New Z-Wave device round up - Fibaro CO Sensor, Fibaro Door / Window Sensor 2, Aeotec Wallmote, Philio Motion Sensor and Aeotec LED Strip
With the nights drawing in and a definite chill in the air it seems that the UK Summer is already a fading memory :-(
As we move into Autumn and we all start to look at all those Smart Home projects that have been put on the back burner while our attention was focused on sunshine and holidays, we thought we'd take a look at some of the recent releases in the Z-Wave Home Automation world once again.
We're not sure what happened at Fibaro in the past few years, but they've been releasing device after device during the past 18 months! Hot on the heels of the Swipe last year came the new Single and Double Switch 2, swiftly followed by the Button.
This year has showed no sign of slowing down with the release of the Keyfob and now the Door / Window Sensor 2 that we're looking at right now (not to mention the CO Sensor that we'll also be checking out in this very same blog post).
That's a LOT of new releases and it's pleasing to see Fibaro leading the way with some really solid devices. That said, when we first saw the specifications of the Door / Window Sensor 2 we had mixed feelings. On the one hand it's a nice looking device, but it's more of an evolution than revolution in our opinion. It comes in at slightly smaller than the previous version as can be seen in the image below.
We were also pleased to see that it now INCLUDES a built in temperature sensor, so there's no more requirement to purchase an additional DS18B20 to install inside.
On the other hand though, they've removed the binary sensor input terminals! That's a real travesty because it means it can no longer be used with an external switch, something that's been really useful in the past to Z-Wave enable all manner of objects such as doorbells, pressure mats and letter boxes.
Fortunately we do still have some of the previous versions available, so if you're in need of one we'd suggest ordering without delay before the stocks are finally depleted.
So the all important question on device compatibility arises again. Well for Fibaro controllers such as the HC2 and HCL we'll make the assumption that it just works, it would be silly to release a device that doesn't work in your own controllers! Just make sure that your HCL or HC2 is running the latest stable firmware (or bleeding edge Beta if you like taking risks) and you should be good to go.Athom Homey also appears to have support, so make sure you're running the latest version of the Fibaro App.
And what about all you Vera users? Well unfortunately, once again, Vera are lagging behind as it doesn't work out-of-the-box. That said, it's a relatively simple fix involving changing the device files - if you don't fancy doing that yourself then Vera Support should be able to handle it for you.
Overall we like the new Door / Window Sensor 2 device, it's a smaller, simpler device than the previous version and with the built in temperature sensor there's nothing else required to have a fully functional sensor out-of-the-box.
Next up we have a new release from Philio and it's a pretty cool device in our opinion. On the face of it there's not actually much to say - it's literally just a motion sensor in a rather familiar golf-ball style design, nothing more, no additional multi-sensor bits like temperature, humidity or light level.
Often though simple means more reliable. It also allows the manufacturer to concentrate on making the device do its sole task perfectly and it's here that we think Philio have excelled as can be seen from the specifications of the device. It's IP43 rated (and actually has a rubber seal between the two halves of the device) so it's perfect for outdoor use, it has a detection range of up to 12 meters and is available in several different mounting styles.
We had our hands on the version with the magnetic wall mount and lens shroud cover but there are also versions with round and square ceiling recessors. AND they are all the same price, no additional cost for the recessor - are you listening Aeon?
One small issue we found with the magnetic mount is that by its design it's not exactly "screwed down" so that could be an issue when mounting them outdoors. That said, the magnets are incredibly strong and we certainly didn't experience any movement of the device during normal use. If the magnet doesn't do the job well enough for you then it wouldn't be much of an issue using some "no more nails" type sticky tabs to further secure the device, although that may make future battery changes a touch challenging!
As far as compatibility is concerned we weren't expecting any great dramas to be honest - surely you can't get any simpler than a single function motion sensor?
But that's about as good as it gets unfortunately because Vera, yet again, fails miserably. And Fibaro, well firmware version 1.40 is hot-off-the-press and we'd already loaded that this morning so we're not sure about older versions, but as of the latest and greatest the Philio PSP05 is about as useful as a chocolate teapot!
Come on guys, this is such a simple device it's ridiculous that it doesn't work out-of-the-box. We recommend customers contact Vera or contact Fibaro and push them for a resolution - and no, we don't want "it will be supported in a future firmware update" and then to have to wait 18 months for it!
So, if you can get it to work in your controller, we thoroughly recommend the Philio Motion Sensor, it's a decently styled device, has good quality hardware and does exactly what you'd expect it to do.
Ok, so the Aeotec WallMote isn't exactly a "new" device although the dual version has only just been released in the past few weeks, so we think it counts as new :-)
Plus, some early adopters of the original WallMote Quad were affected by various issues with battery life and stability. We're pleased to say that it appears that those issues have been resolved - existing users may need to update their device firmware.
So to recap, the WallMotes are rechargeable switching devices for direct control of other Z-Wave devices by Association or for Triggering Scenes within your Z-Wave controller. A magnetic wall mount allows it to be mounted pretty much anywhere and then removed to recharge the battery or to simply use it as a mobile "remote control" device.
They're pretty unique the way they work too as they don't have any physical buttons, just two (Dual) or four (Quad) touch-sensitive surfaces that react to tapping, tapping and holding and even swiping up / swiping down. Oh, they also have audio and haptic feedback, so they can beep and vibrate in response to being touched (you can turn this off too if you wish).
And the dreaded compatibility question? Well you'd really hope the WallMotes would be working out-of-the-box now given that the original Quad version was released back in February! Too much to expect?
Good news for Vera users, the Quad appears to be working pretty well with minimal effort - it's even featured in the Vera Device Wizard. Basic Scene Triggering was simply a case of assigning the Scene to a "button" 1 - 4 to represent the four touch surfaces on the Quad. For anything more than that you'll have to get creative though!
The Dual however .... well once again Vera manages to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as the Dual doesn't work at all out-of-the-box. Sure, you can mess around with device files, LUA scripting and other such nonsense and you may get it working, but that's hardly the point. Hopefully given the Quad is already implemented Vera Support will be able to resolve the problem pretty quickly.
Association wise the WallMote really comes into its own, within a few minutes we had it controlling various dimmer devices using the up / down sliding motions as well simple on / off control of relays and sockets. Fortunately this also works on the Dual as all you're using Vera for with Associations is to set the configuration Parameters and assign the Association Groups. Being a Z-Wave Plus device, just watch out for trying to control a Secure device if you've Included the WallMote without Security, or vice-versa.
On Fibaro Home Centre we were pleasantly surprised to see that the WallMotes were also "sort of" working out-of-the-box. While the WallMotes look a bit odd on the FIbaro UI (you can hide the extra devices if you wish), they can be used to successfully Trigger basic Scenes for each button 1 - 4 (Quad) and 1 - 2 (Dual). Equally surprisingly the UI seemed to react correctly to "hold" and "release" too. We're not sure if that's more by luck than judgement though, but whatever, we'll take the win :-)
Athom Homey users should also be OK, as the Quad appears to be supported with the latest App, we'd assume that the Dual should work too as they share the same basic functionality, but given that this isn't the case in Vera we'd suggest checking with Athom first!
All in all the WallMotes are pretty cool devices in terms of functionality in our opinion, not to mention they're really aesthetically pleasing! We've actually started to use them in our own homes to replace older, less user friendly devices such as the POPP or Z-Wave.me Wall Controllers.
Yes indeed, yet another device from our Polish friends at Fibaro!
To be honest there's not really much to review about this one - it's essentially exactly the same as their Smoke Sensor but obviously it uses a Carbon Monoxide sensor internally.
We all love Fibaro marketing, so let's enjoy their video for the CO Sensor.
Compatibility wise we're pretty sure it will work in the Fibaro HCL and HC2 controllers and you'll get some of the amazing features covered in the video above.
Looking at the Athom Homey Fibaro App it's listed as a compatible device so Homey users should be OK there too.
And Vera, well it's a new device, released what, nearly TWO months ago? So I guess we can't expect for it to be supported already, can we? It's OK though, all your Samsung Appliances should be working great...... just submit your frustrations here.
As far as the device itself it concerned it's pretty much identical to the Smoke Sensor as mentioned previously, so we expect the functionality to be similar. Unfortunately we don't have a way to simulate a CO leak so it's a bit difficult to test if it works well or not in that respect, but pushing the "Test" button elicited a familiar shrill beeping and LED flash.
So there you go, buy one now ....... or as Fibaro state in their video above ....... you may die. Period.
You could also read our "Choosing a Smoke Alarm" guide which covers some of the other options. We're a fan of the Nest Protect ourselves but it's difficult to integrate these into a wider Smart Home system.
If we hadn't already gone down the Nest route then the Fibaro CO and Smoke Sensors would be the way we'd go, especially given how small these devices both are! They really are tiny and can easily be hidden or lost in your room's decor.
Like Fibaro, Aeotec also seem to be on a roll this year too, with many new products released and more in the pipeline!
We love a good LED strip at Vesternet, previously Philips Hue has been one of our favourites due to being a self-contained device. Up until now with Z-Wave we've been limited to using the Fibaro RGBW Controller or the Qubino RGBW Dimmer Plus, both of which are very capable devices of course, but do come with the added complication of you needing to source your own power supply and LED strips to use with them.
That all changes now with the Aeotec LED Strip - 5m of RGBWW LEDs, power supply and module all in one package. And that "WW" isn't a typo - the device features 30 RGB LEDs per meter, 30 Cool White LEDs per meter AND 30 Warm White LEDs per meter. So that's RGBWW :-)
The specs don't stop there, the LED Strip offers 3000 - 6500 Kelvin colour and white range with a maximum of 5000 lumens brightness, is waterproof to IP65 rating making it perfect for outdoor use and has 80 CRI colour accuracy which is pretty impressive! Factor in a lower power consumption of just 72 watts at maximum brightness and you have an incandescent equivalency of 250 watts.
Oh and to round things off, it's a Z-Wave Plus Gen5 device, has a 3M sticker on the rear which is *really* sticky and can be cut every 20cm which should make it really easy to use in any installation scenario.
In terms of the hardware itself it's pretty good quality, we've had a number of LED strips over the years and the Aeotec compares well. If we were being ultra picky we'd say that the plug where the LED Strip connects into the control module is a bit of a poor fit and would probably warrant some sticky tape to ensure it's held firmly. The initial connecting wire is also a bit on the short side, just 12cm before you hit the LED strip itself, so that's something to bear in mind as it could make installation a bit tricky outside for example. That said, we don't see any reason why you couldn't carefully cut and extend the wire to suit (although you'd obviously void your warranty).
So the most important question is obviously how does it fair in the common Z-Wave controllers?
Well for once, Athom Homey users are on their own since the official Aeotec App doesn't have support for this device and the developers appear to be deferring to the community to "have a go". Unfortunately this is something that we noted in our recent review of the Athom Homey, but hopefully somebody, somewhere, at some time, will eventually add support for the device!
For Vera, somewhat surprisingly, it almost works out-of-the-box! By default it is recognised as a single dimmable bulb on the UI, but by simply following Aeotec's guide you can almost make it fully functional :-)
We say "almost" as we kept experiencing an issue where Vera would get the device stuck in Cool White mode and wouldn't change to Warm White or to RGB. Hopefully this is something that the Vera developers can fix in a future firmware update.
And what of Fibaro? Will that be the shining star? Well no, despite the fact that it appeared to Include correctly with a nice RGB colour control and separate controls for Warm White and Cool White, we couldn't get the RGB colour control to do anything at all and found that Cool White worked perfectly but you couldn't have Warm White on its own without also having Cool White "on a bit" too.
So near but so far .......... and as with Vera, hopefully this is something that can be fixed quickly in the next firmware update from the Fibaro developers.
Overall the Aeotec LED Strip looks like a really cool device - the RGB, Cool White and Warm White LED specifications are great and from the limited amount of testing that we were actually able to do we genuinely like the range of colours available.
Well if you got this far then you may well wonder why this review has been a little on the terse side when it comes to controller compatibility. To be frank, we're really disappointed with how the device and controller manufacturers fail to work together to ensure that their devices work perfectly out-of-the-box in the most common controllers!
This isn't a new situation by any means, it's been like this for YEARS and we find ourselves asking the same question over and over again - exactly how many devices do they expect to sell if they don't WORK in any of the controllers? It doesn't matter one jot if the device is "technically compliant" if it DOES NOT WORK!
It seems absolutely crazy to us that this situation continues to occur, it's not like these devices are dreamed up on a Friday night and roll out the factory on a Monday morning to hit the retailer shelves the following day! Devices like this typically take months and months to develop, why not work with the controller manufacturer during that time to ensure that the devices work perfectly once they go on sale?
Sadly it seems that our constant pleas are ignored and that we'll have to bumble along with the way things are for the foreseeable future :-(
It's such a shame as there are some truly cracking devices here and yet most of us will struggle to use them! Maybe you'll have more success than us, so if you do please let us know!
Whether the compatibility situation will improve in the future or not is difficult to say, but this ongoing problem is why Vesternet offer many initiatives to help customers on their Smart Home journey. Things like our compatibility platform, on-site content, customer product reviews, community Q&A, blog posts and our pre-sales and post-sales support really do make a difference!
Bye for now.
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