I am currently looking at a way to control IR devices in my home. I missed the boat and did not pick up a Logitech Harmony and it appears they are no longer being made. I am looking for an alternative to the Harmony. Ideally the solution would be a bit user friendly (although I can get into the weeds if there are some good guides) and isn’t a known security concern (seen some on Amazon that were potentially an issue).
Apologies, should have specified in Canada. Maybe I can import it but if there is an easier option I would go with that.
First rule of home automation: “the model number matters.”
What specific devices are you looking to control?
If it’s a television, Xbox, DVD player, etc. then Amazons fire TV cube is a very good alternative with a lot of features specific to controlling these kinds of devices, including a handheld button remote. Integration with smartthings would be through Alexa routines. And with or without smartthings you can integrate it with a lot of other smart home devices, similar to harmony. Customer-friendly and with good tech support. But more expensive than the alternatives.
If it’s an air conditioner, air purifier, electric candles, or other misc device etc then the Switchbot mini is a good choice with a manufacturer-provided SmartThings integration. Fewer features than the fire TV, but costs a lot less as well.
A lot of people really like broadlink, but integration with smartthings is more complicated and typically requires a dedicated android device to make it work.
So we would need more specifics about what you are looking for in order to give advice on good matches.
See this is how much of a newcomer I am to the whole RF game, didn’t know the device controlled made a difference. I have two cases:
Downstairs entertainment. Run a routine to turn on TV, set volume of speaker bar and turn on RF controlled light switch.
Room with RF lights. Turn on RF candles and RF LED strip.
I will look into that Switch Bot!
RF and IR are two completely different communication methods.
RF just means “radio frequency“ and covers Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, zigbee, Z wave, thread, and a bunch of others. Really anything that uses a radio and has to be approved by the FCC in the US.
IR stands for “infrared“ and is a beam of light. You can see the red light indicator on the end of the remote. You can also tell whether something is IR or RF if it has to be line of sight in order to work. In other words, with an RF remote you can usually be around the corner and a few steps down the hall and the remote will still work. That is not true with IR.
All three of the devices I mentioned, the Amazon fire TV cube, the switch by minihub, and broadlink, have “IR blasters“ to control IR devices in the same room.
The Amazon fire TV is an RF device as well because it connects via Wi-Fi, but it doesn’t directly control any RF devices.
The Switchbot minihub can control quite a few Bluetooth devices as well, and also has a Wi-Fi radio to get to the Internet, but doesn’t control most other RF devices. Harmony was the same way: IR and Bluetooth for direct control, WiFi to the Internet for some other integrations.
And there are a lot of different RF devices with a lot of different radio frequencies and protocols. For example, 335 MHz and 443 MHz are both very popular for short range remotes for everything from garage door openers to automated projectors to air conditioners.
Broadlink Pro does have some of these radios (although no device has all of them) and so another reason why it’s popular is because of its ability to control some devices that the other two can’t. So… again the first rule of home automation. The model number matters.
Some electric candles have IR remotes, some have Bluetooth remotes, some have 443 MHz remotes, you just have to check each model to see what it is.
So it’s not possible to say yet which controller might work best for you: it depends on the exact model of the device you’re trying to control and what network protocol it uses.
I’d got for the Broadlink RM pro, but make sure you choose the one with both RF frequencies as some only have one. That way you’ll have rf and I covered in one device but obviously it will need to be located in the same room as the ir device your trying to control because as JR says its a beam of light whereas it can control your rf devices all around your home.
For ir it has a reasonable database of devices to choose from but if that fails as long as you have the original device remote it will learn any ir command by pointing the original remote at it and clicking the button.