We are a small school in the south-suburban Chicago area. Two years ago we purchased a JCI Metasys system for Classmate series unit ventilator control. It's been a very tough road, initially the system had many problems, and we had JCI back many times to correct installation & commissioning errors under warranty. JCI became frustrated at the large amount of warranty work, and they asked us to sign-off on the system as-is. At the time the system was working reasonably well, and we signed. One problem that remained was our second floor periodically drops off the Zigbee network. This was on our warranty punch list but JCI told us we could add a repeater, and this was something we could do ourselves. That was not strictly true, although the coordinator has a mesh reform button, we needed the SCT software to observe the Zigbee network performance and see the routing.
So we had JCI back out on a paid service call this time, and found that the Zigbee network has major issues as well, it does not follow the guidelines of the JCI Zigbee installation manual. Our second floor is communicating across about 150 feet, which includes the gym (mostly empty space, but also 4 walls and a roof in between nodes). This is why we have frequent dropouts. We tried the repeater with the JCI tech present and it did not help, it appeared on the network but the system still chose the longer unstable route. JCI could not explain this, and said they would look into it. But they charge us by the hour, even though the design was originally way out of spec and that was their doing. And we have heard nothing since. And the problem has been much worse since the attempt to add the repeater, about 10 to 30 dropouts per day. A JCI service call is $1000 to $1500, although to be fair, we do accumulate tasks so that other work is done in the same call.
So I guess my question is, are there non-JCI techs who are competent with Zigbee networks and commissioning activities, and have the SCT software, and for whom the service costs would be more reasonable? We looked into having the school buy SCT, but it's very expensive. So we are now dependent on others to get any kind of control work done. The school does not have a lot of money, but too much has been spent on this system (around $30K) for it not to work. So I'm trying to find a solution the school can afford. I did my own redesign of the Zigbee network using the JCI manual, and it would require a few more repeaters, and others to be relocated (particularly the coordinator). But I'd be reluctant to try this without some way to monitor the network for improvement, which SCT provides.
Any thoughts, suggestions, or opinions would be welcome.