X10 to Z-Wave Home Automation Upgrade

I recently started upgrading my Home Automation system from X10 to Z-Wave. The reason for this was reliability and less susceptibility to interference/failure (caused by CFL bulbs and general power fluctuations in the system).

In short; I bought an Aeon Labs controller, a few appliance modules to get started, and a lighting controller to see how reliable Z-Wave can be with CFLs.

Anyone who uses X10 knows it’s pretty easy to get light switches with X10 integrated. Z-Wave, however, is the opposite. Other than single gang switches you’ll be hard pressed to find anything. Since I needed a 2-gang switch I had to find another solution. The main 3 I came up with were:

1) Vitrum – These are all made-to-order switches shipped directly from the factory in Italy. I have to admit that they do look beautiful, and with an integrated Z-Wave module you can’t really go wrong… or can you? Considering a 2-gang switch costs upward of £170 before you take shipping into account, it certainly is an expensive solution.


Vitrum 2-Gang Switch


2) Fibaro Dimmer – These are small modules which can be retrofitted to ANY switch. This gives a far wider choice in regards to style or changes later. The only issue is that each module only supports one physical button. It is possible to connect the second button on a 2-gang switch, but it will only trigger another Z-Wave module (no actual load).

Fibaro Dimmer

Fibaro Dimmer Module


3) Fibaro Relay Insert – Small retrofit module which supports 2 outputs. Since it’s a relay both outputs are on/off only. This module also requires a neutral wire which is not very common in the UK.

Fibaro Relay

Fibaro Relay Switch


I ended up ordering 2 Fibaro Dimmer modules to use in one 2-gang switch. I intend to write a full review of these once I have finished testing them.

Astaro Hardware Appliance for Home Use (ASG 420)

Due to an ever increasing number of devices/services being run from home, I felt it was time to upgrade my old Atom PC Astaro box to something more capable.

I’ve used Astaro for over 2 years now and it’s worked almost flawlessly (bar one small issue with it renewing the WAN IP after the connection goes down – this can be resolved by slightly changing network topology).

After searching on Ebay I ended up winning a ‘like new’ ASG 420 auction. I found it to be a very well built machine, with a good number of ports, nice bright display… and a sound I can only compare with a vacuum cleaner… and a hair dryer… being used at the same time… near the opening of a portal to hell. I should have known that a 1U was going to be loud but I’d never realised quite how loud they were in a home environment.

I tried replacing all the fans with quieter ones but that made the temperature rise to an unacceptable level. So for home use I decided to completely remove all the internal fans and have one 80mm case fan cooling the CPU.
The easiest way of doing this was to remove the 1U casing and replace it with a square of plexiglass. Then cut the relevant holes into the plexiglass and mount the fan(s).

This worked perfectly, but then the PSU fan noise started annoying me. I therefore also removed the casing of the PSU and tried cooling that with an 80mm fan. Unfortunately the airflow did not seem to be sufficient for 24/7 use. So now I have removed the PSU completely and am awaiting delivery of a stock PC PSU.

Here is the finished product (minus PSU and fans), I’ll update this post once it’s all up and running:

It will also be interesting to see whether Sophos UTM will run on this original hardware or whether I will have to stick to V8 of the Astaro software.