Another fantastic day to cover something related to home automation. I mean, who doesn’t like talking about this? A topic continuously growing in popularity as more and more people make the jump toward enhancing their living space with neat gadgets that make day to day events easier around the home. Today, we get to talk about another great item coming from Fibaro, a well-known source of IoT and automation: the Fibaro Z-Wave Wall Plug with USB port (Model FGWPB-121 v.4.0).
Compatible with some of the most popular Z-Wave hubs out there like SmartThings, Nexia, Vera, URC, Zipato, and HomeSeer. This wall plug is a great add-on to any network where you would be looking to add remote abilities for turning your devices on and off. Not only that, but it monitors the power being used by the attached devices, which you can check out via multiple methods (app, browser, etc) depending on your setup (note: this model does not support Apple HomeKit).
On the outside, there really isn’t much to talk about. It’s a wall plug, with a USB port on its side. It’s compatible with any normal U.S. 120v wall outlet and fits nicely without taking up the other outlet above or below it. The only thing that makes it unique on the outside is the LED ring that goes around the face of it, used to understand operational status, as well as the amount of energy, is being used at any given time. It features a nice modern feel to it and seems to be quite friendly when it comes to setup.
On the inside, things change. Compatibility and access begin with their own app, which is available for both iOS and Android devices. Just search for “Fibaro” in your device’s app store, and look for an icon that looks like a home resting on a cloud, made of brown wood, and a red roof. Of course, if you have a Z-Wave compatible hub in your home like some of the ones we mentioned above, you can include it in your network as a device so that it can interact with everything else. Some of the most popular hubs are SmartThings and Vera. SmartThings if you need something a little more straightforward, and Vera if you need a little more flexibility to do whatever you want (almost). In our tests, we focused on Vera since it can be a little more complicated getting things to work at times, as it can sometimes require a little more user participation to get something to work just right (the payoff is the amount of advanced scripting and scenes you can bring to the table if you learn your way around).
We used a VeraPlus in our testing and were able to successfully pair the plug to the hub, although it did take a second try to get things to work. On the first attempt, the pairing process sent the hub into a meltdown that forced us to restore it (luup engine wouldn’t boot properly). At first, you would think “hey! this plug broke my Vera!”, but if you have any lengthy experience with Vera, you probably know stuff like this happens all the time (sadly). We factory reset the Vera, restored it via a recent backup, and tried a second time. This time, no issues and now we have a Fibaro wall plug on the device tab we can play with.
A click of the virtual toggle switch there and the plug instantly comes up, with the LED lighting up, ready to go. Nice! Not only that but the usage (in watts) is displayed right there in Vera’s app/browser screen. It seems to poll the plug often when you have the screen open, so you normally get a decent value of your current load. If you want to see anything in greater detail (when it comes to usage), you will have to use Fibaro’s app it seems. With their app, you can take things further by looking at daily, weekly and monthly consumption, as well as total (as you can see in the image to the right).
You can set up all sorts of scenes that can trigger the plug to go on and off. For example, a “Goodnight” scene, a proximity scene for when you come home when you unlock your door or trigger a motion sensor as you walk around your home at night. The options are endless and only limited by your own imagination–as well as what your hub/setup supports (this is why we used a Vera since you can do all sorts of crazy things with it if you know what you are doing).
It features things like overload protection, and the LED ring is fun to follow as you take up the load. As your load grows, the LED changes. You start off with blue (70w), then green (145w), yellow (350w), orange (750w), red (1350w), and then purple (1800w). The wattage represented seems to be an estimate for each color range, and the device itself maxes out at 1800w (15 amps). A simple way to test this out is to hook an AVR (receiver) to it, then slowly take the volume up (you might want to wear something to protect your ears though). As the volume increases, so does your power consumption (just a fun tip). We do that all the time when we have a new AVR attached to a Kill-A-Watt during various tests.
There is a USB outlet on the left side so that you can plug in a device for charging. The USB port is left separate from all other functionality, so it can not be controlled remotely (only the Edison outlet can do such). It also appears that not all hubs will display any energy monitoring information on the USB port (ie, Vera). This is just a simple USB port for charging. Sadly, since the USB port is only 1A max, it means that any of today’s modern smart devices won’t benefit much from it, as the charging would be slow in comparison to using the wall adapter that came with the device.
Inside the box, it comes with just the plug and an instructional to get you started on setting it up. Real simple.
This wall plug delivers, giving you easy access to powering your favorite devices on and off. Depending on your setup, you can create all sorts of scenes that integrate it into the mix of things, and the LED colors that follow energy consumption (and the ability to monitor so much of it via app) are really nice. There are only two things that weighed the score back from a “perfect”: 1) the fact that the USB port is only 1A and is not included in the energy monitoring in all hub applications, and 2) the wall plug is pricey at $59.99 compared to some of the alternatives (ie, you can get a WeMo for around $35+). Beyond that, it is a great Z-Wave option, and it comes from a reputable brand that delivers a line of products filled with great design and functionality.
|Buy from Amazon|
*Average price is based on the time this article was published
- User Manual: Click here
Video (check out our interview with Fibaro at CES 2018 earlier this year):
- Up to 1800W
- Operation through an Android or iOS app
Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.