Migrating Z-Wave Devices to Home Assistant

As I shared in the previous post, my system was running Home Assistant but talking to my devices through the cloud integration to SmartThings. Node-RED was able to respond to events and turn lights and or off (in HA-land, this is referred to as “calling a service”) but these automations were not yet running locally due to the integration with SmartThings. My next task was to start moving devices over from SmartThings to the Home Assistant Z-Wave integration.

Moving Z-Wave devices was a frustrating exercise. It required putting them into exclusion mode, removing them from SmartThings, then putting them into inclusion mode, and adding them to Home Assistant. Many of my devices were first-generation Inovelli dimmers, which are excellent and reliable switches, but putting them into exclusion mode required exactly 6 button presses in rapid sequence. This is harder than you might think! Complicating matters was that these switches gave no visual indication as to whether they successfully entered exclusion mode making this even more challenging. Some of the newer models did a much better job here using a dedicated button that only required 3 presses as well as color LEDs to indicate the devices’ mode. Zooz devices also only needed 3 presses and used their monochrome LED’s blinking pattern to indicate exclusion - this was also fine.

Finally, the switches need to be moved over in a certain order. The Z-Wave mesh needed to remain intact so that exclusion of the devices would not fail, yet inclusion to the new HA Z-Wave mesh required that devices closer to the hub to be added first so that the mesh coverage area was steadily expanded. Fortunately, I had enough light switches throughout the house to support coverage of both meshes simultaneously.

Adding the devices to HA was also less than straightforward. After putting a device into inclusion mode, all I had to do was click “add device” from Z-Wave integration screen. However, way more often than not, this did not do the trick. I then had troubleshoot to figure out if the device had not been properly excluded from ST, or I had not pressed the button exactly 6 times for inclusion, or the “add device” button press had expired, or inclusion mode had expired, or some combination of the above. This took much longer than I had expected and I only had the patience to do 2 or 3 switches at a time.

One other "gotcha" surfaced during this migration. My newest switches were not in the database of devices that was included with HomeAssistant. HA ships with an old version of Open Z-Wave (v1.4). They do provide a beta integration with v1.6 but that did not seem like a great choice given its beta status and non-builtin integration method. Instead, I cloned the Open Z-Wave Github repository and copied the device files into my own HA directory. I then updated my HA configuration.yaml to use the new directory to look up Z-Wave devices by adding:

  config_path: <my new z-wave device directory>

to my configuration.yaml file. After restarting HA, my new devices and their capabilities were recognized by HA!

Eventually, over the course of several weeks, I successfully moved all my Z-Wave devices over to HA. However, most of my lamps, bulbs, motion sensors and buttons are Zigbee and still connected to SmartThings. That means automations kicked off my motion would still need to traverse the SmartThings cloud. My next step was to look into getting Zigbee running on Home Assistant. 

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