LightwaveRF Home Automation System : In-Depth Review

It’s not often that a new Home Automation system comes along that can genuinely challenge the elderly, but universally established X10 protocol.  But LightwaveRF looks like it could just be the one to knock X10 off its perch in the budget sector.  Automated Home regular Ant Skelton takes us through a comprehensive overview of this new feature packed wireless home automation system, one that’s going to be a boon for anyone wanting to retro-fit modern controls in their home…

Submission by Ant Skelton – LightwaveRF is a new range of wireless, retrofit home automation modules very much in the spirit of X10. The LightwaveRF system debuted at the Gadget Show Live back in April 2011, and production is now ramping up to serious volumes.

The people behind LightwaveRF, JSJS Designs, may be unfamiliar to Automated Home readers. Their background is in assisted living devices for the seriously physically disabled, so it’s not much of a stretch for them to shift their focus from those who are unable to get up and switch on a light to those who are simply too idle. What should really grab your attention though, is that these are the guys who were behind the Byron/B&Q HomeEasy range of devices from a few years ago. Like the HomeEasy range, LightwaveRF is available under many different brand names: you might get devices branded JSJS Designs, Siemens, or Electrium.

LightwaveRF KitLike the HomeEasy system, the sheer range of LightwaveRF devices is impressive. There are replacement wall plates for 1, 2, 3 and 4 gang dimmer light switches, and for single and double wall sockets. There are slave dimmer modules for 2-way lighting setups, and battery-powered ‘transmitter only’ devices, akin to the old X10 Stick-a-switch. Five different styles are available: white plastic, brass, stainless steel, chrome, and black chrome. Each comes equipped with understated amber and blue LEDs to give some indication of state, and each has a push-fit faceplate to hide the wall fixings. Presumably at a later date spare faceplates will be available so that you can change the style of your switches without changing the underlying electronics. Until then, you can swap with a mate.

Other non-wall-mounting accessories are available, including a vast array of handheld remotes each providing slightly different functionality (betraying their HomeEasy heritage there!), a current-clamp power meter, battery powered LED lights, and PIR sensors. Finally there are two more intriguing prospects: a “WifiLink” unit which acts as a gateway between your LightwaveRF network and the internet at large for PC, browser, and smartphone control, and a dimmable 20W CFL bulb with all the smarts built in to it.

The LightwaveRF system operates in the 433MHz and 868 MHz bands, so it’s not going to have to contend with all your WiFi/Bluetooth/Zigbee/Pizza-reheating traffic, just garage door openers and wireless doorbells and the like. An additional benefit is that signals punch through walls with ease, and the lower power requirements mean that battery operated devices can operate from coin cells. The benefits of greater range mean that fancy mesh-networking tricks are unnecessary – LightwaveRF relies on its transmissions being able to cover your whole house, although a dumb repeater unit is available if you have range/blackspot issues.

LightwaveRF’s proprietary protocol is two-way capable, but for cost reasons most modules are either transmitters or receivers; few are both. For people looking to replace X10 this means that the Holy Grail of device status reporting is still just a dream. In practice, it’s rarely an issue, and JSJS Designs promise that two-way RF capable lighting units will follow in about a year’s time. LightwaveRF devices are not compatible with the older HomeEasy range.

Setting up a LightwaveRF system is very simple. You can have as many transmitters and receivers as you like, and receivers (which are typically the devices that do something, like dim a light or control a plug outlet) must be paired with transmitters (typically battery operated, remote control style devices). Any given receiver can remember 6 transmitters at a time, and it can also remember 3 mood settings (although by my reckoning, a Mood Controller in entry/exit mode can do 5 mood settings, so perhaps 5 moods is the upper limit). Pairing is done by performing some special action (holding buttons down, switching things on and off a certain number of times) on the receiver to put it in pairing mode, before pressing a button on the transmitter with which you wish to pair. From these simple rules relatively complex setups can be built, because a single transmitter button can control any number of receiver devices. Once you factor in the WifiLink as one of the transmitters, the possibilities become even more interesting.

LightwaveRF Remote

JSJS Designs’ enthusiasm for making remote controls remains undiminished from the old HomeEasy days; I count 5 different remote controls currently, excluding purely cosmetic variations. Here is a modest attempt to classify them:

Name  Buttons On/Off/DimChannels Moods Price Notes
5 Button Remote 5 2 No £9.98 Has ‘All-Off’
6 Button Remote 6 3 No £7.40
Handheld Remote 10 + 4 way selector 16* 1 £12.98 *in pages of four, selectable by slide switch I presume – no mentionvof it is made in the manual! Has ‘All-Off’
Mood Remote 6 + 4 way selector 4? 3? £12.98 No details available
Socket Locker 5 1 No £9.98 Permits various baffling combinations of ‘locking’ devices so that they can’t be controlled by front panel, RF, or sometimes both. For dimmers, the meaning of ‘lock’ is further strained.

The five button remote is the most compact of the available remotes at about 8×3.5x1cm. It has a glossy finish and pleasantly tactile buttons, and an amber LED to indicate when it’s transmitting. It can control two channels independently (on, off, bright, dim) and has an ‘all-off’ button (where here ‘all’ means ‘all devices which are paired to this transmitter). The remote is powered by a single CR2032 3 volt battery.

LightwaveRF Mood Lighting Controller

The Mood Lighting Controller is a battery-powered transmitter, which fits in a single lightswitch backbox and as such is ideal for providing a lightswitch at a location where there is no mains wiring. Since the unit protrudes less than a millimetre from the back of the face-plate, it would also be feasible to mount it directly to a wall with double-sided tape (provided) or velcro.

LightwaveRF Mood Switch Rear

The controller is powered by a single 3volt CR2032 battery, has a blue LED to indicate transmission, and has two large buttons and four smaller ones. The large buttons can be configured as on/off/bright/dim buttons, are as Entry and Exit mood presets; this mode is controlled by a small slide switch on the rear of the unit, which is also where battery replacement may be effected. The button themselves feel a bit flimsy and loose fitting, but they have a satisfying clicky action (without the resounding clatter of my Clipsal modular switches) and so far have stood up to a reasonable level of abuse in our household without any problems.

The four smaller buttons are an ‘All Off’ button, and one each for three mood presets. Each receiver device can remember three different preset mood levels, so pressing ‘mood 1’ on the mood lighting controller simply instructs each paired receiver to transition to whatever level it has stored in its ‘mood 1’ memory. You can slide the selector on the back of the switch to ‘M’ to enable the two large buttons to also transmit mood messages, in which case you gain two extra moods at the expense of manual on/off control. Setting a mood level is simply a case of setting the light levels you want on any paired receivers then holding down the mood button on the transmitter until the LED flashes.

I had initially assumed that changing the setting on the slide switch or replacing the battery would require removing the screws and taking off the entire face-plate, until it was pointed out to me that the black module can be clicked out of the transparent fixing bracket with ease, for exactly this purpose.

JSJS Designs estimate that the batteries last 2 years under ‘average’ use, so hopefully it won’t be necessary too often. The units don’t report back battery status, which is a pity, as you won’t get any advanced warning of impending battery failure.

LightwaveRF Switch InternalsLightwaveRF Switch Fitted

The single channel 250W dimmer is a LightwaveRF receiver which can replace existing in-wall dimmer light fittings. It does not require a neutral connection. It uses the same removable faceplate approach as the mood lighting controller to hide the fixing screws, and will fit comfortably into a 25mm back-box. Two, three and four channel equivalents are also available, at 210W per channel. Higher wattage dimmers will not be made available, as JSJS Designs expect that the market for incandescents is a shrinking one. Each channel has a couple of buttons, and a pair of reasonably discrete LEDs, one amber and one blue. The dimmer is compatible with all incadescent and low-energy halogen bulbs, as well as dimmable low-voltage transformers. JSJS Designs report that it will also work with dimmable LEDs and most dimmale CFLs provided that there is something in the circuit to provide a resistive load on startup, such as a normal bulb (eg 20W halogen) or a 15-20W resistor. Indeed, they are in the process of releasing a suitable ballast module for this very purpose. The dimmer circuit is a leading-edge triac affair, yet is completely silent in operation.

Also available is a single gang slave dimmer, which doesn’t have any radio electronics in it, but which is able to participate in multi-way switching scenarios like the ubiquitous UK hall/landing combo. You can have up to six of these in any given circuit, although why you’d want that many is anybody’s guess.

All dimmers are soft-start, and fade on and off beautifully, as well as segueing smoothly between preset moods. As an added bonus, on activation they’ll return to whatever level they were at when they were last switched off. If a light is on and there’s a power cut, the dimmer will revert to the off state when power returns, which seems like an odd decision, especially if you’ve carefully programmed up occupancy emulating settings to fool burglars while you’re away. The justification is that because there is no mechanical switch to provide visual feedback this is somehow safer if you are lunatic enough to attempt work on the circuit during a power-cut using only a cursory glance at the lightswitch as a safety reassurance. After all, nobody has ever wired a regular lightswitch upside down.

In use, the amber LED glows softly when the light fitting is off, and the pleasingly subdued blue LED indicates that it is on. This seems the wrong way round to me as standard neon indicators glow amber when the power is on, but it’s a minor quibble. Pressing and holding both the buttons puts the dimmer in pairing mode, making it receptive to the advances of any nearby transmitters, and the lights flash alternately to indicate this. There are other patterns to indicate the various complicated locking modes, but I won’t go into these, principally because I don’t have the locking remote, nor am I able to fathom its workings from the online manual.

LightwaveRF Double Socket LightwaveRF Double Socket Rear

The two gang 13A plug socket (also available as a single gang socket) is a replacement for the humble UK double socket and matches the style of the wall switches. Functionally they are similar, except that these are on/off only devices and are not dimmable. There are no plans to produce a dimmable version either, because there’s no visual clue that a socket is a dimmable leading to all sorts of nightmare scenarios with hapless punters trying to dim televisions or hair dryers. To cater for floor lamps and such however, both a plug-in dimmer module and a plug-in on/off module are available.

A nice touch with the packaging is that wall sockets and dimmers come with a little magnetic flap you can open to check which finish you’re getting, should you be fortunate enough to encounter them in the retail environment.

LightwaveRF Socket Fitted - LEDs LightwaveRF Double Socket Top

The instructions for the socket claim that it will fit a 25mm backbox, but the plug’s back protrudes quite a long way, making it a bit of a nightmare to squeeze in two lots of thick mains cable, as you can see from the above photo. Even to get that far involved wince-inducing levels of torque on the fixing screws, and I fully expected the plastic faceplate to snap at any moment. 35mm back boxes are probably the way to go with these units.

LightwaveRF Dimmable CFL Bulb

The website calls this a CFR. I don’t know what the ‘R’ is for, but the accompanying manual calls it a CFL, and so shall I. These are available in both ES (screw) and BC (bayonet) fittings, so make sure you pick the right ones. They either come on their own, or with a bundled mood remote. Bizarrely, there’s a three pack option, but with a mandatory remote and it’s only available in bayonet fitting, so if you just wanted 3 ES bulbs, you’re out of luck. Like the recently vaunted NXP GreenChip technology, this CFL integrates the dimmer and radio receiver into the lightbulb enclosure itself, with the principal difference that the LightwaveRF version is actually available to buy now. It’s also Patent Pending, I note.

The bulb itself is a bit of a beast, and measures 13cms from tip to toe, with a diameter of about 6cm for most of that length. These ones have quite a yellowish light, and share that other hateful CFL characteristic of taking 1 to 2 seconds to come on after you’ve flicked the switch. Being a CFL, they won’t soft-start either, but come on at the previous light level directly, so no subtle fades here. The difference in dim levels is less discernible than with regular bulbs, and seems distinctly non-linear, but you can get four or five useful levels out of it. Of all the LightwaveRF devices I tested, this is the only one that seems to have a life of its own, and occasionally doesn’t come on at the level I expected, but at some reduced level of brightness.

You may be wondering, “what happens if I’ve set the CFL to a really low dim level with the remote, and SWMBO comes along and uses the wall switch? How does she get full brightness?”. Fear not, JSJS Designs have got your back: if you turn the power on, then off, then back on again, the bulb will automatically start cycling through its brightness levels in a hypnotic manner; you simply wait until the brightness level you want comes around, then interrupt it by turning it OFF and ON again. It sounds more cumbersome than it is in practice, and actually works pretty well.

What is indisputable is that these dimmable CFLs represent about the simplest possible retrofit solution; if you can install a lightbulb, you can install these. Getting them paired with a remote control is a bit of a pantomime: from the on state, you have to rapidly switch your existing lightswitch off and on again four times as quickly as possible, in the manner of Daley Thompson’s Decathlon. If you succeed in your endeavours you are rewarded with a flashing lightshow which indicates that you have 20 seconds to scrabble about with your chosen transmitter, or an iPhone.

The problem with dimmable bulbs of course, is that they’re wired in series with your existing lightswitch, so if somebody turns it off at the wall, you’ve lost remote control entirely. One option is to replace your existing lightswitch with a mood controller and hardwire the circuit in the space behind it, but I’m not sure if your electrician would approve.

Energy Monitor
LightwaveRF Eco Meter

The energy monitor is the usual current-clamp affair, so shunt aside all your existing energy monitors to squeeze another clamp sensor in there, then plug it into one of the three sockets on the top of the energy monitor unit. No mention is made of these, and the software seems to only support one, but presumably in the future extra clamp accessories will be available to allow for appliance monitoring, or even three phase monitoring if your living space is of an industrial bent. You’ll need to provide your own 2xAA batteries, and once they’re installed you also need a Wifilink (yes, yes, I’m getting to it!) to pair it with. Having done that, the unit transmits information about every 10 seconds, signalled by a cheerful little blink of its LED.

LightwaveRF WiFi Link

 

LightwaveRF iOS Eco Meter

 

LightwaveRF Eco Monitor Screen

Once everything’s installed, you get a live reading on the Wifilink’s LCD display, or you can use the iPhone application or the website. The latter offers a small usage graph, and hints at a future “concierge service”. The iPhone app allows you to customise the cost per unit, sadly it doesn’t allow you to alter all the erronous “Kw” labels to read “kW”. There’s currently no capability to take any action of your energy usage reaches a certain level, it’s purely a monitor. Such features are surely forthcoming, however.

One minor irritation is that communications with the energy monitor are not particularly reliable, and the iPhone app frequently complains that it can’t find it.

Lightwave RF iPhone App

Possibly this is a peculiarity of my set-up, but I have three other energy monitors in there that communicate without problems. JSJS Designs say that this is a known issue which is fixed in the most recent Energy Monitor firmware.

LightwaveRF WiFi Link Boxed

 

LightwaveRF Wifi Link Unboxed

Currently the most expensive item in the LightWaveRF repertoire, the WifiLink acts as a gateway between your LightwaveRF network and your home LAN. “WifiLink” is a bit of a misnomer, because the box connects via ethernet, and has nothing whatsoever to do with WiFi, as far as I can tell. It doesn’t connect to ethernet particularly well either, as it seems to be extremely fussy about what it’s plugged in to. It wouldn’t work connected directly to my Vigor router, nor to my big Dell switch, but it was perfectly happy with both if a cheap 5 port Netgear switch was interposed. You’ll know your WifiLink is able to see the world at large when it manages to display the correct time and date on its LCD. Crucially, you’ll also want to ensure that the WifiLink displays an “S” in the bottom left of its LCD – its away-from-home control facilities are of the ‘phone home’ variety (more later), and this ‘S’ indicates that it is able to see the LightwaveRF server. Frequently I’ve managed to get it to boot and acquire the date and time, but with no ‘S’ showing, with hilariously predictable results when you try to remotely control your lighting.

LightwaveRF Wifi Link Running

If you’ve got a LightwaveRF energy monitor running then you can pair this with the WifiLink, and it will display a real-time estimate of your instantaneous energy usage, plus some tallies and cost estimates based on a cost-per-unit which you enter.

LightwaveRF WiFi Link

Once your WifiLink is non-Wifi’d up, and you’ve got the Eco monitor paired, you can proceed directly to the Apple App Store to download the iPhone application. An equivalent Android application is in the works and should be along any month now.

The iPhone application is a fairly basic affair; I get the feeling it’s been banged out quickly as a proof of concept. However, whilst klunky, it is for the most part functional. I expect a more polished app will eventually emerge from LightwaveRF themselves, or more likely from a third party once the API has been released (or reverse engineered).

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

 

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot  LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

Once installed, the iPhone application presents a home screen with several rooms, each of which can have several devices. Currently the app is limited to 8 rooms of 6 devices each, along with 3 moods. This limitation is purely arbitrary though (apart from the number of moods), and more rooms and devices have been promised for future versions. Pairing devices with the iPhone app is as straight-forward as using the dedicated remotes: perform whatever ritual the receiver requires to put it into pairing mode, then press the appropriate device button on an iPhone room screen. That’s it.  Once you’ve got all your devices paired, you can turn them on and off, or go directly to a preset dim level using the appropriate iPhone screen.

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot  LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

In the same screen, you have an option of setting a “Quicktimer”, which is simply a means of deferring the relevant action until some point in the future:

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot  LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

For some reason, the quicktimer start time defaults to “now plus one hour”, which has caught me out several times. It’s particularly galling because having completed quick-timer setup, there is no way to view, edit, or delete currently pending quicktimers.

Things get more in-depth once you switch to the “Sequences” tab in the iPhone UI, which allows you to set-up more complicated sequences of events with variable delays between them, and you have the option of triggering these on a timed basis. These full-fat timers have many more options relative to the “quicktimers” mentioned above, a chief advantage being that you can edit them.

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot  LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

Sequences allow you to chain together events, with a fixed or random delay after each step is executed. You can have up to 10 steps in a sequence, and I am reliably informed that the WifiLink can hold 10 sequences, 10 timers, and 10 quicktimers currently.

Editing a sequence itself is a clumsy affair; the app does this by taking you back to the device control screens so that you can choose roooms/devices. The only thing that lets you know that you’re in sequence mode is a cheesy label in the middle of the screen – they even made it a nice cheesy yellow colour!

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot  LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

You’ll know you’re in sequence learning mode, because the application nags you about it every time you press a device button:

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot  LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

What’s not immediately apparent is that you can include the preset moods and the ‘All Off’ command in sequences. It’s non-obvious, because if you select either of these in ‘Learning Mode’ you get nagged twice: once by the usual “are you sure you want to do this” pop-up, which makes you think it’s not learning the command but will execute it immediately, and then by the regular learning mode prompt. Here’s my attempt to learn mood 1 (“Bright”):

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot  LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

and the same thing for the “All Off” command:

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot  LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

Something that’s strictly verboten is the sequence tab itself: you can’t do something sneaky like call sequence B as the first step of sequence A without getting a rap on the knuckles:

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

Once you’re done adding devices, you’re expected to hoof it back over to the ‘Sequences’ tab to click on the save button. Having done that you can now go about editing the delay between each of the steps in your sequence:

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot  LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

You can set a fixed delay between steps, or a random delay within a particular range, which is a nice touch. Another nice touch is that if you switch away from the iPhone app when it is in learning mode, it automatically aborts learning mode when you switch back to it, which would otherwise be potentially very confusing indeed.

There are some shortcomings with sequences though. As already mentioned, you can’t call another sequence, nor can you loop or jump within the current sequence, so playing disco lights with all your house lights is currently out of the question. You can’t currently trigger a sequence from a LightwaveRF transmitter device like the mood switch or the PIR sensor either, although this is reputedly in the works.

The sequence editor itself leaves a lot to be desired: you can go back and review a sequence, or you can edit the delays for each step, but you can’t re-order the steps in the sequence, nor can you delete individual steps, nor append new ones; your only option is to delete the entire sequence and start over.

The other major component of the “Sequences” tab is the Timers list. These are like quicktimers, only more fully featured. Unlike quicktimers, any new timers you add go in the list where you can keep an eye on them.

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

As you can see, there’s a wealth of options, although confusingly some of these are not available depending on what other options you’ve selected. For example, “Start Date” is only available if the timer’s “Repeat” type is “once only”; for all other timer types it sets itself irrevocably to “Now”, which seems an odd decision.

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

Timers trigger sequences; you can’t set a timer to do a simple on/off action without embedding said action in a sequence first. This is irritating, fiddly, and uses up one of your precious sequence slots. Your other option is to use a quicktimer, but as discussed earlier these are one-shot, and you can’t review or edit them.

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

 

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot  LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

Timers can be set to fire at a particular time, or at some time relative to either dusk or dawn. As far as I can tell there’s nothing in the system which actually senses light levels, so dusk and dawn are presumably derived using current location (which you have to enter manually in the settings screen) and internet-related timeserver trickery.

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

 

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot  LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

Timers offer a good selection of repeat options, allowing you to specify a one-off timer (that fires on a particular date), timers that fire on a particular day of the week (e.g. monday to friday but not saturday and sunday), timers that fire on the same day every month (e.g. every 6th of the month) and timers that fire every N days. For all but one-off timers, you can specify an ‘until date’ which acts as a cut-off time, after which that timer is no longer active:

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

Alternatively, you can just let timers run indefinitely until you decide to cancel them manually.  iPhone control is all very well when you’re tucked up in your home WLAN, but what about when you and your faithful sidekick are further abroad? LightwaveRF have that covered too with their “remote control” option, although you’re going to have to do some (not too arduous) work to set it up.

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

First off, you’ll need to head into the “Settings” tab, and I warn you now that just about everything in here suffers from random crashes or poor UI design, it definitely smacks of having been last on the software project plan.

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

The first order of business is to set your email address, and PIN. Yes, you read correctly: PIN. The only barrier to some random Herbert turning your lights on and off in the middle of the night is a 4 digit PIN. Hopefully there is a future upgrade planned to new-fangled passwords, which are already popular on some other internet sites.

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

Next we head into “Setup Internet Control” (careful, it’s a bit crashy in here) and type in the MAC address, exactly as it appears on the bottom of the WiFiLink unit. Having done that, the WifiLink will display a PIN number on its LCD screen, which you must re-enter into the iPhone app. A nice use of two-factor authentication there, which is a bit baffling coming from the same company that so recently brought us PIN-protected remote access, but there you go. Incidentally, you’ll have fun actually entering the PIN on the iPhone app, because the keypad by which you do so completely obscures the edit field you’re trying to type the PIN in to, so an element of guesswork is involved:

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot  LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

Once your blind flailing is successfully accomplished, you’re rewarded with full-on remote access:

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

Now, as the note says, you are in charge of your own destiny: you can switch between remote (internet) and local (WLAN) control with impunity. Quite why you need to do this is beyond me: even the iPhone’s highly restrictive APIs let you determine whether you’re on your home WLAN or not (hint to any LightwaveRF iOS developers reading this: System Configuration! Reachability!)

Once you’ve activated remote mode, your home screen and device screens earn an extra green “Roaming” badge done in some dreadful Comic Sans-esque cheery font, and everything works pretty much as normal, it just takes that bit longer, and the app holds your hand the whole time lest anything startle you:

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

 

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot  LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

The reason this takes a while is because of the ‘phone home’ design – you’re not communicating with your WifiLink directly over the internet, you’re communicating with the LightwaveRF server, which passes the message on to your WifiLink on your behalf. In other words, if lightwaverf.com goes down, then so do you. On the plus side, it allows them to add new features to the online web-paged based control system (of which, more shortly) without uploading new firmware to all the WifiLinks out there. And before you ask, no the WifiLink does not run a local website so that you can control stuff from other devices on your LAN, although this is sure to be available shortly by one means or another.

Once again, if you switch away and come back to the iPhone app, your roaming status is cancelled, and you’re back to WLAN mode. This is probably a sensible feature, although I’d prefer it to be an optional setting, or better yet, for roaming to be fully automatic.

There’s not much left to discuss in the iPhone application, bar a couple of remaining sections in the Settings tab, those being:

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

I can’t tell you what this does, as I don’t entirely trust the dialogue box not to shred absolutely everything and make me go through all the pairing and set-up again, and also:

LightwaveRF iOS / iPhone App Screenshot

What this does is to upload all the info in your iPhone about rooms, devices, sequences and timers to the My LightwaveRF website, so that you don’t have to enter them all from scratch. Or at least that’s the theory: on my phone, it makes a good show of it, but actually does bugger all, and if you try again it just crashes.

The second string to the WifiLink’s bow is the aforementioned My LightwaveRF website, which claims to offer much the same control as the iPhone app, but with a web interface hosted at LightwaveRF’s server. Like the iPhone app, it’s a bit of a proof-of-concept lash-up, but it’s less functional and stable than the iPhone application, and appears to be under current development (sequences and timers are a very recent addition to the web interface).

LightwaveRF Web Interface

Here we enter our email address and PIN that we configured wih the iPhone app’s remote settings interface. The low security PIN is weakened yet further by a curious bug whereby the web interface won’t allow ‘0’ as a valid digit, so if you’ve used a zero in your PIN you’ll have to go back and change it or you won’t be able to use the web interface at all.

LightwaveRF Web Interface

Once logged in, you’re presented with an accordion style menu of subsections, which allow you to configure the various aspects of the system. The ‘rooms’ section show here mirrors the rooms section of the iPhone app; in an ideal world, the ‘upload settings’ button on the iPhone app would have filled in all this detail for me, but as you can see, that isn’t working

LightwaveRF Web Interface

Here you can see I’ve filled in all the rooms and device info manually; the web interface shares the same limitations on rooms and devices as the iPhone application, and it’s apparent that if you planned to fit LightwaveRF devices to your entire house you’ll quickly run out of wiggle room. Notice that when setting up a device, you mark it as a simple ‘on/off’ device, or as a dimmable device, or you can disable it entirely.

LightwaveRF Web Interface

The sharp-eyed amongst you may be thinking that there isn’t any way to actually turn things on and off from the web interface, but that’s not entirely true. As you can see from the above screenshot, there is a large panel on the right-hand side which aims to mimic the iPhone app’s primary control surface. I think the idea is that each of those blank grey buttons is meant to have a room label in it, which would then take me to a devices screen, but sadly this doesn’t appear to be working either. [ At the time of going to press, it looks as if this issue has now been fixed! ]

LightwaveRF Web Interface

The four little grey buttons at the bottom allow you to change the text size and positioning of the labels, curiously. I can’t think why they are there, unless they are meant for developers only and have been left enabled by accident.

LightwaveRF Web Interface

 

LightwaveRF Web Interface

The sequences editor is a relatively new addition to the website, and offers similar functionality to the equivalent page of the iPhone application. It’s not exactly the same because there are some serious omissions: you can’t include moods or all-off commands in sequences, and you’ve lost the ability for a random delay between sequence steps.

LightwaveRF Web Interface

On the plus side, it is possible to delete individual sequence steps from the sequence, and you can re-order them by dragging them about in the steps editor, which is a major improvement over the iPhone app.

LightwaveRF Web Interface
LightwaveRF Web Interface

It’s not all rosy though: the sequene editor will happily let you enter dim levels for a device you’ve previously marked as “on/off” only, such as my conservatory Red Lamp in the above screenshot. Also when you reach the limit of 10 steps in a sequence, or by my reckoning 9 steps, you get an angry little dialogue box, and you’ll find that after that you can’t edit sequence steps using the little red E icons any more. You’ll have to log out and log back in again to make them work again.

LightwaveRF Web Interface
LightwaveRF Web Interface

Timers are the other recent addition to the web interface, and this particular interface is much more usable than the iPhone equivalent. You still can’t edit an existing timer, only delete them, but the overview screen does at least give you enough information to fully identify the function of each timer you’ve set. Another nice touch is that controls in the timer editor update dynamically depending on the other options you’ve already set, which is something the iPhone app is in dire need of. Another killer feature that the iPhone app lacks is the ability for a timer to directly trigger an on, off, or dim command: it doesn’t require these commands to exist in a sequence first. The iPhone app desperately needs this functionality.

Noticeable by their omission are quicktimers; since there’s no means to edit, review or cancel these on the iPhone app it would have been nice to reign them in with the web page.

One other thing that’s worth noting is that as soon as you click the ‘Save’ button on either sequences or timers, they are immediately uploaded to your WifiLink, and the WifiLink displays a message on its LCD to alert you of the fact. This means that your timers and sequences should live on even if the LightwaveRF server is unavailable, or if your internet connection drops out.

LightwaveRF Web Interface

The “Heating” tab of the web interface is just a teaser, showing images of what looks to be some kind of LightwaveRF thermostat, and another gizmo that looks like a radiator TRV. It says these products are available now, but they’re not at the time of writing. I’m pretty certain this tab used to have nothing at all in it until fairly recently, so I guess this means these things are imminent.

LightwaveRF Web Interface

 

LightwaveRF Web Interface

The final ‘Eco’ tab is also a placeholder for the intriguingly named ‘concierge service’, which I’m guessing is some sort of planned service a la AlertMe, but there are no other mentions of it anywhere on any of the LightwaveRF sites, so we’ll have to wait and see with that one. There is a small energy usage graph provided though, which gives you tiny snapshots of each day. It’s no Timetric or Pachube, but it gives you a useful indication. My old maths teacher would have had a fit of apoplectic rage at the lack of axes labels and units, and I’m not entirely clear why my graph sometimes extends down to -3000, but I have already used it to argue the case that leaving hair-straighteners on is destroying the planet, albeit with marginal success.

Conclusion – I’ve been quite scathing on the iPhone application and the web interface, mainly to provide a bit of contrast in what would otherwise be a pathetically fawning review of a system that I consider to be absolutely excellent. JSJS Designs have built on their assisted living and HomeEasy experience to deliver hardware modules that are extremely well thought out, easy to retrofit, and relatively cheap given the functionality on offer.

I think the decision to move away from incandescents is a prudent one, and the decision to launch cheaper transmit-only units and follow them up with fully bidirectional status-reporting units a year or so later is equally wise; it will give the control infrastructure time to mature, and depending on the price differential of the bidirectional units when they appear, many people may decide that they don’t actually need to know the current status of each and every lightbulb. After all, we managed perfectly well without it with good ol’ X10.

The web/smartphone control aspect is a new avenue for JSJS Designs, and the WifiLink realises this perfectly. The web control panel and iPhone application will evolve and mature into genuinely useful interfaces, and the company has committed to releasing the web API any day now, so third-party options will also no doubt proliferate.

Those gripes aside, my only other complaints are the 8 room / 6 devices limitation which will hopefully soon be lifted, and the fact that some of the scenarios I’ve dreamed up are currently impossible because the relevant hardware devices are not currently available. However, most of these have been discussed on the forums (which by the way are extremely friendly and informative, and oft visited by JSJS staff) and are already in the pipeline. Given the proliferation of HomeEasy devices in the past, I’ve no doubts whatsoever that JSJS Designs will deliver.

If you’re replacing an aging X10 system, or are in the market for a new automation system and the silly-money options are beyond your reach, then LightwaveRF is an absolute no-brainer. Your only dilemnas will be whether to choose the dimmable CFLs over in-wall dimmers, and whether to start installing the basic dimmers now or wait for the bidirectional status reporting units. Personally I’m well into replacing my clunky old X10 wall dimmers already; there are a couple of places where I’ll wait for an in-ceiling module or the like, but as far as I’m concerned X10 is dead and its successor is LightwaveRF.

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51 Comments on "LightwaveRF Home Automation System : In-Depth Review"

  1. I was all ready to go and buy a truckload of this stuff but it has no status reporting.

    Until this has status implemented it’s not worth going for IMHO. Unlikely that you’d be able to upgrade your switches etc to support it yourself.

    Kudos on the not developing something that looks like it’s trapped in the 80’s (or in the case of some the 60’s). This stuff looks ‘normal’ which is a bonus.

  2. These are very, very attractive – how long before someone writes a plugin for Homeseer?

  3. By the way, the Android app is now available!

  4. I’d like to see a dedicated iPad app and status reporting, I may then seriously consider installing lightwaverf in my apartment.

  5. Again another proprietary system. I’m sorry, I’m not buying.

  6. “The LightwaveRF system operates in the 433MHz and 868 MHz bands, so it’s not going to have to contend with all your WiFi/Bluetooth/Zigbee/Pizza-reheating traffic, just garage door openers and wireless doorbells and the like…”

    or until LTE & whitespace devices come along and ruin it all for us…

  7. Is the protocol the same as for the HomeEasy range?

  8. will it be coming to USA any time soon ?

  9. This is just the logical extension of HomeEasy – pretty devices, but no mesh and no status reports, so still basically useless, will only work patchily, can’t be used with apps/homeseer (what’s the point in an app if it can’t tell the status, woo-hoo I can randomly send signals to things, but I won’t know if it got there or if I’ve started it cycling through dimming by sending 2 on commands to a lightbulb. I bought a number of homeeasy bits in my house and most of them packed up inside of a year, randomly decide to interfere with one another despite apparently being linked. Oh, and its all proprietary???
    The only plus of these vs z-wave is that this manufacturer is making pretty looking sockets which currently I can’t find for z-wave.

  10. I asked them if they have light switches that will operate with a non dimmable bulb i.e. standard energy saving. The answer is no. Surely this narrows their market I would have thought? I would have definitely bought if they had ‘standard’ wifi light switches as I have numerous energy saving lights around and outside the house. What’s the use of being able to operate lights remotely e.g. when away on hols if they are only standard (high energy) bulbs or the enormous CFLs that they sell?

  11. Love the expression ‘can genuinely challenge the elderly’. ROFL!

    Personally, I think an HA system the elderly (elderly = old people) can easily use is much better.

    Of course, if it challenges and older HA system then that’s fine.

  12. A very detailed review, nicely written and illustrated – thank you. As someone looking for an expandable remote control system I was considering X10 alternatives – looks like this is a great contender at a very sensible price. The software bugs you pointed out can mostly be sorted later – sounds like the hardware works well and it’s the hardware that you’re stuck with, so that’s the most important consideration.

  13. Thanks for a very comprehensive review. Answered a number of questions I had after reading through their website (and product manuals). As others have already pointed out, the lack of two-way comms is a distinct -ve in my books. Further, remote (outside your home LAN) control is only possible through their servers, which they can a) start charging for at any time, b) security issues as I, effectively, need to upload my electrical floorplan in to their machines along with usage patterns (think holidays!), c) if their servers are down then I am up sh*t creek without the proverbial paddle, especially if I am in the middle of a long sequence and a few thousand miles from home. So a local webserver is IMO a much better option, as maintaining it becomes my responsibility.

  14. I have just bought some of these devices, and from a purely convenience point of view, they’re great. I only plan on automating one room, so I can always see what “state” things are in. One button moods for a movie watcher are great. Dim the lights, switch on the projector, drop the screen… all from one button, fantastic.

    The 4 digit pin protection is perfectly sufficient. If it’s good enough for credit cards/security systems, then it’s fine. It is certainly misleading to say the only thing stopping someone turning on your lights is a 4 digit pin. You have your email address, you have the pin for your account, then you have a system generated pin when you pair a wifi controller (an iPad for instance). That is more than enough, and I don’t know why the reviewer has mislead people with this.

  15. I’m sorry you feel mislead, LeeC. However, the facts are these:

    1) if you’ve enabled remote access, then the only thing that protects your account is your username and email address on the lightwaverf.com “LightwaveRF Manager” page.
    2) Your email address is easily guessed, this leaves the PIN as your sole protection
    3) At the time of writing the article, a bug in the software mean’t that you couldn’t use the character ‘0’, so you have 4 digits, each of which can be any value from 1 to 9.
    4) this means there are 6561 unique PIN codes (9*9*9*9 = 6561)
    5) assuming each takes 5 seconds to try, I can try every possible combination against your email address in 32805 seconds, which is 546 minutes, which is 9 hours, on a *single computer*.
    6) If I distributed this task across 10 computers, I’d crack your account in under an hour, and you wouldn’t be enjoying your movie screen quite so much any more 😉

    The reason PINs are used with credit cards are that they are part of a scheme called “two factor authentication”, the two factors being “something you have” (the credit card), and “something you know” (the PIN) – these work well in combination, but each on its own is inherently weak, because you no longer have “defence in depth”. This is the reason why most websites do not trust security to 4 digit PINs, and prefer longer passwords taken from a much wider range of characters.

    HTH,

    ant

  16. Very good review and very detailed, in summary we believe this product is well priced and looks good too especially if you compare it to some other uk available products on the market.

    I think the best addition so far has been the addition of the relay switch.

    The most common question we get is the low wattage limits, however not an issue if your using dimmable LEDs, but for halogen users then its not quite the product for you.

    Looking forward to hopefully further products coming out from Lightwave

    Our suggestions for additions
    – Key ring size remote control unit
    – dimmable relay switch

  17. I’ve been using a number of LightwaveRF dimmer switches and socket dimmers for the past few months and here is my feedback:

    PROS:
    – Reasonably priced and easy to find (B&Q has them!)
    – Easy to install and set up (WiFi link setup could be smoother)
    – Wide product range
    – Good design and good quality manufacturing

    CONS:
    – Dimmer brightness: both dimmer switches and plug-in socket dimmers don’t deliver full lamp brightness when set to 100%. When you set a dimmer at 100% you get approx 70-80% of the voltage, resulting in reduced lamp brightness. This is by far my biggest disappointment with LWRF as it has forced me to change out bulbs to a higher wattage.
    – 250W limit of dimmer switches. If you have six GU10 50W halogens you’re out of luck.
    – PIR sensor stopped working after a month
    – Fade-in and fade-out of lighting is too slow (subjective)

    Regarding the WiFiLink gateway and related software: it works but the design is very rudimental and outdated, compared to other home automation platforms. The user interface and usage flows to control devices, set up timers and sequences need an overhaul, taking advantage of state of the art software/web technologies.

    That said, I’m satisfied with the system I’ve deployed so far – the hardware is good and I’m hopeful the software improvements will come. The only thing holding me back from expanding the system is the dimmer performance. If that is addressed… full steam ahead!

  18. Likewise ive had a fair amount of their products.
    I really wanted to have the house completed by christmas.

    But it was not that long before things started to go wrong

    1 The software for android is very unstable and looks like its been written by a five year old and despite promises by the company very little if anything has been done to rectify the problems.now to a point i could live with that but when some of the hardware started to fail time and time again alarm bells started to ring so i stopped buying anymore until an answer was found despite repeated emails and no reply s i then started a Google search and it soon become apparent that im not the only one.

    Now to be fair i thought i was buying Siemens products a well known company with a superb reputation.
    It was not until i hit problems that i was dealing with what appears to be a very small company that has not been going that long.

    So im now going to be contacting Siemens to see what they are going to do to rectify the problem and if not cover the cost ive spent on new back boxes and in places having to plaster around the box.
    As fas as im concerned Siemens are selling a product not fit for purpose.

  19. >1 The software for android is very unstable and looks like its been written by a five year old.

    I stopped reading at that point. You may make valid points later, but I will never know.

    I have a collection of lightwaverf and homeeasy. Both reasonably reliable. The only issue I have with JSJS, is their refusal to offer an API, so that I can control both types of kit from a single interface.

  20. LittleColin | March 29, 2012 at 10:46 am |

    Just in case anyone’s interested, there’s a Windows Phone 7 app in the marketplace for LightwaveRF now:

    http://www.windowsphone.com/en-GB/apps/41666473-fb72-4dd8-a2b0-5d6056acd846

  21. Best alternative to x10 have used this in every room

  22. I have been experimenting with this for a couple of weeks and am quite impressed so far. Yes, the recommended software is very basic and a little buggy, but the hardware is pretty good quality and works flawlessly.
    Despite being a proprietary system, with a little networking experience and a rudimentary webserver it is fairly easy to develop your own web-based interface which works directly through the wifi-link, bypassing the cumbersome internet relay. Integrating into existing systems should be possible with a little ingenuity.
    Whilst two-way communication would be nice, the reliability of transmission (at least in my fairly small, but RF-noisy environment) means that it isn’t entirely necessary.
    Hopefully the company will continue to develop the product and improve upon the good start that they have already made.

  23. I too was smitten by the low price and attractive hardware. I have now spent several hundred of my pounds and hours of my time and sincerely wish I had not heard of LightwaveRF.

    In my experience, the pros are:

    – cheap and attractive hardware

    The cons are:

    – dimmer are way too dim – to the point of not being usuable
    – why are there so many silly restrictions with the software? Many things are not ready yet.
    – why no wall switches – I do not want to use the crap dimmers nor do I want to replace my existing non-dimmable LEDs.
    – no status reporting. Sometimes it accepts the request, but nothing happens – no have to physically check. This is non-sense.
    – the range is not too bad. However, I have a couple of devices that are borderline and work sometimes. I thought the wireless extender would sort this out, but this is for the remote controls and not the wifi unit. More nonsense.

    I am now going to bin this lot and get something that actually works: Rako or C-Bus.

    Save your money – ignore this technology – it really is that poor.

  24. Really i think a lot of people miss the point – crestron rako etc will all do a better job but for MUCH MUCH more – this is a simple – easy to deploy way to automate much of your simple home lighting etc.

    The web interface is basic but functional – i have crestron equipment but use lightwave to automate all my exterior lighting and it works superbly – really quite impressive for the PRICE!!

  25. Totally agree with you Brian several hundreds of pounds would have bought you one dimmer module. This product brings simple home automation to the everyone. I have half a dozen modules and think its great fit and forget.An IP gateway would cost more to build yourself. Several friends have bought the kit after seeing it in action. I love the dusk feature on the wifi link and use this to operate a few internal lights, again fit and forget. You can schedule all your equipment to go off at night. The wifi link protocol has been reverse engineered on the net so if you want to develop or control over IP your free to write and share your own software. A few people are using Arduino, Perhaps the rasberry Pie would be an ideal platform ?. I think lightwave just don’t want to be swamped by calls to technical support and that’s why the API isn’t freely available, we need to understand that they won’t have a huge call centre. I hope they sell plenty of kit and continue to develop without changing the protocol, so new modules are compatible

  26. I like a few others spent hundreds of pounds on their products,
    But things did not look right on their forums from September of last year questions were no longer being answered.

    Im disabled so money is tight downstairs was compleded with only the upstairs to do.
    But i stopped buying into their gear when stocks were becoming very low at my local B&Q superstore and were not being replaced when i asked at the store i was told it would now be order only.

    Back to their website they announced in febuary that they would not be answering any more qustions but would set up a dedicated help page/line. i can no longer find that.

    Having a look today their forum has gone too.
    That tells me one thing and i shall leave you to make up your own minds.

    Yes they were cheap and the quality of their products looked really good but they made lots of promises but kept very few.

    For me i really think they have dropped the ball on this one.
    They had their products in the biggest DIY chain in the country they were selling their product under the siemens name a well known and respected company.
    They had the chance to make a name for themselves in the DIY market.
    But other companys are jumping on the gravy train.

    Even British Gas are coming out with a product were you will be able to control your heating and lighting by smart phone or tablet.

    So for now i shall cut my losses and wait and see who else comes to the party but next time around i shall make sure that they have a good track record and if i have to pay a little bit extra then so be it.

  27. Apparently, they are looking at getting the apps updated, as well as updating the website.

    For those looking for the help page: http://www.lightwaverf.com/support.php

  28. I think that some of the negative views expressed here are pretty extreme and I’m worried that people will be put off a really good system!

    For the money this is an excellent option. It’s a fraction of the price of most viable alternatives. When you are looking at this kind of budget, the main competitor is X10, which doesn’t status report, is fairly unreliable itself and has also gone into receivership.

    I’ve been using LightwaveRF for a month now with the wifi link and iPhone app and have no complaints at all.

    The boiler control and updated iOS apps are taking a while to be released but they are only a small company. What is available works fine and if the only complaint about the iOS app is that it has a silly font, well, I can live with that for now!

    THE TECHNICAL SUPPORT HAS NOT GONE – I used it today. The company have stopped moderating the forum as they are too small to dedicate enough time to the huge levels of interest. However if you contact them through the website, they answer you very quickly.

    MY LOCAL B&Q HAS FULL STOCK LEVELS and has done for several months, you can also buy stock from screwfix and direct from LightwaveRF’s website.

    THE COMPANY IS NOT BRAND NEW – as mentioned in this very article, they JSJS Designs have been around for ages, manufacturing for the assisted living market and were also behind HomeEasy.

    You can contact them here:
    http://www.lightwaverf.com/contact.php

    And this is their technical support gateway: http://www.lightwaverf.com/support.php

  29. Is this system compatable with the Byron home easy system can you use the remotes with both systems

  30. Steven

    The systems are not intercompatible. LightwaveRF offers greater functionality and more pleasing design in my opinion. Great products reasonably prices compared to some others on the market.

  31. Wow, after plodding through the review and the comments, the impression is that not all is well. Surely JSJS can provide some answers. Is there an API? Will there be an API? If not, why not? Someones guess that JSJS will then be inundated with questions is only true if the API is poor or if the underlying software the API interfaces to is poor. I have to assume the latter and have to consider JSJS a company with only rudimentary software expertise. Love them to prove me wrong however.

  32. http://blog.networkedsolutions.co.uk/?p=149
    This is a PHP script that talks to the WifiController. So you could then integrate this in Homeseer/External control etc etc

    The latest RXcom tranciver will handle the LightwaveRF radio part. http://www.rfxcom.com/transceivers.htm#12103

  33. Is anyone familiar with nico home automation this seem to be the daddy of this technology and this day any age you only get what you pay for.

  34. Asides the few concerns regarding the smart phone UI and the security of the website I have found this system an excellent remote home control mechanism.

    I have installed to cameras to confirm the lights are going on and off. I’ve also connected my heating and observe the temp via a temp guage which I can see via the cameras. Easy to setup and add too – good job JSJS!

  35. I’ve bought dimmer switches, on / off switches, sensors, dimmer sockets all from B&Q.

    Very impressed so far, after a month.

    Pros

    Fairly reasonable and well made units, but can purchase separately over time.

    Look expensive and good design.

    Wide range of options, moods etc. All work perfectly with the iPhone app.

    Easy to set up from scratch

    Definately recommend.

    Cons – minor gripes

    Clearing memories is a bit tedious.

    Had one duff remote which I exchanged.

    Sensor ran out of battery in under a month – will keep an eye on this. Result was lights was switching on randomly.

    Advertised MSG to alert entry not yet available. Bit misleading as this was a highly valued feature by me.

    Worried if main web site not available settings might be lost.

    Wall switches need a deep space behind them. Minor gripe.

    Overall very happy.

  36. I’ve bought a bundle of this kit now, was a bit worried at first by some of the negative comments, but glad I took the chance. The sockets are great, they look good and they work. No ugly great lumps plugged in, these things are better than invisible. I got the wifi link too, but am not using the official app or the official website. If you look around the web there is info on how to communicate with the wifi link so you can easily roll your own software and make your own custom phone app. I have made my ruby code available see the source if you’re interested at https://github.com/pauly/lightwaverf or just “gem install lightwaverf” and you can control your own devices from the command line or use it in your own software. There are unofficial apps out there too.

    It’s “proprietary” but enough people have worked out how it works as to start to open it up. I learned from the previously mentioned http://blog.networkedsolutions.co.uk/?p=149

    Only one way comms of the devices is a bit annoying but I can work with it, this stuff is relatively cheap – I have something working now, and easy to install too, and doesn’t look like a mad professor’s experiment.

    My main grips are I’ve had a couple of faulty remotes (but just got them replaced) and general issues with not being able to control low energy bulbs. I’m working round this firstly by buying different bulbs, then the next step is probably to buy the relay instead of the dimmers for the rooms where I have (say) lots of GU10s that I don’t really need to dim.

    I would say dive in and give this kit a try. I started cheaply with just one dimmer, then bought a remote, then expanded from there.

    Personally my next step is writing code for the arduino to control these lights and sockets based on environmental sensors, sounds very easy.

    Particularly keen to get feedback / pull requests on my code! https://github.com/pauly/lightwaverf
    https://rubygems.org/profiles/pauly

  37. Having initally considered the HomeEasy kit, I was put off by the SMS texting side of things so started looking around at other solutions and found LightwaveRF.

    Currently got dimmer switches in frontroom & dining room and the Hall and Landing, (2way switching)

    I have a box full of light switches and plug sockets to also fit when I get the time, but my initial reaction is a worthwhile investment.

    Yes, the Iphone App can be a bit clunky at times and never 100% sure if its worked without checking.
    Now I just look at the Ecometer first, switch on the living room lights and recheck the ecometer.
    Good enough indicator as far as I am concerned at the moment.

    4 digit pin to stop someone else controlling your lights?
    Yes and what about the WIFI Link box having to authorise the device?

    I couldnt work out why my Iphone & Ipad wouldnt work on roaming until I happened to check the Blue LED and see the authorise yes/no? option.

    And yes the lights do seem a bit dimmer, even on 100% but I plan to replace all my standard gu10 bulbs with Dimmable LED ones at some point, so will look into this further, and there are some useful links on the lightwaveRF forum to tried & tested bulbs.

    I do have a niggling worry about the long term support of this system for remote access via the companies Webserver, so I will be following Paul Clarke’s blog with interest, having already seen some of it on the lightwaveRF forum.

    Its a bit beyond me at the moment, and I work in IT, but I like a challenge!

    We are looking at a budget system here, so getting what you pay for certainly rings true to me, but I am happy so far.

  38. Lightwave will supply the API to home automation software developers if required. There is at present a driver being developed for RTI.

    I think it’s a great system for the cost. The sockets are one-way RF only so you’ll never have status feedback from them. There’s always the possibility of 2 way being added to sockets/dimmers later at a higher cost of course.

  39. Just replaced all my main lights switches and taken my seamen on off remote boxes linked them to the system so I can control my neon lights in the kitchen just added 4 dimmable plugin sockets for all lounge lamps will use my spare on off plugs to power out side led mood lighting. and once megman come through will control kitchen gx53 dimmable bulbs. as found 5 of the discontinued bulbs.

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  41. Look Great
    Wall sockets great
    Bought many items and started to install and all went well until I came to the lights.
    No on off switches only dimmers – NO good with low energy bulbs. Need on-off like the wall sockets work.
    Told there are no plans for any as they require a neutral and as most houses don’t it would not be profitable to make. My house and 4 of my associates all have neutrals.
    I am now cutting my loses and going for a different system I know I only require a small number of switches (38 exactly ) and I am not the only person so they wasting a good business opportunity. Plus an On / Off switch with an Change over relay would also work on two way systems. Then what about intermediate switching.
    Think of all the possibilities.
    Wake up and get with the real world.

  42. North coast user | December 11, 2013 at 2:01 pm |

    I need to ask re product support. I had LWrf installed by an ‘approved’ installer. My issue is in relation to sockets! Some of these double sockets switch on via iPhone yet can’t b switched off in the same manner. Secondly, other sockets which turn on remotely from iPhone which won’t switch off from iPhone can’t even be turned off manually – meaning that one of the double socket points runs continually + DSDS are unable to help. Where is a Lightwaverf user to turn for customer support? This is alarming! If anyone has an insight please do let me know. I’m desperate to know if my system needs to be reprogrammed or removed. The inability to turn off renders purchase worthy of serious consideration.

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  44. I just bought a couple of switches and the Wi Fi Link after reading this article.

    Personally I’m pretty impressed by the system as a whole, and I’m glad to say the new version of the iPhone app (which I doubt existed at the time everyone else commented here) is absolutely superb. It does have a few negative reviews on the app store but I have no idea why – a really nicely designed interface.

    Cons for me are similar to ones others have mentioned:

    – dimming action really is too slow. You have to sit there with your hand on the switch for way too long!

    – no 2-way comms, i.e. no status reporting

    To counter the above, I’ve found the Wi Fi controller very reliable and glad to say there are alternatives to using that if you prefer something a little more advanced, such as using an RFXtrx433 for the same price, and installing one of a huge variety of open source automation systems.

    Personally I’m happy with the Wi Fi controller so far though!

    Oh, and it’s pretty nice being able to control my living room lights from a batch file 😉

  45. I’m shocked at what a half-baked solution LightwaveRF is! I bought quite a good setup, but none of it works reliably. The Wifi Link is disconnected more than it is connected, and the website that allows you to register the Wifi Link simply does not work (sends the pin, then the website doesn’t accept the pin)

  46. Great article! Very comprehesive. I think this has made up my mind to go for a LighwaveRF setup.

    I only wish they had some decent heating controls. From the forums I’ve read there is one in the pipeline but it keeps getting delayed.

    Do you know when the heating controls will come out?

  47. I’ve read a number of the comments on here slating the system for not having this that or the other function. I can only relate my own experience as far as tech goes I’m experienced but not an expert and I started installing this system a couple of weeks ago starting with just 3 plug ins since then I’ve added a number of additional dimmers and wall sockets with no trouble at all.
    I would say that the app is basic but functional but set up of the wifi link is easy and adding additional units is also easy and trouble free.
    One oddity I have noticed is that in order to add additional units I have to turn off the power when power to the wifi link is turned off timers set up newly added units work but existing ones do not.
    Saving or obtaining wi fi settings from the server has no effect but unplugging the wi fi link for 30 seconds than restarting clears the issue and everything is fine again afterwards
    I looked at a number of other systems and this by far is the most cost effective.
    On functionality I would ideally have Voice control of everything in my house all controlled from a central AI.
    But at this moment in time that doesn’t exist and even if it did I couldn’t afford it LightwaveRf is a good cost effective product at a price which is affordable and is also so far at least reliable.

  48. I have also read the comments on this page and It sounds like people are quick to sound their negative remarks – a sign of frustration not fully understanding the installation of thier item. Lightwaverf, for the money, is a very good flexible system. It is ahead of it’s competitors and offers alot more. Like all new products luanched with a rapid take up in the market, there will be snag. information missed, incorrect leaflets, difficult to assess support etc. These are all part of life. It you want to be one of the first customers – then you have to accept these snags and find aways round ithe snags.

    I too started with a number of switches back in 2011. Worked with Lightwave to address the problems I encounted during my learning phase. Now I have my home completely done and two rented flats I use as holiday lets. Some of the holiday makers have also installed the lightwaverf units into thier homes from first coming accross them in my flats. In summary, It is a great product and the price, well what can I say.

  49. DentedBread | October 5, 2014 at 12:02 pm |

    I’ve just risked buying into lightwave and I’m disappointed. I bought a three pack of plug in sockets, link and a trv to test. The sockets are really laggy in turning on and off. It can take some ten to thirty seconds. Also, quite often the android app loses connectivity and doesn’t work at all. If you are remote you have no way of knowing if actions have completed because there is no status feedback.

    The TRV doesn’t work at all. It won’t calibrate. This could be something to do with the valve that I have but there are no compatibility lists anywhere to confirm that.

    None of the products that require batteries have them included. I believe this actually illegal now unless it is clearly stated when purchasing that batteries are not included. It isn’t, at least not on the supplier site that I purchased from.

    By far the worst thing is that the supplier is now refusing to adhere to my consumer rights to cancel and return the order within 14 days of receipt. Very poor service.

    IMO, to say that this is new product is a bit naive. The system has been available now for some three years so the fact that the app still looks so basic and clunky is unforgivable. Accepting snags for a new product is one thing. Expecting quality from a product that has been on the market for three years is not unreasonable.

    Come on lightwave, get things sorted. Develop the app so it is more intuitive and usable and start affording people their rights by law instead of selling them things that aren’t, in fact, fit for purpose.

  50. I just bought some kit from LightwaveRF and all I can say is it solved a major problem and works perfectly!!

    In response to the last poster (DentedBread), I have used the iOS app and it works just fine and its fast too, maybe the Android app needs fixing or the speed issues are network related!?
    Also, all items came with security stickers on both ends of the boxes to ensure they haven’t been opened and included batteries where applicable.

    I will concede that the complaints mentioned previously about no feedback is an issue and would make this kit virtually impossible to fault from my point of view!

    I had 8 x spotlights in my lounge running Halogen GU10 type bulbs all connected to a DMX dimmer pack meaning the wires from the light fittings ran back to a cupboard where the dimmer pack and other equipment was situated. To cut a long story short, I wanted to switch to GU10 LED’s but the dimmer pack solution caused no end of problems even with dimmable LED’s which either didn’t work properly or failed after short period because of the dimmer pack technology used being more suited to halogen type bulbs.

    Using the LightwaveRF WiFi Dimmer Switch Plate (JSJSLW221/206) and some Inline Dimmer’s (JSJSLW831), I was able to procure what otherwise seemed like an impossible solution to my problem without having to re-wire !!!

  51. I fiddled with x10 for some years and was frustrated by its unreliability. This stuff works pretty well and is reasonably priced. Love the triple relay which I use to drive bigger relays and economy 7 heaters for remote place.

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