Vera Lite U17 is Crude but Functional

Vera Lite with the U17 version of the interface was my first z-wave controller. It is a low-cost controller that is popular on Amazon (at least in October 2014) with acceptable user reviews.

It is one of the worst computing products I have ever used and am now in the process of migrating to Zipabox (Zipabox is worse). As an early user of technical products, I am forgiving of missing features and poor functionality. The Vera Lite product is just amateurish with a poor user interface and crude usability.

Scenes and Modes Conflict

Vera has "modes" that act as presets for sensors and lights. It also has "scenes" that control devices such as lights based on events such as those generated by sensors. Neither "modes" nor "scenes" provide a useful way define rules for home automation. Worse, these two controls work against each other, causing confusion.

For example, I want an alarm to sound if an outside door or window opens during "Night" mode. During the day, I change Vera to "Home" mode. There is no way to switch modes without also switching the enable/disable state of sensors. My "scenes" depend on the enabled/disabled state of sensors, resulting in inconsistent and unreliable behavior.

Missing Core Functionality Available through 3rd-Party PLEG Plugin

Vera Lite only offers "OR" logic for triggering scenes. If you want to trigger a scene only when two events are true (such as front-lawn motion occurring at night), you need "AND" logic. That is only available through the PLEG plugin that is supported by a volunteer, but which is buggy in the U17 interface.

Multiple Screens Required for Basic Actions

Adding devices, defining rules (which they call "scenes") all require multiple steps through a slow user interface. The basic tasks I want to perform are tedious and slow in the U17 interface.

Dependency on Mi Casa Verde for Remote Access

Vera (as well as Zipabox) want you to use their servers for accessing the Vera Lite device in your network. Anyone capable in configuring this device will also be able to set up port forwarding on their firewall, but Mi Casa Verde instead wants everyone to log in through their servers first. This means that you are storing your password on MCV's servers in order to log into the box that is used to open and close your doors. This is stupid.

November 01st, 2014 Posted by Jon Jaroker Filed in: Reviews, zwave , ,

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