I mentioned before that Aqara is trying to break into western markets with their ZigBee lineup for home automation. I took a closer look at their sensors and in-wall relays for smart lights and even at an IP camera that doubles as a ZigBee hub. In this post, I will cover the latest ZigBee light switches (H1 series), and talk more about two Aqara hubs, as their Aqara isn’t the only way to build up a ZigBee network.
New in western markets
Thanks to Aqara, I sat on the news for quite some time. They sent me two brand new wall switches that can be used to toggle your lights. They come in 3 flavours – one for no-neutral configuration and one for live & neutral wiring. The last type is basically a wireless button that looks like a wall switch – something very similar to Aqara Opple I covered in the past.
In this post I will cover the following devices:
- Aqara Hub M1S
- Aqara Hub M2
- Wireless Remote Switch H1
- Smart Wall Switch H1 (no neutral)
- Smart Wall Switch H1 (live and neutral)
Wireless Remote Switch H1
It’s a 2 push button remote controller that can be mapped to anything you like (not just lights). Buttons are easy to actuate and have small LEDs which blink on actuation. The switch can be configured in 2 ways:
Simple – each click will be registered as single push action, with a basic filter applied to repeated clicks. Aqara claims faster response time, but for me both modes feel snappy
Smart – Wireless Remote Switch H1 has support for click|double click|long press actions which can be configured in the Aqara app.
Please note that the configuration applies to both switches at the same time.
I found the Wireless Remote Switch H1 to be responsive and had coverage across my entire two-story building – even in the worse configurations. For some reason Aqara decided to remove the default actions from the switch’s card, so you cannot actuate the switch directly from the app without setting a device controller in the home automation tab. The smart card lets you access the Wireless Remote Switch H1 logs instead.
Hold the switch 8 sec to put it in a pairing mode, and click 5 times to confirm the range. Something also happens when you press both buttons at the same time, but I haven’t figured out what. There is an entry in the Aqara app that timestamps that event, but it doesn’t do anything else.
Unlike Aqara Opple, it’s not that hard to open the device and change the battery (use force Luke!), you won’t be doing this often as it comes with a CR2450 battery that will serve you for a long time. PCB shows a lot of dev pads exposed (thanks James!) and the switch is powered by NXP JN5189 series IC which comes with Thread and NFC support (NFC is not implemented, but perhaps possible via pads).
You will have to wait for the switch to be available, but the price point suggested by Amazon in European countries is about $35. For now I can only refer you to the Aqara product page.
Smart Wall Switch H1 (no-neutral)
A two rocker variant (there is 1 and 2 gang variant) is easy to hook up. It’s responsive through the regular switching but on occasion triggering one channel caused a very brief flicker in the other one. The indicator lights show the switch status, rather than being ON at night which is annoying. I rather have them let me know where the switch is in the dark – you cannot configure this (for no-neutral) but the Aqara rep confirmed it is possible to set it this way in the live and neutral version of the switch.
I have to add that these are region locked and I was not able to add these to other than EU server location. If you buy these, make sure they are issued for the same region as your other Aqara stuff. I really wish Aqara would do away with this region locking.
The app comes with individual rocker settings and cards have toggle control. On top of that, each switch can be decoupled from relay controls and used for other automation – just like I have done in my Smarter Switch project. This means, you can use one gang for your lights and another to control compatible blinds.
There are controls to restore the last power state, but no extra options to add multiple click or press and hold events. There are no settings for latching behaviour, but you could set that with the automation panel by adding a timer to your event.
What’s interesting, Aqara claims the power monitor capabilities, which are not present at the moment in the Aqara app, however, this feature is marked as “not available on launch” – chances are that we are going to see improved functionality in the future. (Update from PR team: power monitoring will be available on units with live and neutral wiring)
Wireless control over ZigBee is good, and with extra antenna inside you should have a decent coverage when the device is mounted inside the wall box.
On the inside, it’s an interesting switch to talk about. It’s modular, so I fully expect the neutral version to be exactly the same. The switch is split into a power module connected via 8 pin connector with an NXP JN5189 based PCB with plenty of pads to prode! It’s a great design, as the power unit simply delivers the power and contains a relay, while control panels could be simply swappable.
You can learn more about the switch and where to buy it via Aqara website.
Smart Wall Switch H1 (live & neutral)
I didn’t get this version of the switch, but after taking apart the no-neutral version, I believe it’s the same control unit attached to a slightly different power unit. As the switch is available in both configurations – you can pick the one for your light setup.
You can learn more about the switch and where to buy it via Aqara website.
To make this happen, you will need a ZigBee hub, and Aqara has 2 more options for you. You can settle for M2 or M1S hubs. I will explain the differences to you. The setup for both hubs is simple. Follow the Aqara app steps, connect to AP created by each device and provide the WiFi credentials.
Once connected, hubs won’t show up as devices (with the exception of M1S which gives you a card for the Night Light). If you going to pair ZigBee devices, simply select them from the list of devices rather than going to the menu of individual hubs. Aqara app will ask you which hub would you like to use to link your device to.
Aqara Hub M2
A black puck that supports WiFi, Bluetooth ZigBee, IR and Ethernet connectivity. It’s nice to see an embedded speaker inside, which you can use to play doorbell sound from connected devices or assign other sounds based on automation events. I/O consists of the Ethernet port in case you don’t want WiFi, micro USB port for power (c’mon guys, USB-C please!) and USB-A which is reserved for Aqara’s use, but you can use it to power USB 2.0 devices.
Thanks to an integrated IR blaster, you can control TVs, Hi-Fi systems and other infrared devices. You can configure these in the Aqara M2 menu. The list of pre-configured devices is pretty big, so chances are you don’t have to teach it button by button.
At £52-ish on Amazon (€56.99), it’s not the cheapest way to interact with ZigBee devices, but that’s the price one has to pay. I also noticed that availability is the issue as well, so you may want to keep a closer look at the hub’s listing.
Aqara Hub M1S
This is a rehash of well-known hub Aqara made for Xiaomi MiHome. Aqara Hub M1S can be directly plugged into the socket and comes with WiFi and ZigBee protocols. Aqara M1S comes with a built-in speaker, and a Night Light which is an ambient LED light that can be helpful to illuminate a path without turning lights on.
The speaker is much louder than M2, which is welcomed, especially if you going to use it as a doorbell chime. The Night Light uses RGB LEDs so you can set it to any colours and brightness levels.
Just like the version done for the Xiaomi ecosystem, there is an integrated alarm panel. You can use these options to create instant notifications and create a smart alarm system for your home thanks to Aqara contact and motion sensors.
This hub is also hard to find online for now (It’s not the latest) and you will probably end up paying around $60. The suggested price by Aqara is €49.99.
Aqara must work harder in terms of having their products available in western markets. While the sensors and relays are not hard to come by, hubs are elusive and will drive the purchases away. You know what will happen next, I will take the latest Aqara light switches and see how they work in my ZigBee network. I recently upgraded to ZigBee 3.0 and Electrolama coordinator, so that’s going to be fun to try! If you want to know how to integrate these in NodeRED, check back in a week or so. It’s nice to see more Aqara devices on this side of the Euroasian continent. If you are interested in other devices in Aqara ecosystems, check out my write up on Aqara G2H and Aqara sensors. Let me know if you have any questions in this Reddit thread.
🆓📈 – See the transparency note for details.