Ecolink Garage Door Tilt Sensor (model TILTZWAVE2-ECO)
What is it?
The Ecolink Garage Door Tilt Sensor is a battery powered sensor that reports when it is tilted 90 degrees, designed to be used with a garage door to track if it's opened or closed.
This device contains a Z-Wave chip and includes a 3-year warranty.
Why would I want this?
The primary purpose of this sensor is to track whether a garage door is opened or closed. Alternatively, it can be used in any situation that would cause the sensor to tilt. This particular sensor has no other sensors other than the tamper switch (to know if the cover has been removed). This is a battery powered sensor, which claims 5-8 year battery life.
Does it work?
Works as expected, and reports almost instantly. However, I had several issues getting this device included into my network because it is not in direct range of my controller. It took a bit of troubleshooting and finagling to get it working. I will cover more on that below.
What's in the box?
Packaging is simple. Thin cardboard box with the tilt sensor, mount, hardware, and instruction booklet just sitting inside. Definitely room for improvment, but it works.
Removed from the box, you find the sensor, instruction booklet, as well as mounting hardware.
Inside the sensor.
Was the inclusion easy?
The inclusion can be easy, as long as this device is in direct range of the Z-Wave controller. Documentation for Z-Wave sensors generally say to include the device near the controller, then move to the mounting location. However, I find that this isn't necessarily accurate. From what I gather, and this is from my own personal experiences, you need to include an older Z-Wave (non-Plus) sensor near the controller but a Z-Wave Plus device you can include at the final location (recommended before mounting, though) since the inclusion command can be sent through repeaters.
The problem I ran into effects non-Plus Z-Wave sensors where they will be beyond direct communication with the controller. So I first included the sensor near my controller, moved it out to my detatched garage, and it was no longer in range. The way to fix this is to tell your Z-Wave network to run a network heal which will update communication paths for all devices. Now this gets even more complicated with battery powered devices because they are not awake at all times, which would severely impact battery life. Battery-powered Z-Wave devices will have a wake-up time set by default, ranging from 1 hour to 24 hours, which is when it will wake-up and listen for any queued messages (configuration changes, network heal commands, etc). Generally speaking, you can force wake a battery-powered device by pressing the inclusion button 3+ times. Generally the device will only wake up for a second or two and go back to sleep.
So since this device was out of direct communication range of my controller, I had to move the device to the edge of my z-wave network (to where the sensor would still report to my controller), send a z-wave heal command, force wake-up, and move further away. I have a couple Z-Wave powered light bulbs on the exterior of my garage which act as repeaters, so I just had to repeat those steps a few times until the device was working from the garage (messages sending through the light bulbs). It's not a difficult process, but it wasn't something I could find documented anywhere so it was a lot of trial and error and I hope I can save some time for anyone else running into the same issue.
One positive note is that this doesn't appear to effect Z-Wave Plus devices. My understanding is that Z-Wave Plus repeater-enabled devices are able to pass the inclusion messages for a new device, so a new sensor being added doesn't have to be in direct range with the controller. My Z-Wave network is mostly Z-Wave Plus devices, which is why I haven't run into this specific issue before.
Anyway, the actual inclusion process is simple. Start with the battery removed from the Ecolink Tilt sensor. Put your controller in inclusion mode, replace the battery in the Tilt sensor, and that should be it.
Nothing to see in Open Z-Wave Control Panel this time. Only thing showing under Current Values is the on/off status. No Configuration options available other than changing the Wake-Up Interval.
Within Home Assistant, you should only see a new binary_sensor.* entity ID.
Installation is with two screw, or the included 3M double-sided tape. Mount the bracket, and slide the sensor onto the bracket and secure the sensor to the bracket with a single small screw.
I used the tape and mounted the sensor at the right top panel of my garage door.
Not going to lie; it was a headache to get setup for my particular network. Knowing what I know now, it would only take me 10 minutes or so to get added now. I wish documentation was better for this specific scenario (since one of the top features of Z-Wave is the ability to use it in a mesh network), but I don't think that's fault on this particular device.
The construction of this device really well, and is very responsive.
Cost is quite reasonable, around $28.
If you have a garage door, then you have Z-Wave options. The cheaper option is a tilt sensor to know if your door is opened or closed. The expensive option, and assuming you have a powered overhead door, would be to add a Z-Wave device to that overhead opener (which generally are $100-150 to add). While you can't use this device to close your garage door if you forget to, you can use it to notify you that you left it open, which is exactly what I've done. If my wife and I are both gone (ala, device_tracker reporting not_home), I will get a notification if the garage door is open. Likewise, I have a rule that will check at 10:30PM local time and notify me if I left the garage door open, so I can close it before bedtime.
Share your thoughts!