With the launch of Z-Wave Plus the possibility to update Z-Wave device firmware OTA (Over the Air) was added. This means that – theoretically – an end user can effortlessly update the firmware on their Z-Wave Plus devices.
Unfortunately, in the real world things are never that easy!
What is firmware and do I really need to update it?
Firmware typically refers to a small software program that is embedded into a hardware device. This software controls how the device behaves and it acts as a bridge between the Hardware itself and the Software the end user will see.
Firmware updates often fix bugs, contain new features or adds security to protect you from a newly discovered vulnerability.
In the past few years, we've all gotten used to regular firmware updates – from Smartphones, Tablets, TVs, even to Cars - there’s always something asking to be updated!
While it’s generally a good idea to keep devices up to date – especially if there are security risks involved - there are a few areas where we follow the golden rule: if it ain't broke, don’t fix it! This means that we advise not to update unless a firmware update will fix something that you're specifically not happy with, or to add new features that you specifically need.
How can I update Z-Wave Plus devices?
This is where the complications begin because it can require special software, a standalone Z-Wave controller or additional functionality built into your existing Z-Wave controller that may not exist.
Here are a few examples for popular device manufacturers:
Fibaro don't release the firmware files directly, only from within their own Z-Wave controllers - we've repeatedly asked them to change this stance but they won't budge.
While it's possible to use Fibaro controllers to update Fibaro devices, they don't support updating firmware on non-Fibaro devices.
Just like Fibaro, Qubino doesn’t seem to be too keen on sharing firmware files - again this is something that we've asked them to reconsider on numerous occasions. For Qubino devices the only option is to return them to the manufacturer.
Aeotec do release their firmware files to the public, but unfortunately not directly in a raw form that can be used in Z-Wave Controllers that support OTA updating.
Aeotec firmware is only supplied within standalone Windows PC applications, so you need a USB Z-Wave controller and a Windows PC to update Aeotec devices - not much use for a Vera or Athom Homey user for example, nor for somebody that uses Linux or a MAC.
Domitech do release their raw firmware files to the public, but unfortunately not many Z-Wave controllers support OTA updating!
Vera does support OTA updating, but not directly by the end user, only for certain devices that they implement the OTA updating function for. Recently for example they have made the Domitech firmware update available.
Can you do it for me?
No, unfortunately we can’t!
Device manufacturers are a bit too keen to suggest returning devices to distributors / retailers for them to update
Similarly, we're unable to facilitate any "man-in-the-middle" scenario where an end user returns their devices to the manufacturer via ourselves.
We’re not aware of any distributor / retailer (us included) that is prepared to do that due to the surrounding logistics and costs associated with either of these processes.
So, what are my options?
Obviously, this is a bit of a financial outlay but you can pick them up cheaper occasionally during our sales events, or perhaps via an online auction site - after all, they don't need to be in pristine condition if all they are being used for is updating firmware. This does then have the advantage that you are covered for updating Fibaro and Aeotec devices now and in the future!
The alternative is to ask the manufacturer themselves to do it – after all, it's not the responsibility of the distributor or retailer to provide a way to update firmware! Note however that this may incur charges, at the least you would likely be responsible for shipping costs.
Can I return the product then?
If the firmware update in question addresses a fault then customers are certainly within their rights to return the device under our returns policy and have it replaced.
That said, a firmware update that's released today might not end up in physical products in the retail channel for many months. Plus, most devices don't have the firmware version visible on the box, so even if we physically check each box we don't know 100% what firmware version is in the device. This means that there’s a chance that a replacement device may have have the exact same firmware version as the one that your returned.
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