The world of home automation offers several options for consolidating control of your electronic entertainment devices to one remote. Thanks to Z-Wave technology, Logitech is able to offer a total environment solution by way of the Harmony 890 Advanced Universal Remote.
The Harmony 890 offers both infrared (IR) and radio frequency (RF) control, giving this remote the capability to communicate throughout the home. As a same-room remote, the IR feature is combined with an exhaustive product database consisting of over 5000 manufacturers and 175,000 products, which gives the 890 its compatibility.
As a long distance remote the RF feature provides a range of 100 feet, but when combined with Z-Wave's ability to relay a command from module to module, its range is as great as the number of Z-Wave devices in your home.
Though the product packaging and promotional material mentions Z-wave compatibility, Logitech does not produce Z-Wave modules. It is the lighting and appliance modules that take advantage of the RF feature. To illustrate the potential of the Harmony 890 in a Z-Wave environment I used a pair of Intermatic HA03 dimmer switch modules and one HA02 appliance module.
Figure 1: The Harmony 890 with RF Controller
First, I pulled together the least expensive devices I had in the house. Then I considered the most likely time I would maximize the remote's full capability. In our house, that would be late in the evening when my nine-year-old is in bed and it is my time to watch a DVD.
The scenario begins with my son wanting to go into the dark, cold basement after dinner to play video games. This often requires that one of the parents stop what they are doing and escort him downstairs long enough to turn on the light and heater. The scenario ends with my wanting to turn off the heater and light in the basement and turn on the TV and DVD player from my couch in the upstairs family room after he is asleep.
The next step was to place the HA02 appliance module (Figure 2) in the downstairs propane heater (which is separate from the main heating system) and the HA03 dimmer module (Figure 3) on the incandescent lamps in the basement and family room.
Figure 2: Stand-alone propane heater connected to a Model HA02
It should be noted that fluorescent lamps do not dim and therefore would require the straight on/off function of an appliance module. (This is an important consideration when automating a utility area like a basement or garage.)