When it comes to smart home technology, there is an ever expanding line-up of devices, as well as a fairly large list of controllers that are required to make all of your devices function properly. The likes of Wink and SmartThings are perhaps two of the most common smart home hubs, but there are other options out there that offer their own set of capabilities. One feature that the Wink or SmartThings hubs can't offer is completely local control, as they both rely on the cloud for some of their processing. Smart home hubs with completely local control are available, and this review is going to take a look at one of them.
The item up for review is the Fibaro
Home Center Lite Z-Wave smart home controller, sent to us by The Smartest House
. The Fibaro HCL is shown in the promotional image above, where we see it is an attractive device that is rather compact - measuring roughly 3-1/2" x 3-1/2" x 1-1/2" tall. Before taking a look at the unit provided for review, let's cover some of the features and specifications, as taken from the Fibaro website...
» Uses wireless Z-Wave technology to manage multiple connected devices simultaneously.
» Connect up to 230 devices.
» Interface available through web browser or phone app.
» Simple set up and configuration.
» Compatible with range of Z-Wave sensors, actors, remotes, and various IP cameras.
» Low energy consumption.
» Processor: ARM Cortex-A8 (720MHz)
» Case: Plastic
» Operating memory: 128 MB RAM
» Hard drive: 128 MB SLC HDD
» Power supply: 9-12 VDC (Power Supply included)
» Network interface: 10/100/1000 Base-T (Gigabit) Ethernet via RJ45 connector
» Operating temperature: 10 - 40°C
» EU standards compliance: R&TTE 1999/5/EC, RoHS 2011/65/EU
» Radio protocol: Z-Wave
» Radio frequency:
» 868.4, 868.42 or 869.8 MHz EU
» 908.4, 908.42 or 916.0 MHz US
» 921.4, 921.42 or 919.8 MHz ANZ
» 869.0 or 869.02 MHz RU
» Range: up to 50m (164 ft) outdoors, up to 30m (98 ft) indoors (Depending on terrain and building structure)
» Dimensions: 90 x 90 x 33 mm
Fibaro is a Polish company and their devices seem to be most common in the European market, but they have thought of a more global approach by including Z-Wave radio frequency support for the European, US, and Australia / New Zealand specifications. The specifications for the Fibaro HCL read like that of a smartphone or a simple computer, and I am hopeful that this will translate into snappy performance when it comes to automating my home's smart devices.
In case you have not noticed yet... The Fibaro HCL may not be able to power all of your smart home devices, as it is strictly a Z-Wave controller. More common controllers can handle Z-Wave, but they can generally also handle Zigbee, and then they usually have mixed support for WiFi, Bluetooth, and other protocols. The Fibaro HCL does have plugins to let you interface with networked devices including some IP cameras and smart TVs, but as far as control devices are concerned, this is intended for Z-Wave only.