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10 Best Z-Wave Home Automation Devices

Updated on September 8, 2014
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HomeSeer PRO S5 Controller

If you have the money to spend on the best home automation controller, and you want to integrate your home entertainment into the same system as your Z-Wave products, then it is very difficult to beat the $2695 HomeSeer PRO S5.

One of the most notable features - the one you will most want to show off to friends - is the voice control option which lets you control your whole Z-Wave system with spoken commands. With a solid state hard drive the HomeSeer is a great combination of smart home controller and home entertainment media server, and comes with an Intel Gen 3.5 Integrated Graphics Engine and support for High Definition audio. The built in web server means that you can even access any media stored on your HomeSeer PRO from anywhere in the world over the web!

In addition to Z-Wave, the controller is also compatible with Insteon, UPB and X10 Products.

Danalock Z-Wave Smart Lock

This Z-Wave 'smart lock' by Danalock can be easily fitted to the deadbolt on any door with just a screwdriver - no need to start hacking into the wood or anything like that - and even comes with its own app. Although you can also integrate it into your Z-Wave system to use it with your current controller, using the dedicated app does have its advantages. In addition to being able to open your door with just your phone, you can use the app to pass on temporary or limited privileges to other users. For example, you can set it up to allow a trades person or cleaner to be able to open your front door with their phone for a particular time period on a particular day, so you don't need to provide them with keys or be there to let them it, or you could give a family member access for the weekend when they come to stay. If you are a landlord, it can also be used very effectively for short term lets so you don't need to worry about previous tenants having copies of the keys and still being able to gain access.

Turn Your Google TV Into A Z-Wave Controller

If you have a Google TV then there is really no reason for you to buy a full controller for your Z-Wave set up - just use this simple little USB stick to turn your TV into a high quality controller complete with Android app.

The large screen and high quality picture of the means that using a television to control your smart home is a real joy compared to using your phone or a tablet computer - especially if you have things like video intercoms and security cameras as part of your set up, but also if you have a lot of devices and programmed scenes to scroll through when selecting something.

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The Fibaro Multi Sensor

There are loads of reasons to love the Fibaro 'Motion Sensor'. The first is that its actually much more than a motion sensor -- its more of a 'multi-sensor' really, with light level and temperature sensors and an accelerometer to detect vibrations as well as a regular PIR motion sensor.

Unlike most sensors it is a standalone unit which is quite happy sitting on the floor - so no need to drill holes in your wall or ceiling to fit it. At just 44mm diameter it shouldn't get in the way, and of course you can adjust the direction you want it to face. With an 'all seeing eye' like design its also quite attractive in appearance.

There's some pretty cool stuff in terms of functionality too. You can adjust the sensitivity yourself to suit your room and the applications you want to use it for. The intelligent temperature sensor knows what height its at (the floor of a room is cooler than the ceiling) and will adjust itself automatically to help you set the temperature just right. It can send you notifications - for example if the house has been unoccupied for a long time and the alarm isn't set it can send you a reminder to ask if you want to turn the alarm on. If you have one on either side of a doorway it can even tell how many people are entering or leaving a room - so that, for example, you can leave your teenage children at home without worrying that they will throw a party and trash your house, because the sensor will let you know if there are more than a certain number of people in the house (it also has a tamper alarm). Also, the colored lights on the front can be set to change according to temperature for you to use as an easy visual reference.

Wireless Keypad Controller

There is no doubt that using your phone to control your home automation system is usually the most convenient method - but that is not always the case. Sometimes you want to be able to set everything up just how you want it with the touch or a button (or two) as soon as you walk into a room without having to fumble around in your pocket or handbag to pull out your phone.

A Keypad controller like this one from GE allows you to control mutliple devices individually or by group, and choose between multiple pre-set scenes, with very little fuss.

An additional benefit of one of these units is the fact that it acts as a secondary controller - meaning you can use it to expand the range of your system in a large house. A single keypad at the top of the stairs, for example, may be all you need to expand reliable coverage across the whole floor.

Also, because its wireless the installation couldn't be easier - you literally just stick it onto the wall.

Z-Stick

The Z-Stick from Aeon Labs is a USB stick which turns any computer into a Z-Wave controller with an impressive range of 300 foot and the ability to control up to 232 devices. It works with any Windows, Apple or Linux machine and, with the addition of a Razberry daughter card like the one you will see below, you can even use it with a cheap Rapsberry Pi micro computer for a low cost solution which is completely hackable and programmable in Python!

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Fibaro Home Center 2

The Fibaro Home Center 2 is another top quality Z-Wave controller.

Some of its stand out features include:

  • Geo-location support in the phone app - which means it can track your (or your family members') location to, for example, put the heating on for you before you arrive home on a cold day, tell you where your children are at all times, or open the garage door for you as you pull into the driveway.
  • A visual programming interface which makes setting up even advanced programs and automated routines relatively easy.
  • Painless 2 minute initial set up.

Pet Immune Motion Detector

Motion detectors are a mainstay of most home automation systems. From security to lighting and heating control, they are often the primary sensors in a house which open up a wide range of different potential applications.

But if you have pets they can be a real nightmare. You may not want the lights to turn on whenever your cat decides to wander around the house at night, for example, and you certainly don't want your pet dog setting off the burglar alarm while you are out at work.

This Ecolink product is a basic wall mounted PIR sensor with a reasonable price tag - not an expensive presence sensor with adjustable sensitivity (like the Fibraro unit above) - but yet it can still reliably tell the difference between humans and pets. That makes it great value and a must have addition to any animal lover's Z-Wave system.

Screw In Lamp Socket

This may not be the most inspirational product or have super-cool advanced features, but it does make upgrading your lighting with Z-Wave automation and control as quick and easy as it possibly can be - which I think makes it worth featuring. No need to even get your screwdriver out for this one, you just screw this in as you would usually screw in your regular bulb.

Aeon Labs Switchble Smart Film

I'm cheating a little bit for my number 10 pick, as this product hasn't actually been released yet -- but it just looks so cool that I couldn't resist including it for you to salivate over.

This 'switchable smart film' looks like a regular clear laminate, which you can easily apply yourself to any window just by peeling off the backing and sticking it on. But once you've done that you can control the film via your Z-Wave network to change from clear to opaque - effectively making it an instantly controllable alternative to curtains. But not only that, it also can also be used to provide you with privacy without blocking daylight (or moonlight) from entering your room!

All that Aeon Labs have announced about the release of this product is that it is 'coming soon', but if you want to be alerted as soon as it hits the stores you can sign up for news alerts on their website here: http://aeotec.com/smart-switchable-film-z-wave-wifi.

Best of the Best

Which of the ten products do you think is the best?

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    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      20 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      I can now make a wiser choice in the product lines you discuss in this hub.

      Thank you for your honest viewpoints.

      Keep up the great work.

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