Now that I’ve finally moved my smart home devices from the Wink Hub 2 to the Samsung SmartThings Link, it’s time to test some new HomeKit devices. First on the menu are two items from Fibaro, which sent us a $60 Door/Window sensor and a $70 Motion Sensor to review.
Right off the bat, these prices may sound high. And compared to some very similar non-HomeKit sensors I’ve previously purchased, they are. Keep in mind however that HomeKit products typically are more expensive, and these sensors have more features than most others in this segment.
For example, the Door/Window Sensor doesn’t just have a simple magnetic contact to indicate an open or closed state. It also has a temperature sensor inside. The Motion Sensor that looks like an eyeball also provides temperature information, in addition to motion. It can also tell you the brightness of room as measured in Lux and has an accelerometer to notify you in case someone tampered with it. Frankly, I think you also pay more for design too: In my opinion, Fibaro makes some of the best-looking sensors.
Typical of most HomeKit devices, setup is easy in the Apple iOS Home app. You just power on the sensors (by removing any tape over the battery) and scan the HomeKit code included in the box. It literally took me two minutes to get these devices on my home network, where I have an Apple TV hub. After that, it was just a matter of placing the sensors at certain spots in my house.
Instead of using the Door/Window Sensor for security purposes — something most people do with these — I decided to automate the lights in my home office with it. I did this for two reasons. First, I have a Canary security system with two cameras in the house, so if anyone comes through the windows or doors, I’ll already be notified. Secondly, I don’t always want to control my home office lighting by voice late at night.
Here’s how I set it up. Whenever I’m in the office at night, I close the door. So using the included double-sided tape on the Door/Window sensor, I put it on the inside of my home office door. Note that you can use two enclosed screws and drywall anchors for a more permanent solution.
Using the Automation feature of the Home app, I now have a LifX bulb turn on in my office whenever I close the door. When I open the door, the light goes off. And this only happens from 7pm to 11pm, which is when I’m typically in the office. I also get the added benefit of being able to see the temperature in my office through this sensor.
There are two options for installing the Motion Sensor because it slides into a mostly-curved base. You can put small flat part of the base on a table or furniture, for example. Or you could screw the base onto a wall and slip the “eyeball” into place. It’s a smart design. Like many motion detectors, this one stops sensing for 30 seconds once it has been tripped. However, it’s easy to change that default time in the Fibaro app. In testing the device when placed in our hallway, I couldn’t get past it without an alert. And if I had automatic blinds, I’d look into using the light brightness from this sensor as a trigger event to open or close blinds.
Overall, these are high-quality, full-featured sensors with good response times. If I had to pick a nit though, it would be with the batteries. First, they’re not typical sizes or types that you find in most other sensors.
The Motion Sensor uses a 3V CR123A, for example, while the Door/Window Sensor needs a 3.3V ER14250, which is roughly half the size of a standard AA battery. So you may not be able to run to a regular store that sells batteries when it’s time to replace these. For what it’s worth, Fibaro says these batteries can last up to two years — I can’t verify that until 2020, of course — so this may not be a big issue. Still it’s worth a mention.
If your smart home is built around Apple HomeKit and you’re looking for these types of sensors, Fibaro may fit the bill. Yes, there may be cheaper alternatives and if you don’t want or need the extra information these provide, such as temperature, you’ll be fine with less expensive alternatives. I like the idea of getting more temperature sensors in more rooms though, so to me, these are worth the premium.