An Introduction to Lightwave RF Home Automation
Low Cost Home Automation with LightwaveRF
LightwaveRF is a low cost radio frequency home automation system. It is one of the easiest systems on the market to install, making it popular with DIY enthusiasts. The company behind this system began by specialising in advanced lighting control - but the system is growing fast and new features are on their way.
Direct competitors include wireless systems such as Z-Wave and Zigbee.
This article will introduce the reader to the main features, products and technical specifications for LightwaveRF home automation.
Unique Products and Features
One of the most unique features of Lightwave RF is the company's remote controlled dimmable light bulb. This is the only bulb available on the market which is directly networked into your home automation system without the need for an additional receiver / transceiver. Although this obviously does mean that you need to buy replacement bulbs from the firm, they are not expensive and there is a very low entry price for your initial system set up. The fact that you get 20 watt energy saving bulbs which are still dimmable is also a great selling point, as most energy saving light bulbs do not work well, if at all, with dimmers.
The combination of the energy saving bulb with remote controllable power sockets and energy use monitoring technology means that Lightwave RF is offers some of the best energy saving features of any home automation system.
- Range: 15m
- Networking: Direct transmission, no routing,
- Communication: One-way only, slave devices cannot report status
- Maxmimum Devices per Controller: 64
- Frequency Band: 433.92MHz
LightwaveRF currently offers a fairly limited product range compared to its competitors. As I mentioned above there is a great range of products for energy saving and lighting control, but there is very little else. Apart from lighting and power sockets the firm have developed radiator valve acutuators for heating control, which are available for pre-order but have not yet been released.
Reliability and Range
Range extenders may be needed if there is a large separation between the controller and the device your wish to control.
Reliability is comparable to many other wireless systems, but does not quite meet the same standard as the z-wave protocol, which uses mesh network topology.
Many LightwaveRF product come bundled with a remote control, which you can easily use as the primary controller for a basic home automation system.
For more advanced control the main product on the market at the moment is the WiFi Link, which connects your system to the internet and allows you to control your devices through a configurable phone or tablet app.
DIY With Lightwave RF
Although the electronics hacking community has not taken to LightwaveRF to the same extent as they have with more advanced systems, there are some handy resources out there for anyone wanting to develop new features for their system using the LRF communication protocol. There is a GitHub library here, or you can find some interesting tutorials like this one which shows you how to create a voice controlled home automation system using LightwaveRF and Raspberry Pi.