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ZWaveProducts Blog - Product News

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Fibaro Swipe and Vera Plus

Fibaro Swipe and Vera Plus

After attending training for Fibaro products, I left with the impression Fibaro is the future of Z-Wave home automation. We sell many manufacturers and all have solid products, but Fibaro has the Z-Wave user experience in mind. The Swipe is one device that was high on the 'ooooh' list, if you believe the reactions of my classmates.

The Swipe is a hands-free scene controller that uses various hand gestures to trigger events on your Z-Wave gateway. I was happy to get my hands on one, and although I didn't have much confidence that I could recreate the Fibaro demo with my gateways (WINK, Staples Connect, Nexia Bridge and Vera Plus), I would give it a try. The Vera Plus traditionally has been the most universal of my hubs, so that's the focus of this test.

After opening the packaging on the Swipe, I read some instructions and my fears were confirmed; the instructions pointed to a Home Center 2 as the gateway that would give the swipe the most functionality. I am a few months away from getting my hands on a Home Center 2 to demo. But would the Swipe work in some fashion with the Vera?

Swipe; a hands-free Scene controller for the Vera Plus

To include the Swipe in the Vera, there is no profile so I needed to use "Generic Z-Wave".  After putting the Vera into include mode, I initially struggled with the correct gestures to initiate the correct function on the Swipe. To include, you put your hand in the middle of the screen, wait for the ascending tone, then wait for the 2 beeps, then swipe up. It's not intuitive at first, but what you are doing is cycling through a menu. The beeps (almost like little tick sounds from an electronic watch) are very quiet. Even in my office I had some trouble hearing them at first. I went to the lab where I was able to figure out what was going on. One 'beep', then two beeps - SWIPE UP!  It took me 10 tries before I got the hang of it.

After that it was easy. I went back to my office.  I timed out my Vera's inclusion mode a few times while playing, but then I managed to include the Swipe into my IU7. If you leave your Swipe unplugged for a while, then go directly into inclusion or similar, you will hear a wake up beep, THEN the tones, THEN the menu beeps. After 20 minutes of playing I figured it out. I think if the instructions were a little clearer (or if I read them better) I could have cut the setup down to 10. But this was with a non-supported controller. The HC2 shows a lot more of what's going on, according to the instructions.

At first, the Swipe did not respond. I tried configuring and polling, but got mixed results. I excluded then re-included the device, and all was better. I noticed the 'exchanging security keys' and surmised that because I was in the lab (far away) from the Vera hub, I didn't complete the inclusion properly in one of my false starts. After the Swipe was entered into the Vera Plus and got configured, I named it and it looked exactly like any other remote or scene controller.

 

Opening the dialog brought me to a choice of what scenes to associate with which hand gesture.

hink the Swipe functions very well as a hands-free scene controller for my Vera Plus. I am excited to try it with others (including the HC2), but I wanted this blog to debut with the release of this device on Z-waveproducts.

Click to check out a video that shows more.

One feature that should have been first in this blog, is the ability to put a custom photo to replace the stock girl with the hot hands. Maybe something from CEDIA.

If you have any questions, please feel free to send me a line via Live Chat/Ticketing by going to any page on our website and clicking the link in the lower right corner.

There is also the Ask The Experts feature, so you can ask questions and get a timely answer by an industry expert!

Thanks for reading!!

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Review of the Honeywell RTH8580 ZW

Review of the Honeywell RTH8580 ZW
I am doing a quick initial review of the Honeywell Smart Response 8580 thermostat for Z-Wave networks. I say a quick review, because since this thermostat requires a C wire, I am unable to install it fully in my home. This review comes from powering up the device in our lab, running it through the inclusion process, as well as some key points about this stat, and it’s cousin, the HWYTH8320 ZW. The RTH8580 ZW is a consumer model with packaging for the DIY crowd. The HWYTH8320 ZW is a contractor model that has a few more features, but is geared for setup by a professional and may be a little too complex for the average homeowner (depending on existing wiring).

 

The RTH8580 ZW (referred to as the 8580 from now on in this blog) is a very robust thermostat, geared for a traditional single stage heating and cooling system, a heat pump, emergency heat, or a combination of all of these. Honeywell gives you 13 different combinations. What it does NOT give you with this stat, is an optional external temperature sensor. For that you will need the 8320. For this review, I am going to assume my home has central heat/cool, using the same set of wires for both (which means there is a selector switch on the furnace itself). Be sure to mark the wires as they were attached on your old thermostat, and don’t rely on color for the purpose of the wire. Since I’m using the same R wire for heat and cool, I will leave the jumper wire in place from R/RC, and connect the C wire for the common. If you have a wire for R (Rh) AND a wire for RC then you would remove the jumper, and have two separate wiring circuits.

The Z-Wave inclusion was a little tricky to learn; it was not very intuitive. I think with this blog it will be a lot easier. Start with putting your Z-Wave controller or gateway in INCLUDE or ENROLL. Press the SYSTEM button on the LCD screen. You won’t see any big changes overall, but the EM HEAT, HEAT, OFF, COOL will change/blink.  While this is happening, press and hold the blank buttons next to the center button (2 buttons; third from the left, and third from the right) at the same time. Nothing will give you a response that you are doing this correctly. However, after 5+ seconds, the system setup screen will pop up. On the left is the Function Button variable. On the right is the Option Button variable. Press the DOWN arrow of the Function, until it reads rF10. Then push the up/down buttons on the right to change the variable from 0 to 1 to put the stat in inclusion mode. Then press Done.

A little convoluted process made worse by the lack of feedback, but it didn’t make me feel like I was entering a million codes to launch missiles, like with some other remotes. The initial automatic configuration process did not work (I didn’t get the inside temperature on my Vera) so I manually woke up the stat and did a 'Configure node right now’

Once I knew the process, inclusion into my Z-Wave network was less than 35 seconds. 

Some commentary on the stat.

Pros. Very robust. Has a great solid feel. Screw terminals for the HVAC wires are very solid. Four mounting screw locations allow for replacing your old stat if it was a horizontal OR vertical type. The mounting plate has little feet and raised screw tabs; I’m assuming this is to keep it off the wall to minimize conduction of heat from the mounting location. It has many options for heating/cooling configurations. The controls are entirely on the LCD display, which is backlit (so no rubber buttons). It has energy saving modes, as well as easy program modes. It is very accurate - +/- 1 degree Fahrenheit.

Cons. Requires a Common wire (no batteries for stat function). It’s fairly big compared to other stats of its type. The screen takes a delicate touch, but gets easier once you understand how to press to accomplish your task. It does not support an optional temperature sensor (despite having the K sensor screw terminal). Shipping may be restricted because of the internal Lithium battery.

Compatibility.
This stat is made to work with any Z-Wave network that accepts thermostats. I tested it with the Vera Edge. Nexia and WINK both support the 8580’s cousin, the 8320, so I expect this one to work just the same.

Do you have experience with this thermostat? Looking for answers for your installation? Please write us with your questions: help@zwaveproducts.com. 

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Introducing a Smoke / Carbon Monoxide Alarm to your Z-Wave Network

First Alert ZCOMBO 2 in 1 Smoke & CO Alarm

Introducing a Smoke / Carbon Monoxide Alarm to your Z-Wave Network

What’s hip about home automation?  Lights? Locks? Smoke Alarms?

What? Smoke Alarm? I can bet that a smoke/carbon monoxide alarm isn't your first choice for a device to pair with your shiny new gateway.

Smoke alarms are very important to the safety of our loved ones, and we often overlook them. When seconds count, an alarm can give you and your family time to escape danger. And although they are often neglected, few people will admit that smoke alarms are unnecessary. The value of any working smoke alarm is in the lives it may save.

Why consider a Z-Wave smoke alarm?

It comes down to three things: batteries, batteries, batteries. 

batteries for smoke detectors

Yes, like any other Z-Wave sensor, Z-Wave enabled smoke alarms can be used to trigger alerts and alarms in your home. But just about any screaming alarm will get you out of bed; Z-Wave or not. But non Z-Wave detectors won’t give you alerts to your home automation system when your batteries are low, like a Z-Wave enabled device will. And, your gateway or hub can tell you what Z-Wave devices (like smoke alarms) aren’t working, allowing you to take immediate action. Because who checks smoke alarms anyway? You should. Look at these statistics**

Smoke alarms provide an early warning of a fire, giving people additional escape time. Here are some facts according to the NFPA:

  • In 2009-2013, smoke alarms sounded in more than half (53%) of the home fires reported to U.S. fire departments.
  • Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (38%) or no working smoke alarms (21%).
  • The death rate per 100 reported home fires was more than twice as high in homes that did not have any working smoke alarms compared to the rate in homes with working smoke alarms (1.18 deaths vs. 0.53 deaths  per 100 fires).
  • In fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate, almost half (46%) of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries.
  • Dead batteries caused one-quarter (24%) of the smoke alarm failures.

On top of alerting you to battery status, a Z-Wave smoke or CO alarm paired with smart device, via your gateway or controller, can alert you of a danger in your home when you aren’t even present. (A child cooking without permission; an elderly family member left the stove on; a furnace on the fritz causes an unsafe condition for your family still at home, etc). While this should never replace a monitored alarm system, it is another layer of protection and peace of mind.

So while smoke alarms may be among the last things people add to their home automation systems, they should deserve more credit. Door locks and security sensors keep out the bad guys. Lighting controls are flashy (pun intended). There aren’t as many ads that address the dangers of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning, but for peace of mind a system of Z-Wave smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be on everyone’s list.

First Alert ZCOMBO

I just added this Z-Wave enabled 2 in 1 First Alert Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarm to my existing Z-Wave network. Pairing was very easy; I held down the test button while inserting the battery tray. It was that simple.


Installation was really easy too. Since I replaced an existing ‘dumb’ smoke alarm, I just needed to add the base to the existing screws. The base has the most interesting combination screw hole system I have every seen, adapting virtually any combination of existing screws/anchors. There are also anchors included for new installations.

This alarm only has 2 batteries, and the one I replaced had three AA. A quick search of the internet shows that people were getting between 1 and 2 years out of those 2 AA batteries, which is very acceptable to me.

When enrolling this device into my Vera Edge network, it quickly configured and showed up as a Smoke/CO Detector with the correct parameters. I have seen mixed evidence that this works well with Smart Things, but will it work with your gateway? The instructions claim that "the alarm will operate with 3rd party, certified Z-Wave devices. Basic command class required by all Z-Wave devices. By the requirements of the Device Class spec, this command class does not have to be mapped to any particular functionality for this device”

The instructions also state, “The alarm supports one association group with up to 1 node, and sends the alarms to that group.” So that means that if this alarm trips, it will not be able to be associated with other smoke alarms in your network.

Some advice from the First Alert instruction sheet:
•   Install this alarm on every level of your home, including finished attics and basements.
•   Install this alarm inside every bedroom, especially if people sleep with the door partly or completely closed.
•   Install this alarm in the hall near every sleeping area.

Check local rules, as well as NFPA 72 for Smoke Alarms, and NFPA 720 for Carbon Monoxide Alarms.

Click here to see First Alert ZCOMBO.

The First Alert ZCOMBO was the easiest device I have ever ‘tested.’  I hope I never need it, but I feel a little bit better having another Z-Wave device to protect me and my family. Please submit your questions to help@zwaveproducts.com. We would like to hear from you. 

Additional Resources:

First Alert ZCOMBO Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detector installation manual

Frequently Ask Questions about Z-Wave Products

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Scene Master: A look at the Remotec ZRC-90

Remotec ZRC-90

Scene Master: A look at the Remotec ZRC-90

I have to be honest; I’ve waited for this product even before I knew its name. I’ve used Universal Remotes for the home theater, Minimotes for the bedroom, but I could never find an tasteful way to disarm my gateway when coming home, before I found the ZRC-90. The ZRC-90 is a scene controller from Remotec. It is a battery-operated Z-Wave device. More technical specs are here.

This device only has the heft of 3 Minimotes, and could just as easily get misplaced if it were not for its wall mounting bracket, which keeps it handy. Although it does not have a ‘keypad’ or allow combinations of key presses, I added mine near the service door so I can disarm my system when I come home. I also created scenes to turn on all outside lights, and turn off all the Z-Wave lights in the house (in case I’m going outside and don’t want to arm the gateway, but still don’t need a large electric bill). I think this device shines in this regard. Many people in the Z-Wave device forums asked about including anything from a Minimote with Velcro to a 2GIG 345E panel, just to be able to turn off the system when they return home. This device is also great for spouses and children of those of us afflicted with the DIY bug; they don’t need to log in to a gateway to make changes to their home.

Some things I am still working through. I didn’t like the open battery compartment while including the devices. The battery wells were not deep enough to capture the 2 AAA batteries, and during the first inclusion attempt, the battery springs forced the batteries out of the case, ruining my inclusion. On the second attempt, I found some issues with the buttons (they acted like they were reversed) but that could have been just my eagerness to have a new device to play with.

Unlike the Minimote, the eight buttons do not have long and short press options for me (although I have read other boards where configuring the device allowed this to happen on certain gateways). For me, eight scenes from one device/location was enough. Otherwise I might hurt myself.

Some of the uses I found for my ZRC-90:

  • Setting my Vera to Away Mode (or Night Mode).
  • Toggling on/off all exterior lights with the press of one button.
  • Turning off all Z-Wave lights in the house with the push of one button (without altering the Home/Away/Vacation/Night modes of my controller).
  • Turning down all the heat in the house with the push of one button (without altering the Home/Away/Vacation/Night modes of my controller).

I wish the labels were a little more comprehensive (and they were a little more invisible). They do the job (and one might say that if using this as a quasi-keypad they shouldn’t be labeled at all).

Despite my nitpicking, the ZRC-90 is a perfect solution for convenient scene (or mode) control and a great product from Remotec; one that I've been waiting for ever since I started using my Vera's modes.
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