SmartThings Buttons: Fibaro vs. SmartThingsBy - 09/07/2018
The Fibaro and SmartThings Buttons are both battery-powered buttons made for indoor use, but that’s where their similarities end. First things first, they look different. In the photo above, the SmartThings button is on the left and Fibaro on the right.
|Color||White, Black, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Brown||White|
|Actions||5 Actions||3 Actions|
|Protocols||Z-Wave+ (HomeKit Version Sold Separately)||Zigbee|
|Range (Ft.)||Up To 164 ft||Up To 130 ft|
|Battery||ER14250 ½AA 3.6V||CR2450|
|Other Features||Temperature Sensor|
There’s no denying the fact that the Fibaro Button is just plain fun. I remember seeing it at CES, and I went straight for it. It screams, “Push Me!” In addition to its fun design, it comes in fun colors including white, black, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and brown.
The Fibaro button, at 1.81″ in diameter and 1.34″ in height, is a little bigger than the SmartThings Button which has a flat, squircle design. The SmartThings Button is white and measures (W x H x D) 1.61″ x .58″ x 1.61″.
The second major hardware difference is the protocol used for communication. The Fibaro Z-Wave Button uses Z-Wave Plus. The SmartThings Button, on the other hand, uses Zigbee, which is what all SmartThings-made sensors use.
Installing the SmartThings Button was easy. From the new Connect app, head to the device tab, click the + button, search for “button”, hit add next to the Button SmartThings / IM6001-BTP01 option, and then pull the battery tab.
Your hub will then start to search for the Button. Once it’s found, you can rename it and create rules using the button.
Installing the Fibaro Button is a little more challenging as it’s technically not a supported device. The workaround is to use a custom device handler. The instructions found here are fabulous and will walk you through what needs to be done in order to connect the Button to your hub. But there is a catch: The new Connect app doesn’t yet support Custom Device Handlers. You will need to use the Classic app to connect the Button. It was my understanding that once a device is connected using a Custom Device Handler that you can swap back and forth between Classic and Connect to control the Button, but I didn’t find this to be true. I was able to control the Button and create actions using the Classic app, but the Connect app would not connect to the Button.
As far as placement, both buttons ship with an adhesive backing. If you choose to place the adhesive on the SmartThings Button, I would suggest that you do not cover up the QR code as you might need it at some point in the future. However, the button is light enough that you can use the adhesive in select areas without covering the QR code. Also, the SmartThings button is magnetic which allows for creative placement. Some ideas for placement: under a desk, on your stove, on a fridge, or near your bed for use as a panic button.
Supported Actions and Usability
In theory, it appears that the Fibaro Button has a leg up on the SmartThings Button as it supports five actions where SmartThings supports three, but programming the three actions is way less complicated than programming the Fibaro Button. Also, remembering five actions can be a touch tricky.
Fibaro’s actions include:
- Pressed Twice
- Pressed Three Times
- Pressed Four Times
- Pressed Five Times
SmartThings actions include:
- Pressed Once
- Pressed Twice
I tested performance by programming different actions, but I compared performance by programming a comparable action to each button. I programmed both the SmartThings and Fibaro Button to turn a lamp on with a press.
I tested this set up at least twenty times standing near the lamps. Each time, the lamps responded perfectly. The SmartThings Button was faster to respond when I clicked to turn the lamps on, but it was less responsive than Fibaro when I used a two touch action. You really have to get the timing of the double touch just right in order for it to work, but once you get it down, it runs smoothly.
Second, I moved about 30 feet from the lamps and closed three doors between us to create a barrier. Again, the lamps responded.
Finally, I went outside (for testing; these are indoor buttons) and stood about 70 feet away from the lamps. Again, they responded.
The problem, however, isn’t short-term use, it’s long-term use, and the Fibaro Button is not long-term reliable. Over time, if the device is idle for too long, it experiences connection fatigue. Fibaro suggests that users press the button four times to wake it up. In my experience, I’ve had to completely remove the button and repair it at least five times in four months. The Fibaro Button is simply unreliable.
Programing Basic On/Off Rules Using the SmartThings Button
The SmartThings Button will allow you to create rules right from the device page. It is the only device that I have connected to my SmartThings hub that has this ability.
From this page, you can create rules in an “If This Then That” format with the “If” assigned as either button held, double pressed, or pressed. The “Then” part of the formula can be multiple things. For example, if the button is pressed it can control a device or Smart Home Monitor (SmartThings’ home security feature). To be more specific, you could create a rule that says, “If my button is pressed, then turn on my lights, lock my door, and sound my siren,” or “If my button is pressed, then swap SmartThing’s mode to Home (Stay) and turn on the lights.” I’m not sure how many “Thens” you can add, but I was able to add six without issue, and I feel confident suggesting that you can add more than six.
You can also create a rule from the Automation tab of the Connect app. From this tab, you have more choices for the latter part of the rule. The “If” is still button held, double pressed, or pressed, but there are three “Then” options including notify me, control a device, or change your location’s mode.
From here, you can also create a toggle on/off light action which allows you to turn on and off lights with one click versus using two of the three available actions for turning lights on and off.
On paper, it might appear that the Fibaro Button is worth the extra $35. It’s not. Not only is using a custom device handler a little more complicated than a direct integration, but the button’s performance is too inconsistent to warrant a recommendation. If you’re looking for a button for your SmartThings hub, I highly recommend the SmartThings Button.
The only thing I don’t yet know about the SmartThings Button is battery life. Currently, I’m still showing 100%, but time will tell.