For those new to smart home automation, there’s no easier way to get started than with a smart outlet adaptor. When I got my first smart home product back in 2013, a Belkin Wemo for my Christmas tree was the first product I used. Today, smart outlets have remained the best use case for novice uses, but they’ve gotten more reliable and much smaller. I recently tried out the brand-new SwitchBot Plug Mini with HomeKit support.
HomeKit Weekly is a series focused on smart home accessories, automation tips and tricks, and everything to do with Apple’s smart home framework.
I discovered SwitchBot toward the end of 2021 (wow, that was seven months ago)! While many of the products I tried weren’t natively compatible with HomeKit, I was able to bridge them using HOOBS. Even without HomeKit support, SwitchBot makes some pretty unique products at affordable prices.
SwitchBot has now entered the market with its first HomeKit product with the new SwitchBot Plug Mini. Smart outlet adaptors are incredibly versatile products. You can use them with lamps, coffee makers, electronics you want the ability to reboot, white noise machines, or generally anything you want to track the energy usage of daily. There are a lot of great products on the market, so SwitchBot is entering a crowded field.
Adding SwitchBot Plug Mini to HomeKit
Adding products to HomeKit should always be as simple as a plug-in, scan code in the Home app, and then configuring automations. SwitchBot nailed the implementation. One detail I appreciate is the HomeKit code is on the top of the device. If for some reason, you need to plug it upside down, SwitchBot includes the code on a piece of paper in the box as well. I always recommend HomePass for HomeKit as a way to back up your HomeKit codes as well.
Regardless if you’re on the iOS 16 beta with the overhauled Home app or the iOS 15 version, it’s the same process. Scan code, pick a room, and configure what type of plug (light, fan, or outlet).
There’s not much that devices can do to distinguish themselves when you want them to work directly in HomeKit. They’ll compete on price and reliability. The only downside I can find with the SwitchBot Plug Mini is that it’s 2.4 GHz only for Wi-Fi. While this is pretty common for devices at this price point, I’d love to see a move to where 5 GHz is the default at some point.
The SwitchBot Plug Mini is great for converting a “dumb lamp” to one that works with HomeKit. One aspect I appreciate about this device that others often forget – a manual button on the side if you need to turn it off/on without your iPhone or the use of Siri If you paired it with a HomeKit motion sensor, you could easily create an automation to turn off the lamps when it stops detecting motion in the evening. Even without the motion sensor, HomeKit automation can be built to automatically flip the lights off and back on at a preset time. With its first HomeKit product, SwitchBot is off to a great start. I hope they continue to release HomeKit-native products.
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