How smart can one home be? Vera thinks your home can be extremely smart. So smart, Vera has created an entire line of smart home controllers with different features and price ranges for a wide variety of needs and budgets.
Each of the smart home controllers in the Vera lineup control a large number of devices, ranging from light bulbs to thermostats, automatically turning the devices on and off as members of your household enter and leave. But how do you determine which of Vera smart home controllers is right for your home? We took a look at the VeraEdge and the VeraLite to compare the features of each.
But First, Some Background
Mesh networking is all the hype right now, but what is a mesh network? Put simply, a mesh network is a group of devices which are capable of communicating with each other over the same network — similar to how all your computers can share files over your wifi connection. The difference between your networked computers and your smart devices is in the frequency they communicate with each other. A mesh network operates on lower frequencies than the wifi in your house so as not to cause interference with your wifi network. Additionally, some mesh networks have the capability of extending the range of your network through the smart devices themselves, reducing the need for bulky range extenders.
The VeraLite packs about the power of a Raspberry Pi into a box a little bigger than an Apple TV. Under the green and white case, Vera has packed in a 500 Mhz Mhz single-core processor with 32MB of NAND flash storage and 64MB of DDR2 RAM to run the operating system and process your automation programming. While this may seem underpowered when compared to a full size computer, the majority of processing the controller handles comes in the form of on/off commands, represented in computer code by 1’s and 0’s.
The VeraEdge Smart Controller has a few modifications under the hood when compared to the VeraLite. The System On A Chip (SoC) processing board clocks in at 600 Mhz giving a small boost to speed in processing automation programming. Instead of a measly 32MB of flash storage, the VeraEdge Controller packs in 64MB, allowing more automation programs to be stored on the unit. Finally, the VeraEdge upgrades the RAM over the VeraLite, giving you 128MB of DDR2 RAM to give the unit an extra kick when processing multiple automation processes.
The VeraLite Smart Home Controller operates a mesh network utilizing the Z-Wave protocol. Z-Wave is one of the major protocols in the smart device world, and the VeraLite offers compatibility with more than 900 devices; up to 70 at once. In addition to drawing power from a wall outlet, the VeraLite Smart Controller includes the ability to operate on four double “A” batteries, ensuring your home stays smart in the event of a power outage. This also makes setting up remote devices a snap, as you can bring your VeraLite to each device during pairing.
Along with being an upgrade in the hardware category, the VeraEdge Smart Home Controller provides a few features the VeraLite does not. Both the VeraLite and the VeraEdge operate on the Z-Wave protocol, but where the VeraLite is compatible with 900 smart devices, the VeraEdge is compatible with more than 1200 devices. Where the VeraLite can control 70 devices at once, the VeraEdge increases that number to 220.
The VeraEdge makes setting up devices easy; the controller provides one-touch setup for most, if not all, the compatible Z-Wave devices, and Vera has added wifi compatibility for certain devices. Vera has also included smoke and carbon monoxide detection capabilities by purchasing sensors. Finally, whereas in the VeraLite you need to configure settings for things like environmental changes or added occupancy, the VeraEdge can automatically adjust these settings as the device detects the changes.
Controlling The Smart Home Controller
Both the VeraLite and the VeraEdge Smart Home Controllers can be managed using the Vera app on Android and iOS devices; and also through a web interface. The smartphone app is attractive, with a dashboard giving you access to real time data and information about your home devices. From the dashboard, you have one touch access to daytime and nighttime modes, and access to any shortcuts you have created for your automations.
The Vera app allows you to access individual device data and controls with the touch of a finger. You can view security camera monitoring from within the app, both in grid format showing all cameras, or a large single camera view. Additionally, you can create text message and email alerts to notify members of your household when certain automation actions occur.
This All Sounds Too Good To Be True
Both the VeraLite and the VeraEdge are capable smart home controllers, and both are very similar in features. While we would like to tell you these devices are both perfect, we do feel buyers should be aware of some of the issues with both controllers.
- The app is beautiful, but it is also slow and prone to crashing. We counted three crashes when tapping around the app; two of which came during automation programming, which is a real bummer.
- The web user interface looks like it came straight from a router built in the late 1990’s. Most people do not like dealing with router issues, so seeing a similar interface when programming home automation is a turn off. We would like to see the web interface updated in future firmware updates.
- Neither the VeraLite nor the VeraEdge include Zigbee compatibility. While this may not be an issue if your smart devices are all Z-Wave, not being able to control any device you may find at Lowe’s or Home Depot is a pretty big oversight.
Which Vera Smart Home Controller Is Right For You?
Vera has created an impressive lineup of smart home controllers, similar in many ways. As a consumer, having to choose between similar products from the same manufacturer can be difficult. We can recommend both devices as worthy of your hard earned dollars, whether you are a new smart home buyer or a seasoned pro.
But, between the two, the VeraEdge is where we like our money. While both the VeraEdge and VeraLite are similarly priced on their website, the additional horsepower under the hood and larger device compatibility tips the scales into the VeraEdge’s favor. If, however, your area is prone to power outages, the additional battery backup feature of the VeraLite might be an important feature to consider.