You may have seen the recent news that Chinese tech company ZemiSmart has introduced a new Zigbee hub with official HomeKit compatibility. This hub exposes many of ZemiSmart's own Zigbee-based devices to HomeKit, and, the company claims, also certain other branded devices that Tuya Certified, which is a first in the Zigbee world, if you take the Friends of Hue products. We discussed the hub a few weeks ago, and in our video review, we also briefly looked at a number of smart switches the company has provided, so today's review gives these a slightly deeper look.
You can also watch the same video already mentioned, but starting with a look at the switches;
ZemiSmart, for better or worse, seems to focus on low prices over presentation and to be fair, this was also the case with Aqara a few years back. With that in mind, the box for the switches, while adequate, is largely uninspiring, as it would try to catch your eye on a shelf. But the box does its job, and while there is little information on it, the product is shown in the form of a line drawing. Note that the same box is used for the single, double and triple switch variants, so don't panic if you've bought a double switch when you see a single switch on the front!
Apart from the basic box and image, it has the logos for Amazon Alexa and Google Home, although no HomeKit logo, likely due to these were created before the HomeKit hub these work with, to be ready at the time. They are, however, HomeKit compatible.
ZemiSmart each sent one of these switches, which do not require a neutral, nor do they have a ground terminal. The size and design are the same throughout, with the front divided into 1, 2 or 3 segments, depending on which switch you have. Each switch has its own LED that lights up blue, although this can be customized, which I will mention in the next section.
As you can see, unlike many switches designed for North American switch boxes, the ZemiSmart switches use the full space for the buttons. This means that you can't really have a couple of them side by side in, say, a double aisle box, unlike, say, the Aqara US switches. The back of the switches is pretty standard, and since the basic internals are largely the same for all three variants, the back part where the terminals connect is all the same, so in the image above, showing a variant with two switches, you can see that some of the terminals are blocked off because they are not needed.
The rear part of the switch that sits in the control box is not particularly deep, and is a bit shallower than Aqara's offering. As with many other switches, there are screws above the connectors to secure the wires once they are in. I prefer this design to switches with wires already attached, because those don't require large screw connections to tie the wires from the wall and the switch together, as they take up the limited space you have. So the wires from the wall go directly into the switch.
The switches come in two parts, so there is a separate plate that screws onto the outside of the switch box (above), while the switch itself snaps into that plate. It's all pretty straightforward, although this internal plate has a lip at the top and bottom that I think is designed to keep the switch aligned with the recess in the wall, although if your builder was a bit sloppy with the plaster at the time your boxes were fitted, you may have to take the plaster away a bit to get them to sit properly.
As for the specs, as mentioned, they do not require a neutral wire, although neutral versions are available. They can work with 110-240V AC at 50/60Hz, which is great news for people in the Philippines for example, where American switches and sockets are used, but at 220-240V. The rated current is up to 15A and the maximum load for each group is 1000W, which I think means 1000W distributed to each switch, since all these switches form one "group", regardless of whether it is a single, double or triple switch.
Since these switches use Zigbee 3.0, you'll need a hub to make them work regardless of whether you want them in HomeKit or not, but if your goal is HomeKit, then you'll need the ZemiSmart Zigbee hub, which we review separately HERE. This hub gets the switches into HomeKit, although initially you'll also need the Tuya Smart app to do this.
If you're familiar with how to add Aqara devices, the process is no different, although because the Tuya app is designed to work with many brands, it can sometimes be a bit confusing to find your specific product, and in the case of these switches, I couldn't see them in the list. In the case of these switches, I couldn't see them listed. It doesn't matter though, you just need to press and hold one of the buttons to get into pairing mode once you've opened the app and the hub is also in pairing mode. From there, the switch is discovered and you just need to set a few things like the name, room and house where the switch is located, and you're done.
The Tuya app isn't great in some ways, but it's handy enough for set-up and a few settings you won't find exposed on HomeKit. For example, the LED lights that are on the switches show up in blue when the switches are off so you can see them in the dark, and turn off when you turn on the light. In the switch settings in the Tuya app, you can set the opposite behavior so that the LEDs are off when the lights are off. yu can also turn the LEDs off altogether so that they are never visible.
The Tuya app also provides a section for logs, so you can see when the lights were operated. You can also set schedules, as well as countdown timers if you wish. Much of this can also be done in HomeKit, of course, so aside from the options for the state of the LEDs, you might as well use the Home app.
In HomeKit and the Home app, things are pretty straightforward, so in the case of the double rocker I installed, there are two separate tiles to control each switch separately. Each switch has its own toggle when you long press the tile, and there are separate settings and automations available for each switch.
As you can see in the screenshots above, the hub can be found in the Home app settings, showing all devices connected to it, which also shows that the hub is certified (otherwise it would say it's not certified). The Switch and a Zigbee light strip that I'll be reviewing in the new year are listed as connected to the hub.
As you'd expect, since these are Zigbee devices, the response times are quite fast, and so in this regard there are really no complaints. As for the feel and construction of the switches, they don't feel particularly premium in terms of the materials used, but then again they are priced quite competitively compared to much of the competition. The buttons are a little 'soft' when pressed, but nothing out of the ordinary. Add to that the convenient option to control the behavior of the LEDs to your liking, and it makes this an attractive product. However, for those invested in ecosystems with a Zigbee hub like Aqara, it does of course mean another hub, at least if you go the official route, so it may not be as attractive to users in this ecosystem. Additionally, if you're an Aqara user in the US, their proprietary switches fit on any decora plate without issue, meaning that if you have a dual set of switches, you can have them side-by-side, which is not possible with the ZemiSmart switches, due to their design. The only positive over the Aqara option is that you have a three-way switch in one aisle, which not many other companies offer in terms of a smart switch, especially without a neutral.
All in all, I'm more impressed with these switches than expected, and for the price, it's hard to see a downside, aside from the aforementioned problems compared to decora-compatible switches. If you don't mind another hub (assuming you already have one or more) and are excited about what else ZemiSmart can bring to HomeKit, this seems like an easy commitment for the cost.
Full disclosure: ZemiSmart provided HomeKit News with the ZemiSmart hub and switches for the purposes of this review. No other compensation was given, solicited, or affected our opinion of this product in any way.
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