Troubleshooting Tips


Top 8 Z-Wave Issues (and how to solve them)

1. Z-Wave Device inclusion not successful - type A.

Possible inclusion range issue between Z-Wave gateway/hub and device.

Move gateway to within 10 feet of the device.

Exclude the Z-Wave device, then try inclusion again.

2. Z-Wave Device inclusion not successful - type B.

If you’ve gone through type A and still have no luck, consider the fact that maybe there is an incompatibility between your Z-Wave gateway and the Z-Wave device.

Z-Wave interoperability states that all devices must have at least basic function with any Z-Wave controller, but sometimes this is not true in the real world.

Lighting almost always works. Thermostats and scene controllers; not so much.

If you feel that you found something that doesn’t work, but it should, please reach out to the Z-Wave Alliance.

3. Z-Wave Door Lock performance intermittent.

Possible range mesh issues due to battery operated door lock.

Make sure there are mains-powered repeaters in the system, even if the range from gateway to door lock is short.

Door locks are battery powered, and do not repeat.

After adding repeaters (or making sure repeaters are healthy) perform the gateway’s repair function.

4. Z-Wave devices are slow to respond to commands.

This issue has a few possible causes.

One could be the nature of the gateway itself; cloud-based gateways need a lengthly communication process before your lights turn on with your motion sensor. Try Associations, if your gateway supports it.

Another cause of latency, or slow device operation, could be based on the number of devices on the network. The Z-Wave protocol will allow 232 per Z-Wave home ID. However, some of the lighter gateways slow at 40-50 nodes. Even the higher powered gateways will handle only 100 or so devices before clogging up. Plan ahead; if you have a large home, get a hub with plenty of computing power. Consider multiple gateways, and look to see if you can bridge multiple gateways together across a bigger space.

Environmental interference is less frequent with Z-Wave, since it has its own room to play, but sometimes devices can fail, or older non Z-Wave devices can interfere. The Z-Wave ToolBox makes quick work of this, but for a homeowner, an easy test is to shut off the power to all devices in a home. Turn the circuits with the gateway on first, then add circuits one by one and note the results. If you get all the way to the end of the breaker panel before the system slows again, you have to determine if you have too many devices, or if it’s that last circuit that hides the Z-Wave interferer.

5. Problems with plug-in modules and screw-in light bulbs.

Plug-in Z-Wave modules, and Screw in Z-Wave LEDs are great. They offer no-wire solutions for folks who want Z-Wave in their homes. Smart homes, without the installation work!

These devices are easy to plug or screw in, but unfortunately they are easy to remove. Countless Z-Wave troubleshooting calls were attributed to a spouse, child, cleaning crew or contractor who decided that the receptacle was convenient, or the light switch should be off. Z-Wave products require constant power. Each wired device acts as a repeater in the network. So, even if your husband saw that nobody was using the Z-Wave lamp module in the den, it actually was repeating a signal to lights and motion sensors in the utility room. Educate all household members about the importance of leaving Z-Wave devices be. Employ any screw tabs, switch covers, or blank-off plates, so that the Z-Wave system stays consistent.

6. Battery operated devices go dead ages before the marketing claim.

Z-Wave uses little bits of energy, so the radio signals are perfect for long battery life. So, what’s going on when the Door Lock batteries die every other week, or the sensor batteries show changing after only a few days?

The first thing to check with battery vampires is the environment. Cold kills batteries fairly quickly. Door Locks can benefit from weatherstripping on storm doors, or maybe the door is conducting cold inside to the battery compartment?

The gateway is the second biggest culprit in dead batteries. Constant polling to check a status will run down batteries well before they are due. Check with the manufacturer on the correct polling period for temperature sensors, or in the case of security sensors, make sure the wake up communication is working correctly. There’s no reason for your door/window sensor to communicate with your gateway saying, “still closed. still closed. still closed.” It’s the armed and open that you care about.

If your device has the ability to run under battery power, or via a power cable, always include the device to your gateway using the method you plan on using long term. If you include a multi-sensor next to your gateway using a USB cable, but then add batteries and move it to the garage, the sensor and/or the gateway won’t know what end is up.

7. Remotes and Battery Operated Scene Controllers constantly fail/unresponsive.

This is a little bit different from issue one, but may include a bit of issue two. Z-Wave networks like when they are static. The mesh network uses routes to communicate with various devices throughout the smart home. Z-Wave is savvy enough that, if once device fails, the communication will travel via a different route to reach its destination. Hence, the benefit of a robust Z-Wave network. A battery operated scene controller does not participate in repeating. It is quiet until the user wakes it up; either by pushing a specific wake up button, or by controlling a scene. The remote/scene controller could be somewhere different in relation to other Z-Wave devices when it ‘went to sleep’ after the last use. Z-Wave handles this well, but there are differences depending on the particular gateway. Our advice is to contact the gateway manufacturer and have them give advice for the gateway in question.

8. ToolBox

For persistent problems, you might need to get some tools. The Z-Wave ToolBox is a self-contained tool that enables the user to easily troubleshoot range issues, interference, or device placement in Z-Wave networks.

The toolbox is web-based (no software to download) and it works with any laptop, tablet, or even a smartphone. The toolbox contains multiple tools for testing network or environmental conditions, and new improvements allow testing by any user, regardless of skill level.