I’ve been one of the biggest proponents of the HomeKit smart home since it was announced by Apple. Since then, much has happened in this space but, there has historically been two major hurdles for early adopters. Prices have been high, and manufacturer support has been slow.
Now, thanks to companies like Koogeek, there is a huge number of HomeKit accessories on the market, and prices have been significantly dropping. We have three of Koogeek’s HomeKit products to review today. The smart bulb socket, wall socket, and (my favorite) wall switch.
Hands on video
As I tend to do, I put together a video highlighting each products high and low points, as well as their installation. Take a look to see how they worked in real life, then read on for more impressions.
As a precursor, I wanted to touch on a few aspects of HomeKit. HomeKit is Apple’s home automation platform that they have been steadily building on for a number of years. Accessories are easily paired with your iOS device and linked to your iCloud account, offering some of the tightest security in the home automation market.
They can be operated locally in your home, or remotely by way of a Home hub. Home hubs can be an iPad running iOS 10 or later, a 4th or 5th generation Apple TV, or the upcoming HomePod.
While Apple now lets you pair your devices in a number of ways, including QR or NFC, all of Koogeek’s accessories are paired using Apple’s HomeKit code.
You can utilize Apple’s Home app, or any number of third party HomeKit capable apps to control, automate, and manage your devices. Koogeek does offer its own HomeKit application, but I found it to be a bit underwhelming. There were a few translation issues I saw, and there are just better options out there. I like Apple’s Home app, the Elgato Eve app, and the highly regarded third party Home app.
Recently, with iOS 11, Apple introduced a number of new features for HomeKit, we looked at a few of them in this post, but for the full list, check out our previous post.
Smart bulb socket
I wanted to get my least favorite accessory up first. The socket is meant to plug into the lamp first, then have the bulb screw into it. That is all well and good, but it wasn’t suited for me.
It isn’t that the smart bulb socket somehow doesn’t work well, it absolutely does. My problems stem from the size of it, and its usefulness in my home. You see, the socket is a bit on the large size. This prevents it from working in many lamps that I own. It is either too wide at the base, or it makes the bulb too tall and protrudes from the top of my fixtures.
I can totally see a use for this product however. Any ceiling mounted can-lights would be pretty ideal. I just don’t happen to have any of those in my home.
Like the other Koogeek products, it is Wi-Fi connected, so no extra hub is necessary. That makes the socket an easy way to retrofit a compatible light or fixture to add HomeKit compatibility with no wiring or extra hardware.
P1 smart wall socket
The wall socket is one of the most widely released HomeKit accessories. We’ve reviewed a few of them. They are so popular because of how easy they are to use, and the different applications for them. You can plug in a light, fan, humidifier, dehumidifier, heater, etc, instead of being limited to one type of device, like the smart socket.
The Koogeek offering is one of the more mundane solutions in this regard. We’ve seen others that offer added functionality like multiple outlets, or USB ports. The Koogeek P1 simply offers an on/off switch, and the outlet itself. Nothing showy going on here.
I did find it to be a bit on the larger size, as its bulbous nature made it a little tough to fit in a standard socket if I had something else on the larger size I also needed to fit.
With the P1, you can do all the usual stuff, like scheduling, automating, etc. I find it most useful however, when paired with other HomeKit accessories.
Smart wall switch
The wall switch is my favorite of the Koogeek accessories. That is because I find it solves one of the most inherent issues with smart homes. That is a way to manually control your home without your phone. You don’t always have it on you, especially at home where you may have it charging somewhere.
There is some installation to go alongside the switch, and it isn’t as easy as just plugging/screwing it in like the others. I still found it relatively simple to do, but if you don’t feel comfortable, any electrician can help out.
This switch is most useful for any rooms that have many built-in lights, or where the switches are connected to the wall sockets. That way, instead of replacing several bulbs or outlets, you can replace a single light switch to enable HomeKit compatibility.
The faceplate is both a pro and a con for the switch. On the pro side of things, it is nice they include a plate for you. The iDevices switch does not include one, and is just something else you need to buy. On the downside however, you lose the ability to choose your own because you are required to use the one they’ve included.
Getting your home automated
Using these three accessories, you can have a great start to your smart home. HomeKit then gives you all the tools you need to automate everything. Here are a few ideas of what you could do.
- Turn your lights on automatically with your alarm in the morning, then turn off when you leave for work.
- Turn the porch lights and indoor lights on when the first person arrives at your home.
- Connect your socket and plug to your wall switch to turn on all accessories in a room with the press of the wall switch.
- Use Siri to set the mood for a movie by creating specific scenes with multiple accessories.
If you happen to pick up other HomeKit accessories, your options open up even more.
- Turn lights on and off when using a HomeKit motion sensor.
- Turn on a space heater when the temperature in the room gets too cold.
- Turn on a fan at night when you go to bed, and have it automatically turn off after 30 minutes.
- Turn a humidifier or dehumidifier on based on the humidity levels in the room.
- Create a bedtime scene that will lock your doors, close your garage door, adjust your thermostat, and turn off the lights.
- Unlock your door, turn the lights on, and open your garage when you get home each time.
- and of course, much more.
Wrapping it up
Koogeek’s products do have a few other tricks up their sleeves. They are all Wi-Fi connected, which means they don’t have to rely on the shorter proximity of Bluetooth connected devices. They also work with other home automation platforms such as Amazon’s Alexa. Another useful aspect is the capability to measure your power consumption and see how much power your devices are utilizing.
Prices on HomeKit accessories have been going down, as Apple has been doing their part to bring new features and accessory types to the platform. Koogeek offers many types of accessories, including these three at affordable prices. They may lack some of the bells and whistles we see on others, but they are a great entry way that brings the bulk of functionality.