My first days with a Zipabox
A few weeks ago, after having a shocking anual energy bill, I bought into the Greenwave solution offered by my energy company Nuon. I was not looking for a new hobby, I just wanted plug&play and insights and control. It was plug&play, no technical knowledge required at all, and it worked well. Both the hardware and the portal + apps felt well-constructed and had no bugs. It was also not expensive. The direct P1 connection to my Iskra smart meter plus quite a few single and six-socket powernodes gave me beautiful detailed graphs and control of my energy usage.
However three things soon started to bother me. First, the Greenwave product range was too limited and they would not support (allow) any Z-Wave devices by other manufacturers. I had a desperate need for a Z-Wave temperature sensor for controlling the electrical heating of our garden studio where I have put my mother in law :-). Secondly, Greenwave will not deal with end consumers. They want you to ask all questions etc to your energy company who sold the product. This was no good for me. Third, Greenwave only supports single user, no multiuser profiles.
So, what then?
Well, I deep-dived with Google into the exploding Z-Wave market. Fibaro's, Vera's, MiCasaVerde's, HomeSeer's, etc. etc. etc. For days I got completely lost and was drowning, I did not want a new full-time hobby and I did not want to spend a lot of money on my humble home project. Until I suddenly stumbled upon the Zipato. It was love at first sight.
Some people were saying they didn't like the idea of entrusting their home energy control and data to Croatians. I discarded that kind of silly prejudice immediately. One of my favourite most used time-saving tools which already for years I use daily at work, is a brilliant and unique piece of software from ... Macedonia! (Log Parser Lizard by Lizard Labs).
And anyway, do we so more trust the Americans, considering the Edward Snowden disclosures of the past six months? Dutch, Croatian, American, Macedonian, japanese, Chinese, whatever. A complete non-issue for me.
The Zipato box was new and affordable, looked innovative (especially the rules creator), supported all my Greenwave powernodes, it had multi-user profiles, it had a community forum. It also promised to be universal and future-proof. So I bought one, plus two Fibaro plugs, two Philio multisensors, and a Fibaro 3kW relay switch (for the infrared bathroom heating that people forget to turn off after use). The only thing I discovered I couldn't migrate to the Zipabox was the Greenwave energy meter plugged into my smart meter: it doesn't speak Z-Wave.
I gave my utility cupboard a makeover for this special occasion. I plugged in the Zipato, set up my account, fetched the firmware update, installed the Android app. I migrated all the Greenwave plugs, put up the Philio's and plugged in the Fibaro's. All in an afternoon. All were instantly recognised without problems by Zipato (well, I had to reset the Greenwave powernodes). Great!
I've been working with the Zipato now for half a week. It works well, with no hiccups so far. There has been a learning curve regarding the Philio's, but I finally got there with the help of Philio support. I needed to accept that their temperature reporting is limited to once every 30 minutes and only if there is temperature change of more than 1,7°C, which makes it rather unsuitable for a therostat. However, one of them is now functioning well-enough in a virtual Zipato thermostat, cotrolling by schedule the electric heating of the garden studio, keeping my mother in law warm (enough ;-)
I haven't introduced the setup to the family yet. It's too early for that. I realize there will have to be remotes and fobs to make it fool-proof usable in practice, (and avoid irritations and arguments).
I find the Zipato hardware very well-constructed. I find the software very rough on the edges, rougher than I had hoped for. But I suppose that will only get better very quickly. It will, won't it, Zipato? I miss the very slick intuitive software and lovely detailed graphs of my energy usage that Greenwave gave me.
I'm glad there is this forum, although it is one of the weirdest community forum platforms I've ever seen, with some very annoying aspects. Such as topic search hardly working, or working very "selectively". Keeping me logged in for 14 days not working. Losing posting text when needing to login after submit. Losing topic list sorting when doing browser back. I hope this gets better too.
I have three subprojects planned for the Zipato.
1. The Zipato will get the P1 data from my smart meter. It has been done I think. Probably with the use of a Raspberry Pi or Arduino. I'm thinking of offering money to anyone who would like make a plug&play solution for me.
2. The Zipato will also get the data from the Kamstrup meter of my distict-heating (Dutch:stadsverwarming), which measures GigaJoules consumed between inflowing and outflowing hot water. It has an infrared optical dataport. With this IR converter cable and again a Rasberry Pi I will get those readings into the Zipato. And again, if someone would like to make it for me I would offer money.
3. Make advanced use of the Zipato API for making Google Spreadsheets with fancy charts. And I think Google has more of that kind of thing to investigate... Or pump the data into some other cloud graph service. Pushover is a nice start!
Now, I have a final message for Zipato: I am horrified by the prices you seem to think you can ask for the extra services that you offer, or plan to offer. These prices are totally out of my reach, out of the question for me and my humble energy saving home project. If the prices stay like that (which I really doubt they can) and I encounter too many limitations without the extra services, then I will be just as quickly gone to the next (crowd funded) startup.
I really and kindly advise you to reconsider those prices and your imagined earnings model. It will not work with that pricing. Put in other words: with more reasonable prices you will reach more people and thus earn and grow more. Greenwave charges 2,95 a month for the portal + apps + api with no limitations. Just an example.