A: Extremely secure. The Z-Wave security implementation was created by a consortium of companies, known as the Z-Wave Alliance, that includes many large, security-conscious companies such as major lock manufacturers. This system incorporates 128-bit encryption, among other security measures. We have not heard of any security vulnerabilities or exploits. (For more info, we have a forum at forum.micasaverde.com dedicated to security concerns.)
Q: What is the range of my Vera Controller, and can I extend it?
A: Approximately 25 to 30 feet and "yes" are the quick answers. "It depends," is the more accurate answer. Keep in mind that Vera uses at least two wireless communication systems: Z-Wave for most non-camera Devices, and Wi-Fi for wireless cameras. So the range for cameras may be different than for door/window sensors. With Wi-Fi, the range is the same as for everything else that uses Wi-Fi in your home or office -- if you can use a laptop or smartphone with Wi-Fi from a particular location, then your Wi-Fi camera will also work there. When needed, you can add a Wi-Fi range extender to get cameras working from outside the normal Wi-Fi range. With Z-Wave, the "official" range is supposed to be about 100-feet (30-meters) but that's under ideal conditions in an open field. In reality, materials that are in the signal path limit Z-Wave range:
· Each wall or obstacle (such as refrigerator, big screen TV, etc.) between the Controller and a Z-Wave Device will reduce the maximum range by approximately 25-30%.
· Brick, ceramic tile, granite, concrete walls, metal walls, mirrors and smoked glass block Z-Wave signals more than walls made of wooden studs and plasterboard (drywall) or clear glass or plastic.
· Wall mounted Z-Wave devices installed in metal junction boxes will suffer a significant loss of range (approximately 20%) since the metal box blocks a large part of the Z-Wave signal.
· All Z-Wave Devices that plug directly into an AC wall power outlet, such as dimmers and smart switches, act as "repeaters". You can also buy a repeater as a standalone accessory Device. If a Z-Wave Device does not appear to be communicating with the Controller, try plugging in a repeater approximately half way between the Device and the Controller.
Q: Can Vera work without the Internet?
A: Yes. Your Vera system works all the time, even when your Internet service goes down. Of course, without the Internet you won't have remote access to your Vera system. However, the system will continue to work. (If equipped with "cellular backup" capability, your Vera system can also send out text and/or email notifications without Internet.)
Q: Why does Vera use different communications systems?
A: To maximize compatibility. Our philosophy is quite simple: We think you should be able to choose whichever brand and model of thermostat you want, whichever door lock you want, and so on. Having a smart home should not mean that you are stuck with a limited selection of Devices that will work with your system -- with Vera, you can use any Device you want, from any brand. As the universe of unique home control Devices continues to expand, this Vera strength will enable you to keep adding to your system.
Q: What's the difference between Z-Wave and Wi-Fi, and what's Zigbee?
A: These are different communication protocols. Our two mainstay communication systems, which are available on all Vera Controllers, are Z-Wave and IP (Internet Protocol, as used in Wi-Fi and LAN connections.) Most security sensors such as motion detectors and door/window sensors use Z-Wave, because it requires very little power, running on a small battery for a year or more, it has excellent security built-in, and it's very robust (technically, Z-Wave is a "mesh network" with built-in redundancy that ensures signals get through.) Most cameras use Wi-Fi/LAN IP connections because they provide the bandwidth (number of bits per second) needed to send video signals. Depending on your Vera Controller model and/or optional accessories (often called "bridges"), you can also control Devices using Zigbee (another low-power mesh network technology) and Devices that use other home control communication protocols.
Q: Can I move my Vera system?
A: Yes. You don't have to worry about disconnecting your Vera Controller from power for a long period of time. All your settings will be maintained. When you're ready to install the system in your new home or office, you'll find that all your Devices are still "paired" and recognized by the Controller. You may need to re-name some Devices if you move them to different rooms and different locations than where they were previously. (When moving the system, it's also a good idea to let the Z-Wave network re-establish communication links between Devices, this "repair" option is in the Settings menu under "Z-Wave Settings".)
Q: Why isn't there a control panel, as on other security systems?
A: To save money, without sacrificing convenience. If you want a wall-mounted security panel, such as found on traditional alarm systems, you can add one. Vera is fully compatible with many accessory control panels from a variety of manufacturers (look for those using the Z-Wave protocol.) With Vera's mobile apps, however, you have several advantages over a traditional panel, including the ability to control things from outside the home -- and best of all, they're free!
Q: I don't like having to use my phone or computer or tablet just to change Modes or dim a light remotely -- is there any easier way to control things?
A: Yes, get a key fob. An accessory Z-Wave key fob looks similar to a car key fob, and can be used while you're home to control any aspect of your Vera system that you want -- to unlock and lock doors, dim or switch lights, adjust the thermostat, even change Modes.
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