Comparison: Aqara Smart Wall Switch H1 (with Neutral) Review in Contrast to No-Neutral EU Version

Cupertino, September 8, 2023

I am a British tech blogger, and I recently reviewed the Aqara Smart Wall Switch H1 EU, which I found to be non-neutral. I was extremely satisfied with it and ended up purchasing several more to use in my house. However, I recently had my attic converted and needed new lighting for the upstairs. Since my old wiring is quite old, I had to rewire everything with deep back boxes and new wires, including a neutral wire, which provided me with more options for smart switches. The Aqara Smart Wall Switch H1 with neutral is very similar to the non-neutral version, so there's not much new to discuss here. However, I still think it's worth mentioning.

Here are the specifications and features of the Aqara Smart Wall Switch H1 with neutral:

- Compatibility: Works with popular voice assistants such as HomeKit, Alexa, Google, and IFTTT.
- Zigbee 3.0: Offers fast and energy-efficient smart home technology with improved stability and features.
- Wall box support: Compatible with both square and round 86mm European wall boxes.
- High-quality design: The H1 features Aqara's sleek design and a durable metal frame for long-lasting use.
- 2-way upgrade: Easily convert your existing 2-way setup using the Wall Switch H1 and its wireless counterpart. You can mount it on existing wall boxes or any flat surface.
- Wireless functionality: Assign the button to be an additional wireless switch while automations handle the light control.
- Safety features: Built-in overheating and overload protections ensure your home's safety.
- Energy monitoring: View detailed energy consumption reports for optimal device efficiency.
- LED customization: Personalize the LED indicator through the Aqara Home app.
- Modular construction: Consists of a relay and a button module, allowing for future upgrades or replacements.
- Dimensions: 85.8×86×37.55mm

Now let's talk about the difference between neutral and non-neutral smart light switches. Neutral smart light switches are generally considered the better option. A neutral wire provides a return path for the current, allowing the smart switch to consume power continuously, even when the light is off. This ensures reliable wireless connectivity and other smart functions. They don't require batteries and often offer more features since they have a constant power source.

On the other hand, non-neutral light switches are more about convenience. Many older homes in Britain still use wiring without neutrals, and rewiring can be a costly and disruptive task. Non-neutral switches work by completing the circuit when the light is turned on and disconnecting it when turned off. While this was sufficient for traditional switches, it poses challenges for smart switches. Non-neutral switches either require a battery to operate when turned off or have a load requirement, needing a certain amount of current flowing at all times. In my experience, non-neutral switches sometimes have issues with lights connected to only one bulb or smart bulbs. One possible solution is to install a bypass capacitor in the ceiling rose, but I prefer to avoid that.

In terms of features, there isn't much difference between the neutral and non-neutral Aqara switches. The main advantage of the neutral model is that it can monitor energy consumption, which is useful for keeping track of electricity usage. However, this feature is not essential. Another minor difference is the ability to customize the LED indicator so that it is on when the light is off and vice versa. This can be practical in certain scenarios, such as having smart bulbs controlled by motion sensors.

In terms of design, the neutral Aqara Smart Wall Switch H1 is very similar to the non-neutral version. The only noticeable difference is the additional input for the neutral wire. The overall appearance and build quality are superior to the TP-Link Tapo S210 Smart Light Switch.

Installation can be challenging if you don't have deep back boxes. Most smart switches, including the Aqara H1, require an 86mm deep back box, which can be impractical to replace unless you are undergoing extensive renovations. In such cases, using a single socket spacer can be a good solution. I personally have used these spacers before for my non-neutral switches, but when I rewired, I made sure to use deep back boxes. It's important to turn off the lights at the junction box to ensure safety during installation. I found the installation process to be relatively straightforward, even though I'm not the best at DIY.

I paired the Aqara Smart Wall Switch H1 with the Aqara Hub M2, and it integrated seamlessly with Home Assistant using the Matter (BETA) functionality. Its performance was similar to the other switches I was using, with the added benefit of power consumption monitoring. I also managed to control my Philips Hue bulbs in the bedroom using the right rocker on the switch, and the response was surprisingly quick.

The Aqara Smart Wall Switch H1 with neutral is priced at around £39 and is occasionally out of stock on Amazon. Alternative options include the Aqara Smart Wall Switch H1 without neutral, available on Amazon for £38.99 (double rocker) or £35.99 (single rocker). Another option to consider is the MoesGo ZigBee Smart Light Switch, which costs £22.50 and has received positive reviews on Amazon.

Overall, I highly recommend the Aqara Smart Wall Switch H1 with neutral. It offers more features and improved reliability compared to the non-neutral model at a similar price point. The only requirement is a neutral wire, which is well worth it for the enhanced performance.

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