Tuesday May 23rd 2017

  

Quick Reference:

Rants and Raves:

Raves:

Good-looking bulb. Bright, uniform light.

Rants:

Could use a ramp-up option.


  

The Domitech Z-Wave Smart LED Light Bulb

There’s a lot to like about the Domitech Z-Wave Smart LED Light Bulb:

  • It’s a good-looking bulb – no strange contours or ugly heat sink fins.
  • It’s bright – equivalent to a 60 Watt incandescent bulb, but only consumes 9 Watts.
  • The bulb puts out a uniform, soft white glow – no dark spots.
  • It has a built-in dimmer and turns on to full brightness instantly.
  • It’s a Z-Wave repeater, with 130-foot, line of sight range.
  • It’s Z-Wave Plus certified.
Domitech Z-Wave Smart LED Light Bulb

Installation and inclusion in your home control network is easy: with the wall switch in the “OFF” position, simply screw the bulb into its socket, start the inclusion routine on your controller, and then flip the wall switch on. The Domitech bulb will flash twice to indicate that the inclusion was successful.

When considering whether to install “smart” LED bulbs, it’s important to recognize that “smart” means there’s a chip onboard, which suggests that the bulb needs power all of the time, even when it’s not producing light. In the case of the Domitech bulb, “smart” also means that the bulb is part of a Z-Wave mesh network, and it acts as a repeater for all of its neighbor devices, even when the bulb isn’t shining. This means that if someone cuts the power to the bulb by turning off the corresponding wall switch or table lamp switch, then you won’t be able to turn on the light by remote control or by a scheduled program, and you also lose the repeater function. For this reason, Domitech includes with each bulb a handy “trigger guard” that can be mounted, using the existing switch-plate screws, over the corresponding toggle-style or rocker-style wall switch. This will help people get used to not using the wall switch to control the light.

Once your household becomes accustomed to always leaving the light switch in the “ON” position, you have the option of removing the trigger guard. You can then use the wall switch to bypass your automation (the Domitech documentation illustrates the use of the wall switch to force the light on when entering a dark room by toggling the wall switch twice (OFF-ON, OFF-ON), and it also illustrates the use of the wall switch to accomplish a factory reset by rapidly toggling the wall switch four times within four seconds). Note: doing a factory reset will remove the smart bulb from your home control network.

Considering that there are plenty of other Z-Wave products available for controlling your lights, why would you add a smart bulb to your system as opposed to adding a Z-Wave wall switch, plug-in module, or micro-module? The following reasons come to mind:

  • You are a renter, or for some other reason you are not permitted to modify the electrical wiring.
  • The light you want to control is connected to a wall switch that could possibly be upgraded to a Z-Wave switch, but you are not comfortable working with electrical wiring and don’t want to hire an expensive electrician.
  • The installation will be temporary.
  • The light that you want to control is on a pull-chain ceiling fixture without a corresponding wall switch, or the light has a corresponding wall switch, but it is not easy to reach.
  • The existing light fixture has a corresponding wall switch, but there is no electrical neutral/common connection (usually a white wire in the U.S.) in the switch’s junction box. Most Z-Wave or other smart wall switches require an electrical common, and in many older homes the electrical common wire is run directly from the circuit breaker panel to the lamp fixture, bypassing the wall switch.
  • By using a smart bulb in a table lamp you can get away from using a wall-wart dimmer module to remotely control the lamp (wall-warts are sometimes unsightly).
  • Using a smart bulb is a good way to add and hide a Z-Wave repeater if you need to strengthen or extend your Z-Wave mesh network.
  • When controlling a circuit with only one or two light bulbs, such as in an entry way, hallway, or front or back porch, installing smart bulbs is more economical and much easier than installing a Z-Wave light switch.
  • Using the smart bulb as an outdoor porch light, the bulb becomes a repeater bridge from the home’s indoor Z-Wave network to outdoor Z-Wave devices, such as devices in detached garages or guest quarters.  Note: The Domitech Z-Wave Smart LED Light Bulb is rated for indoor use only. Avoid moisture and extreme temperatures.
Domitech Bulb Compared
The Domitech bulb (2nd from left) compared to an incandescent bulb(far left), and two LED bulbs from other manufacturers on the right. Note the comparative brightness and uniformity of the Domitech’s light.

Unlike some other energy-saving bulbs, the Domitech bulb is “instant-on.” There is no ramp-up or warm-up period. If you plan to use the smart bulb in a pantry, kitchen, or closet, you will want the light at full brightness immediately. For those rooms where you don’t want full brightness, the Domitech bulb can be dimmed down and set to come ON at that dim level as part of a scene setting in your controller. The Domitech bulb does have ramp-down behavior by default when turning it off. So if you suddenly remember that you actually went to the pantry for pickles, you have a few seconds before everything goes black.

One feature that would have been nice to have as a user-configurable alternative to the instant-on feature might have been the option to ramp the bulb up gently, such as in cases where the bulb is used in a home theater or as a morning wake-up light.

Currently, the Domitech bulb has one user-configurable parameter: setting parameter 1 to “1” will cause the bulb to remember its last brightness setting prior to a power outage. When power is restored the bulb will return to that level. Setting parameter 1 to “0” will result in the bulb turning ON to 100% brightness after manually turning on the power. Parameter 1 only pertains when the power to the bulb is interrupted and restored manually or externally.

When controlling the bulb remotely from a handheld controller or gateway controller, the Domitech Smart LED Light Bulb will be seen by the controller as a dimmable device. Therefore, various brightness levels for the bulb can be saved as scenes and then activated from the controller.

The bulb’s dimmer function can be controlled remotely by pressing and holding the “OFF” button on a handheld controller to adjust the bulb’s brightness downward from 100%, or if you are using a gateway controller, the GUI screen may present a brightness slider control for the Domitech bulb and maybe even a “return to previous level” button.

In the olden days of disposable light bulbs, nobody would have considered paying extra for a smart light bulb. But with the Domitech bulb’s estimated lifetime of 25,000 hours, it becomes practical and even desirable to bundle other functions such as remote control, dimming, and network repeating in the bulb itself.

Overall Strength: 4.5

Ease of Installation:
5
Documentation:
4
Ease of use:
4.5
Value:
4.5

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