Here comes Mi Casa Verde, yet another startup manufacturer who aims to bring home automation to the masses – with an Internet gateway, PC software and the ability to operate hundreds of wireless Z-Wave devices currently on the market.
I figured it was destined to join its predecessors on the long road of broken promises and failed attempts. I could not have been more wrong. Mi Casa Verde represents a major leap in user friendly home automation.
Mi Casa Verde sent me one Vera hub, which acts as the central “server” to the system, a wireless IP camera, and a Schlage Z-Wave door lock.
Add this to my existing Leviton Vizia RF+ Z-wave network and you have a very complete home automation system.
Z-Wave is a wireless control protocol that has been implemented in hundreds of products including dimmers, switches, thermostats, door locks, motorized shades, garage door openers, keypads, sensors, remote controls and more.
The Z-Wave-compatible Vera is a compact unit about the size of a wireless access point; it comes with a Z-Wave USB dongle and built-in software.
It acts like a wireless router, a wired (4-port) router or switch and a Web server for all of the automation functions.
Installing the Vera Gateway
Setup was excruciatingly simple: I plugged the Vera into my existing IP network and plugged it into the wall. The Vera did the rest.
It automatically configured itself to my existing network, found that it was plugged into a router, so it shut off its own router functions, and enabled its Wi-Fi to allow both wired and wireless access to the Ethernet network. (I kept thinking there were more steps, but there weren’t.)
From there I accessed the built-in Web page from any computer in the house with a single address—no configuring IP addresses, no configuring the router, and no firewall settings to change.
I just typed - http://findvera.com - in my browser and the setup page appeared. Then I got another surprise, because in the corner of the page a YouTube video popped up and started walking me through the process.
The pleasant guide helped me with all of my settings, from establishing my Z-Wave network to adding scenes and automation tasks. You could not ask for an easier or more straight-forward way of doing what could have been a very complicated process.
After following all of the video instructions, copying the information from my existing Z-wave network and adding all of the rooms and devices (I have over 40 Leviton devices), I realized that I had spent less than 2 hours and I had finished all of the “heavy lifting”.
The only thing left to do was get the Schlage lock connected and the IP camera running.
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Avi Rosenthal is a former home systems integrator who has also worked for several manufacturers of home control systems. Currently he is principal of Evolve Guest Controls
, a firm that specializes in automated solutions for saving energy in hotels and other commercial establishments.