HomeHome AutomationAqara brings Thread sensors but...

Aqara brings Thread sensors but…

I have a window/door contact sensor and a motion sensor

This is not the usual way for me to get my hands on things. I usually receive a product early, with flesh-out support for it. It’s not the case with the latest delivery from Aqara as I received 2 Matter enabled sensors that use Thread protocol instead of ZigBee. You may ask – what’s the problem? Aqara doesn’t have a Thread router in their ecosystem (yet) so I needed to get creative.

What’s the Matter?

In my hands, I have 2 brand-new sensors. A new version of the PIR sensor I covered some time ago: Aqara Motion and Light Sensor P2 and a new version of the Door and Window Sensor P2. Both bring Matter support to the usual ecosystem (Bluetooth-enabled pairing, then Thread connectivity). Still, absolutely no way of testing it in the Aqara Home app as Hub M2 and Camera Hub G3 do expose the ecosystem to Matter but they don’t have the hardware to run Thread.

The good news is that a Thread dedicated hub is coming to the Aqara ecosystem and I will have it soon, but for now, I have Amazon Echo Hub, which seems to play nice with my new Aqara P2 sensors – we are going to try that and see how nice they play!

Aqara Motion and Light Sensor P2

On the surface, Aqara Motion and Light sensor P2 looks like the previous edition, with the only visible differences being the Matter QR code and pairing codes printed on its shell. For some reason sensor came with 2 stands (the retail version, the online version come with a single stand) which use 3M tape to allow flexible sensor positioning.

The sensor has a single button, a PIR dome and a small light sensor above the detection shield. An internal LED will let you know about the current working modes. To power it, a small cage inside houses 2 x CR2450 coin cell batteries. They should last quite a while (up to 2 years) considering that Thread protocol is meant to be battery-friendly. You can grab one online for £33.99, or a pound more in retail stores.

Aqara Door and Window sensor P2

It’s a complete change of pace when it comes to a design. A cigar shape will probably make as many friends and foes. Other than a single button and a single LED, the sensor is devoid of markings. Inside, I also found less than usual choice for a battery. Looking at the shape of it, I was expecting a single AA, but after prying the back cover open I found a CR123A – 3V battery instead. Knowing these batteries last ages on the SwitchBot Locks I have, I’d expect Aqara Door and Window Sensor P2 to last up to 2 years on a single battery.

It’s nice to see that Aqara Door and Window sensor P2 triggers from both sides of the sensor, and the activation distance is up to 2cm from the sensor. It also supports tampering detection.

Aqara Door and Window Sensor P2 uses 3M tape to stick to places and a smaller magnet that has a corresponding shape. You can pick it up now for £29.99.

Making it work

It feels strange not being able to play with these in the Aqara ecosystem yet, so for now, I switched over to Alexa. The pairing went without any issues. It usually takes a bit longer, if you try to pair your devices via the Alexa app, but on the positive side, you can do this using voice commands which is nice.

When both sensors were paired, I still had to open my Alexa app on the phone to complete the setup (assign rooms, change names etc). Unfortunately, going through the settings page confirmed that the Aqara P2 sensors offer just the barebone functionality.

None of the fancy features advertised on the Aqara page were available in Alexa settings. The only information I could access was the state of the sensor, and the ability to link it to my Alexa Routines.

Aqara Motion and Light Sensor P2 didn’t offer timeout settings, or sensitivity options and the information about the light levels wasn’t available to the Alexa ecosystem either. Aqara Door and Window Sensor P2 doesn’t have any fancy features, but the built-in tamper protection doesn’t work via Alexa either.

I guess we will have to wait until the Aqara M3 Hub release which should follow soon.

Get Aqara devices:

Find out more about Aqara ZigBee 3.0 range and outfit your home with their excellent sensors and smart devices:

Final thoughts

To have fun with these, I will have to wait for my new Aqara hub to arrive. Then we can see what other options are exposed in the Aqara Home app. Until then, if you already have a Thread router in your ecosystem, you can treat yourself to brand-new Aqara sensors. Let me know what Thread routers you use in this Reddit thread. I’m keen to hear your thoughts.

🆓📈 💵- See the transparency note for details.

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