ZWaveProducts Blog - Lifestyle


More on How To Use a Z-Wave LED Bulb in your smart home

More on How To Use a Z-Wave LED Bulb in your smart home
Adding Z-Wave to your smart house or apartment can be as simple as changing a light bulb. What could be easier?
No wiring, no mess; unscrew a dumb bulb and install a Z-Wave LED. Nothing more, right?

Not so fast.

Z-Wave LED Bulbs are a simple and inexpensive way to add Z-Wave to your home, but there are a few things you should know:

1. Z-Wave bulbs, like all Z-Wave devices*, need to be powered all the time.
Z-Wave devices have a network of neighboring devices that help distribute commands throughout your smart home.
This network is called the ‘mesh,’ and it’s one of the reasons why Z-Wave is so solid. However, if you power down
a device in the network, the others will get confused, and the communication may suffer.

This doesn't mean that your light bulb has to be on all the time. It just means that you need to electronically control the LED.

Don’t put a Z-Wave LED where someone could flip a switch and turn off the light.
* Battery-operated devices don’t participate in repeating so are excluded from this example.

What to do instead:
A. Since you can't turn the bulb off manually, Use Amazon Alexa or Google Home to voice control the LED bulbs.
Your smart home assistant, along with a compatible Z-Wave gateway or hub, is an easy way to control your home with no wiring or fuss.
Pair the Z-Wave LED with your Z-Wave hub, have your SA find your smart devices, and you’re good to go.

B. Include one or several Z-Wave devices in a scene.
Use the smart app on your smartphone to set the scene; literally. Full brightness for homework or utility work.
Soft or colored for romantic vacations at home. Somewhere in the middle for meals or watching TV. It’s all up to you and the combinations are limitless.

C. Use a trigger to automate the LED.
Use a motion or door/window sensor to trigger the bulb by setting up a scene on your Z-Wave hub. Similar to B,
this idea is great for when you need light as you pass through a hallway or open a closet door. Create another scene to turn off the LED after a few minutes of inactivity.

2. Z-Wave bulbs like to be indoors.
While the benefits of putting a smart bulb in an exterior fixture are obvious, most Z-Wave LEDs are made for indoor use. They are not waterproof, and Smart LEDs can generate
some heat. Not from the bulb, but from the electronics at the bottom, so consider the type of enclosure or fixture you use with your smart bulb.

3. Z-Wave LED Bulbs require a Z-Wave Controller.
Since there is no Z-Wave chip in your smartphone, Z-Wave LEDs, like all Z-Wave devices, require some type of Z-Wave Controller (hub, gateway, etc).
Be sure your Z-Wave Controller is compatible with any smart home assistant you plan to use (Alexa, Google Home, HomeKit, etc).

Lamps plugged into dumb outlets usually are the best for smart Z-Wave bulbs. The porcelain lamp holders in garages, closets, and basements are also good, if you can hide the pull chain or stop yourself from reaching for it. Some Z-Wave LED bulbs come with small covers that help prevent you from flipping a toggle switch off and breaking your Z-Wave mesh network

Using a motion sensor to trigger a smart Z-Wave LED bulb

Cost = $55       Time = 25 minutes:

(assuming you have a Z-Wave Controller)

Having a smart home shouldn’t require pulling out the phone for every task. It’s fairly easy to install a PIR motion sensor and have it trigger a smart LED bulb.
In this example, we chose the EcoLink PIRZWAVE2.5 and the Go Control LB60Z-1 Dimmable LED Light Bulb

First, the PIR motion sensor:

1. Consider traffic patterns and how you’d like pedestrian motion to trigger the PIR sensor.
A sharper angle for hallways and above stairs, and a longer reach for living rooms or offices.
Be wary of places where triggering the motion sensor (from another room, for example) would
turn on lights needlessly.

2. Place your Z-Wave Controller (gateway, hub) into inclusion mode.

3. Immediately insert the battery into the PIRZWAVE2.5 and wait for the LED to light for 10 seconds and then go out.
Name the sensor on your Z-Wave Controller.

4. Temporarily mount the sensor and test the operation. Leave the room for over 4 minutes then walk back towards the sensor.
If the red LED lights at the correct place, you’re ready to move on. If it doesn’t respond expectedly, move the sensor accordingly and try again.

5. Once you are satisfied with the placement, permanently mount the sensor.

Add the Z-Wave LED Bulb

1. With the power off, screw in the LED to a lamp or fixture.

2. Place your Z-Wave Controller (gateway, hub) into inclusion mode.

3. Turn the power on. After the operation completes, name the bulb (multi-level light switch) on your Z-Wave Controller.

Putting it all together.

1. Use your Z-Wave controller to set up a scene that says, ‘if motion sensor detects motion in any state (arm/disarm) turn on LED to 100%.

2. Use your Z-Wave controller to set up a scene that says, ‘if motion sensor does not detect motion in any state (arm/disarm) for over 5 minutes, turn LED OFF.

You can also have this scene run only at certain times, to eliminate a LED coming on during the day. You can also override the scene by using Amazon Alexa or Google Home to turn the LED on/off immediately.

Have questions? Please feel free to send me a message using the link in the bottom right corner, or ask our team at Ask An Expert.

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Perfection in Every Detail?

Perfection in Every Detail?

FIBARO describes their new plug-in smart wall switch as "Perfection in every detail”

That’s a gutsy claim to make, as the Z-Wave product catalog isn’t lacking in its share of plug-ins. Is it worth the hype?

The FIBARO Wall Plug (FGWPB-121 ZW5) shares the look and feel of the rest of the FIBARO line; starting with the packaging. This reviewer was impressed by the heft of the Wall Plug right away. Whether I was swayed by the marketing claim or not; the device felt solid; the plastic felt ‘luxurious’ to the touch (if that’s possible with plastic) and the button was nicely done, with a solid feel.

Upon plugging the Wall Plug into a dumb receptacle, the first thing I noticed was the color LED Ring. The LED works as a visual energy monitor, so you don’t have to get out your smartphone to check appliance usage from your FIBARO Home Center 2. I’m not one for garish displays; I like my Z-Wave devices to be neither seen nor heard. However, I couldn’t help playing with different lamps and small appliances to see the LED change. FIBARO recommends the soothing LED to be used as a nightlight, and that’s exactly what I did; replacing a GE plug in switch and nearby nightlight with this one unit.

As of this writing, I have not checked how much power I used over a month or better (I hope to do a follow up with this device and a non-FIBARO hub). The FIBARO Wall Plug integrates nicely with the Home Center 2 (or LIte) to give the user a picture of appliance energy usage, so it would be great for use with an A/C unit or heater.  I like the idea of being able to check a supplemental space heater from work, since I tend to leave those on. Heed the recommended load on the spec sheet, but also rest assured that the FIBARO Wall Plug also has overload protection; a nice safety feature for a device of this size. Even better is the ability to turn something on or off automatically; either timed from the HC2, or due to a trigger of another device (motion sensor, etc). Even the Wall Plug itself can use the energy monitoring portion as a trigger; a change in the load of one device can be used to turn on (or off) a couple others. 

The bedroom seems to be FIBARO’s target for this device (based on the marketing collateral I’ve seen). The integrated USB charger for a bedside phone, the night light, and the control of lamps or other devices does make sense. But I think I’d prefer the living room or even the kitchen, as this is where I have the most appliances I’d like to automate; turning my old dumb coffee maker into a state of the art unit that works in concert with the rest of my smart house is just one example. Apartment owners will love the no-wiring feature, and the fact that you can take it all with you if you move.

I can say that I’ve gotten used to the LED ring. I haven’t exhausted all the possible uses for the Wall Plug yet.  FIBARO continues to put out nice products that work well together yet still play nice with others. The basics are there for just about any controller (Vera, SmartThings, HomeSeer, etc) but I haven’t tested the remote energy monitoring function with any of these, which is where this device shines.

So, it comes down to the question: is the long-awaited FIBARO Wall Plug “Perfection?” I think it’s difficult to get worked up about a plug-in, but its beauty lies in it being a part of a bigger FIBARO environment. I do like it, and I can’t help but dream up a few more purposes for a couple more (alerts that something was left on, alerts that my son is using his computer, etc). It’s a welcome addition to my Z-Wave ecosystem that seems to be gaining additional FIBARO. The FIBARO Wall Plug is a great device that has many features, and is a good addition to the FIBARO family.

The FIBARO Wall Plug can be purchased HERE.

If you have any questions about this, or any other Z-Wave device, please feel free to contact us. Thanks for reading!

Click HERE to Create a Help Ticket

Click HERE To Ask An Expert

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Tame Old Man Winter with this Simple Z-Wave "Hack"

Tame Old Man Winter with this Simple Z-Wave "Hack"
Now that Thanksgiving is officially over, most of the US focuses on some type of cold(er) weather that puts us in a good holiday mood. But what about your furnace? Does it keep running even with the doors open? As guests, children, and deliverymen conspire to keep your doors ajar, there's an easy automation setup that will help tame those energy bills. And this setup will also allow programming of your thermostat to account for changing holiday schedules; work, vacation. You can even manually monitor the temperature from work or while on vacation.

This setup will run under $220 and allows you to automatically turn the heat off when the door is opened for more than a pre-set amount of time. Like everything with Z-Wave devices, you can modify this as needed to fit your lifestyle. And while this is a great start, for a nominal additional cost, you can add more temperature sensors to get notifications of freezing temps that may bust your pipes while you're away.

The 3 pieces of this project are a WINK 2 hub, a GC-TBZ48 Z-Wave thermostat from Go Control, and a ZW120 Door/Window sensor from Aeon Labs.

Replace your existing thermostat with the Go Control (instructions on how to do that are here) After downloading the free WINK 2 App, setting up the WINK 2, add the stat and sensor to your network. Check out my blog WINK 2 OVERVIEW for a few tips.

Something new regarding sensors that wasn't in my previous entries, you can select the type of door for the best calibration of the device (you'll see this screen when you're just about done adding the sensor).

By this point you'll be able to control the stat from your smart phone, but that's no fun. Let's create a simple Robot (the WINK word for scene, or automation) to keep that warm air inside.

First, create a new robot by selecting the Robot at the bottom of the main screen, then selecting the + for "Create a New Robot".

You'll have a few choices, including schedule, device, or geocaching. We're going to have the sensor drive this Robot, so choose Product or Sensor.

You have many choices to set up the Robot. In this example I chose, if Any Entry Door Sensor, at any time of day, is open for more than 10 minutes, then turn the thermostat from Heat to Off, and notify me via push notifications from my WINK 2 App on my phone.

Having a grace period (in this case, 10 minutes) to allow the kids or pets to enter or exit the home allows the heat to run for a little while.


You can create a similar Robot to turn the heat back on after all the doors are closed for more than 10 minutes. This system will work with windows too; you just add as many sensors as your home needs and add those sensors to the Robot.

Do you want a notification if your crawl space or basement is experiencing flooding or freezing temps?  There's a host of sensor that can help out here as well.  Check out the Fortezz Water and Temperature Sensor and Fibaro Flood Sensor with Temperature Monitoring

Did I get it right? Do you have any questions or issues?

In the bottom right corner of this website is a link to Leave me a Message.

Alternately . . . Ask An Expert by filling out this form, and one of our experts will get back to you with an answer.

I hope this was helpful. Please share this, and check out my other blogs!
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You bought a smart home- Now What?

You bought a smart home- Now What?

You have finally closed on your dream home. You have taken the final walk-through with your real estate agent, and you both have confirmed that all is on the up-and-up.
Or is it . . . ?

You may be in love with that new stainless steel fridge, and laundry is going to so much easier with the appliances on the second floor. Groceries are a cinch; no more 4 story walk-up! These are the things that get your attention. So what are you forgetting?

Many homeowners have installed SOME type of home automation while upgrading. When it's time to move, the homeowner usually takes the easy things with him (or her); leaving in-wall switches and installed panels to confound the new homeowner. The first night in the house, the moving trucks are there, your helpers are milling about, boxes and furniture are flying through the halls. Then, either the lights go on, the lights DON'T go on, or, the siren from the alarm system starts to blare. Making friends with the new neighbors has never been this easy.

For the first two items, there's usually some good news. Lights acting on their own usually means the previous homeowner left the panel or gateway in place, and it's running a scene (aka automation or timer). It's annoying, but a little tracking down usually allows one to find the gateway, contact the manufacturer, the real estate company, or the previous owner for some help.

However, from the panicked emails I've gotten from new homeowners, a siren blaring (usually at midnight, after the real estate agent has gone to bed) holds no good news. At all. Unfortunately, there is little someone in my position can do. Actual questions include (paraphrased and sanitized for my G-rated audience): 'Can you give me the secret universal password for this alarm panel so I can shut it off?' Or, 'I know I'm supposed to get an account for this alarm system, but if I give you my address can you just turn it off and I'll call you in the morning?'

I can tell when someone is desperate when they hit all of our emails with a question. As much as I'd love to help, a secret universal password would probably not be secret for very long, especially if I gave it over an email to someone I don't know. And since I don't know the type of panel in the home, the service provider the previous homeowner employed, or even what protocol (radio) we're talking about, I'd say unplug everything you can and deal with it at another time. But isn't there a better way? I have asked a few real estate agents to give a statement for this blog. Unfortunately I have not gotten a response. But now you know to bug them about those 'little white boxes all around.' From the tone of at least some of the emails and tickets I get about this, the new homeowner knows there was something he/she was supposed to do, but wasn't sure what it was.

If you have been caught by surprise and either the real estate company gave you no warning (or the homeowner is MIA and an honest attempt was made with no success) the first thing you'll need to determine is the KIND of radio you're dealing with. There is Z-Wave, WiFi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, and 319/345 MHz sensors. See if you can pull off a cover and get a model number. Maybe you did, and discovered it's all Z-Wave and that's why you're here? What's next? A good conversation starter is discussing your wants and needs for a smart home. Since this is a one-way street and I can't talk to you, I recommend reading my Getting Started with Z-Wave guide to see what works best for you. It also explains the various radio frequencies and how to make other devices talk nicely.

If you discover that you bought a new hub/gateway and still are having trouble, your devices may still be paired with the old MIA gateway; use your new one to exclude them first then try again. If you happen to read this blog before you close, share it with your real estate agent before you're panic-emailing panel manufacturers at 2am.

If you find a panel and not a controller, see if you can get the name of the service provider in your area. A good agent will tell this to you; probably while you're staring dreamy-eyed at the refrigerator or already mentally soaking in the hot tub. Call them up and find out; maybe using a few points from the text above.

Are you a real estate agent who would like to share a funny story or advice on this subject? You, or anyone else with questions, can reach me by clicking the tab in the lower-right corner and leaving me a message.

All the best, and congratulations on your purchase of your new home.
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