Is the Honeywell T6 PRO Z-Wave Thermostat Compatible With the Honeywell VAM?
No, the Honeywell T6 PRO Z-Wave Thermostat is not compatible with the Honeywell VAM. Even though the T6 is a Z-Wave device and the Honeywell VAM is a Z-Wave controller, the VAM does not include the necessary firmware to support the T6. They cannot be used together on a Z-Wave network.
Normally, Z-Wave devices are universally compatible with Z-Wave controllers. The general rule is that you can use any Z-Wave device with any Z-Wave controller. You can even pair devices and controllers across different generations of Z-Wave technology (e.g. mixing classic Z-Wave with Z-Wave Plus), albeit with some limitations. When you look at the Honeywell T6 PRO Z-Wave Plus Thermostat and the Honeywell VAM Z-Wave Controller, there is no reason why they shouldn't be able to be used together, at least in theory. Despite this, these two devices are completely incompatible. You should not pair a T6 PRO Thermostat with a Honeywell VAM.
In order to understand why the Honeywell VAM cannot support the Honeywell T6 PRO, it is necessary to look at the respective backgrounds for these two devices. The Honeywell VISTA Automation Module, or VAM, is a standalone classic Z-Wave controller for a Honeywell VISTA Alarm System. Although it connects to the panel like a keypad, the module does not serve as a physical on-site keypad for controlling the system. Nonetheless, the VAM will still require one of the system's advanced user interface (AUI) slots, and it will need to be properly addressed before it can be used in any useful manner. One important aspect of setting up the VAM is getting connected to WIFI. Keep in mind that the module can only be used with a 2.4 GHz WIFI network. It will not work with a 5 GHz network.
The main reason to use a VAM is almost strictly to add basic Z-Wave functionality to your VISTA System so that you can control your Z-Wave devices through the Total Connect 2.0 platform, Although the VAM can technically be used as a digital keypad by connecting to the module through a web browser, its main job is to function as a Z-Wave controller. For more information on how the VAM is used, please see this FAQ. It is important to understand that the VAM was released when Z-Wave technology was still catching on, and the protocol wasn't quite as advanced and fully developed as it is today. It is an older Z-Wave controller that doesn't always offer the same consistency as newer Z-Wave Plus modules. For example, one notable limitation of the VAM is that it is recommended to keep the total number of Z-Wave devices used with the module under 100. Even though the VAM can technically support up to 232 Z-Wave devices, the standard number for any Z-Wave hub, some users have found that the module offers undesirable performance when certain devices are paired to its associated Z-Wave network.
Conversely, the Honeywell T6 PRO Z-Wave Plus Thermostat is on somewhat of the other end of the spectrum. This is a highly advanced Z-Wave Plus device that has earned a great reputation as one of the most reliable and trustworthy devices in the home automation industry. Although the T6 PRO is best-used with a Z-Wave Plus controller or hub, it is designed to be backwards compatible with older classic Z-Wave controllers. But at the same time, a Z-Wave controller must be able to do its part and understand the more advanced communication protocol that makes the T6 PRO work the way it does.
Unfortunately, the Honeywell VAM was built around Z-Wave technology and communication that was substantially less developed than it is today. As a result, it sometimes has trouble being used with the most advanced Z-Wave devices, including the Honeywell T6 PRO. Normally, manufacturers will provide firmware updates for older Z-Wave controllers and hub modules so that they work more effectively with newer Z-Wave equipment. But for whatever reason, Resideo (formerly Honeywell) made a conscious decision not to do this for the Honeywell VAM. This is likely due to the extremely basic nature of the Honeywell VAM and the fact that newer and more advanced Z-Wave options exist. According to Honeywell, the VAM will never be updated to fully support the Honeywell T6 PRO Z-Wave Plus Thermostat.
If you have a Honeywell VISTA System and you want to use a Honeywell T6 PRO Z-Wave Plus Thermostat, then you have a couple of options available. Arguably the easiest option is to use a Honeywell Tuxedo Touch WIFI Keypad as a Z-Wave controller instead of the Honeywell VAM. The Tuxedo Touch is a wired touchscreen keypad for a VISTA System. It is basically a more advanced version of the Honeywell VAM, and it will also provide physical touchscreen operation and control for your VISTA System. Unlike the VAM, the Tuxedo Touch received a firmware update to make it compatible with the T6 PRO. The Tuxedo Touch connects to the VISTA in the same manner as the VAM, and it is addressed in the same fashion. Please note that the Tuxedo Touch requires 280 mA of power, compared with 180 mA for the VAM. If you find that adding a Tuxedo Touch will put you over the power requirements for your system, then you might consider powering the Tuxedo Touch Keypad using an external power supply.
One other, perhaps more extreme, option is to dump your Honeywell VISTA System entirely and upgrade to a newer wireless system. Honeywell VISTA users can often make a pretty seamless transition to the Honeywell Lyric Controller. This system includes a built-in Z-Wave controller, and it will readily support the Honeywell T6 PRO Z-Wave Plus Thermostat without any issue. By using one or more Honeywell 5800C2W Wired to Wireless Converter Modules, you can bring over almost all of your existing hardwired sensors to your new Lyric System. The only wired sensors that cannot be brought over are life-safety sensors like smoke detectors and carbon monoxide sensors. Each Honeywell 5800C2W will support up to nine (9) zones, and the Lyric System will support up to 128 zones in total. Just get as many 5800C2W modules as you need to bring over your wired sensors. You can even supplement your existing sensors by using Honeywell 5800 Series Sensors and Honeywell SiX Sensors with your new Lyric System. Remember that each Honeywell 5800C2W module will require its own backup battery. We recommend using the UltraTech 1240.
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