Home automation is a good thing, especially when no one is in the house or in the apartment. When it rains, it is desirable to be able to close the windows or shutters. If the postman rings, I may want to throw an eye on the camera and open it. And if the CO2 values suddenly increase in the basement, it is better to turn on the light and check what happens with a camera.
These possibilities are achievable but the solutions are provided by manufacturers who implement their own pack each time. As a user, it would be possible to save a lot of money by buying independently inexpensive sensors to network them. But this possibility is limited by different wireless standards, or a lack of communication between devices.
Conrad Connect and Athom Homey, solutions for networking
Conrad Connect, the electronics subsidiary of Conrad, as well as the Dutch start-up Athom, offer solutions to put these devices in network. The German manufacturer Conrad Connect proposes to put Smart Home devices online for use via a Web interface. Athom Hony, for his part, chooses a direct approach, replacing the different connection bridges of your house by one. These two systems have the same objective: to pool equipment whose compatibility is not a priori guaranteed.
The first thing to do is to determine your true purpose. If you want to reduce the number of bridges needed in your home, Athom Homey is the first choice. The € 299 range version supports the following standards
- RF 433 MHz
- RF 868 MHz
- Z-Wave 868 MHz
- ZigBee 2.4 GHz
- 2.4 GHz Bluetooth
- 2.4 GHz WLAN
- IR 430 THz
thus covering a broad spectrum. Athom Honey supports Aldi, Bosch-Siemens Home Control, Devolo, Dyson, Google Chromecast, Ikea, Nanoleaf, Neato, Nest, Netatmo, Nuki Smart Lock, Osram Lightify, Philips Hue, Roomba, Samsung Smart TV, Sonos, Synology Surveillane , tado, TP-Link and other end-of-the-range alternatives.
Additional integrations such as IFTTT, Telegram, HomeyKit, Slack, SMS or Twitter make it possible to multiply the possibilities of interaction with your Smart Home. And yes: SMS means you can unlock your Smart Lock by message!
Homey Bridge Bridge
The great ambition of Ethom is to replace all bridge bridges in your home with a unique solution. Ideally, it is advisable to buy the Homey first, then the compatible devices.
But, in some cases, it's not that simple. The coupling of Philips Hue lamps without a bridge, for example, is not suitable. This is not the fault of Athom, the Philips Hue dj couples can not be integrated totally at Athom bridge. The manufacturer recommends coupling the Hue without going through the central bridge. A bridge-free and unofficial solution has however been developed by the Athom user community.
In any case, your Hue lights can be active with devices from other manufacturers, provided they are also connected Homey. This is done via scripts, where you define condition ranges in your Smart Home. Here is an example:
- Netatmo measures more than 1500 ppm of CO2 in the basement
- Netatmo measures a temperature of more than 30 degrees in the basement
- Activate Philips Hue in the basement with 100 percent brightness
- Two seconds later, activate Philips Hue in the basement with Color Loop
- Send a message to the family chat via Telegram
- Start Nest Cam in the basement
In Devolo Home Control door / window contact test setup with Philips Hue Shape Light, we were able to use Devolo without a bridge. Shape Light is also compatible with the Community application mentioned above.
In addition, you save registration on the online services of Devolo or Philips. Even though the Homey system is expensive, it saves a number of unnecessary costs.
Inconvnients of Homey
No update for accessories
The question is: how does Homey provide updates to individual devices? The updating of the devices is done via the bridge or the application. If Homey has removed these vectors, Athom must provide an alternate channel for updates. But during our test, only one of the connected devices received an update.
An interface a bit too complicated
Currently, Homey is configured via the application or the web interface. In both cases, networking is done via the Athom user account. However, new devices can only be connected via desktop interface, not mobile. Programs for Windows or Mac OS exist, but Linux users must first turn to the web interface on Google Chrome.
Athom quickly gave up Homey's voice control, so we could not test this feature. It should however be available through Echo Dot or Alexa Skill.
All Homey menus and settings are available in two languages: Dutch and English. We do not know for the moment if the manufacturer wants to offer translations for other markets.
A curious flaw in the system is its management of Wi-Fi passwords. Once connected to the wireless network, the password can only be changed in recovery mode. This is annoying, since a bad click can completely erase your data and cause you to lose all your configuration.
Athom is a system with a lot of potential. We tested the Homey for about six months, while the manufacturer was constantly improving the integration of the system into the Smart Home.
Homey seems effective. However, it is advisable to select compatible devices before purchasing. As we see with the example of the Philips Hue, it can be difficult to decouple them in order to integrate them into the system.
Athom has not yet solved the problem of updates, available languages and some oddities of the software. The Homey however remains an excellent product, which offers many possibilities as part of the connected home.
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