Scene Master: A look at the 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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