It used to be true that the budget smart home kit was poor, hard to control, and lacking in features. This is changing a lot and there is now a wider range of sets available that use, directly or indirectly, the Smart Life application and platform.
Smart life is actually developed using Tuya technology, which provides the basics for companies to develop their own smart products.
What this means in practical terms is that there are a lot of smart home products at a low price from different manufacturers and brands, all able to work together under one roof.
After looking at a bunch of products that are compatible with Smart Life, I can say that it is a quality smart system, with the ability to create some smart rules – and it is a smart home ecosystem, which is an excellent, affordable alternative. on major platforms such as SmartThings and HomeKit, Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
Smart life: what is on offer
Search the internet and you will find it difficult to find a device that is actually listed as Smart Life.
Instead, it is the core technology on which many smart home devices run. These devices can be sold in two ways: either as a product promoted as using Smart Life, or as a range of products that each use its own application.
Crucially, products that are promoted as using their own app are still compatible with the Smart Life app.
For the latter, if you use the manufacturer’s own application, you will get the same interface, but you will have fewer options when it comes to adding devices. Use the Smart Life app instead and you can add products from multiple manufacturers.
Of course, this can make it difficult to find certain devices, but there are ways to find out. For IFTTT, for example, when you connect the Smart Life app, it asks you which app you want to accept: Smart Life, TCP Smart, Amarey Smart, GeoSmartPro, Homeflow or Hey !.
You can choose a single system to use with IFTTT, so it makes sense to choose Smart Life and then buy products from any of the above companies.
Smart life extends even beyond that, and you’ll often find that there are smaller third-party companies that produce compatible products.
Essential guide: The best IFTTT recipes for your automated smart home
For the brands listed above, just ignore the suggested app and use Smart Life instead.
Smaller third-party brands use the Smart Life app by default, but that can make them harder to find. However, search for the desired product on Amazon or other stores, plus “Smart Life” and you’ll usually find a few hits.
Even if you stick with the bigger brands listed above, it means that Smart Life accepts a wide range of products, including, but not limited to, smart light bulbs, sockets, air purifiers, light strips, robotic vacuum cleaners, security cameras and light switches.
What devices work with Smart Life / Tuya?
There are hundreds of smart home devices, from a multitude of brands, that will work with the Smart Life app – or indeed with Tuya’s other smart home platforms.
This is not a comprehensive list, but here are some great brands to check out when it comes to building a smart home with the Smart Life app:
As I mentioned, Smart Life is IFTTT compliant, but it also has Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant Skills, so you can control your devices with your voice.
Some devices are also compatible with SmartThings, although not the entire range. I found that my air purifier was compatible, but the bulbs and smart plugs were not.
Many products that are compatible with Smart Life through a Zigbee gateway or smart home hub, and smartly, everything connected to the app works the same way, so you don’t see any difference in control between smart devices, whether they are Wi-Fi or Zigbee.
A Zigbee Smart Life Gateway of the SilverCrest
Is Smart Life safe?
Search online about Tuya’s smart life and privacy and you’ll find a lot of threads that worry about whether or not data is sent from your phone to Chinese servers and how secure the platform is. There is no hard evidence that this is the case.
In terms of information, Smart Life uses servers around the world, and Tuya says it complies with local regulations. Certainly, for companies to build their own branded applications and sell locally, there must be a certain level of security and compliance.
Finally, every device you connect to your home network presents a kind of risk, especially from hackers. If you are very worried about the situation, then buying from bigger names probably makes more sense to you.
Living with Smart Life devices
Smart Life has a wide range of devices to choose from and they are mostly quite easy to connect. Watch out for the weird translation problem, where the instructions don’t make much sense.
I tried to put some devices into operation, because the instructions show the reset buttons in the wrong place or the instructions are confusing.
Adding a smart light bulb, for example, tells you to turn on the light, then turn it on-off-on-off, which makes no sense. And the app does not explain how long you have to wait between start / stop cycles.
If you struggle, the answer is that you turn on the light bulb for 10 seconds, then turn it off, then follow the on-off bit. Be sure to allow the light to reach maximum brightness (a second or two) before turning it off.
Once your devices are connected, smart life is generally very powerful. With the bulbs, you can select color temperatures, brightness and color (depending on the models).
There are also more advanced options, such as Rhythms, that allow you to set the color temperature of your bulbs at certain times of the day so that you get light that is closer to sunlight at all times. Countdown timers and programs are also available.
Smart Life is not as intuitive to use for devices as the main competition, such as Hue. While Hue is built around grouping bulbs in rooms, the Group in Smart Life option is pretty well hidden: you need to go to a bulb, tap the edit button at the top right of the screen, and then select Group.
You can have scenes for your lights, but again, they are not as easy to edit or create as in Hue.
It is similar to smart plugs, with basic on / off controls for all devices. You also receive stopwatches and countdown programs (confusingly called In-app Stopwatches). In addition to controlling a single device, you can group the plugs and control them all as one.
You can’t group different devices together for control, which is a shame. With Hue, you can have Smart Plugs in the same room, so turning on the camera can turn on any device, such as a lamp, plugged in.
The real power of Smart Life lies in how you can run your house automatically or create Tap-to-Run events.
Tap-to-Run events are basically routines that allow you to control multiple devices by selecting the settings you want. For example, you can turn on a smart outlet and run on a timer and turn on a blue light at the same time. You can just tap the icons in the app to run these routines.
However, things can be weird. The countdown timer here can be selected in just a few seconds, using a remote sensitivity slider. If you want, say, select a stopwatch for 20 minutes, then try to find out how many seconds it is and then select the correct number is beyond the mistake.
The vending machines allow you to automatically control the devices. There are several options, including weather changes (temperature, humidity, rain, snow, sunset / wind speed), geolocation and programs. For example, you may have a light bulb turn red when the weather forecast says it will snow.
Smart Life also allows you to automate your home in a similar way to IFTTT. For example, if a motion sensor detects motion, you can have the lights turn on automatically on a timer that turns them off after 10 minutes. The more devices you have in Smart Life, the more you can do.
It may not be as polished as the big names in the smart home, but it would be hard for you to find a system that has as many budget devices with so many control options.
In the right hands, then Smart Life can be very powerful, but those who want the best experience are better off looking at the big brands and using IFTTT or Amazon Alexa to manage automation.
Smart Life is not a specific product line, but a shared control system for devices from multiple vendors. Of course, this makes finding compatible products a little more difficult, but it may be worth it. With excellent automation controls (with slightly difficult options in some cases), Smart Life allows you to automate your home with a wide range of products. However, the overall quality is not as good as the main brands of smart homes.
- Huge range of products
- Surprisingly powerful application
- Alexa, GA and IFTTT support
- It can be difficult to find products
- The quality of the product is lower than the big brands
- Application can be difficult