When I first started reading about SwitchBot I must admit I was not a fan, for me sticking something onto a light switch or some other button that you want to press just to press it was ugly and there were better ways of doing it. Despite this I still wanted to test out some SwitchBots and I am glad I did. Currently I have three SwitchBots and a SwitchBot Hub and every day I seem to think of a new use for a SwitchBot. While there is still no way I will put one on a light switch, in discrete locations the SwitchBot can automate a lot of things that for the most part I did not know I wanted to automate, except of course the coffee maker which I think is everyone’s first go to use case.
Using the coffee maker as an example use case for a SwitchBot many people say why not just program a time setting or why not just get a cheap coffee maker and plug it into a Z-Wave Outlet? Well first of all I really enjoy my coffee and own a high-end coffee maker so I would never consider changing that for a cheap unit just to automate and I do not wake up at the same time everyday so a schedule will not work for me. But with a SwitchBot, SwitchBot Hub, IFTTT, SmartThings and Webcore I have my coffee make integrated into my morning automation routine. No more having to walk up to it and push a button only to have to walk back down the hall and shower, now all i have to do is get out of bed and my coffee maker starts brewing. O yeah and If I want coffee during the day I just have to tell Alexa to make coffee (if only I could get her to grind the beans and put them in the coffee maker).
Lets, start by taking a look at the SwitchBot. To the user it looks like a small white or black plastic box. Some might call it ugly and I will agree its, not the best thing to look at, but you do get used to it and having the option of white or black is nice. As far as the plastic material used it does not feel cheap which is nice, and they come relatively nicely packaged. Inside to box you will get a SwitchBot (with CR2 battery), two pieces of 3M Adhesive (which is very sticky), the add-on accessory allowing you to pull a switch and a manual.
Pushing buttons with the SwitchBot is simple, pick a button you want to push line it up and stick it. Well that is how easy it should be and i think in most cases it will be. I had a couple of mine that were not so easy mostly because the buttons that I wanted to push were in obscure locations so certainly not the fault of the SwitchBot. I would however lit to see some kind of marking on the side of the SwitchBot indicating where the arm moves. I think this would make things a little easier to line up.
Pulling a switch takes a bit more work to set up. You have to use the add-on accessory which is basically a little piece of plastic that you adhere to what you want to pull, and a loop made out of fishing line. This is actually a pretty good idea and it works very well. I was concerned at first that the fishing line would come out of the SwitchBot but after fighting to get it in the SwitchBot in the first place I can tell you that it was very well thought out and should not under normal circumstances pull out.
Setting SwitchBots up in the SwitchBot app is as simple as allowing the SwitchBot app to use Bluetooth and pulling the plastic tab to engage the battery and waiting for the SwitchBot to show up in the app. From this point you can configure any settings that you would like. I also highly recommended turning on the option to pin the SwitchBot to the scanned list. In the setting you can tell the SwitchBot if it is using the light switch add-on which will allow you to both push and pull, inverse the travel direction, set a push and hold time and set up timers. There are two things that I wish I had when it comes to settings. The first is the ability to change these setting remotely (I have a hub why can’t I change settings through the cloud) and second we need a double press feature.
Next up we have the SwitchBot Hub, the Hub has one job, to give you remote access of
the SwitchBots. The hub connects to your Wi-Fi and then connects to your SwitchBots via Bluetooth LE. If you are going to use SwitchBots I do not think they are a viable solution without the SwitchBot Hub if you want to do any type of real automation. Local control only (like you get with just SwitchBots and your phone) is just not flexible enough. Additionally, if you want to use Alexa, Google Home or IFTTT you need the Hub to do so. The SwitchBot Hub is fairly priced and I would recommend it to anyone looking to add SwitchBots.
Now some things that I don’t like about the SwitchBot Hub. First why is it shaped like a cloud? Seriously there is no need for this the Hub simply needs to be a small box as most people are going to hide it anyways. Second why does it have a night light feature? Seriously it’s a Hub, if I wanted a nightlight I would buy a nightlight or use a SwitchBot to turn a nightlight on. For me the SwitchBot Hub lives in a centralized mechanical room on a rack with the rest of my networking gear and hubs so there is no use of it looking the way it does or having a nightlight. Now with that being said the the nightlight on the SwitchBot Hub works very well and is full RGBW so I guess if you have a use for it where you can make it look like a cloud is not completely out of place then by all means take advantage of it.
Google Home integration does exactly what you would think it would do and gives you voice control of your SwitchBot. IFTTT integration is where you can really get create and integrate SwitchBot into bigger automation systems. In my example I am using a virtual switch in SmartThings which is tied into SwitchBot via IFTTT. This allows me to include SwitchBot in complex automations and really is limitless. The one part of IFTTT integration that I would like to see however is using SwitchBot as a trigger or IF as you can currently only use SwitchBot as a THAT. I am hopeful that in the future we will see this happen, but it is by no means slowing me down or affecting my love for SwitchBot.
The last thing to talk about is the SwitchBot App. It is a simple app that does what it needs to do, let’s be honest anyone who is using SwitchBot to its potential is either controlling them via voice using Alexa or Google Home or are working it into a larger home automation system where you have other means of control. While I do not want to take anything away from the SwitchBot app as it looks good and functions well it is just something that I will use only to set up devices and nothing else.
At the end of the day I think the SwitchBot and SwitchBot Hub are great additions to my smart home and they come in at an attractive price. They could also be an easy way for a novice DIYer to jump into home automation.
If you are on the fence about SwitchBot I have some good news for you. SwitchBot has given me a 20% off code that is valid until August 31st 2018 to share with my readers. This code can be used at checkout from the SwitchBot website.
Anyone here using a SwitchBot for anything interesting? Let me know in the comments below.
Don’t forget to check out SwitchBot on their social feeds:
I am passionate about the IoT and connected devices. Using connectivity to automate our lives will empower civilization to achieve greatness.