Choosing a Smart Home Controller is very much like buying a car - the decision to choose a particular manufacturer is only the first choice you have to make, after that there's a bewildering array of models and options on top!
Vera Controllers include an intuitive User Interface (UI) featuring a stylish "overview" page that gives you a birds-eye-view of device status. And, with Wizard based "Getting Started", "Device Pairing" and "Scene Editing", Vera provides a gentle start to setting up your Smart Home.
Unlike others, Vera doesn't reduce software features and functionality across their range of Controllers - so you get the same capabilities in all Vera models, with the only differences being purely hardware related. Vera also boasts one of the most comprehensive lists of compatible devices, with thousands of devices from hundreds of different manufacturers supported.
|Feature||Vera Edge||Vera Plus||Vera Secure|
|Graphical / Wizard Based Scene Editor|
|LUA / LUUP Scenes|
|Virtual Devices - IP Strings|
|Virtual Devices - LUA / LUUP Based|
|Android Wear Support|
|Alexa Voice Assistant|
|Siri (via iOS App Shortcuts)|
|Number of Plug-Ins / Apps||Not limited||Not limited||Not limited|
|Recovery / Backup||Vera Cloud & Local Download||Vera Cloud & Local Download||Vera Cloud & Local Download|
|Bridge (Linking Controllers) Capability|
|Home Automation Support|
|Z-Wave Plus (868.4MHz)|
|Recommended No. of Z-Wave Devices||up to 232||up to 232||up to 232|
|Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)|
|IP Camera Support|
|Processor (CPU)||Single-core MIPS (600MHz)||Single-core MIPS (880MHz)||Dual-core MIPS (880MHz)|
|Ethernet||10/100 Base-T||10/100/1000 Base-T (Gigabit)||10/100/1000 Base-T (Gigabit)|
2.4GHz / 5GHz
2.4GHz / 5GHz
|3G / 4G||
not yet supported in the EU
|Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)|
|Built In Siren / Alarm|
|Built In Battery Backup|
|Dimensions ((LxWxH)||116 x 80 x 31mm||198 x 128 x 33mm||225 x 147 x 48mm|
|- Features such as Android Wear and Siri Shortcuts may require third-party Plugins / Apps.|
What do these differences mean?
All of the current Vera Smart Home Controllers will run your Home Automation system with stability and reliability and, as mentioned previously, the software features and functionality aren't limited in any way across the different versions.
However, the Vera Secure and Vera Plus versions do give you much more flexibility when using other technologies such as ZigBee and Bluetooth Low Energy, either now, or in the future.
In the case of the Vera Secure, as the name implies, it is also the perfect base for building a security system for your home with more than enough performance at hand to carry out the mixed roles of Smart Home Controller and Alarm System.
General Software Features
Remote and Mobile Access
You are able to control the system from a smartphone, tablet or computer whether you are at home or away. Android Wear support (provided from a third-party Plugin / App) also allows scenes to be quickly run from an Android Wear Smartwatch.
Alexa and Google Assistant are both available for all three of the Vera Controllers, with the integrations being improved upon all the time.
Alexa has a Smart Home Skill that offers basic functionality such as"Alexa, turn on the light" and "Alexa, raise the blinds".
Google Assistant and the Vera Controllers work together to make your Smart Home even more convenient to use! With the Google Assistant integration you can control lights, thermostats, scenes and more, all without lifting a finger.
Siri voice control is also supported, but only via Siri "shortcuts" (provided from a third-party Plugin / App) at this time.
Bridge (Linking Controllers) Capability
Several Vera Controllers can be used together to create much larger systems than possible with just one. Using two or more Vera Controllers allows you to have more than 232 Z-Wave devices on the whole system and you can configure your system to maximise Z-Wave network access by locating the Vera Controllers in different parts of the building.
When implementing a system to have more than one Vera Controller, you can also configure bi-directional bridging so that no single Vera Controller is the "Master", but instead they each have direct access to their own devices and remote access (via the Ethernet network) to devices on the other Controller.
The Geolocation feature uses the location based services on your smartphone. When you are within a pre-determined range of your home, this can trigger scenes to run. For instance, a heating scene could be triggered when you are 5 miles from home, or an outside light scene when you are just arriving home. This is available in all the Vera Controllers.
There are a vast array of Plugins / Apps available from both Vera themselves and from third-party developers. These Plugins / Apps help provide support for external systems, such as Philips Hue, Sonos, IFTTT and Yamaha. Plugins / Apps allow you to do more advanced things without needing to develop your own code.
While there is no real limit to the number of Plugins / Apps that can be installed, you may see the performance of the Vera Controller affected if you run too many! Bear in mind the CPU and Memory specifications mentioned previously - if you are planning to run a lot of Plugins / Apps then it would be worth considering the higher specification of the Vera Secure.
Recovery / Backup
All Vera Controllers can have regular backups, and in the event of an issue, can recover previously saved versions of software and configuration. Backups are stored in the Vera Cloud and can also be downloaded locally.
A unique feature to the Vera Controllers is the ability to be able to separate the backup of the Z-Wave network from the more general settings - this can help if you wish to have a fresh start with your settings and configuration, but want to avoid having to add all your Z-Wave devices again!
Home Automation Support
Although all of the Vera Controllers will support a full Z-Wave network, it is also a good idea to look at support for other technologies as this enables you to choose from a wider selection of products going forward.
All the Vera Controllers use a Z-Wave Series 500 chip, so they are a full Z-Wave Plus device and will therefore experience all the improvements that the Z-Wave Plus protocol implements.
The extended features of Z-Wave Plus include increased range (up to 150m), greater battery life, more available RF channels supporting higher bandwidth communications, standardised methods for Over-The-Air (OTA) firmware upgrades amd improved self-healing, fault tolerance and diagnostics on the Z-Wave network.
ZigBee HA (Home Automation Profile) is a popular technology used my many products. It has been very popular in the US for a number of years, and although Europe has been slow to adopt it, we are seeing more and more European centric ZigBee devices coming to market. The Vera Secure and Vera Plus Controllers both support the latest ZigBee HA 1.4 profile.
Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) devices can be controlled directly from a mobile phone or tablet (or computer) that will support these Bluetooth protocols. This makes them very easy to install and configure - a true plug-and-play experience. With the Vera Secure and Vera Plus you can also integrate them into your Home Automation system and use them alongside any Z-Wave or ZigBee devices you also have.
This is a new interface in the Vera Secure Controller that will enable you to directly control 433MHz-based devices. Currently this is limited to Vera's own VeraLink 433MHz devices, but will hopefully be expanded to support different manuafacturer devices at a later date via a software update.
IP cameras are supported by all the Vera Controllers and the Vera UI includes wizards for many popular camera types, as well as generic camera support. Vera also offer the Vera Sentinal service for cloud storage of video and automatic triggering of the IP cameras.
Other than the technologies supported, there are some key differences in the hardware between the Vera Controllers. Some will affect the performance of your system, and others will give you extra features.
The CPU (or Processor) is the Controller's engine. The faster it runs, the faster your system will run. Importantly, the Vera Secure features a Dual Core 880MHz CPU - this allows it to run two processes at any time incredibly quickly.
The other aspect of the hardware that affects performance is memory. The memory is split into two types - NAND Flash and RAM. The basic rule (as for computers) is that the more memory the better, and you can never have too much!
- NAND Flash - This is permanent memory, it holds the main Controller software and details of all devices, scenes, and programs for your system.
- RAM - this is used when the system is running. The more RAM available, the more things the Controller can do at the same time. This translates into allowing it to run more devices, run more scenes and allow it to run quickly regardless of what you ask it to do.
The Vera Secure has the most memory, which means it will be able to support more devices and scenes, whilst running very quickly.
The current Vera Controllers can act as either WiFi Clients (so you can connect them to your home network via WiFi instead of Ethernet), or as a WiFi Access Point. This means that they can be used to extend your WiFi coverage, but in this case they would need to be connected to your home network using Ethernet.
The Vera Secure and Vera Plus support the fastest 5GHz 802.11 ac protocols.
3G / 4G
The Vera Secure also includes integrated 3G / 4G, however, this is currently unavailable within Europe. Note - the Cellular communication requires the Vera Protect security monitoring service which is currently not released Europe.
All Vera Controllers have USB support enabling them to be expanded. A USB memory stick can be used to provide more storage space for extended troubleshooting logging and the RFX Transceiver can be used to communicate with a huge range of 433MHz-based devices.
Siren / Alarm
The Vera Secure includes an integrated loud siren. This siren will sound when activated acting as an internal house alarm. This makes it much easier to implement a security system without needing extra devices.
Back-up batteries enable the Controller to continue running for a while if there is a power cut. This is an essential feature if you plan to use the Vera as part of your security system. The Vera Secure has an integrated battery that keeps it running for at least 30mins, there is also an optional external battery available for the Vera Plus and Vera Edge.
So ultimately which Vera Controller would Vesternet recommend?
As we've mentioned previously, this is really down to the specific requirements of each customer, but based on our experience we would say that the Vera Plus is currently the best choice for a number of reasons:
- The Vera Edge has historically proven to be underpowered for most customers, with most needing to upgrade to a more powerful model within a few months as their Smart Home system expands.
- The Vera Plus strikes a nice balance between price and hardware specifications, supporting both Z-Wave & ZigBee technologies with both WiFi (2.4Ghz and 5GHz) and Gigabit Ethernet built in. It has a more capable CPU than the Vera Edge and double the RAM.
- While the Vera Secure is undoubtedly a very capable Controller, it does come at a premium as it includes features such as 3G / 4G connectivity, VeraLink 433MHz technology compatibility and an internal siren / battery backup. Some of these features aren't applicable for the UK / EU market so it doesn't really make sense to pay extra for them!
- The majority of other customers are choosing the Vera Plus over the other versions.
Getting Help and Advice
Hopefully this guide has helped clarify the main differences between the Vera Controllers and what they mean in actual real-world use. If you need any further help or advice, contact Vesternet and we will answer all your questions.