review

SwitchBot Light Switch Actuator, Hub Plus Bridge & Temp/Hygro Meter

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Switches are everywhere, and while some switches require pushing or flicking, they all have the same function and that is to control the flow of electricity or a signal at the push of a button!
From computer keyboard switches to regular electrical switches, they come in all shapes and slightly different implementations like wireless light switches that you stick anywhere on a wall without having to do any wiring from the switch to the light source.
One of the latest on switch technology goes by the name of SwitchBot, a small box measuring 4cm long, 3.7cm wide and 2.4cm tall that contains smart electronics, as well as a tiny mechanical arm capable of actuating various types of switches. SwitchBot is cheerfully lightweight too, weighing only 40 grams.
The concept of SwitchBot is an interesting one, more so because of its quirky Artoo-Detoo like sound effect when operating. SwitchBot not only looks the part but also does the business with a simple mechanical arm that extends and retrieves, literary, at a push of a button!
Being a wireless push button, SwitchBot works via a mobile app but also has the advantage of being able to work with your voice. SwitchBot is part of a tight-knit ecosystem that includes the SwitchBot Meter and the SwitchBot Hub Plus, all of which are controlled via the SwitchBot mobile app.
SwitchBot uses Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy connectivity and has no Wifi module built-in; hence the SwitchBot Hub Plus, which is an integral component of the SwitchBot ecosystem because it doubles as a universal infrared (IR) remote controller and Bluetooth-to-Wifi bridge so, you can send commands to SwitchBot over a Wifi network via Bluetooth, and control devices like a TV that uses infrared (IR).
On top of that, the SwitchBot Hub Plus has a neat rain cloud design that lights up with different colors.
SwitchBot supports only 2.4Ghz frequency band
With SwitchBot, you can create timers, scenes and IFTTT integrations, as well as control with your voice via Alexa and Google Assistant although, you need to own an Alexa Echo or Google Home smart speaker. Integration with SmartThings, Wink and Nest is not yet supported but it is reported to be in the pipeline.

While SwitchBot is not currently compatible with Apple HomePod, you can still control SwitchBot with Siri, thanks to SwitchBot supporting the Siri Shortcuts feature that was released with iOS 12, which lets you voice control any app that is running in the background.
This means, you can have the SwitchBot app run in the background of your Apple device, allowing you to ask Siri voice assistant to control your SwitchBot.
It's worth pointing out that while you don't require a HomePod smart speaker, you do need a SwitchBot Hub Plus in order to control the Bot via Siri voice assistant.
As well as being compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, SwitchBot is compatible with the IFTTT (if this, then that) app, which enables you to connect tons of IFTTT compatible devices.
Another handy use for SwitchBot would be to automate the power switch of an electric immersion heater inside a water cylinder that has no timer.
The SwitchBot mechanical bot and companion mobile app would effectively allow you to create a timed immersion heater that you can operate at certain times to reduce your electricity bill.
Using the SwitchBot Meter and SwitchBot Hub in conjunction with the Bot lets you control some devices efficiently like an air condition (AC) unit where the SwitchBot Meter would help activate the AC unit at a specific temperature or humidity. The SwitchBot Meter is both a Bluetooth thermometer and hygrometer.
All three SwitchBot devices, including the Hub Plus, the Bot and the Meter have a 3M adhesive on the back so you can stick the devices anywhere.
There are also two small 3M adhesives with a fishing line loop that allows the SwitchBot arm to push and pull on a switch so, it can turn on and turn off a light switch without the need of two SwitchBot arms.
The battery inside SwitchBot is CR2 Lithium type used in garage remote doors, and rated to last up to 2 years when SwitchBot is operated twice a day.
It's nice also that AAA alkaline batteries are included with The Meter as they are great for both high-drain and low-drain devices. Of course, you can use other AAA types, including lithium, NiMH or lithium-ion.
The SwitchBot app works great without glitches though you have to keep in mind that SwitchBot is a bluetooth device; hence you have to be mindful of the bluetooth range limitation. The SwitchBot app also requires location turned on for Android devices, which may put off some users
The maximum bluetooth range between the SwitchBot Hub (Plus) and SwitchBot is 80 meters in direct line of sight, but depending on the thickness of walls the bluetooth range is considerably shorter.
You may also experience some connectivity issues using SwitchBot, depending on the number of devices nearby running on the 2.4 GHz short-range radio frequency band.
If you are looking for a solution to wirelessly actuate rocker switches and/or push buttons at a specific time or temperature, the SwitchBot, Meter and Hub Plus by Wonder Tech Lab is a neat IoT solution that will give you both app and voice control.

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