Published on February 24th, 2009 | by Greg0
Intermatic: Inexpensive Z-Wave Home Controlâ€¦ 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.