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I’ve had a z-wave system set up in my home for about 2 years. Nothing fancy, a few lights and a couple of small appliances. I was using software (the old Homeport software for Mac) on my Mac Mini to run the whole thing, and I could access it remotely using LogMeIn, but this was somewhat less than ideal and I knew my new wife would never jump through those hoops. So when the Vera Lite came out under $200 I decided to check it out. Setup was fairly easy although it took a couple of router resets and Vera resets to get everything recognized on the network. I had to delete all the modules from the primary controller I had been using so I could add them to the Vera as the primary. If you’ve done this before it’s not too bad, and the UI5 interface with the Vera is easy to get used to.
I was hopeful that adding a couple of cameras would be easy, but it’s not. If you go to the micasaverde.com website forums you’ll see lots of discussions for workarounds for various cameras. The wiki lists cameras that are basically plug and play for Vera and others than can be made to work. Recently a popular Foscam camera that worked with Vera became inoperable after a Vera software update. It appears a workaround has been achieved to correct the problem, but the steps necessary are probably more than most want to hassle with for a system that is supposed to simplify your life. This is the problem I have with micasaverde all the way around – the software development seems to be trial and error with the customers as the guinea pigs. This is fine for small niche products, but if you’re entering the big leagues it’s time to tighten up your development operations.
I’d also like to integrate this with an alarm system in my home, but again the number of compatible alarm systems is very limited and the workarounds are cumbersome. I can’t imagine jumping through all the hoops to get it set up only to have something go wrong while I’m out of town, and my wife having to deal with it with two kids and her job. I think she would demand I trash the whole system when I got home and ADT would be there the next day installing their system (along with their monthly monitoring fee, which I don’t want to pay). As it is, I decided to keep the alarm system and the z-wave system separate. This requires double sensors on some doors, but so be it.
So overall this works well for controlling z-wave modules, and the iPhone apps (Vera and Square Connect) work very well – no issues at all. I’m less than happy with the compatible camera selection and disappointed in the alarm system integration options. I haven’t tried any locks yet, but that’s the next step – probably within the next couple of months. It’s simplified the light and appliance module control, so four stars. If a wide variety of cameras could be easily integrated I’d give it five.
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I struggled with whether to give this two or three stars. I gave it three because it really can be a great product. But anyone buying this should be forewarned — it comes with almost zero documentation, and the latest user interface is known to be buggy and difficult. I am shocked that a company producing a product that is potentially this good would provide so little instructions on how to use it. Operating even the most basic functions requires you to conduct research or just do a lot of trial-and-error work. The good news is that there is a very active user forum with plenty of people who try to be helpful. I’ve gotten stuck a couple times in setting up the Vera to control different devices, and forum contributors provided useful support.
As many people on the user forum have said — we would gladly pay more for the product if the company would hire a couple people to provide documentation and user support. When you do work your way through the set up, the Vera does what it’s supposed to do. From the research I’ve done, I haven’t found another product that has all of the features of the Vera and is relatively inexpensive. Before you buy, however, go check out the user forum at [...] to make sure you understand what you’re getting into.
I originally purchased an Aeon Labs Z-stick 2 and tried using open source software solutions to control my devices. I tried one that wouldn’t even load on my machine because it couldnt support 64 bit OS, and another that just lacked the out of the box functionality without spending some time to learn programming/code to get it working. While I do work in IT, and enjoy computers etc, with two kids I dont have the time.
Enter the Mi Casa Verde Vera Lite…I has a nice, clean polished GUI that makes life easy when adding or programming devices. Currently I have 2 dimmable plug-in modules controlling lights, 6 hardwired dimmers, one IR camera, and one motion sensor. Adding devices has been very straight forward, walk the battery powered Vera Lite over to the device, click a button on the device you are adding and you are done – literally takes seconds. Controlling the devices via the Vera is very simple as well, click on devices, then what you want to do to the device, ie on/off, dim etc. There are also several free apps that allow you to control your Vera remotely, via both Android OS and iOS, and you also have access from the micasaverde.com site as well.
I have had my scenes or rooms get screwed up once or twice, and reading through the Mi Casa forums it is not uncommon. I’ve also had to power cycle it once or twice when it would stop sending to my dimmers, but other than that its been pretty good. So bottom line, the Vera Lite does exactly what I want, control of my zwave devices with very little hassle setting up, nice GUI and allows remote access conveniently. Does it have some quirks? Sure, but the support on their forums is excellent which is another reason why I chose this device to control my zwave network. I look forward to buying more zwave devices and using the vera lite even more to automate my home!