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Clusters, the In and Outs

What is a Cluster?

A Cluster is a virtual Zipato Controller, that will reside on your Controllers, in a way over the top of your existing controller. Don’t worry, your existing controller is still there, in fact all your usual settings, and devices are still available on your existing controller, and it can even be removed from you Cluster and operate on it own again. Rules and programming excluded.

So what happens when you create a Cluster and when should you do it?

When and why and the most common questions when creating Clusters. Firstly you must note that creating a Cluster will need you to purchase a pro licence for EACH Controller in your Cluster. 3 Controllers, 3 Pro Licences. Yes, this gets expensive, but is it worth it? If you ask me as an installer, Yes.

In fact adding the Pro Licence has other benefits, but creating a Cluster to begin with means it is easy to add additional controllers to your system in the future. Of course you do not need to, especially if you only have a small home with not many devices.

Adding a Controller to a Cluster will bring all your current devices into this Cluster, and adding devices to a Cluster in the future, will require you to select which Controller you wish to have the device associated with. For example, we recently completed a large 2 bedroom home where we added all upstairs devices to one Controller and all the downstairs to another. We did this to reduce the RF interference between levels, as the floor was concrete and distance from Upstairs Controller on one side of the home to the other would have meant about 5-6 communication hops through the concrete floor, underfloor heating and steel beams.

So how does a Cluster work exactly?

In the Devices Manager menu in your Control Center, you will see all your Zipato Controllers here. Within each controller you will see all you networks and devices just as if you were logged into just a single Controller. In the Controller selection menu, your eg Zipatile, should be GREY (not Green), if it is included into a Cluster. If logged into your Cluster, you can also go to your Setting Menu in Control Center and see which Controllers are associated to the Cluster, and remove them if needed by un/ticking the box. Though I would not recommend this as it will affect your Cluster and its Rules and workings.

A Cluster is a type of Virtual Zipato Controller, that now resides on your actual controllers. All your devices and endpoints that are connected to any individual Controller in your Cluster are all available now in the Cluster Controller. Rules can now include all and any device in the network, without the need for HTTP commands or Virtual meters, all operating in a local network mode over IP.

Cluster vs Z-wave Secondary Controller:

What is better and why? Both have different pros and cons.

You now know how a Cluster works, so lets give a brief description of what is a Secondary Controller. Secondary Controllers are an additional Controller of just that particular Network. Mostly you will hear this in the form of a Z-wave Network. Vera and Fibaro mainly use these. They are added to a Z-wave network, similarly to a Z-wave lighting module, and reside in the network receiving and sometimes issuing commands. They do not take the place of the Primary Controller, but act rather as a backup to the Primary Controller. They posses all the device names and endpoints and current Routing tables of the Z-wave network, and act as Z-wave Repeaters. All Secondary Controllers, that I know of and please inform me if I am wrong here, do not contain the programming (for Zipato users, Rules) of a network.

The benefit of a Secondary Controller in a Z-wave network is that if the Primary Controller goes offline, all the Z-wave modules can still communicate to one another via the Secondary Controller. Your programming of scenes etc will not function, but the basic functionality of your Network such as sensors updating, lights triggered etc, will still operate. Of course some of this also depends on whether your secondary controller is LAN connected also.

In summation, a Secondary controller will act as a sort of backup to your Z-wave only network and keep the basic communication intact if one controller fails. A Cluster will allow you to add another controller anywhere and not be reliant on z-wave distance or limited to one protocol, but if the main controller that all your devices are connected to fails, your network will fail also. And if your Router also fails, all communication between Controllers and their associated devices will not exist.

Can a Zipabox/Zipatile be added as a Secondary Controller?

While I have not tested this feature, I was told by support that this IS possible. The method is a little convoluted and not guaranteed to work as described above. Also I can not remember the exact method and you will LOSE any devices associated to your controller.

You will need to be logged into your Primary Controller (online Control Center), then go to Device Manager and z-wave network. Select the settings tab and here you will see a few options

Please remember this was a brief discussion with Zipato support and I can not remember the exact method, so try at your own risk.

The primary controller will need to run a ZWNTUT(or maybe Add Node), the Secondary Controller will need to be put into Start Learn Mode. I know, not easy with just one computer. Not sure if just running a normal add Z-wave device on the Primary Controller will do the same thing.

Current Issues:

One of the issues we currently experience, is that if one of the Controllers in the Network is offline, we can not sync new rules to the Cluster Controller. Hopefully this will get resolved soon.

Lastly, I would recommend setting up a Static IP for your Zipato Controllers when in a Cluster. To do this, firstly find out what its current IP address is, then set this as a Static IP under the Online Control Center Settings Menu.

Got some questions, post in the comments below please.