When I started thinking about getting into home automation and building my smart home, I spent months researching everything ZWave. One name kept popping up again and again, Fibaro. Owned by the Polish Fibar Group, the Fibaro brand is one of the most popular home automation brands around today.
You would be mistaken for thinking you are getting a bargain with a Fibaro product, it being Polish and all. But no, they are not exactly cheap, just look up their flagship ZWave hub, the Fibaro Home Center. It can easily cost three times as much as my MiCasaVerde Vera Plus. I don’t think its particularly good value either, but that’s a topic for another day. Question is how will the Fibaro Motion Sensor fare?
After living with the Fibaro Z-Wave Motion Sensor Gen5 (FGMS-001) for 3 months, I can say this multi-sensor is quite decent if not exactly great value for money. Its a stylish, well-made, reliable ZWave sensor with very good battery life. Would I get another one? Only if I can find one significantly cheaper than my current favourite, the rather esoterically named eAeon Labs Aeotec MultiSensor 6.
If you are just starting your Home Automation journey, let me backtrack a bit and explain my approach. I chose to build my home around the ZWave standard. I did so largely because its a mature standard, enjoys wide industry support and there is a huge range of ZWave products to choose from including multi-sensors, door locks, alarm systems etc. For a complete overview of the various choices of Home Automation standards and devices, read my guide here.
While you can get a simple ZWave motion detector, a multi-sensor like the Fibaro is more interesting and ultimately more useful. When we talk about making a home smart, its about understanding what’s happening inside a particular room and then the house automatically taking action based on predefined steps:
- On motion being detected in a hallway, my Vera Plus would ask the indoor Amcrest PTZ camera to move to a watch the doorway, take a snapshot, record a clip and email it to me.
- Or when the temperature falls below a particular point, the temperature sensor in the room would ‘call for heat’ and my Vera Plus hub would respond by turning on the boiler.
- Or when the light falls below a certain level, I can ask my Vera Plus to turn on my bedside lamp starting at 20% brightness. It could even ramp it up slowly over 30 mins, and then ramp it down later on as I go to bed. If the humidity goes above a certain level, my Vera Plus can turn on the smart plug into which my dumb dehumidifier is plugged in.
So as you can see, its very nice to have certain sensors in each room of the house – motion, light level, temperature, humidity etc. That’s why manufacturers like Fibaro have made multi-sensors, a single device which can typically monitor a few different environmental factors. All in one convenient small device that can be hidden away anywhere. You can see why I love these cool little devices!
The Fibaro Motion Sensor also comes in a Bluetooth version (FGBHMS-001) which is compatible with Apple HomeKit.back to menu ↑
Fibaro Motion Sensor Gen5 – Specifications
|Power Supply||CR123A battery, 3.6 VDC|
|Recommended installation height||2.4m|
|Operational Temperature||0-40 C|
|Measured Temperature Range||-20 to 100 C|
|Light Intensity Measuring Range||0-32000 lux|
|Radio Frequency||869 MHz EU;|
908 MHz US;
921 MHz ANZ;
869 MHz RU;
|ZWave Range||up to 50 m outdoors|
up to 30 m indoors
(depending on terrain and building structure)
|Security||Supports protected mode (Z-Wave network security mode) with AES-|
The Fibaro Motion sensor is a universal ZWave device, so it will work with any ZWave hub such as the Vera Plus, the Vera Edge, or the Samsung SmartThings.back to menu ↑
Unboxing the Fibaro Z-Wave Motion Sensor
The Fibaro Motion Sensor comes in a colourful high quality box.
You can see the model number FGMS-001 and the firmware version of the sensor printed outside the box.
The box contains the following:
- Fibaro Gen5 Motion Sensor
- Holder to attach the sensor to the wall
- Installation screw and rawl plug
- Instruction manuals
- One CR123A battery
The Fibaro sensor is a tiny round globe with a multi-colour LED inside. I knew it was a compact device but when I first opened the box, I was really surprised to see just how small it was. It measures just 46 mm (1.8 inch) across.
There is a very distinctive cat-eye shaped LED light behind the Passive InfraRed (PIR), and it lights up whenever it detects motion. The colour of the LED depends on the temperature in the room and the light intensity. So when you walk into a room, it will light up and then you will easily know whether its too cold or too warm. Turn the cover counter-clockwise and the sensor opens to reveal its innards.
A CR123A battery is pre-installed, which is very welcome. A note on the battery: after 3 months of use in our hallway, my Vera Plus reports the battery life at 100%. I am not sure how correct that is but it bodes well for the little Fibaro sensor – Fibaro claims a 2 year battery life. The motion sensor measures the battery level every 24 hours and reports it to the ZWave hub or your Apple device if you are using HomeKit. If the battery level drops below 15%, the sensor will also send a low battery warning.back to menu ↑
Installing and configuring the sensor
One of Fibaro’s promotional videos shows the sensor being used in an outside porch and the specs mentioning outside range, which makes me wonder whether I can use it outdoors and how water-proof it is. But the manual is clear the Fibaro is intended to be an indoor device and that’s where I am using it. Of course, you can’t really place the Fibaro sensor on a shelf because its round. But its very easy to install with only a single screw needed. The sensor’s range is quite good at 50 metres. I have moved mine all over the house and it has been brilliant. It never once lost the wireless connection to the ZWave network.
Now the sensor has a few tricks up its sleeve – it can help you scout out the perfect installation location. Clicking the B-button once wakes up the device, but if you hold it, you can access its menu! Yes the sensor has its own little menu which will help you do a ZWave range test or reset the device. The range test is particularly cool as the sensor will indicate the strength of the network using its LED. You can use this feature to troubleshoot other misbehaving devices on your network too.
The inclusion process into my ZWave network was quick and went off without a hitch. There is a button inside the sensor that Fibaro calls the B-button. After putting your ZWave controller into inclusion mode, press the B-button on the sensor 3 times quickly. Your hub should detect the sensor and add it to the ZWave network.
My inclusion process was successful but only 3 devices showed up in my Vera control panel: one for each sensor except the accelerometer. I haven’t investigated this further but I am guessing its because the Vera UI7 doesn’t recognise that particular sensor.
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Features & Performance
The Fibaro Motion Sensor claims to be able to detect motion within a 7m range, but I think this is too optimistic. I have found the Fibaro to be able to detect motion accurately and quickly within a 3-4 metre range which is less than the claimed 7m range but in reality is perfectly adequate for me. I have mine installed at a 2.4m height as recommended in the user manual.
Temperature and Light level
Although its primary function is motion detection, the Fibaro is a 4-in-1 sensor. It can monitor ambient temperature between 0 to +40°C with an accuracy of ±0.5°C and the light level between (0 – 32,000 Lux). I found the ambient temperature and light level measurements to be inline with other sensors. There’s even a temperature offset feature which can take care of the difference in temperature between the lower level of the room (where you and I will be at) vs. the higher level where the sensor may be installed.
However as is common with other battery powered devices, I found that the Fibaro will report a change in temperature or light levels only if it changes by a certain amount (0.5 deg C and 200 lux apparently). This helps conserve the battery but you lose real-time monitoring. If this is a deal-breaker, consider other multi-sensors such as the Aeon MultiSensor 6 which can do real-time monitoring with a USB power option.
The 4th and final sensor is the accelerometer. The accelerometer is useful in case somebody tries to tamper with the sensor. If you physically touch the device, the accelerometer will get activated and flash the LED in all its colours rapidly.
Now this is something I look for in every device – a reset button. The Fibaro motion sensor has one. Surprisingly enough some companies think its fine to make their substandard devices without a reset button (Popp, I am looking at you).
You may have noticed the Gen5 at the end of the Fibaro’s model name – this refers to the latest generation ZWave 500 chipset (as opposed to 300). This version has improved range and battery life, so is a good feature to look for.
There are some other features that work only with a Fibaro Home Center hub:
People counting if you have more than one Fibaro sensor
- Inactivity detection
Fibaro 4-in-1 Motion Sensor vs. Aeon Labs Aeotec Multisensor 6
One sensor the Fibaro is missing is the humidity sensor. This is very useful for me as we have a little baby and that’s why I ended up getting the Aeon Labs Multisensor 6 for the nursery. They are very similarly priced which makes the Fibaro less value compared to the Aeon Multisensor.back to menu ↑
My main gripe with the Fibaro Motion Sensor is that it is expensive compared to the Aeon Labs Multisensor 6 which has two additional sensors (humidity and UV level).
A well designed sensor that comes at a price
- Stylish and unique with large multi-colour LED
- Easy to install and include in ZWave network
- Motion detector is very sensitive and can be adjusted
- Accurate temperature and light measurements
- Very good battery life (100% after 3 months of use)
- Z-Wave network range test feature
- Highly customizable
- Motion detection range more like 3-4m vs. claimed 7m
- No humidity measurement sensor
- Similar price as Aeon Labs Multisensor 6 but with 2 less sensors