve seen is that in B2B, these companies typically stick to one protocol and that’s often Z-Wave. In other words, they treat how they enter the market much differently than we do in that they don’t piece things together, rather, they want a kit that’s ready to go and tested so they’re not tinkering around.
Yeah, I was a ST user up until about a year ago (maybe less, I can’t remember). ST was great and I had it for a couple years. Sometimes I wish I stayed tbh. Currently I have Hubitat and there’s definitely pros/cons to both. It’s hard for me to take a public stance one way or another as they’re both partners of ours and the people at each company are incredible and passionate about what they do.
What I’ll say is this: Both companies have an incredible community and very talented engineers working behind the scenes to improve their product. While Hubitat holds the edge now with their local control and OTA updating of Z-Wave, ST is right on their heels and has announced they’ll be adding those features (even though they’re out of the hub hardware market). ST also has a great app and user interface, something Hubitat is working on.
While ST may be out of the hardware business, they are still actively developing their firmware and licensing it out to hardware companies (we’ve even talked to them a bit about this). My guess is they were tired of using their hub as a loss leader and/or way to get people into the Samsung ecosystem in hopes they’d buy an appliance or something, so they just said, “screw it – we’ll let someone else sell the hub and hopefully they’ll make money”.
In terms of what do I want to do moving forward with my house and which hub I’d like to use or not use? Well, I think you’ll see some cool Inovelli stuff coming out in the coming year
I too started with Hue bulbs, the day they showed up at the apple store back in 2012 I dropped the $300 on the starter pack and within a month I had (very expensively) replaced every light I could in my apt. I think around 20 at the time including the 3 in the starter. Even took 1 apart and soldered it to a light strip in order to make a light strip which no one had at the time. I made a youtube video back then about doing that Light strip vid. Now I’ve basically maxed out my Hue hub capabilities and still have a bunch of hue bulbs and strips in their packaging collecting dust.I’ve now got a bunch of Wiz (phillips version) bulbs and strips around as well as a few inovelli bulbs. I lived right outside of DC in 2013 when smartthings was lunching on Kickstarter and used to go to their events and to their HQ a few times to hang out. That was a really fun time when they were getting going (before they moved to CA due to Samsung). they had such cool working concepts that to this day have not been implemented. experiments in software and hardware everywhere. so to your point I started with bulbs and the only reason I got into smart light switches is to prevent my Wife from turning off my smart bulbs breaking my access to my lights. I even used a automation to automatically turn on a light that was turned off. so the second you turn it off it would just flip back on (worked 75% of the time). Drove my wife and inlaws crazy, lol. Once I saw I could turn off the relay on the invelli switches I was sold, everything else which is awesome was just gravy.
Great write up from both of you, thanks!
I’ve put a stop on buying more z-wave devices based on them being high maintenance and increasingly expensive. Frankly I find the current offerings overly complex for my needs (but very elegant)) and just want local scene control plus physical dimmers.
Currently waiting to see what comes out on the zigbee side and the price point. In the UK and Europe there’s increasing supply though Aldi and other stores at great prices’ as well as Ikea.
Best of luck Eric.