Saturday April 29th 2017

  

Fibaro RGBW Controller

With four analog channels that can be configured as inputs or outputs, the Fibaro RGBW Controller is a fascinating Z-Wave device with many potential uses around the home (or business). For my first application I just wanted to add some colored lighting under my kitchen cupboards.

The RGBW Controller works with both 12-Volt and 24-Volt RGBW LEDs, which have become widely available. There are numerous sellers who offer LED lighting in a multitude of forms. I purchased my light strip from an eBay seller named lucky_guy2010. I opted for the 24-Volt version because higher voltage means less current for the same amount of power, meaning that you can use smaller gauge wires over longer runs.

The “white” LEDs in RGBW light strips are available in either cool white or warm white. I went with warm white to enhance the earth tones in my home.

Because my intention was to use the LED strip for illumination as well as accent lighting, I got a strip with a higher number of LEDs per foot. Of course, the more LEDs there are on the strip, the higher the current draw. This model draws 2 Amps, but puts out a lot of light:

To allow for future expansion, I purchased a 6-Amp, 24-Volt switching power supply, Model PS-SP11115 from Parts-Express. Jameco also has a good selection of power supplies.

The installation was quite easy. The power supply lies on top of the cupboard and is hidden from sight by the cornice. I cut the end off of a flat-profiled AC extension cord, and threaded the cord through a gap between the cupboards. The cord plugs into one of the AC outlets above the kitchen counter. I didn’t bother to do any fancy mounting of the RGBW Controller; it just hangs by its wires off of the screw terminals on the power supply.

There are many fancy mounting systems for LED strips that give a professional appearance, but I just used double-sided tape to fasten the LED strip to the under side of the cupboard. You might want to experiment with the placement. On my first try, the LEDs reflected directly off the back wall and off the shiny counter top, giving a rather tacky impression. Eventually I was able to adjust the mounting angle so as to not reflect directly off any surface. It probably would have been better to go with a mounting system with some sort of diffuser lens.

Z-Wave inclusion to the automation controller was straightforward. My controller recognized the four dimmable analog output channels and also gave me a master dimmer channel. Some controllers may not yet fully support the Fibaro RGBW LED Controller. When I last checked, Vera did not appear to support the analog inputs, and I am still waiting on an RGB “color picker” tool for HomeSeer’s HSTouch. Instead, I’ve set up sliders for each channel and for the master:

Of course with the RGBW Controller being a Fibaro product, you would expect the Fibaro Home Center2 to have a color picker for their GUI:

And Zipato’s GUI also has a color picker:

The Fibaro RGBW Controller is not limited to only controlling LEDs. Fibaro’s website shows numerous potential uses for the four 0-10 Volt analog inputs and four pulse-width modulated (PWM) outputs. Another interesting application is the SBS Sensor project, which is making available a series of analog conversion cards that work with the RGBW Controller to allow Z-Wave interfacing with industrial-type instrumentation.

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