We’re big fans of Lightwave kit here so we were excited to hear news about the release of Generation 2 devices from them.
Our review of their Generation 1 devices, which you can read here, remains one of the most popular articles on the site so if you’re not familiar with Lightwave equipment check that article out first.
While the Lightwave Gen 1 equipment worked quite well, there were a few missing features that they have now looked to address.
The first of those updates and one of the more important ones for me is two-way communication. Devices such as dimmers can now report back whether they are turned on or off which may seem like a trivial feature but in fact, improves the overall user experience vastly. Gen 1 devices could be instructed to turn on or off but you couldn’t find out the status of them unless you were looking at them. Not too handy if you’re not home. With the Gen 2 devices, it’s now simple to see what’s on or off from within the app.
Lightwave has also added energy monitoring to their smart sockets as part of this update which will be handy for keeping an eye on what’s using your electricity.
The other major update is that the Gen 2 devices now work with Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Homekit so you should be good to go no matter ecosystem you’ve bought into. It’s the addition of Apple Homekit to the line up will be welcomed by all the iOS users out there though.
Both Gen 1 and Gen 2 devices also support IFTTT and are part of the “Works with Nest” programme.
Lightwave has been making internet connected devices since 2008 and it shows in their products. While many companies are scrambling to get into the Home Automation sector and it seems like there’s an endless selection of kit to choose from, a lot of what’s available now either doesn’t work very well or offers a poor user experience. With the release of the Gen 2 devices and the new App, Lightwave have added the features which were missing and taken the app from being functional but a little daunting for some users to something that is now quite easy to use and looks polished.
Before we get going here, please don’t undertake any work on the electrical system in your home unless you are competent to do so. Seek help from an electrician if you’re not sure.
The Gen 2 devices are pretty similar to the Gen 1 devices size-wise. With that said, it can be a tight fit for the dimmer switches so it’s worth taking a look at your current setup before diving in. 2 gang dimmers are usually the hardest to fit as you have more wires to worry about but with a bit of manoeuvring, you can usually route the wires so the electronics of the dimmers fit in.
The smart sockets are easier to fit but we’ve generally found some of the drywall had to be trimmed back to fit things in properly but that’s more down to the poor finish left by the builders than the Lightwave gear itself.
All told, it shouldn’t take you much more than ten minutes or so to change out a dimmer or socket.
One thing to note is the body of the dimmers is made of plastic so you need to be careful when attaching it to the conduit box not to over tighten the screws and end up cracking it.
Setup and App
The Gen 2 devices require a new link device. The “Link Plus” connects to your router and handles the communication between the app and your smart devices.
There’s also a new App for the latest devices. If you have Gen 1 devices you’ll have to add them as new devices within the Gen 2 App. They will function fine but the new features of the Gen 2 devices will obviously not be available.
Adding devices is really straightforward. Funnily enough, you click the “Add” button at the top of the screen to begin. The App then asks you to pick what generation the device is and what type of product it is (dimmer, socket, etc.).
Once you’ve done that you then need to pair the device with the App. This involves pressing and holding the button (or buttons) on the smart device and following the steps in the App. You give the device a name and add it to a room and you’re done.
The App walks you through each step with instructions and it’s a simple process overall.
To control your devices from the App you can then either go to the room the devices are in and select them or you can add a selection of devices to your favourites so they appear on a page together for quick access. To toggle a device on or off you tap the square. To change a dim level you long press and it opens another page with a slider to adjust it and you can also lock a device from here so little fingers can’t be turning it on or off!
Gen 2 devices will accurately show whether they are switched on or off here and show dim percentages for example but as I mentioned above, Gen 1 devices can only be switched on or off and you can’t tell what state they are in to begin with.
Also in the App, you have an “Automation” section which allows you to create schedules for devices or groups of devices to turn and off at different times of the day.
Everything about the new App is much cleaner and everything works instantly. It is noticeably quicker than the Gen 1 setup and so far we’ve had no issues with commands being delayed or not actioned.
The addition of Apple Homekit is a huge positive for Lightwave. It will allow them to tap into the segment of the market who are completely bought into the Apple way of doing things and having their products listed for sale on the Apple website brings great exposure.
What it means for the end user is that you will be able to use Siri for voice commands and the Home App on your iOS device will allow your Lightwave kit to interact with any other Homekit compatible devices you may have. This is a great way of using existing kit to complement your new equipment and hopefully save you some money. For example, if you have another device which has motion detection built in you can use that to trigger a Lightwave device to come on.
The list of Apple Homekit compatible devices is still a little short in Ireland but it is growing and as with most things Apple do, it’s simple to set up and it works.
Price and Availability
The Gen 2 devices are available from a number of locations now including directly from the Lightwave website, the Apple website and from Amazon. While the Gen 1 devices have been available at discounted prices during sales and other promotions, the Gen 2 devices are obviously new and are commanding a more premium price.
Currently, there are one and two gang dimmers available, a two gang socket and of course the new Link Plus device. The one gang dimmer and socket retail at €69.95, the two gang dimmer is €114.95 and you can pick up the Link Plus device for €159.95. There’s also a couple of starter kits available which include the link plus and some of the other devices.
Lightwave has been good at keeping customers updated on their future plans for devices and software updates. There are a number of new devices due to land in the next two months and additional functions to be added to the app. You can see their short-term product roadmap below.
Improvements/ Issues/ Suggestions
There’s no doubt that after using the new Gen 2 devices our Gen 1 devices felt a little outdated. While the older products will still be supported, if you want to avail of the new features you’re going to have to crack open your wallet and that will be an issue for some existing users as they may have spent significant amounts kitting out their homes with Gen 1 devices.
In general, things have been issue free. I think we overloaded the App a little at the start, adding a good few devices one after another but a reboot of everything sorted that out. We had two Gen 1 plugin remote sockets which we couldn’t get to work with the new App but we’ll revisit that at a later date to try to resolve. All of our other Gen 1 devices worked without issue as did the all of the Gen 2 devices.
The terminals for the wires are still very small on the dimmers, especially if you have loops, and the screw heads for tightening the terminals require quite a small screwdriver which makes it difficult to get a really tight connection. It would be great to see this looked into in future revisions of the device.
At present, there are no force touch options from the App icon or an Apple Watch App so it would be good to see these being added in the future.
Lightwave hasn’t disappointed with this update. The new App looks and works great and they now offer voice command support for most users. We’ve used Lightwave equipment for many years without issue so reliability is good and we expect nothing else from these new devices.
The main advantage Lightwave has for us over many of their competitors is that their devices work both as smart devices and also like traditional devices so they aren’t tied to an app or internet connection. You can still press a button on the wall to turn on a light without needing to take your phone out of your pocket but you can also tell Siri to turn them off from a thousand kilometres away.
If you are building a new home or thinking of starting to automate your existing one, Lightwave is worth considering and we’re happy to give them our recommendation. Check out our review of the Lightwave Gen 1 equipment here where we go into more detail about why it’s better to make a light switch smart rather than fitting a smart light bulb.
For more information on Lightwave and details on how to purchase please visit https://www.lightwaverf.com/
Disclosure: Lightwave has provided us with their Generation 2 devices free of charge to review but has had no editorial input into this article.