Fibaro HCL – Part 2: Home Center Lite Web UI & Apps
Which functions come along with the Fibaro Home Center Lite? Is it able to implement the same automations and scenes as Homematic? In my blog series “Fibaro HCL vs. Homematic” I want to find out what the Z-Wave-based system is able to do and if it is able to be an equivalent replacement for the Homematic Center.
The Installation of the HCL
The Installation of the Fibaro HCL-Home Center Lite is fairly straightforward. After the Fibaro HCL is connected to the power supply and is set up with power, it wants to be connected to the home network via LAN cable, the router, in any case. The Fibaro Home Center Lite does not support Wi-Fi, the antenna at the rear of the unit exclusively serves the Z-Wave Radio.
With 5 Watt Standby, the Fibaro Home Center Lite is a bit more energy-hungry than the Homematic CCU2, which only needs 1,7 Watt, while in Standby. Thereby, the energy consumption of the Fibaro HCL amounts to about 43kWh per year (if it works 24hrs a day * 7 days a week). At 30 cents per KWh, that is equivalent to 13,- € per year)
Once the Fibaro Home Center Lite is booted, you can look up its IP address in the router, to bring up the web surface. Alternatively the Fibaro Finder of the HC2, the big brother of the Fibaro HCL, can also be used to determine the IP address. You can find this little tool on the Fibaro website as Windows Version , as well as MAC Version.
The further installation then takes place via web surface of the Fibaro HCL, for which you sign in (as far as not changed by yourself) with the Standard-User and homonymous password “admin”.
The Web UI of the HCL
WOW! That was my first thought, when I accessed the web surface of the Fibaro Home Center Lite for the first time. The user surface is designed very elegantly and no comparison to the WebUI of Homematic. The arrangement of the menus is very logical, so that the whole surface can be operated very intuitively.
The main idea of the Fibaro HCL is to, first of all create areas (for instance floors) and rooms of the house, resp. of the own apartments. Z-Wave sensors, switches, thermostats and other elements will later on be assigned to these. Floors do not necessarily have to be created, an area could also be the garden or the garage. The icons of the respective rooms can be varied according to your own wishes.
After the areas and rooms are created, Z-Wave components can be trained. That works pretty simple, by moving the Fibaro HCL via Web Surface into the Teach Mode. Afterwards the only thing left to do is to put the learning Z-Wave components into the Login-mode and with that it already is visible in the web surface of the center. The Z-Wave components have a small special feature: it is recommendable to bring the Z-Wave components into operation pretty close to the base, and to possibly provisory supply them with power and not mount them at their final operating place, until successful coupling with the center.
The background is that Z-Wave components can also function as repeater, or as range amplifier. For the coupling though, the Z-Wave components have to be directly connected to the base, even if they will communicate with the center via various other Z-Wave devices that are functioning as repeater, at their later operating place.
Besides Z-Wave components, IP-based devices can be addressed via “virtual module” as well. This feature is supposed to be extended in the soon to be coming out firmware version 4.x. This way, the integration of Philips’ Hue and other Wi-Fi/LAN based devices is supposed to be possible as well.
IP-Cameras, on the other hand, are already able to be signed in to the base. If the camera is equipped with a motion sensor, this can be evaluated by the Fibaro Home Center as well.
To integrate the IP-Camera into the HCL
Another great feature, which the Homematic sadly only provides through (expensive) third-party-apps.
The integration of IP-Cameras in the Fibaro Home Center Lite works as simple as the registration of Z-Wave components. For this purpose only the IP address, username, and password of the camera has to be chosen. Further settings, such as the path to the video stream, can be taken on from a dropdown menu with standard settings of various camera types. A whole range of known camera brands and types is listed on here.
was not yet available in the standard settings in the DropDown, it worked with the settings of an alternative D-Link-Camera from the preferences right off.
After that, the camera can be shown on the Web Surface of the Home Center Lite, as well as on the Tablet or Smartphone App.
Smartphone and Tablet APP
All Apps for Android, as well as for iOS are for free. In comparison to Homematic, this is a big advantage. The manufacturer of Homematic (eQ-3), does not publish any apps. Third-party apps for Homematic, such as Pocket Control HM (28 euros in the iTunes Store) are mostly quite expensive.
The design of the Fibaro App for iPad, as well as for the iPhone is strongly based on the web surface, so that you can orient yourself quite fast. Z-Wave components can be controlled quite simple via iPad App. The installation and programming of the Zed-Wave components though, is left to the web surface of the Fibaro HCL only. This cannot take place in the App.
In some narrower space than in the iPad App, the Fibaro iPhone version still provides the same switches and functions. The App that is available for Android provides the same features as the iPhone and iPad Apps.
To be able to also control the Home Center Lite via Fibaro App from on the go, Fibaro provides a Remote-Access via an own server. This way you do not have to handle a DynDns Account and port releases or forwarding. In contrast to Homematic (their service is called my-homematic) Fibaro’s service is free of charge.
As already described, it is a matter of remote access. This means Fibaro connects the mobile device (Smartphone, Tablet, …) to the Fibaro Home Center Lite, which is located at my home. Data is exclusively saved on my Home Center Lite and will not be cached on Fibaro. I personally think this is very important, because I can optionally transmit my GPS position to the Fibaro Home Center Lite, for instance to insert those information in scenes.
Hidden behind the term “Scenes” is an object-oriented programming in the Fibaro HCL. Automations can be adjusted at discretion. The surface at this point is created very simple and clear as well. The blocks for variables, modules, and shortcuts differentiate each other, for reasons of clarity , in their color.
By default, besides the current weather, the GPS position can be included into scenes by the users as well. Above all, this is a feature which I, until now, greatly missed in Homematic. This way, if you leave a particular GPS spot (HomeZone), you can, for instance lower the temperature at home, in all rooms.
The object-oriented programming in the Fibaro HCL is extremely powerful. Though, it requires a little training and experimentation.
I think the Fibaro Home Center Lite can be an equivalent replacement for the Homematic. The features and the intuitive surface of the Fibaro HCL speak for themselves. Furthermore, I think the compatibility of the different manufacturers through the Z-Wave Standard is very fascinating, so that all areas and trades can be covered without any problems. Therefore I will dare to try and exchange my existing Homematic Installation suggestive with the Z-Wave components.
By the way, Fibaro offers, next to switches, wall plugs and smoke sensors , also built-in actuators, such as dimmers, blinds– or switching relays Relatively new in their portfolio is a RGBW-Controller (about 50 euros), to which LED-strips with the basic colors (red, green, and blue) can be attached. The colors can then be varied via the web surface of the Home Center Lite, as well as via the Smartphone or Tablet App.
I want to introduce exactly this RGBW-Controller to you in a short review in my next blog. Therefor I am going to reequip my staircase lightning (see article), which is currently switched via Homematic, with help of the Fibaro RGBW Controllers.
You can find all articles of this series under the TAG: HomematicVSFibaro