Gadgets 311

Published on February 24th, 2009 | by Greg


Intermatic: Inexpensive Z-Wave Home Control… But Mediocre Remote

There are two parts to setting up your house or apartment with home automation. One part is composed of the various plug-ins that you’ll need for each device that you aim to control. So, if you have two lamps and two overhead lights, you’ll need four attachments. The second part is the control scheme- either a set of switches, a computer-connected device, or a separate remote or base station.

Intermatic makes and sells a wide variety of home control systems, from solar outdoor lighting to pool controls. Under the HomeSettings brand, they specialize in Z-wave home automation equipment, from remotes to in-wall receptacles to lamp and appliance modules. We tried out the HA101K, the home starter kit, along with HA05C, the screw-in lighting module for overhead, ceiling, or similar setups. And Intermatic gets the basics right- the modules work, are stable and durable, and are interoperable with other Z-wave devices and controllers.

They aren’t as small as some other modules that we’ve tried or seen, but work just as well, and as with other Z-wave devices function as signal repeaters and are super-simple to use. Setup requires plugging them into the wall or the light fixture, and then synchronizing the modules with a remote. When considering the use of a screw-in module, take careful note of the area around the bulb- the screw-in modules are not small, and many fixtures lack the space to fit them.

Unfortunately, the included remote is not exactly a winner- it’s big, bulky, and lacks a backlight (pretty crucial when your lights are off). It’s not particularly difficult to setup or use, and is reasonably responsive, but isn’t attractive and the buttons are all the same size, shape, and feel. It gets the job done, but other remotes that we’ve tested put it to shame in pretty much every way.

That being said, it’s pretty hard to beat the price. Sure, you might need a few more modules, but for $100 you get two device controllers and a remote. Right now, though, Intermatic is offering a sale that makes it even cheaper to buy the items a la carte- a better deal especially if you need slightly different components.

About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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