Saturday April 29th 2017


Z-Wave Rock Star Contest Winner

The Z-Wave Rock Star contest has come to a close. As we read through all the entries we were struck by how many DIY enthusiasts have put a home control stake in the ground using Z-Wave-enabled products. We’d like to thank all the readers who participated. Although it was a difficult choice, we had to pick a winner. The lucky DIYer is Vivek (IVB) Bhargava from California. He may feel more like a symphony conductor, but Vivek’s Z-Wave enabled home is one rock star worthy setup. Here’s his story.


In January 2006, I started setting up what I now consider to be a pretty robust home automation setup using Intermatic Z-Wave products to control my lighting. I’ve fully integrated it so I can control my lights both manually through the use of various devices, as well as in an automated sense through my home automation software package (CQC) and my Elk security system, which controls the rest of my house. The CQC is the backbone to my entire home automation system. It connects to all the various devices I have (Intermatic USB stick, audio receivers, DVD megachanger, and much more).

Figure 1

Let’s start with the outside of the house and walk through the setup. Some older houses in Northern California have mudrooms, which are typically located just inside an outer front door. There, I come in and remove my shoes, then unlock the actual front door and enter the house. The downside is that if it’s dark already, I either have to waste electricity and leave the lights on until I come home, or install one of those huge motion sensor lights. It’s also not a very secure place. To solve this, I installed the Elk system, which detects motion in that room. It tells CQC, which will tell the Intermatic Z-Wave USB controller to turn on the light (see figure 1). This extra light also helps the covert security camera inside the motion sensor record what’s going on. The light won’t stay on if no one is in there. After a minute of no motion, CQC will automatically tell the Intermatic stick to turn off the entry light.

Figure 2

Inside the house, if I want to turn off the light right away, I can turn the light on and off using my security system’s keypad. Using the same concept as above, I press a button on my Elk security system that tells CQC to have the Intermatic stick toggle the light (see figure 2).

When I sit down to check my e-mail, I use a floor lamp next to my desk. However, I often forget to turn it off at night. Rather than use the lamp’s on/off switch directly, I plug it into a Z-Wave appliance switch. Now, all I have to do is press the pushbutton mounted under the desk, and it will have the Elk tell CQC to turn off that Z-Wave light (see figure 3). That way if I forget to turn it off, CQC and the Intermatic USB stick can take care of it for me automatically.

Figure 3

In the kitchen, I usually want to be able to turn other lights on or off, control the whole house audio system, and often arm the magnetic lock that I have on the outer front door. Using a wall-mounted Fujitsu Tablet PC, I can view a CQC screen where I can get an overview of the house status and turn lights on or off at will (see figure 4).

In the bedroom, a door sensor in the floor detects that I’ve opened the closet and tells the Elk panel to have CQC turn on the Z-Wave light. Once I close the door, the sensor instructs the Elk to tell CQC to turn off that light. I have a tendency to walk away from the closet and forget that I turned the light on. So, CQC will turn off the Z-Wave light automatically after 15 minutes.

Figure 4

In addition, if I’ve already decided to head to bed, but I realize that I’ve forgotten to turn off all the various stereos and lights, turn down the heat, or arm the security system, I don’t want to have to walk downstairs. Not to worry, home automation to the rescue. I simply take the wi-fi Fujitsu tablet on the nightstand out of its dock, and select whatever I want to adjust from the CQC UI (see figure 5). Sure, it might look a little intimidating at first glance, but if you stop to look it over it’s quite easy. Plus there’s that nice big button at the bottom that says “put house to sleep.”

Figure 5
Figure 6

Now for most homes, that would be the end of the story. Not in my house. Sometimes I run out of the house to get something but I forget to turn off one or all of the lights. Not to worry, I simply take out my cell phone, pull up the CQC UI (see figure 6), and turn on or off any lights I want. While I’m at it, I usually can check on the motion detection and if anyone has called while I was out.

What’s next? In my dream world, I’d add voice recognition so that I don’t even need to use to use the keypads or switches to make things happen.


Share your Z-Wave story! Just installed a motion sensor? A Z-Wave light switch? Tell us how it’s changed your life. Send your story to

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