[Z-Wave Review] Fibaro Dimmer 2 (FGD-212)

Z-Wave module review number four!

Fibaro Dimmer 2 (model FGD-212)

What is it?

The Fibaro Dimmer 2 is a highly capable light control module. This module adds the ability to switch lights on and off, as well as dim, using your existing light switch. The big feature for me is that this will work with a switch that doesn't have a neutral wire, such as those in my older home.

This device contains a Z-Wave Plus chip and includes a 1-year warranty.

Why would I want this?

Maybe you want to control your lights by toggling then on or off, or dim them. Maybe you want want to monitor power usage. Maybe the most important thing to you is not replacing your light switches because you have some fancy unique switches (or plate) and you want to keep that same look.

Does it work?

I'll admit that I had issues getting this Dimmer to work. My first issue is that I live in an older house and the switch had no neutral and I was using CFL's, and my second issue was that there wasn't 100% compatibility with Open Z-Wave prior to my testing. After swapping out my light bulbs with some 43W Halogen bulbs and submitting a small change to the Open Z-Wave project, I was able to get the Dimmer working quite well without issue. I'm able to switch the light off and on, control dimming (although that's not desired for my kitchen lights), and view energy usage.

What's in the box?

Box is a thick cardstock, and minimal. All that was inside is a plastic tray with the dimmer, and an instruction booklet.

Box closed

Box open

Unboxed

Here's a rear view of the module, sowing the 6 wire terminals:

Module rear

How was the installation?

For my install, I used this diagram:

Wiring diagram

As previously stated, I live in an older house that only had 2 wires in the light box; the line, and load. No neutral like you would see in a newer home. With a setup like this, this dimmer works in a unique way where it keeps a small amount of electricity running through the lights so that the dimmer can maintain power. This is the main reason that LED and CFL bulbs are not recommended because they use a lot less power to work and you may see a light glow or a flicker using those kind of bulbs in a setup without that netural line. To keep it brief, the L is your Line wire (coming straight from the breaker), S1 is you first Switch wire, S2 would be for a secondary switch (as in a 3-way switch setup; I didn't have this), Sx is for the other side of your switch, N is for your neutral wire, and the last terminal with the X looking icon is for your load (i.e., on to the light).

My lightswitch with the faceplate removed. Just a simple single pole switch.

Lightswitch

lightswitch removed from the box, still wired (with power off, of course). Yeah, that's some old nasty wire but it still works.

Lightswitch removed

Here is the same 2 wires, wired to the Dimmer module. I had to use a voltage sensing tool to determine which wire was the Line and which was the Load. I used my trusty Fluke VoltAlert Tester.

Module wired

I did not get a photo of the switch wired up to the module, because it was a little frustrating trying to do with 12 gauge wire. One wire (of 12 guage in size) fits in the terminal block just fine, but trying to get a jumper between Sx and N while having another wire in Sx (for 2 total) required me to be creative. It's safe, but I won't be showing it. Follow the wiring diagram that fits your needs, and please, if you don't know what you're doing then contact a professional to install this.

Was the inclusion easy?

So Open Z-Wave did have configs for these Dimmer modules, but my specific module was showing up as id=2000 and Open Z-Wave didn't know that ID. id=1000, id=3000, and id=4000 were all mapped to the Fibaro FGD-212 config file, but for some reason id=2000 wasn't and I didn't catch this at first. So I had to add that, and I pushed that change to the Open Z-Wave project so hopefully no one else runs into that in the future. Without this change, I was not seeing any configuration options in Open Z-Wave Control Panel, and I was unable to configure things for my setup.

So with that fixed, the inclusion was super easy. Wire it up, turn power back on (with the switch and module still hanging out of the way), and wait about 30 seconds for the Fibaro to power up and run through auto-calibration. Set your control to inclusion mode, then press the little button on the back of the module 3 times quickly to do the inclusion. Be careful because you are close to live wires. Alternatively, you should be able to flip the switch wired to S1 3 times to do the same, but I did not test this. Inclusion is done.

Boy oh boy are there tons of configuration options for this module. So many so that I'm not going to list them, but whoever added the Open Z-Wave config for this module did a great job with documentation in the config, so each configuration parameter is neatly labeled in Open Z-Wave Control Panel.

Here is what I see in Open Z-Wave Control Panel.

Current values

Likewise, here are ALL the available configuration options (and what I currently have set).

Configuration

Yeah, the list is huge. The one parameter that I had to set in order to get this working properly was "Input Button/Switch configuration", which defaulted to Mono-stable input (button), even though I was using a toggle switch. It worked, but I had to flip the switch 3 times (up-down-up) to manually turn off the lights. What a pain! So switch this to Bi-stable input (switch) immediately solved this. No matter the current switch position, one flip would turn the light on or off when manually toggeled. Likewise, the current switch position is irrelevant when controled through Home Assistant. I spent a good deal of time tweaking these options to have success, and I think it would have been a lot less painful if I had a neutral wire in my switch box, but I digress.

One other important thing I want to mention is the second parameter, "Maximum brightness level". This value is between 1 and 99, and is set automatically when the dimmer is calibrated. I tried manually setting this higher and I had nothing but trouble. Let the calibration set this and leave it alone.

Within Home Assistant, there are several new sensors (listing info), as well as light.* entities for controlling. Specificly for my setup, I created a toggle for light.light_kitchen_level_21 which allows me to turn on or off the light. Light will dim on or off (dim duration of 1 second, it seems), but I never set anything up for actual dimming of the light (as I don't need that). I have been considering some automation rules to turn on the light if motion is detected in the kitchen after sunset, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. No reason that shouldn't work, though, other than maybe a slight 1-2 second delay. Seems more efficient to just flip the switch as I walk by (but still nice that I can turn it off if I'm laying in bed and forgot about it).

My thoughts

A little fuss getting going, but seems very solid and stable once set up properly. Build quality is good and it fits nicely in a full size, single gang box with a standard light switch.
The included instruction booklet is light on information, but there is a very descriptive PDF from Fibaro with all the information you will need. You can find that PDF right here. It's a little pricy compared to a toggle Z-Wave switch (such as the Zooz ZEN24), but if you don't have a neutral wire, your options are severely limited. At $60, it's not bad, but I wish it was around $40 (Zooz ZEN24 dimmer toggle switch is under $30, as well as comparable switch). At $40, I would consider getting it for other rooms, and for $20, I'd consider getting it for most rooms in my house. At $60, I may end up with 1-2 more for common areas such as the Dining Room and Living Room.

Kitchen group

My Recommendation

This is nice, but at the price, I can't recommend it if you can get by with an actual Z-Wave switch at half the price. However, if you have special light controls (fancy button, or something along those lines) or some custom job with fancy plates or if you just live in an older house without a neutral wire in the box, this is your only option and it's a good option.


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