Home Decorators Ceiling Fan/Light Controller MR101Z - First Impressions


(Dale C) #1

I couldn’t wait any longer for Home Depot to release the Hampton Bay Universal Ceiling Fan/Light Premier Remote Control model#99432 that will sell for $49. And the bottom line is I am glad I didn’t, the SmartThing community finally has a working solution for a single combo device that easily fits under the fan cowl for both 4-speed fan control and light dimming control! Kudos to @ranga for his work on the custom device handler to make it possible for SmartThing users.

Ordering
Instead I ended up ordering the repair parts for $72 including shipping for the Home Decorators Collection Gardinier 52" LED Brushed Nickel Ceiling Fan that has a very similar controller that is also Wink enabled which @Ranga has an alpha version of the necessary custom device handler written and available for download. The only differences it seems between the two is the Gardinier/Eastwind version has an extra button control for reversing the motor direction.

Previously the only way I was able to get variable motor speed control and dimming light control for a ceiliing fan was by installing two different smart devices; one for fan speed, one for lights and crammed them under the fan cowl. Not only is the installation more difficult but more expensive and this setup doesn’t come with wireless remote controller. So I was doing the happy dance when this new zigbee option was announced last year. If you add up the cost for a comparable existing solution a GE Z-Wave Wireless Smart Fan Speed Control at $45 and a dimming light control like the GE Z-Wave Wireless Smart Lighting Control Smart Dimmer Switch at $40 and then you need a Aeon Labs Z-Wave Minimote at $36 for the remote control.
That totals to $121 for only ONE fan. Yes, the retail version would be awesome when available however this solution going the repair part route is not cost prohibitive when you think of the only real alternative that is available.

Installation
I installed the controller in an older ceiling fan that only has power running to the junction box without any wall switch. Control of the ceiling fan was only through the typical pull chain for 3-speed fan control and a second pull chain for light on-off. The wiring is very straight forward, incoming power connects to the device’s red(AC incoming line power) and white(AC incoming neutral) which are clearly labeled and then blue(lights), black(motor line) and white(motor neutral). I made sure to set the pull chain switches at fan high speed and light ON. This device fit very easily under the fan cowl unlike my previous installation.

I fed the both the zigbee antenna and the remote control antenna outside the fan cowl as the instructions suggest to minimize wireless connection issues. I installed in multiple ceiling fan’s and it fits perfectly under the cowl.



Pairing
It went straight forward. You select the “Add a Thing” in the mobile app to signal SmartThings to start its discovery mode then toggle the power ON to device with the breaker or switch or even the remote control using the master On-Off button. It showed up within 60 seconds on the mobile app and the fan lights flashed 3 times when you successfully pair. The instructions manual for inclusion to a Wink hubs says to bring the device close to the hub for pairing… I had no need to move my hub that was two bedrooms away and ST found the new zigbee controller just fine. EDIT:posted updated screenshots of device handler below

Video showing the latest alpha device handler in action. Demo of the wireless remote starts at 1:30

Pros
-This new device fits easily within the fan cowl and provides 4-speeds instead of only the 3 that it originally came with by its integrated pull chain.
-The lights are now dimmable instead of just on-off via the pull chain.
-Wireless remote controller works great along with the device handler so controlling by the remote is reflected in the device handler on the mobile app.
-Sufficient but not total control and monitoring of all fan speeds, breeze, master on-off, dimming from SmartThings mobile app.

Cons
-As expected the reverse will not reverse my motor which has the manual switch for reversing the spin direction. This really isn’t a big deal since I only switch direction once a year anyway so that I will still do manually via switch.
(edit)- Light dimming function has a minimum setting of only 20%. If you are using incandescent bulbs and you desire to go lower that is a con. However I believe the reason the factory firmware limits it to 20% is because this device is a repair part for the Gardinier fan which uses LED’s and it would make sense that below 20% the LED’s might start working inconsistently or blink.
-No control or monitoring of some features. The device doesn’t send out info for SmartThings to monitor when the user presses the Reverse, 2-4-8 hr timer button or the Walk-Away features. It isn’t critical but would have been nice to know the ceiling fan is under some kind of automatic control to shut off.
-This is only an “alpha” release so far but all the basics are in. EDIT:It is now Beta version and working well as additional improvements are being tweaked.


UPDATE: As more of these get in the field there are some reports of random events where the communication is lost with the ST hub that requires cycling of the power but the remote still operates the fan. Investigation is zeroing in on zigbee wireless. However the entire ST platform during this time is suspect now. Edit: **There are now reports from the Wink users of Zigbee disconnects as well where it can go for many days or only hours before losing communications with the Wink Hub. So the issue seems to point less to the ST platform and more at the device. Continuing to monitor the reliability and uptime of the device.


Suggestions or Thoughts
I modified my 3 Speed Ceiling Fan Thermostat smartapp to take advantage of this unique device for SmartThings staging all 4 speeds based on temperature. You can download the Thermostat control smartapp directly here Beta version So far it is working very well under intial testing. EDIT:

I want to modify the device handler to work very similar to the wireless remote control which is the way I want to interface with the mobile app. I need more run time using the device to be sure but for now:
-Replace the icons to reflect the actual function they are controlling from the tiles. For example currently the fan speed tiles icons are light switch icons instead of a fan blade icon or an icon representing air movement.
-Relabel the One, Two , Three, Four to be instead Low, Med, MedHi, Hi. It is a little confusing when using numbers because one press on the remote equates to speed4, two presses equates to speed3, etc.
-Changing the light control from the primary location and make it a toggle operation for the fan speeds instead by relocating light control on-off tile down along with the speed indication control tiles. Still thinking this one through… leave the light dimming slider alone however.

This screen shot is concept only to play with the ideas I am suggesting above. Update: I played around with the device code so now it has all my new icons and I like it that way it matches the wireless remote icon look for less confusion and similar control. Still experimenting with the other suggestions I made

UPDATE:
No longer a concept now as I have it working on my device. Here are my latest changes to the device handler on Post #33

UPDATE 4-5-2017
I can also verify that the following universal devices also work with this ZigBee receiver. These universal devices work just like the original remote alongside the SmartThings device handler.

Universal Ceiling Fan Wireless Wall Control -OR- Universal Ceiling Fan Thermostatic Remote

The thing to note is that these are three speed remotes versus the four speeds of the original remote. The three speeds that are controlled and is visible on the mobile app is High, Med-High, Med. The Low speed can still function but just not from the remote itself. You need SmartThings mobile app to manual control Low. I just made sure the dip switches were all set the same as the ZigBee receiver. Both remotes come with their own RF only receivers as well that I never used since my desire was to verify compatibility with the ZigBee receiver.

The In-Wall remote is basically a wireless hand held remote that has been repackaged to fit perfectly in a single gang box. It uses a 12v battery and is easily accessible under the blank cover piece ( below the Timer and Breeze buttons) I wished they had made it possible to use line power so you didn’t have to worry about replacing batteries but I do understand how many installations don’t have a neutral at the wall switch so the battery version will cover all installations.

The Thermostatic version works fine as well. Note The thermostat control brings on only the Med-Hi speed when the temperature of the room goes above the setpoint on the remote. For advanced staged control of all speeds use the 4-speed Ceiling Fan Thermostat smartapp referenced earlier.

UPDATE 4/17/2017 Here is the latest device handler for this receiver


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(Jimi Moore) #2

Thanks for the writeup @dalec! I’ve been following this project closely.

So functionally would you say the Zigbee fan controller/SmartThings connectivity and usage is solid/dependable?

This project perfectly illustrates why I love SmartThings. It’s simple enough for the novice and infinitely expandable for the programmer.


(Dale C) #3

So far so good. Now remember I have only had this up and running for a short time so far so I will continue to update my impressions for any changes but functionally even at this beta stage is spot on!

I installed this in the master bedroom and the wife’s comment was “Now that is nice!” She was referring to the wireless remote control operation from her night stand. I also have a single light switch going into this bedroom that is the HS-HD100+ that I am programming to not only control and dim the night stand lights but also sync with the ceiling fan lights with a simple double tap. And the triple tap up will cycle the four fan speeds.


(Jimi Moore) #4

Very cool. Well I’ll be watching. This may be a dumb question. Do you think it would be possible to purchase the Wink receiver only and skip the remote control? Do I need the remote for anything to pair the receiver?


(Dale C) #5

Absolutely possible. The remote is not needed to operate it under SmartThings. It is just an added option for local control override. They will sell you the receiver only for $32 plus shipping. Pairing is achieved by cycling the power to the receiver and you don’t have to use the remote to do that.


(Someday my dog will be automated) #6

Nothing like a HA installation to find all that dust accumulated in one place.


#7

Thanks dalec for the photos of the model numbers of the remote and controller which matched what I had posted in another thread. I might have to go this route as well if the retail kit doesn’t come in stock in the next few months.


(Paul Haskins) #8

So it would be possible to use a Minimote or other push button setup?


(Dale C) #9

Absolutely but not totally yet. I have a minimote using Button Controller Plus so that I am able to “Toggle” the dimmer function on the ceiling fan. For example if the wireless remote or ST has the light on or off then by pressing my minimote button, I can toggle the light to the opposite condition either off or on and specify to what dimming level.

I also am able to toggle the devices On-Off switch for the light but not the motor. So far I haven’t seen the Speed1,2,3,4 exposed as switches or buttons that I can access.

@ranga is it possible to expose the speed settings or motor control like you have for the light control? I must be missing something.


(Ranga Pedamallu) #10

You will need to setup actions for each speed, the commands are available in the DTH as fanOne, fanTwo, fanThree, fanFour & fanAuto (Comfort Breeze mode). You can use CoRE to setup the minimote switches to trigger these.

Nice writeup @dalec

If you have any icons that I can use, please send them over and I will implement it. I dont see any fan related icons inbuilt in ST. Changing the labels to Low/Med/MedHi/High should be easy. But I dont like MedHi. If everyone likes that notation, I can change it too.


#11

@dalec so my fan with an existing remote, I will just need to swap the receivers?


(Dale C) #12

I can get some icons for you.

I don’t know if I like the text context either LOL. The manual calls speed 3 as Medium2

Fan Speed
• OFF - Turns fan off
• 1- Turns the fan to Low speed.
• 2- Turns the fan to Medium speed.
• 3- Turns the fan to Medium 2 speed.
• 4- Turns the fan to High speed.
• BREEZE- Randomly alternates fan speeds to
create an organic breeze effect.


(Ranga Pedamallu) #13

You will be able to do that, but the existing remote may not work with the new receiver.

The remote and receiver talk to each other via RF and not Zigbee. Not all remotes and receivers are compatible due to proprietary nature of the protocol.


(Dale C) #14

everything @ranga said plus

…assuming your remote is a HomeDepot remote your chances are good that you can set the RF correctly . Being able to set the dip switches to communicate over RF is only half the issue however. Now the question is all about can the two devices understand each other. You can always test it and it won’t hurt anything.

It is sort of like me making a phone call to someone in France. Making the phone call is only getting me half way there because if I don’t speak french we really are not getting anything accomplished. But maybe I understand just a little french so I can do just a couple things.


(Jimi Moore) #15

@dalec You’ve inspired me! Just purchased the actual Gardinier 52 in. LED Brushed Nickel Ceiling Fan from HomeDepot and will be installing tonight!


(Rick Borjas) #17

So I tried ordering the receiver, they want a six digit UPC found on the manual or the box. I tried the model and they said they couldn’t find it using the model number.


(Dale C) #18

good grief, how can they expect any end user to keep a box with the UPC code? I didn’t see it in their online manual. I took a picture of the box for you with the UPC code 082392 432607

Here is the actual packing list with their reference numbers and item numbers for each part as well which they should be able fill the order with. However I don’t know which item is the receiver and which is the remote control


(Rick Borjas) #19

Thank you very much that worked the 12 digit UPC was required $38 each plus shipping


(Dale C) #20

I just posted in your device handler thread with a little more detail.


(Jimi Moore) #21

So I’ve never actually installed a custom device handler. I have github attached to my ST IDE. Can one of you point me to the best write up or video going over installing a device handler?