Logitech Harmony Gets Z-Wave Home Automation: Are They Too Late?

Just announced: 4 new Logitech Harmony products with new features that allow it to interface with your Z-Wave home automation system. Are they too late?

Logitech just announced 4 new Harmony products with new features that will allow it to interface with your Z-Wave home automation system.  Finally!  This is something I’ve been trying to do for some time now.  But is Logitech late to the game?

According to Logitech’s press release,

With just a few easy steps your remote, tablet or smartphone can now control your TV, set-top box, speakers, lighting, thermostat, door locks, window shades and other popular devices. Plus, you can easily combine multiple devices into Activities to trigger at once so you can power on your TV, dim your lights, adjust the temperature and open your window shades all at the same time. You can start an Activity with one touch of your remote or mobile device, automatically on a custom schedule, or by passing a sensor. You can even trigger Activities from the Harmony Mobile App when you’re not at home.

Here’s some videos to share…

So let’s take a look at the new line-up…

Logitech Harmony Home Hub

This is the device that enables what Logitech is calling “The Harmony Living Home Experience”.  It basically receives commands from the remote and controls household devices via RF, IR, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.

It can be bundled with the Harmony Ultimate Home or Harmony Home Control or purchased separately for $99.99.

Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home

This is the new high-end remote that includes a 2.4-inch color touch-screen.  It allows you to integrate and control home automation devices and up to 15 entertainment center devices.

It will cost $349.99.

Logitech Harmony Home Control

This is basically the cheaper version of the Ultimate Home remote because it does not have the touch screen.  In order to use the features you would get with the touch screen, you would have to use the mobile app which connects to the Harmony Home Hub.

It will cost $149.99.

Logitech Harmony Hub Extender

Here’s where it get interesting!  The Harmony Hub Extender adds true home automation control to the remote and the Home Hub by enabling Z-Wave or ZigBee communication.

It will cost an additional $129.99 and won’t be available until December 2014.

My Journey with Logitech Harmony and Z-Wave Home Automation

I love Harmony remotes.  I’ve been using them for years and I’ve recommended them to many of my friends and family.  It was my first baby step into the world of home automation.  It allowed me to hit one button and all of my entertainment center electronics would turn on and set to the right inputs.

Then, I got into Z-Wave home automation and discovered how much more I could do with the rest of my house.

Failed Attempt to Have Harmony Control Z-Wave

At one point, I upgraded my Logitech Harmony 650 Remote to a Logitech Harmony 890PRO Remote in order to use the Z-Wave capabilities that were built into that remote (and only that remote).  I wanted to be able to hit a button on the Harmony and have it trigger a Z-Wave scene.

Unfortunately, the 890PRO was an older remote and the configuration application was so clunky and buggy, I was never able to get it to work the way I wanted.

Why My Harmony is Almost Obsolete

Later on, I figured out how to do the opposite.  Instead of the Harmony controlling Z-Wave, I figured out how to make Z-Wave control my entertainment center.

What that did was make my Harmony unnecessary.  I still use it just because it’s nice to have a physical remote.  But, I could do without it by controlling my entertainment center with my phone via Tasker and/or Yatse, or with voice commands to the Xbox One.

Is Logitech Harmony Offering Too Little, Too Late, for Too Much?

Too Little

It’s a little early to tell exactly what the capabilities are going to be, but it sounds like the Harmony Hub Extender is only going to offer Z-Wave protocol connectivity, I assume as a Z-Wave controller.  Will it also allow Z-Wave to control the Harmony Home Hub?  Or will it just be one-way from Harmony to Z-Wave.

If I were to guess, I think Logitech is trying so hard to be the center of home automation control that they are not going to allow Z-Wave to control Harmony.

I feel like this would leave me with 2 separate home automation systems that are trying to be the control center and I might have difficulty with 2-way communication.

Plus, why do I need this Harmony upgrade if I’ve already got my Z-Wave home automation system controlling my entertainment center?

Too Late

As I mentioned, the Harmony Hub Extender (which enables Z-Wave) is not going to be available until December 2014.

If Logitech would have come out with this a year or two ago, I totally would have been on board with it.  But, they are just too late for me.  Either that or I’ve been ahead of my time.

Too Much

If I were to upgrade my Harmony with Z-Wave connectivity, it would cost $280 – $580 before tax!  I’m sorry, but that’s a bit steep for me especially considering my previous points.

But maybe you’re reading this thinking to yourself, “But this guy already has all of this Z-Wave stuff setup.  I don’t.  Maybe I’ll just go the Harmony route.”  Well, in order to get any use out of the Harmony Hub Extender, you would need to already have a Z-Wave home automation system in place which costs money.

What About the Casual User Who Just Wants to Dabble in Home Automation?

Sure.  If you don’t care about Z-Wave, these new Logitech Harmony products give you some select devices that you can control with just one of the remote+hub bundles, and you wouldn’t have to buy the Hub Extender.  There’s no doubt that Logitech is making a great move into the home automation space and I’m sure the selection of compatible devices will continue to grow.

Question to Logitech:

If the Harmony Home Hub has Wi-Fi connectivity, why can’t it just use Wi-Fi to communicate to the Vera Z-Wave Home Controller over the network?  I know it can be done.  I’ve done it.

In addition, all you would need to do, Logitech, is develop a Vera Plugin that enables the Vera to communicate back to the Harmony Home Hub, and then we’ve got 2-way communication between both systems.

If we have that, then there’s absolutely no need for the Harmony Hub Extender, right?  Just food for thought.

12 thoughts on “Logitech Harmony Gets Z-Wave Home Automation: Are They Too Late?

  1. No it is not too little too late, we haven’t’ even reach the tipping point of home automation so the whole landscape is up for grabs (look at recent acquisitions). I currently use revolv but if Logitech added scenes and full insteon support (including parameters) I would consider switching. I currently have the Logitech smarthub in 3 rooms with the mini-remote, it works awesomely well and passes the wife test.

    1. Great point Alex. For power users like me, we’ve already go this stuff figured out, but for the mainstream, we’re waiting to see who stands above the rest. Logitech seems to have joined the race, and maybe they’re not off to a bad start.

      1. Yes, I have an 890 Pro which I got for the Z-Wave functionality, but I was disappointed to find out that it could only pair with Z-Wave lights directly to turn them on and off, but it could not communicate with the Vera to activate scenes. I would have to turn lights on one at a time, or setup a scene in the Harmony software to have the remote do exactly what the Vera does.

        It was 2 separate systems trying to do the same thing and neither of them would talk to each other.

  2. I recently upgraded to the Harmony Home Control from my 890 (wife hated having to charge the 890), and have started looking into the home automation features. As far as I can tell though, you still need a separate “hub” for whatever lighting system you choose. Then Harmony talks to the other hub via login credentials for that product. Any insight on this? Why can’t the Harmony talk directly to the Lutron or Insteon devices instead of working through the middle-man? Will the Hub extender (yet another hub) solve this issue?

    1. If you read my post, I said, “I feel like this would leave me with 2 separate home automation systems that are trying to be the control center and I might have difficulty with 2-way communication.” So, it seems to me that the Harmony isn’t going to communicate with the Vera, but instead would communicate to the Z-Wave devices. I could be wrong. If anybody finds out more details, let me know.

      1. Hmmm.. ok well i will have to do some more research on it. Ive browsed the amazon comments and i didnt see anyone using that feature yet. Then again i just skimmed im gonna look into it more. Seems like alot of people really dont care for it much maybe they will improve on the software side of it in the future. Ive put alot of time and money into my zwave setup the only thing i am really missing is a good remote for it. I use my phone but the vera app is really lacking. I hope to find out this is a good solution.

      2. Decided to use a Smartthings as a secondary and my Vera Lite as primary with Amazon Echo for voice commands. Works like a charm! Beats picking up a remote and using it even if it is a nice one like this

  3. I know I’m jumping into this really late, but some points may still need clarification.
    1. The Harmony, in its current incarnation does work with an existing smart home hub, SmartThings. At the time of this article, I don’t think that was the case, but it is now.
    2. The point in have a Harmony specific hub is to not have to buy into another system (IE; SmartThings).
    3. The reason they need the extra hardware, is because the current remotes only sport WiFi, which communicated with an IR blasting hub. This is because the system was intend to be controlled primarily via smartphone.
    4. This has been mentioned, but not entirely accurately. Z-Wave is not new to the Harmony remote family. The 890 (maybe others) controlled Z-Wave devices and scenes with a built-in RF transmitter.

    We need to remember that Vera is not the only player in this game. There are many cool things out there that work with one system or another. Not everything is going to work with Vera, just as not everything is going to work with SmartThings or Wink. That would be like saying, “Photoshop isn’t a solid product because it isn’t designed to run on Linux.”

    BTW: I noticed recently that my Harmony app is now showing a setup for the Hub Extender…hopefully that is a sign that it really is “coming soon.”

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