Also you can use coupon code AQARA003 for 20% off.
As someone fairly new to smart home-ing, what’re some of the pros and cons of Aqara or what should I know about it?
Was just about to post this! Still a lot cheaper from Gearbest/Aliexpress, but next day prime shipping is also a whole lot better than waiting for slow boats from China. I’m wondering if there’s any difference in the firmware, as the sales team is marketing these as “localized” US versions.
The Aqara/Xiaomi sensors are very well made zigbee devices, and can be made to work with with SmartThings with a few important caveats. They use a non-standard version of the zigbee HA protocol designed to work with Aqara/Xiaomi hubs, which can cause a few issues when connecting them to other hubs like SmartThings. The primary issues are that they can be a royal PITA to get paired, and they’ll drop off the network and won’t rejoin if they connect to any non-compatible zigbee repeaters in your network.
I have lots of these devices, including water leak sensors, motion sensors, door/window contact sensors, buttons, “magic cube” controllers, temperature/humidity sensors, and a vibration sensor. I’ve had some of them for two years now, and they’ve all been rock solid for me, and have fantastic battery life. I only use known compatible zigbee repeaters like the Ikea Tradfri products on my network though. They also do require custom DTH’s, which means they won’t run locally.
Also note that although they are certified to work with HomeKit, that only happens if you are using the Aqara gateway. And you can’t use the Aqara gateway and the smartthings hub with the same device at the same time. They create two separate networks.
Note these are NOT the zigbee 3.0 versions. They are the finicky proprietary zigbee versions. They did say they do have plans to bring the ZigBee 3.0 versions over, along with their wall switch, but no timeline. At those prices I’d just get an officially supported sensor.
Xioami is a very big consumer products company in China. Aqara is one of their lines.
Decent battery life for an inexpensive line
Although they are certified for the same zigbee protocols that smartthings uses, they really don’t intend their devices to be used with anything except their own gateway, and they are, as engineers will put it, “idiosyncratic,” Particularly in the timing of their messages.
All of which means that they can be really fiddly to get paired, They can have trouble staying paired, and they only work well with some zigbee repeaters.
So the trade off for the money you save is that you may have to spend a lot of extra time troubleshooting.
You also have to use custom code with them and on occasion there’s been a hub update which then caused all Aqara devices to fail for a while.
For many people, very low-cost makes that amount of trouble worth it. That’s a personal decision.
Speaking just for myself, I might use some with their own gateway, but I wouldn’t use them with smartthings. But that’s just me.
As @MinerJason mentioned the Ikea Tradfri bulbs and pocket sockets Happen to work well with both smartthings and Aqara, so those are good repeaters to have.
You can read more about them and find the custom code in the following thread:
They sound like something that is juuuuust slightly out of my tech-ability range, but will also be a good starting point when I get there! I’m going to check out that thread, and see what I can learn.
One more thing: as one of the biggest brands in China, Xioami has a huge problem with counterfeits. (Sort of like Nike in the US.) so they will not honor warranties or provide customer service unless you bought from an authorized dealer, of which there are very few. The one on Amazon, AqaraDirect, is the authorized US dealer. Do not buy from a third-party seller, it will probably be a counterfeit. So read the listing carefully to see who is selling it.
Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun lamented the proliferation of counterfeit manufacturers capitalising on the company’s wild popularity. “What is the biggest problem? There are so many fakes. If there were no counterfeits, our sales would be double or triple.”
The amazon prices are in ball park with SmartThings branded sensors. I don’t see the magic cube there either. I bought one of those “idiosyncratic” cubes and couldn’t get it to work. Maybe counterfeit, maybe I am not patient/persistent enough.
The Amazon seller posted on Reddit and mentioned that more of the devices will be available soon, including the leak sensor. Not sure about the cube.
Both of the cubes I have paired pretty easily. One controls a bunch of lighting scenes in my living room, and the other controls music in the living room. I don’t like using them personally, but my kids love playing with them. They’re one of the few things I haven’t been able to get to work in the new app.