September 14, 2016 2 Comments
The Fibaro Dimmer 2 has been available in Europe for quite some time and listed on the Fibaro US website as “coming soon” for too many months to count. Fibaro has made several of their Z-Wave devices available in the states (RGBW controller, Motion sensor, Flood sensor, etc.) and all of them have generally been well received. The company really does set a high standard for quality home automation devices. So, with that being said, does the Dimmer 2 live up to the Fibaro name and was it worth the wait? Read on to find out if this device stands out in the crowded IoT market.
The size of the Dimmer 2 quite a bit smaller than the Aeon Labs Micro Dimmer (the competing US in wall dimmer). This will make it a little easier to fit into your switch box. One thing that sets this device apart is that it has two switch ports (labeled S1 & S2). There are a couple different uses for the second switch port, so it is a great addition to have. First, you can use it in 3-way switch configurations. This can be a great benefit, as it can be quite difficult sometimes to get an in-wall dimmer to work with multiple switches. This gives you one additional way to do that, and being able to simply connect two switches without resorting to an advanced 3 way circuit, could really benefit a lot of people.
The second use for the S2 port, is scene activation. S1 & S2 both send different scene ids when you single, double, and triple click the switch connected to them. Even when the switch is held vs. pressed a different scene id is sent. What this means to a user, is that (with a compatible gateway), you can assign different actions to be carried out when you do such things as double or triple click the switch. For example, you could have a triple click lock your front door, or a double click turn off all the lights in your house. This is a very handy feature that really has limitless possibilities.
Installation and configuration are straightforward and typical for this kind of device. Consult the documentation or a licensed electrician for wiring help, but after that, use is as expected.
Inclusion: While your controller is in pairing mode, quickly press (3 times) the B-button (or the switch attached to switch port 1 - S1). This should include the switch into your Z-Wave network. Removal is done in the exact same way, but when your controller is in exclusion mode.
Use: You can either connect a momentary or toggle type switch to it. It should automatically detect which one is connected, but you can manually specify with a configuration parameter. With a toggle switch, toggling either turns the switch on or off. The dimming functionality can be controlled by your gateway. You can also use the scene activation functionality (mentioned above) in this mode with not as many variations. With a momentary switch attached, you can also dim the lights by pressing and holding the button down. Hold it down to increase the brightness. Stop and do it again to decrease it. While the device works great in both configurations, having a momentary connected really lets you use the dimmer to its fullest.
Leave it up to Fibaro to include 50 configurable options on this dimmer. They all seem useful in their own regard, but here are just a few that really stand out:
Forced switch on brightness level: This allows for the light to be turned on at a certain level when it is controlled by the physical switch. If you have automations that change the dimming to various levels depending on an event or time of day, it is nice to know that when I turn it on via the switch, it comes on at a predefined level (instead of who knows what). Of course, it can then be dimmed up or down by pressing and holding the switch attached to it.
Scene activation functionality: As mentioned in the “size and build” section, the two switch ports on this dimmer can send scene activation reports allowing you to set up all kinds of nifty actions when the switches are double clicked, triple clicked, held, or pressed.
Configurable power and energy reports: It is completely customizable when the device sends energy and power reports. You can have a report sent on a percentage threshold or a time period.
If your Z-Wave gateway supports it, this dimmer has excellent energy reporting. This feature is a great feature to have as more and more people are trying to save energy.
Match state of physical switch: This is kind of a neat feature if you are using toggle switches and want the state of the physical switch to match the actual state of the light. This may cause you to have to double toggle the physical switch to get it back in sync, but I know some people like being able to have a consistent state (up is on and down is off) for the switches throughout their homes.
If none of these stand out to you, chances are one of the others will. This dimmer also lets you configure the minimum & maximum brightness level, dimming step size and duration for automatic and manual control, state of the device after power failure, an off timer, and more.
Fibaro has a Bypass module that is intended for low loads that are attached to the dimmer. This made me question exactly how this device handles low power LED bulbs. It was no comprehensive test, but I tried 3 different types of LED bulbs without the bypass installed. The bulbs were made by Cree, Sylvania, and AmericanBright. I tried each brand in a 1 bulb and 2 bulb configuration (as the dimmer was hooked up to a two-light fixture). Although the range of light differed between the bulbs, I did not experience any of the common issues that you may run into with low power bulbs. There was no flickering when the bulbs were dimmed down to their lowest setting. They all emitted a solid light level, even during the tests that had a single bulb. When the dimmer was powered off, all of the bulbs turned completely off.
Overall, if you are in the market for this kind of device, the Fibaro Dimmer 2 will likely not disappoint. As a standard dimmable switch, it works exactly as you would expect. Dimming is smooth and it seems to work great with all of the bulbs I tried (incandescent and dimmable LED). For those with a compatible Z-Wave gateway that want a little more, this device has just about every configurable option you could want. You can fine tune it and tweak it to fit your specific needs. Fibaro has done a fine job on this Z-Wave dimmer, and their attention to detail clearly makes it stand out from the rest. If you are in the market for an in-wall dimmer, you can’t go wrong with this fantastic device.
Do you have anything to add from your own experience using the Fibaro Dimmer 2? Please share in the comments section below!
Visit Eric's blog smartlife.tech for more smart-home wisdom!
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August 06, 2020
If you already have Amazon Echo set up, you know how convenient it can be. There’s nothing like walking out the front door with full hands and telling Alexa to turn off your lights last minute. But these smart lights and plugs can be slow to react as you keep adding more smart home devices and clogging your network.
Alexa only “speaks” WiFi (and ZigBee if you have the EchoPlus). It currently doesn’t support Z-Wave, the protocol of choice for home automation thanks to its high speed and low interference with other connected devices in your home. That means you can’t have a Z-Wave switch or plug speak directly to your Echo. BUT you can use a smart home hub as a bridge between your Z-Wave devices and Amazon Alexa. Now that’s a whole other level of functionality to unlock!
And if you already have a Z-Wave hub but no smart speaker, you might be thinking how cool it would be to have voice control for your automations and smart home devices. It’s a step towards a more integrated, easy-to-use smart home with improved security, comfort, and convenience.
May 10, 2020 12 Comments
Starting May 13, 2020, Wink will be charging its users a $4.99 monthly subscription fee. If you don’t pay, you’ll lose your automations, smart rules, and access to voice control. [Update 5/30/20: Wink has since backed out of the decision, at least for now. Update 7/27/20: The subscription service for Wink is finally in effect.]
So is it worth paying $5 a month for Wink’s service? The platform hasn’t been adding new features or expanding its list of supported devices for a while now. The announcement introducing the subscription model didn’t include any details on when and how the system would start updating again. They also failed to give users at least 30 days notice to consider how to move forward. If you’re thinking about switching to another platform, we can’t blame you.
Here are a few alternatives for reliable smart home solutions that are most popular among our customers and the team here at The Smartest House. They’re all one-time investments without monthly fees. You’ll find a list of benefits and limitations with each platform, but if you have any questions about specific features we didn’t cover here, get in touch or post in the comment section below.
November 05, 2018
Winterizing your home used to mean lots of physical labor - caulking windows, installing heavier drapes, maybe even changing out older windows and doors that were too efficient at releasing insulated air. Winter prep can still mean all of the above, but new Z-Wave technology has made certain aspects of winterization easier while adding another level of protection as those temperatures drop.
Here’s what we’re using to stay cozy and make sure our energy bills don’t make us freeze in our tracks:
This is one of our winter must-haves. It’s the first Z-Wave line voltage thermostat in North America (but be careful, it won’t work with forced air systems!). Use it to control electric baseboards and convector heaters all from your Z-Wave hub’s app interface. Reduce your energy consumption by 30% with custom heating schedules, or just switch to the thermostat’s built-in Economy mode to keep things efficient.