How to setup an alarm system using Fibaro Home Center 2.
Not too long ago, my old wired alarm system gave up the ghost. I was left with two choices - replace my wired alarm... or make my alarm system part of my Z-Wave smart home system. I chose the latter, and here's why...
It made absolutely no sense to me to replace my old wired security motion sensors - I already have Z-Wave motion sensors setup around my home which perform multiple functions (switching lights on/off automatically, taking temperature and humidity readings and more) It made a lot more sense to utilise the Z-Wave motion sensors that I already have - as opposed to having two different motion sensors in the same room (one for Z-Wave and one for security). Also, there are many obvious advantages to my home alarm system being incorporated into my Z-Wave enabled smart home as one cohesive system.
This is a DIY project.
You will not need an electrician or security system installer, you can do it yourself - which is great as you will save a lot of money.
It is also not designed to be a traditional back-to-base monitoring alarm - it is rather designed to be a self monitoring alarm, where you receive notifications directly to your mobile (or multiple mobiles if you choose) - this saves you even more money by not having to pay monthly fees (which is a waste of money in my opinion - don't get me started on that scam!).
With a bit of patience, you will be able to create a very robust security system with the Home Center 2 - and enjoy all of the other benefits Z-Wave offers.
Having just recently done this myself, I thought I would share my experience - I hope it is helpful to anyone who is looking to setup a smart home security system.
I had only two objectives when I set out on this project... the first was this new Z-Wave alarm had to be every bit as competent and reliable as my old wired system (or better... if possible).
The second was my new alarm had to be part of my Z-Wave smart home. I think I achieved both goals - in spades - but not without some trial-and-error, missteps and some "out of the box" thinking. Challenging... and loving it!
It will take some time to read this blog and watch the video (it's a long one), but I promise it will be worth it. Let's roll up our sleeves and get into it.
Underneath the video below is an overview of the bare minimum equipment that will be required...
Watch the video.
Planning and preparation
First it is a good idea to plan out your security system. A little planning can save a lot of time (and money) in the long run - it will also mean you have installed a system that is going to do its job effectively - protecting you and your home.
Having said all of that - I did absolutely 0% planning (hypocrite, I know!). I dove right in - completely blind. Although this is how I usually perform best - dropped in the middle and forced to swim. It's amazing what you can find on Google at 3am ;)
To be fair (to myself), I had a very reasonable idea of what I had to do - one of the advantages of working for SmartHome :)
At the bare minimum, you will need to plan how many motion sensors are required - and where you are going to place them. Door and Window Sensors are advised, but certainly optional. Remember, if you can only run the sensor by battery - use Fibaro Motion Sensors. If you can power your sensors - use the Aeotec Motion Sensors.
Once you have your plan - be sure to "pair" your Z-Wave sensors with your Home Center 2 before physically installing the sensors - this will make life a lot easier and confirm all sensors are working before you distribute them around your home.
For the "foundations" of my new Z-Wave alarm system, I am using the Fibaro Home Center 2 - currently the best Z-Wave controller available. It is also far more expensive than other Z-Wave hubs, although in my opinion the price difference is more than justified given the performance, features, usability and reliability that Home Center 2 offers (besides, a decent alarm system will set you back far more - and it won't turn your home into a smart home!).
Fibaro Home Center 2
The Fibaro Home Center 2 will be the "brains" of not only your new security system, but also your Z-Wave smart home as well. This device connects to your wireless router and is where you will "configure" your new alarm system.
I strongly recommend getting yourself a cheap UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply - basically a battery backup device) into which you will plug both your wireless router and Home Center 2 - this will allow the system to keep running even if there is a power outage - which is of course very important for a security system.
Z-Wave Motion Sensors
Including motion sensors as part of your alarm system is of course a given. However I thought I would share my thoughts on the two main Z-Wave motion sensors that are available here in Australia and New Zealand.
This small, golf-ball sized motion sensor is great - not only will you get motion detection, it also includes a vibration sensor (so it cannot be tampered with), temperature sensor and a lux (light) sensor. All of these additional sensors make for a very useful device as part of your smart home setup.
This sensor is completely wireless and runs off a single CR123 - Fibaro claim the battery should last for two years - my real-world experience indicates more like 14 - 18 months (Home Center will let you know when the battery is getting low). This is important, CR123 batteries are not cheap - so keep in mind you will need to replace batteries in the future - which if you had say 5 motion sensors - you are looking at around $20 - $30 to replace all of the batteries.
This motion sensor is my personal preference... it is a great little sensor and has served me well. This motion sensor includes all of the additional sensors that the Fibaro version does - plus a couple of extra. It also runs on batteries - in fact, this sensor requires 2 x CR123 batteries - further adding to the expense over time.
However for me, this is why the Aeotec is a better choice over Fibaro - it can also be powered via mini USB (USB to mini USB cable is included) - meaning you never have to change batteries. There is another advantage to powering via USB - the sensor readings are always "live" - when powered by battery, both the Aeotec and Fibaro sensors only send sensor readings in definable time intervals - this saves battery life - the longer the interval... the longer your batteries will last.
The right choice comes down to this...
If you are going to run your motion sensor on batteries - choose the Fibaro motion sensor - it does a lot better job of managing battery life than the Aeotec motion sensor does - it will actually last longer even though it uses a single battery.
If you can provide power to your motion sensor... definitely choose the Aeotec MultiSensor 6 - your sensor readings will always be in real time and you will never have to replace batteries. I know powering the sensor can be a challenge - particularly if you want to mount the sensor up high in the corner of a room - this is where motion sensors traditionally live. However this is not a traditional motion sensor - it is actually more effective to place these sensors at mid level in a room. You will get far better temperature readings at this height - and it is usually more convenient to plug the sensor into a USB power source.
I have most of my Aeotec motion sensors placed on mantles, shelves or bookcases - and they work great and give excellent temperature and humidity readings. The only place I opted for the Fibaro Motion Sensor was in my hallway - this had to run off batteries as there wasn't a convenient power source available (not without a lot of messing around anyway).
Z-Wave Door / Window Sensors
Z-Wave Door / Window Sensors are completely optional in your security setup - Although they are worth considering as they offer another layer of security by monitoring for the opening (or closing) of doors and windows. One clear advantage of installing these sensors is you can monitor your home's exterior entry and exit points when you are home.
Whereas you are not likely to "arm" your motion sensors when you are home (otherwise they will trigger your alarm when you move about your home) - with a door / window sensor, you can still trigger an alarm if a door or window is opened - when it shouldn't be - including when you are sleeping at night. It's a little known fact that over 25% of burglaries occur whilst someone is home! For this reason, it certainly makes sense to consider using Z-Wave Door / Window sensors to protect your home while you are away... but more importantly, also when you are home.
Siren and strobe
An integral part of your Z-Wave alarm system is a siren and strobe. Would-be intruders don't like attention, so making as much noise as possible and drawing attention to a potential break-in is crucial. It also offers an excellent visual deterrent when a thief is scoping out your home as a possible target.
Remember, when choosing a mounting location for your external Z-Wave siren, make sure it is installed somewhere prominent - we want people to know you have an alarm installed - and we want it noticed if it is triggered.
Some final thoughts...
With a bit of planning and well invested time, you will be able to create an excellent alarm system using the Fibaro Home Center 2 and Z-Wave security devices - with the added advantage of having your alarm as part of your Z-Wave enabled smart home. Do not hesitate to contact us if you would like some free advice, support or simply have questions... Remember, we are always happy to help.
All the best,