If you want to purchase a home automation system for the first time or prefer a simple system, Aqara is probably the best choice for you. It costs less than $60 and connects via Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth and Zigbee.
Aqara is a low-cost, high-quality option that connects to dozens of devices. The system is built as a Zigbee smart home hub and has three: M1, M2 and M3, all of which have different features, sizes and capabilities. The benefits of Zigbee is that each device acts as a repeater, so you can place contact sensors and other products further away from the hub and connectivity won’t be lost.
Additionally, Aqara’s ecosystem has its own products and the list grows longer every year. Nowadays it has:
- smart plugs
- wired wall switches
- vibration sensors
- indoor cameras
- water leak sensors
- wireless wall switches
- indoor air quality monitors
- cube controllers
- wireless mini switches
These products are simple, designed mainly to blend in and be functional. Set up and installation is simple since they have pre-applied adhesives in the back, and the best part of these is that they are also very cheap. You can get a contact sensor for $17 and up to $45 for in-wall smart switches, and overall prices are between $5 and $10 below the prices of the competition.
One of its best features is that its products work with Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit, so you can choose the one you prefer most. It can have close to 30 terminal devices and over 120 child devices. You can get a Relay device to add up to 16 more devices.
You can set up your Aqara system as a self-monitored alarm. The speaker has a built-in siren and can be activated to respond to specific commands, for example when a specific sensor is activated.
The system also has a built-in infrared transmitter that can be used to replace any IR remote you have, either for a game console, TV, fan, etc.
The app has pre-set automations for each device but you can also create your own.
In terms of security, Aqara has a basic DIY home security system, it’s not professional. It has been upgraded slightly and it has a few additional features such as automatic arming and disarming and entry and exit delays. However, it’s still not as intuitive to use and set up as other smart security systems in the market.
It has four alert modes you can configure to react based on different devices, for example the motion sensor activating. These modes are Basic, Away, Home and Night.
A few additional considerations:
- Aqara’s app is pretty confusing and counterintuitive, but it has steadily improved in recent years.
- You cannot add any devices outside the system.
- On rare occasions, a device or two may stop responding and you’ll need to reinstall them since there aren’t actually troubleshooting steps you can follow.