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Thread: Good looking Z-Wave Wallplates ?

  1. #1

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    Question Good looking Z-Wave Wallplates ?

    Good Morning All

    My first post, having spend a lot of time reading through the various entries here, all very interesting and has helped a lot so far.

    I have spent a lot of time researching products for a small amount of home automation that I would like to install, it does not justify engaging an installer or the high end systems. As a result I have found the selection of products available to the DIY’er are quite limited. I am looking to use a technology that is likely to have future scalability and availability so am looking at Z-Wave (any other suggestion ?). My challenge is to upgrade the lighting in 2 rooms, fairly simple requirements. Ability to turn lights on at the door, selecting a scene would be good, lights to be controller are ceiling and table lamps etc. Also want other controls, in one room it can be a simple hand held remote, in the other room I wanted to replicate the wallplate, so there will be 3 that are similar or the same as the one by the door. I can deal with the dimmers themselves (plug in or in wallboxes etc), there are lots to choose from but I am stuck with the wall plate devices. Unless I spend over £300 each it would appear there is nothing that is aesthetically pleasing and functional. It would seem you can get white plastic wallplates (switches/dimmers) for about £40, but nothing that is brushed stainless or similar. If you consider the incremental cost of a nicely finished manual switch, they are about £20 more expensive, but as soon as you want Z wave as well the price is sky high, perhaps due to low production volumes ? I have seen some really nice ones (Vitrum or MK Astral) but with prices to match, in the case of Vitrum, these are in a class of their own on looks, but the MK is not special. I have found a number of other products outthere but no distributors so I guess they are available to installers only, is this the case with a lot of Z-wave kit ?

    If I compromise on the technology, selection of Z wave then LightWaveRF looks good, but single source and lack of status reporting (future expansion requirements)

    Does anyone have any suggestions for nice looking Z wave wallplates that are reasonably priced (maybe up to £150 each ?) or another route I could go down ?

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    zwave dimmers and lightwaveRF wireless switches is my choice given the same dilemma. In my case all run off a MacMini (which I had "spare") running Indigo with a Aeotec (I think) zwave card and an rfxtrx 433 (to be upgraded to 433e if I ever convince the wife about Somfy blinds).

    Still only at the testing stage (heating is the priority) but looking good so far.

    As you say the lightwave stuff is the only attractive but moderately priced thing out there (and the mood controllers give great flexibility) and two way communication isn't really necessary for a switch.

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    Thanks Wysinawyg

    From my reading of various posts here and looking at the massive amount of info on the net I am coming to the conclusion that alot of home automation seems to be a mix of technologies and some clever glue to hold it all together, which is I guess why installers charge so much for complete solutions, it takes some effort and knowledge/experience. For me that actully makes it more interesting and challenging amd I'm willing to get stuck in, I was looking for a Rasperry Pi project, this might be it ! Pity I don't have a huge amount for time for it at this stage.

    The plan is eventually to expand into other areas of the house and also other systems like heating etc. with remote control when away from home, which was why z wave was my technology of choice. The point on 2 way communication as you say is not that important on lighting when you are present, but anything operated remotely does need an element of feedback in order to re-issue a missed command or even to know what state something was left in.

    Something I have learnt since my post is that I could use something like a Fibaro dimmer module in the existing wall boxes and wire in a momentary switch to provide z-wave inputs, this could be dual gang, so 2 inputs I just need to find some nice looking momentary switches which should be easier and more cost effective.... However I still have the challenge where there is not a power feed, wanting a consitant look to each of the wallplates the LightwaveRF mood controllers are still looking good.

  4. #4
    Automated Home Sr Member Quinten's Avatar
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    Why not use a Fibaro dimming module and your own choice of wall switch?

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    The issue for me is that I want mood switches. The LightwaveRF mood switch gives you six functional buttons to set scenes vs the Fibaro which gives you two. Yes you can double click and things in software to give you some elements but its not really what I'm after in terms of simplicity with flexibility.

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    What about a fibaro universal sensor wired into a couple of spare (isolated) switches? It's something I've been thinking of doing to replace my LWRF master switches that are hit and miss in reliability.

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    Quote Originally Posted by durosity View Post
    It's something I've been thinking of doing to replace my LWRF master switches that are hit and miss in reliability.
    Hmm, I was modelling my setup on yours...

    So what would you be looking at? A double gang box with a fibaro dimmer on one side, universal plus power supply on the other and then four retractive switches on the front?

    Does Indigo pick up both switch inputs for the dimmer in a useful way?

    Would the electrical regs let you pull a 12v supply off the lighting circuit?

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    Hi wysinawyg,

    The main advantage of Z-wave is the mesh networking with mains powered units. It gets better with more devices as you fill in the gaps.

    I presently Use Homeseer V3 Pro on a Win7 pc, and that is much better than my previous HA software, as they have plug-ins for a lot of different protocols (And the RfxTrx433). They are presently having a 'Black Friday' 50% off sale, and they do a version for the RPi.

    I am presently using Homeseer for:

    1. Z-wave - Fibaro wall dimmers/ POPP dimmer sockets/ TKB power sockets
    2. X10 - Outside lights
    3. Bye Bye Standby - boiler control
    4. One wire network for thermal sensors
    5. USB-UIRT for sending and receiving IR commands (Press Sky ON, to control AV amp/ motorised screen/ projector/ sub woofer turn lights off/ Pause puts lights ON etc)
    6. HiPhone (Uses a Way2Call device to block unwanted calls based on caller ID)

    And I am slowly retiring X10 and Bye Bye Standby devices.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wysinawyg View Post
    Hmm, I was modelling my setup on yours...

    So what would you be looking at? A double gang box with a fibaro dimmer on one side, universal plus power supply on the other and then four retractive switches on the front?

    Does Indigo pick up both switch inputs for the dimmer in a useful way?

    Would the electrical regs let you pull a 12v supply off the lighting circuit?
    That's basically what I've been planning to do, but like you I'm not sure about 12v adapters (though as you can have them in the ceiling void for halogen lamps I'd guess it's likely ok). I do currently use the LWRF master switches, and to be fair they're not actually that bad.. I guess it depends on how critical their usage is.. Every once in a while I get a complaint from SWIMBO when indigo doesn't recognise the button on the first press, so that ones going to have to go.. But the other ones for less "critical" use will be fine.

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    ARGH!

    So I've got my nice Scolmore Minigrid dual retractive switch. Worked out that I can deal with the lack of buttons by using down for off and running up as a toggle between bright and dim (so click once and its bright, click again and it goes to the lower mood lighting). So plan sorted.

    A month off work coming up and I was planning to spend a good chunk of it playing with (sorry installing) some z-wave stuff so wanted my proof of concept up and running. Saturday night, flick the switch in the CU and working from half light from some other rooms (on different CU / ring) proceed to set about installing in the Dining Room.

    Screws off the faceplate and discover the backbox (steel in a block wall) is tiny with a couple of random wires separated out on connector blocks already. Barely enough room for the Fibaro dimmer let alone getting any actual switch hardware in there as well. Odds of successfully removing the back box and replacing with a deeper one without triggering meltdown from the wife / redecorating... Added to which I can expect to have to do that in all the others as well which puts my plans rather in jeopardy.

    So back to the original plan, at least temporarily, and LightwaeRF Mood Switch installed instead.

    Working perfectly (but then the RFXCom and server are on top of a dresser in the room so I'd hope it did) with the big buttons giving me off and on, with further presses of the on button toggling from bright to dim and back.

    And no grief from the wife yet.

    And the brainwave that actually for real brownie points I can do something positive for the wife. So the bottom four buttons aren't going to be lighting controls, they're going to be Sonos buttons (to deal with my wife being too lazy / having her hands full to actually put Sonos on meaning its been really underused). First button already set up as a play / pause toggle and I just need to work out the scripting and set up playlists so the other three can auto-magically start Sonos playing a playlist for me, wife or bairn depending on the button press. Wife actually genuinely keen on this idea (as opposed to tolerating my takeover of the heating and lighting...).

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