Smart control ideal for garden lights (and more)

Cupertino, January 31, 2021

Using your voice is obviously the highlight of smart home control, but there are times and places when barking orders to Alexa or Google Assistant is not appropriate.

Senic's outdoor switch - the first Friends of Hue smart switch designed for outdoor use - is designed for this purpose.

And because it requires no wires, it is the simplest smart switch you are likely to install and is one of the easiest ways to control Philips Hue garden lights.

The Senic Friends of Hue Outdoor Switch is actually more of a smart button than a smart switch, in terms of functionality and installation, but the form factor certainly puts it in the latter category as well.

Costing just £ 69, the Outdoor Switch is a much simpler deal than we've seen with Senic's previous smart controls, such as Nuimo Click, which is much more expensive and complicated (but also controls Sonos, not only Philips Hue).

Read on to find out exactly why you should consider putting one in your garden.

Senic Outdoor Switch: Design and installation

Measuring 85 mm x 85 mm x 18 mm with a rough, textured rubber finish (polycarbonate for the interior and a durable, all-weather, outdoor TPE), the outdoor switch looks a lot like a garden light switch.

There are two panels, both containing top and bottom buttons, so there are four entries in total - more on that in a bit.

There is no need to connect the outdoor switch to a router or a smart hub at home, it connects directly to the Hue smart lights using Zigbee, and the configuration is actually done in the Hue application, through the "Accessories" section; I will delve a little deeper into this.

Guide: The best Philips Hue setup

This Zigbee connection should get you a range of 20 meters if you decide to use the switch indoors, but up to a maximum of 300 meters outdoors, depending on the conditions.

Like all Zigbee configurations, however, you can move to Hue bulbs that are further away by jumping to the nearest ones - this is how the Zigbee Hue network works.

Senic is designed to go on a wall like a light switch - although you don't need to remove the drill. There are adhesive boxes in the box and I glued mine to an uneven outer wall, rendered, weeks ago - with all the force of British winter weather thrown at it - and it stayed in place without any problems.

In this regard, it comes with an weatherproof IP44 rating.

You can, if you want something more secure, remove the back cover plate and screw it tightly to the wall. The switch then appears over this base.

No rechargeable battery installed; The outdoor switch is powered by EnOcean energy harvesting technology, just like the Philips Hue Tap, through which the movement of the button that is pressed (and returning) maintains the completed power.

The buttons on the switch do not move too much when you press them - there is no start / stop position - they only go a little deeper when you push them and then sort them back out.

Configuring the Senic Friends of Hue Outdoor Switch application

Senic Outdoor Switch: Hue light control and features

The first thing you do is enter the Hue app and add the outdoor switch as an accessory. It's a super simple business.

The four-button setting provides a basic but effective method of control for your Hue bulbs. When setting up in the Hue app, simply choose what you want to happen when each button is pressed or held down.

Therefore, there are 8 entries in total - although you can expand them to 12 using third-party Hue apps, such as iConnectHue, which adds a double tap to the mix.

Using the native Hue app limits you to having three cameras on a single switch - you can always create new cameras in your Hue system, if that's probably a problem for your outdoor setup.

For me, I had the two buttons on the left assigned to a Hue Outdoor Lightstrip that I have next to the warehouse; with basic on and off assigned for the top and bottom and the holding method used to decrease the maximum / minimum light.

We had the two buttons on the right for a pair of (technically interior) Hue bulbs that we have outside our patio (in weatherproof lighting fixtures).

I've been using the Switch for a few weeks now, in a dark winter, using it a few times a day, and I haven't experienced any delays. It works exactly the way you want it to, with fast response times.

And this is the basic premise and use case explained. But Senic Outdoor Switch has another trick up its sleeve.

Senic gira switch homekit app

Senic Outdoor Switch: HomeKit skills

The outdoor switch is also HomeKit compatible, and if you set it up through Apple's smart home ecosystem, you open up a world of additional controls.

A big caveat here is that you still need a Philips Hue Bridge. In a HomeKit configuration, the Outdoor Switch talks to a Hue Bridge over Zigbee and it is the Hue Bridge that then tells the HomeKit Hub what action to take.

The responses, therefore, won't be as fast as a simple Zigbee signal to the light bulb, but I can't say I've noticed anything significant while setting up the outdoor switch to perform HomeKit actions like turning on smart lights (not limited to to Hue) or home playlists on HomePods or AirPlay 2 speakers.

However, in the Apple Home application, the wording is a bit simple ... One point = top left, two points = bottom left, three points = top right, four points = bottom right. But once you have your head around you, setup is easy.

You can program the outdoor switch to do almost anything in your home HomeKit, in terms of controls, automation, and scenes, though - unlike a Hue setup - you’re limited to just four inputs; there is no retention method in the HomeKit.

Senic Friends of Hue Outdoor Switch

The first Friends of Hue controller, garden friendly, Senic's Outdoor Switch is far from the excessive and overly complicated Nuimo Click price. It is simple, accessible and efficient. Installation is easy and feels like a native Hue product, so is the integration into the application. But if you want to push it further and make it a bigger player inside and outside your smart home, then you also have this option, thanks to HomeKit compatibility.

  • Accessible
  • Simplistic design
  • Easy to install - wireless
  • No extra batteries / charging
  • Works great with Hue
  • Works great with HomeKit
  • Only 4 entries for HomeKit
  • Needs Hue Bridge for HomeKit

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