Early in December, I took advantage of a holiday sale to pick up a Flic hub and three accompanying buttons, for a total of $149.99 plus tax, so I could cluster some of my smart home devices into a routine that could be triggered without using my voice. Instead, I would use the Flic buttons to press once, twice, or three times to trigger one of three different actions.
I tested a number of use cases and found some that are very useful. A downside is the limited number of integrations the buttons offer and the latency associated with some of those integrations. However, if your devices work with the Flic buttons and you’d like to be able to leverage the convenience of a clicker, they can be very useful.
First, let’s talk about how the Flic buttons work. A single button costs $29.99 and can connect to your phone using Bluetooth. If all you want is a button to control your devices while your phone is nearby, then you won’t need a Flic hub. But if, like me, you want to control a bunch of smart home devices regardless of where your phone is (or there are other people in your home who would like to control these devices when you’re not there), then you’ll want to get the hub.
As a bonus, you can also buy an infrared (IR) dongle that plugs into the hub and can be used to control IR devices with a Flic button. I didn’t test this, but it’s a nice use case, especially for ceiling fans or AV equipment that uses IR.
Before you buy, you’ll also want to take a look at the integrations available to figure out which ones might work for you. Flic directly integrates with popular devices such as Philips Hue, Nanoleaf, IKEA Tradfri, LIFX, Slack, WeMo, Spotify, Homey, Chromecast, and the now-defunct Logitech Harmony. While the list is limited, there are lots of use cases that might work well. For example, setting up a Slack message at the flick of button, or gathering multiple brands of lights to perform together.
Flic also integrates directly with IFTTT, SmartThings, and Wink, which are aggregators of other smart home devices. So while I was frustrated that the Flic button wouldn’t allow me to control my Lutron lights, I was able to use IFTTT to pull together my Lutron gear to work with the Flic buttons. I was also able to create a routine with gadgets in SmartThings and control it with Flic.
Once you’ve decided that Flic will work for you, setting it up is easy. I used my Android phone, downloaded the app, and then plugged in the hub. From the app, I set up the hub with a name, then started adding buttons. To add a button to the hub, you simply click “add button” and then physically click said button. The app recognized it in seconds.
Setting up the buttons is especially easy. You get a function for a single tap, a double tap, and a triple tap. So in the button above, we used the single tap to turn off the Hue bulb in my husband’s bedside table lamp, a double tap to turn off his lamp and mine (it also has a Hue bulb), and a triple tap to turn off the Nanoleaf lights in the hall that like to turn on of their own volition in the middle of the night.
Those are all direct integrations that worked quickly and easily. When I set up a SmartThings routine, it also worked really well, but when I tried to create an IFTTT routine I ran into a bit of latency. I wanted to create a good night button that would need to talk to about six different services and control about a dozen devices. Since I pay for a monthly IFTTT subscription, I was able to create a multipronged applet on the service that would turn off these dozen devices, including my Ecobee thermostat and my Lutron lights.
However, when I pressed the button it took a good six to eight seconds for everything to turn off. This isn’t a big knock on the functionality, but if you don’t want the popcorn effect of lights turning off around the home, then it might not be for you. You do also need an IFTTT subscription. A cheaper (and quite frankly, better) alternative would be to use the SmartThings integration to create the routine you want, then simply assign the routine to a single Flic button.
One quibble I have about the buttons is that they are small and easy to lose. In fact, I’ve already lost one of them somewhere in my home, which is a real bummer. I wish they had a magnet or a base, like my Philips Hue button, so I could stick them onto things or make them bigger and easier to find. You can also use 3M tape to stick the buttons to things, but I prefer a less permanent solution.
Shortcut Labs, the company that makes the Flic, includes a page of stickers you can affix to the buttons to help tell them apart and also provide a hint as to their function (see the image of Flic button above, with a sticker).
The company expects the Flic buttons to last at least a year on one coin cell battery, which is about par for the course, but that time frame will change depending on how often you use it.
The button has been especially handy for giving my husband the ability to quietly turn off the bedside table lamp bulbs without having to turn off the lamp itself (rendering the smart bulb inaccessible to the internet when it’s time to turn it on with a smart control). It’s also handy for controlling the Nanoleaf devices we have in our homes, if for no other reason than I can never remember the names of my favorite scenes to control it via my voice.
So if you have a use case in mind that you’d like to set up using a single button to access multiple services, and Flic supports those services, this might be a good buy for you.
Lawrence K says
Button’s are a bane of my existence these days. Some work only with Hue bridge, others only Ikea, or maybe smartthings. I can use the Ikea buttons with Smart Things, but then battery goes dead in a week from checking battery level every minute. Flic seems nice but price is crazy. Maybe when Matter comes, all our Smart things devices will show up Hue app to program lutron devices and all of them will show up in homekit to use Ikea buttons.
Or I’ll just ask Alexa to trigger the scenes.
Since you already have SmartThings, I am not sure that the Flic buttons solve anything that counldn’t be solved with buttons or remotes that pair directly with the SamrtThings hub. To me, these buttons may be suitable for people that have a mish-mash of otherwise unconnected devices and not really an additional piece of equipment to add to an existing smarthome. Maybe I am just not seeing your use case????
JD Roberts says
Sometimes it’s just a matter of aesthetics. If you need flic buttons for some use cases which are not in smartthings, then you may want to use them with smartthings as well just for consistency. Some households won’t care about this, others will. 😎
The other difference with the flic buttons is that they are much smaller than any other buttons I’ve seen that work with smartthings. They are just a little bigger than the diameter of a US quarter. So if you want a button to stick on a table lamp base, or a door or window frame, which some people do, The flic buttons may just physically fit better than the aeotec/smartthings brand or even the IKEA if you are looking for a small button.
As I mentioned, I have one on my wheelchair where it is very discreet and easy to use, and doesn’t get bumped by accident.
Finally, these days the vast majority of smartthings customers don’t have a SmartThings/Aeotec hub at all. They have a Samsung appliance/television and some Wi-Fi devices. For them, Flic adds a nice option to the ecosystem.
One of the advantages of SmartThings, as I’m sure you know, is that it works with so many different brands, so you can select whichever one meets your own needs and aesthetics for any specific use case. Obviously there are a lot of other brands which would be better from a cost standpoint. Choice is good.
JD Roberts says
We’ve had Flic buttons since the first generation, and like them a lot. The first generation was concave rather than the current generation which is convex, so it was easier for my service dog to push, but they’re still nice buttons.
Speaking of aggregators, one you didn’t mention because I know it wouldn’t be a big advantage in your household but is a real plus for many people is that at the time of this writing it’s the only button (other than the hard to get echo brand) that can trigger an Alexa routine. So if someone uses Alexa routines a lot, they might appreciate having a button to trigger those.
SUGRU MOLDABLE (AND REMOVEABLE) GLUE
Separately, as far as sticking things together with something that’s removable later, we love Sugru! This is moldable silicon that starts out the consistency of Play-Doh and then will harden after being exposed to air so it can stick things together. We use it for lots of different projects, including sticking on IOT buttons. 😎
it’s very easily removable by scraping it off and doesn’t, at least in our experience, harm the surface underneath or remove the paint.
Each small packet contains about a blob maybe the size of a US quarter, but that’s enough for many projects. Comes in a number of different colors, including white, black, and yellow. At Amazon you buy a box which has 3 packets for about $8. Available from Amazon in the US and the UK.
Stacey, I think you would like both the Sugru product and its story. Back in 2003, a young woman from Ireland who lived on a farm (where everything is reused, sometimes for generations) went to design school in England.
She has said “ While studying for my MA in product design at the RCA in London, I had a bit of a crisis. A niggling thought stopped me in my tracks. “Do I really want to design more products? There’s far too much waste in the world. I don’t want to buy new stuff all the time. What if I could fix and improve and reimagine the stuff I already have to make it work better for me?”” That was the beginning of Sugru, although it took a team of additional people, including chemical engineers, to get a version that was easy to use and inexpensive enough for household projects.
Check out their project gallery for inspiration:
I use sugru to stick a Flic button to my wheelchair, and several on the wall in different rooms. We also use it to stick Switchbots to everything from a mini blender to an A/C control. And it’s great for positioning sensors and repairing cracked cables. one of my favorite products of the last 10 years.
I do recommend getting the original formula and wearing gloves while applying it. They also make a “family friendly“ version for kids to use which is easier on your skin, but in my experience it just doesn’t adhere as well.
david t says
thanks for the idea about using sugru for positioning switchbot bots…..the sticky pads aren’t always ideal and this sounds like it could give a lot more flexibility in their positioning. It’s a neat idea.
Lawrence K says
How big are the flic buttons? Buy some rare earth magnets off The River and attach them to the buttons?they will never move then. https://www.amazon.com/Neodymium-Double-Sided-Adhesive-Permanent-Scientific/dp/B089D33ZL2/ref=sr_1_6?crid=21XD7384W8VPA&keywords=rare+earth+magnets&qid=1641244523&sprefix=rare%2Caps%2C69&sr=8-6
Brian Aker says
One of the great things about this approach, attaching rare earth magnets to flics, is that you can then install them pretty much anywhere you want.
The drywall in your home is installed with screws normally placed pretty evenly; so you can place buttons at any height on the wall.
Have a fridge that is surfaced with a non-magnetic material? Inevitably there is some piece of magnetic material near the handles, etc…
Lawrence K says
Good idea about the drywall screws. Didn’t think of that. May want to get a slightly different shade of paint or a light marker to put a dot where a screw is to easily reposition the button if you ever move it.
Siobhan Ellis says
Also works with HomeKit, where you get single press, double press and Long Press.
This means you can integrate with anything connected dto HomeKit.