Having a smart home is no longer a scenario worthy of a SF movie, and now many of us are looking for ways to connect everything in the house, automate as much as possible and save as much time as possible for them. And it’s a normal thing, especially in a society where things are happening on fast-forward, and you need help in planning and organizing. Even if the house is not completely smart, but with a few adjustments your life becomes easier, you can’t help but notice the benefits and advantages. We’ve started like everyone, with a smart hub and a light, but then we bought another gadget, and another one, and, slowly, but steady, we are automating everything. One of the companies that have a lot to offer is SwitchBot, and recently we got a bunch of products from them, and our home got smarter.
If you’re looking to transition into a smart home environment, but don’t want the hassle of changing electronics or replacing appliances then SwitchBot can help you transform your home and make it smarter in seconds saving you time and money.
At SwitchBot there’s a product for everyone, and we’ve got a bunch: the classic SwitchBot Bot, SwitchBot Curtain, SwitchBot Solar Panel, SwitchBot Hub Mini, SwitchBot Meter and SwitchBot Remote. We’ve integrated them with our Google Home and Amazon Alexa hubs, and we’ll talk about how they work and how they play with the other smart home accessories we have.
We’ll start with the product that made the company famous, the SwitchBot Bot. The idea behind the Bot is easy: you have a good, working product in your home and you don’t want to change it for a “smart one”, just because it works and you don’t want to pay a ton of money for something you already have; what if you won’t have to, because there is a gadget that can turn any dumb appliance smart instantly. The SwitchBot Bot works with just about any rocker switch and button of any appliance. The concept is simple, but very effective. It is compatible with most of the buttons and switches, except the US Toggles. Not only for the light switches but also for the coffee machine, air conditioner, and even garage doors…
The concept is simple. The device itself is battery operated and sticks onto whatever device you plan to automate. When activated, a little robotic arm pops out press down on anything it touches. It works with anything that has a physical switch and it comes in two colors: white and black so you can place it anywhere and it won’t look out of place. The SwitchBot Bot is attached to devices using double sided 3M tape so they can be reused on another device, if desired. The simplicity of the product goes further as it comes with replaceable lithium CR2 battery that lasts up to 600 days.
Like many of you out there, we have some home appliances that we do not want to replace, like the Tassimo Coffee Maker and the PC. We’ve set up the Bot to work with these two. The Tassimo just needs a press of a button to start making your coffee, so the Bot is a natural fit. For the PC, there are some ways to start if by voice command, but most of them require some heavy engineering and they do not always work as expected. The simplest way to turn it on and off is to press the power button and the SwitchBot Bot does exactly that.
To control the bot we have 3 options: app, the SwitchBot Remote and integrating it with Google Home or Amazon Alexa using the SwitchBot Hub Mini. The first step for all these options is to add the Bot in the SwitchBot app. The app is available on Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. Once you have the app the setup couldn’t be easier. You just need to pull the battery tab out, and it automatically see the Bot allowing immediate control. Pressing on the rectangular box in the shows the available settings. The main one is the schedule, allowing you to set a specific time when the Bot activates.
As mentioned earlier, we did also get a SwitchBot Hub Mini, which allows you to connect the Bot and integrate it in the Google and Alexa apps.
SwitchBot Hub Mini
The SwitchBot Hub Mini is a small hub that connects your SwitchBot products with the cloud: Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, IFTTT, Line Clova and even Siri. It works as a Bluetooth-to-WiFi bridge for the Bots. Plugged in, it supports Infrared connectivity up to 30m with line of sight, Bluetooth, and WiFi (2.4Ghz) connectivity, App and Scheduling control, and Home Automation support. It has a simple rectangular design is small and compact and is USB-powered, making it easily deployed at any location that can support a USB connection.
To use it you just need the SwitchBot app. You need to open the app and press the small pair button on the hub and that’s it. Once integrated in the app you can set up Scenes for your other devices and it brings connectivity with the home hubs and, of course, voice control. The SwitchBot Hub Mini can be attached next to a plug with high-quality double-sided 3M tape. We placed it on a wall and it you barely notice its presence there.
A great feature for the Hub Mini is the infrared connectivity and with “Smart Learning” mode, the Hub Mini can learn and mimic signals from your existing remote control in 5 seconds. This allows you to set schedules and Scenes to automate both your smart and dumb appliances in one place.
The SwitchBot Remote is a simple gadget with one functionality in mind: press one of its two buttons to do whatever you want. The remote is small, white and can be applied on a wall or taken away around the house. The Remote has two buttons. Using the SwitchBot Hub Mini, you can assign what each of the buttons does. Adding the Remote to the app is straightforward and the options you have in there are so simple that even a little kid can handle. You just need to assign which of the smart devices you want to control. Since we have two bots, we decided to pair each button of the remote to one bot, so one button makes us coffee and one turn on/off the PC.
With the first 3 devices in place, we are ready to set up home automation. Having the devices added to the SwitchBot app, we can now integrate them with the Google Assistant. To do this we had to enable “Cloud service” on each device. From the app, we must select each device, click on its box and go to device settings. We then turn “Cloud Service” On, and we have a bunch of options on the page. We have added them first to the Google environment, so for this we clicked on Google Assistant and the app asks us to press the “Connect” button. Doing this opens Google home on the phone.
From the Google Home app, we link up the Switchbot account and now we have access to all the devices installed. We can add them one by one into rooms, we can place them as part of Routines, and we can now control them either with a click on the Google Home app or with voice control. The process couldn’t have been any simpler.
To complete our setup, we added some more gadgets to the ecosystem. First, we set up the SwitchBot Meter, a smart Thermometer and Hygrometer that monitors and tracks your home temperature and humidity easily. It looks like a regular home thermometer, but the functions go way beyond. The sensor is great and provides accurate monitoring and with the app you have a very detailed history that maintains the most recent 36 days of data. In the app you have temperature and humidity graphs that can be viewed by hour, day, week, month or year. All the date can be exported into csv format if you need to review the conditions in your home when you are out.
One of the best features of the meter is its integration with your other home devices. With the help of the SwitchBot Hub, it integrates into Scenes and can trigger commands to other devices based on its readings. For instance, you can start the Humidifier if the humidity is too low, you can heat up your house if it gets too cold or you can open or close curtains when certain conditions are met.
Talking about the curtains, we also got the smart SwitchBot Curtain and integrated them into the environment.
SwitchBot Curtain is a small wireless robot that makes any curtains motorized and smart with a 30-second installation (without Alternative installation). After attaching to your curtain, you can then open and close your curtain with your smartphone. Or, just set a schedule to automatically open or close the curtain.
The SwitchBot Curtain is design with practicality in mind to fit just about any curtain you might have in your house. Switchbot offers 3 types of curtain robots: Rod, U Rail and I Rail, which will fit 99% of the homes. You just need to select the right type and measure the dimensions of your curtain rails, so it can work smoothly on your curtains. The U Rail works on rails that are minimum 12.5 mm tick and have a minimum on 6mm height. The Rod model works on curtain rods between 15 and 40 mm and the I Rail works on rails that are at least 10mm tall.
For our setup we selected the Rod curtain, and it can fit classic and modern styles and works with Grommet, Ring Top, Back Tab and Tab Top curtains. In the box you have everything you need, from the robot itself to the Grommet Kit and a bunch of small accessories to fit your needs.
With the help of the built-in sunlight sensor, your curtains can be set to close during the daytime in summer, blocking out the sunlight to save the air-conditioning. Set the curtain to open during the day time in winter, you will enjoy a warm room off the work while saving on heating!
The SwitchBot Curtain has a rechargeable battery which can last up to 8 months and they can be charged using USB cable or with solar panels. To complete our setup we also got the SwitchBot Solar Panels for the curtains, which are plugged on the robot, facing the sun and they keep your Switchbot charged so you won’t have to take them down any time soon.
The SwitchBot Curtain is available in a single pack (1 unit), Starter pack (2 units) and Home pack (4 units) and it comes in white or black to fit your home design.
The installation of the SwitchBot Curtain is straight forward. You have a button on top which you press and slide up the top lid to fit your existing setup. You then place the robot between the first and second ring on your curtain and compress the space as much as you can so the robot will slide properly on your Rod.
For our setup we installed 2 SwitchBot Curtains behind the drape and we added them in the SwitchBot app with the name of “Curtain Left” and “Curtain Right”. A calibration is needed for first use, and it can be done within the app. What it does is measures how much it needs to move to fully open and fully close the curtains. Once the set-up is done, the fun can start.
Having the SwitchBot Curtains added in the app and linked with the Google Home you can set up automatic schedules. For instance, your curtains can be automatically opened before your alarm goes off in the morning, they can be set to close during the daytime in summer, blocking out the sunlight to save the air-conditioning or set to open during the daytime in winter, so you can enjoy a warm room off the work while saving on heating!
Using the SwitchBot Remote you can use “shortcut” anywhere in your home, configuring the buttons to open and close the curtains when needed. The practicality and simplicity of the design is also shown in another feature that takes in consideration your habits. Even with SwitchBot Curtain, you’d probably still instinctively draw the curtains by hand. When SwitchBot Curtain senses the pull, it will kick in and do the rest of the work for you. Integrated with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, the curtains can be controlled by voice and integrated in your existing routines with other devices outside the SwitchBot ecosystem.
We’ve set up all the devices to work with our other devices. Within the Google Home app, we’ve added the Switchbot products into our daily routines. In the mornings, between Monday and Friday, when the alarm sounds every morning, Google commands the devices and tells us the home temperature and humidity from the SwitchBot Meter, opens the curtains with the help of SwitchBot Curtain and makes us a cup of coffee with the help of SwitchBot Bot. It doesn’t seem like much, but within days you will feel the use and saves precious minutes in the morning routine. In the weekends it does the same but only when I tell Google “Good Morning”.
At night it closes the curtains automatically at 11 PM. During the hot days, when the temperature gets high, the curtains close themselves and keep the room at optimal condition. They help with the electric bill as we use the cooling unit less often and, in the winter, they open to heat the room, helping with the gas bill.
The Amazon Assistant helps with turning the PC on and off using the voice commands with the help of the SwitchBot Bot, which again, does not seem to be a lot, but it’s a breeze when you give the command from the kitchen and the PC is already on the Desktop when you reach the office.
When controlled from the SwitchBot app, the curtains work flawlessly, but using Google and Amazon Assistants there is a delay in the trigger of the curtains and this is the only downside I might have related to the products. It takes a few good seconds for the curtains to start opening and closing after the home automation kicks in. However, voice commands work instantly. The SwitchBot Bot does not have this delay however, so my guess is that it has something to dop with the software implementation.
Overall, the SwitchBot products are great, and they cost a dime compared to other solutions that do the same. The Bot is a signature piece and it’s the go-to standard in the industry for smart retro-fit products, but for the Meter and curtains you might have other options from competitors. The price of these products is significantly higher though, so taking all of this in consideration I say you should definitely go for SwitchBot if you plan to automate your home.