The Home Settings Lighting Control Starter Kit by Intermatic is that first potato chip, that handful of popcorn that will have you hopelessly wanting more. Comprised of one Model HA07 Master Remote Controller and two Model HA03 Lamp Modules, the Kit is a fun, affordable way to begin your home control network. It is also a feature-rich product making it a great value. The one qualification is that it could take the purchase of another four to five modules, minimum, to begin seeing the real value of this bundle. In addition, there is a sharp learning curve if you wish to take advantage of the advanced features and you are new to home automation.
Ordinarily, I would just launch into the installation of the Master Controller if it were not for the fact that I had already installed a Wayne-Dalton Wireless Gateway (covered in the previous review). The problem is that the Model HA07 Master Controller that comes with the kit must be the “master controller.” Therefore I had to completely uninstall the network I had already created with the Gateway.
The Model HA07 has 12 channels and is capable of managing 16 household devices per channel, 192 in total. A channel is exactly that – a channel like the ones found on TV or radio. The channels are programmed in terms of “scenes” that reflect our specific needs. The location of modules is somewhat critical because of a unique characteristic built into Z-Wave® technology. Every Z-Wave-based product has the ability to serve as a relay station giving the network a virtually endless range. When the user activates a request from a controller the signal passes from module to module until it reaches the desired device. The problem is that the module takes on a fixed address once it’s installed. Moving it would mix up the relay process. Therefore, to avoid changes the very first thing I did was to sit down with my wife, Deb, and carefully map out the overall plan.
Once we had our plan the physical installation moved very quickly. Step One was to add each module to the “network” – the Master Controller. This is done by plugging a module into the wall and then plugging the lamp its own module. Next, I pressed “Include” on the controller followed by the “Program” button on module. This needs to be done until all modules are added. Modules may be added at any time. Step Two was to associate modules to specific channels, which creates up to 12 scenes. A module can be a part of any number of scenes and one light can have different brightness for each scene. You can define a scene by bringing the controller over to the lighting module, specifying the desired channel on the controller, then adjusting the light level within the 10 second learning window the controller gives you.
The instruction manual is a wonderfully written and formatted document but it tended to leave me hanging. The basics are covered with perfect detail and there is even a “must read” glossary of terms in the very beginning. In fact, installers who do not know the differences between a device and a module or a scene and a channel will be lost by the fourth page. Parts of the manual are a little too brief and some common sense will be needed to fill the in the gaps. For example, in the beginning of the document there is a tiny comment about not moving a module unless you first “delete it from the network” and then add it back once it’s in the new location. However, at the end of the manual the section dealing with deleting is called “EXCLUDE from a Channel” rather than “deleting.”
A larger and more comical example is when it came time to reinstall the Wayne-Dalton Gateway as the secondary controller. The manual covered the addition of a secondary controller under the assumption that the other unit was another Model HA07. It was not at all clear if I should copy the network only or the network and the channels. I guessed correctly by copying the network only it came with some pain. The procedure was described as “the same as the previous page, but in Step 2 press button Channel 2 and in Step 4 press Off.” The problem with “Step 4” is that it referred to the other Model HA07 and I had the Gateway. Not only did I have to figure out what “Step 4” meant to the Gateway, I had to perform this procedure by flipping back and forth between the two pages in the HA07 manual while somehow getting all the right buttons pushed on both units before the 20-second window allowed for copying timed-out.
Once installed the HA07 Controller is a very satisfying system to use. It can be wall mounted or sit unobtrusively on a table or bedstead. There is also a flip-up index that the owner can use to label the different channels. Each channel can also be dimmed up or down providing more control of a given Scene. Included is a handy “All OFF/All ON” button that will turn all the Scenes off or on at once – a particularly nice option in the event of a nighttime emergency.
There are, however, a couple subtleties that are missing like the fact that there is no internal light source. If you need to use the Controller at night you either have feel your way around or, ironically, turn a light on. Also, the screen verifies that the network has accepted a signal from you by blinking “successful” in the upper right corner in VERY small letters. The letter size is tolerable but it does require that you are looking directly at the readout. In addition, the Controller is entirely battery operated. Considering that this is a long-term network solution it is unfortunate that is does not have an (optional) external power adapter.
The Model HA03 Lamp Modules are of a well-thought-out design. They are a little bulky but this is the price you pay for having a dimmer capability. There was clearly a lot of effort placed on keeping the plug portion as low on the unit as possible giving maximum room to whatever it plugged in below it. The one troublesome characteristic about the module is that it becomes the permanent on/off switch for the lamp. Meaning, if someone wants to manually turn the lamp off it must be done on the module itself and not the lamp. On the other hand, we found that most places in the house are accommodating to this characteristic. In addition, the module also serves as a manual dimmer control for any incandescent lamp. We found the potentially odd placement of the lamp module to be more than compensated by the fact that we now can manually adjust the brightness of any Z-Waved lamp in the house.
Ease of Installation
Rants and Raves
The Home Settings Lighting Control Starter Kit is a fun, affordable way to begin your home automation network. It is also a feature-rich product making it a great value. Once we mapped out our plan the physical installation moved very quickly. The documentation is well-written and formatted overall. Once installed the HA07 Controller is a very satisfying system to use. It can be wall-mounted or sit unobtrusively on a table or bedstead.
While the Home Settings Lighting Control Starter Kit is a great value, it could take the purchase of another four to five modules, minimum, to begin seeing the real value of the bundle. In addition, there is a sharp learning curve if you wish to take advantage of the advanced features and you are new to home automation. In addition, I had to deinstall the Wayne-Dalton Wireless Gateway since the Model HA07 Master Controller that comes with the kit must be the "master controller."