Fibaro HCL vs. Homematic – Part 1: Fibaro HCL unboxing

by crissxcross22. September 2015

What is the Fibaro Home Center Lite able to do? Is it able to be an equivalent replacement for the Homematic? Is Z-Wave able to be the home automation standard of the future? I want to find out about all that in the next days and weeks and I will test the Fibaro HCL.

I am already using Homematic for more than 5 years now. Starting with the Homematic CCU1 and a few heating thermostats in the past, after moving into a new apartment it later on became to be a pretty big project. Meanwhile I am fiddling with the Homematic CCU2 and a few scripts to realize all the automations, which I think I need.

Though, I am missing a few features in the Homematic, which many other systems are equipped with from the beginning on. By that, I am only thinking about the presence inspection, the sending of Push-Notifications and the opportunity to obtain weather information from the internet, in order to create rules and scenes on this basis. Besides that, the grafic surface of the Homematic WebUI is rather something for the nerds than for the mass market, as well. There is no own iOS App by Homematic and the third-party apps are not that outstanding in regard to usability either.

I do not want to talk badly about Homematic by no means, in the opposite – I am a big fan of Homematic and think that with Homematic and MAX!, eQ-3 made a very good job as pioneer of the home automation.

Fibaro Home Center Lite – the Apple of Smart Home?

What I am looking for, is a system that works simple, without having to invest a lot of time. Let us compare it to Android and Apple:

If I am using Android, I have a system with many open interfaces for little money. If I have a lot of time to tinker, I will surely „assemble“ all my desired features. Same works for Homematic. Of course, with scripts and API’s, I am able to import weather information into the system and to use those as variables. This works until Homematic or one of the providers of the weather information rolls out an update. I then have to start from the beginning and have to invest a few hours of my time again.

How does it work with Apple? Pretty simple: either it does work, or it does not. Either the feature is already provided from the beginning and it works – or this feature is simply not available. There is no such thing as tinkering, because there are only very few interfaces. Though, I will have to pay a bit more for Apple.

I do not want to anticipate a lot, but in the Fibaro HCL, the weather information can be used in scenes and automations by default. These come from Yahoo.com. Whether this feature instantly makes the HCL to the Apple of the Smart Home? – no. Though, I can see some parallels between Fibaro and Apple.

The design affinity of Apple cannot be denied, same applies to Fibaro – and Fibaro‘s price level is a little above the average of SmartHome, as well.

Am I to switch from Homematic to – Z-Wave now?

I took a look at the Fibaro HCL (Home Center Lite), welches auf Z-Wave Basis arbeitet, auf der CeBIT2014 angesehen und war recht schnell von den Funktionen und Möglichkeiten begeistert. Die Kompatibilität von Z-Wave Produkten untereinander ist hier einer der größten Aspekte. Da ich mehrere Gewerke (Licht, Heizung, Sicherheit, …) vernetzen möchte, denke ich das Z-Wave eine gute Wahl ist. Auch die Integration von Philips Hue und anderen SmartHome WLAN Komponenten in das Fibaro HCL wurde mit dem kommenden Softwareupdate angekündigt.

Fibaro Z-Wave-outlet with consumption display via LED Ring ©Fibaro

Fibaro Z-Wave-outlet with consumption display via LED Ring ©Fibaro

The design of Fibaro is an important aspect as well – not to me, but to my girlfriend. SmartHome is no technic that is installed behind the desk, or anywhere else, where nobody is going to see it anyways. SmartHome components are installed in living-, bed-, and child’s rooms and should therefore also match to our lifestyle – should therefore bring along the WAF (Woman Acceptance Factor). That is, why we should take a closer look at the Fibaro HCL now.

Fibaro HCL – unboxing

In usual Apple-Manner, Fibaro already paid attention to every smallest detail in the packaging. Once you open the rectangular white box, you will get to see the really small Fibaro Home Center Lite (9cm x 9cm x 3,3cm), which is hidden under the cover. Beneath that, a compartment, in which network cable and antenna are stored, is located. The power supply is located one „storey“ below. For those, who emphasize those details, the unboxing is certainly going to bring joy, because the accessories can be found, settled to the millimeter.

The Fibaro Home Center has modular expansion interfaces on the right side, as well as on the left side. These can optionally be equipped with a GSM module and an extern accumulator. With help of the accumulator, the Fibaro HCL even keeps on working during a blackout, and is via the GSM module still accessable from the outside.

Bild: © Fibaro.com

Fibaro HCL with expansion kit, GSM module, and accumulator

The LAN Port, for the connection of the Fibaro HCL with the home network, as well as the input for the power supply, is located on the bottom.

The aerial input is on the back. Even if it thus looks as if the Fibaro HCL had Wi-Fi, it unfortunately does not. The Fibaro HCL communicates with the Z-Wave actuators and sensors via antenna.

The Fibaro Home Center Lite, is currently available for 279 euros. (In comparison: the Homematic CCU2 costs 149 euros) Further components, such as heating thermostats, sensors, or radio controlled outlets cost around 60 euros. I want to find out, whether switching from Homematic to Z-Wave would therefore make sense, in the next days and weeks, and will certainly report about it on here.

In my next blog, I am going to show you the web surface of the Fibaro HCL, as well as the iOS App and I am going to look how good the Usability is.


You can find all articles of this series under the TAG: HomematicVSFibaro

Linda translator

This text was translated by Linda

Hi! My name is Linda and I graduated high school with great interest in English language. I help with mein-cleveres-haus.de and translate texts for siio.de in my spare time.

You can read the original in German on siio.de.

About The Author
Hi, I'm crissxcross, qualified IT system electronics. Professionally, I work as a product marketing manager in the Smart Home. And private I am self a Smart Homie :-) If I do not sit in front of the monitor like I photograph and am a big fan of Apple. I am the founder of the SiiO.de blog.

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