As we move towards a number of stories surrounding one of our favorites flexible methods of automation, we begin with a look into Aeon Labs’ latest range extender.
For those building out their Z-Wave networks in their home or business, that find it can be hard to get certain gadgets to communicate with their main controller due to distance, this is an option that can easily solve things for them.
If you are familiar with Z-Wave networks and how they work, you may know that a lot of Z-Wave devices (cameras, sensors, outlets, etc) act as repeaters on top of their normal functions. This allows you to build out a complicated network of devices all over without having to worry as much about how far they are from the controller (hub). However, in some cases, you may find that you have to place a device far away (let’s say, a door lock) and there doesn’t happen to be any devices in between allowing you to fill the gap with. In these scenarios, you might find communication issues between that device and the hub and you will a need range extender to fill that space with.
So find the middle point (or close to it) and slap one of these guys in the wall. As long as the space between the extender and hub (as well as extender and device) are within range of each other, it will complete the path and you should be fine to continue on with life. Aeon Labs’ Range Extender 6, is exactly this. It is a simple device that plugs into the bottom option in a wall outlet and helps to extend your Z-Wave coverage. It works just like it would with mesh-style Wi-Fi networks.
This is the latest (2017) version of their extender and now incorporates Z-Wave Plus support as well for added security and more. It is small and doesn’t take up any space around the outlet, allowing you to still make use of the plug insert above it.
It is also equally as easy to connect to your hub. We used a VeraPlus in our test and were up in running in under a minute. You start off by plugging the extender into an outlet that is relatively close to the hub (they usually tell you it’s best to get real close, but as part of the test, we added ours at around 30ft away from the hub with walls in between and it worked fine). The LED on the side of the device will begin to change colors in a looping gradience. You will then access the configuration screen of your hub and set it into pairing mode. Then press the button on the side of the extender (or give it two taps within one second instead, if you want to pair it with encryption mode for Z-Wave Plus, which is what we did). If all works well, the LED will go solid. If it returns to a gradient rotation of colors, you need to try again.
After a while, the LED on ours went out. So apparently no light, is good. To make sure of this, we unplugged it and took another device out of range (a GE Z-Wave plug module). We took it far enough so that the controller (VeraPlus) would report back problems of seeing it. We then plugged the extender in about half way between the controller and the plug module. After a minute or so, the plug module began to respond. I would say that was a success.
With the VeraPlus, it did have the extender available in the listed known devices for pairing. You could also add it as a generic device and it should recognize it just fine that way as well. Once it has been paired to your controller, there doesn’t seem to be anything you need to do. It immediately begins to function. If for whatever reason, your controller shows an on/off option for the device, you apparently can ignore this. They state in the instructions that there is no support for on/off functionality and for some reason Vera (and other controllers) may display it as an option anyway. They claim no matter what you do with those on/off buttons, nothing will change on the extender. As long as it is plugged in and paired, it is always on and working (unless of course it itself is out of range of the controller).
Not bad right? All you have to do is plug it in, go through a simple pairing process and you’re done. Now if only everything was that easy.
It’s easy to get functioning, it is affordable at around $30 or less and solves any range problems you may have quickly. I think that covers it all. Since it seems to have worked out perfectly on our first try, there isn’t really anything to complain about. You know what that means! This is when a product receives that rare 10/10 rating from us. It’s functional, affordable, doesn’t lack anything we could wish for and doesn’t cause you to lose any hair.
*Average price is based on the time this article was published
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