For the past few months, I’ve been getting emails from podcast listeners asking me about Shelly, a brand of smart home devices that I’ve long associated with Europe. It turns out that this time last year, Allterco Robotics, the company behind the Shelly devices, launched the brand in the U.S., although the pandemic subsequently muted any splash it may have made.
However, it will soon hit more radars as the brand will announce on Monday, that it has completed an integration with Home Assistant, popular open-source software that lets people integrate their smart home devices into their overall smart home systems. Customers using Shelly’s sensors and relays will now be able to pull those devices into their Home Asssitant setups. And customers already using Home Assistant will soon be able to find Shelly devices on the platform.
Allterco Robotics launched the Shelly brand in Europe in 2015 after pivoting from providing software to mobile carriers. In December 2019, it brought the brand to the U.S., right before COVID-19 showed up here. Svetlin Todorov, CEO of Allterco Robotics US, said the company made the shift to smart home devices because providing software for carrier-run app stores proved to be a dead end.
Shelly’s most notable product is its line of relays, tiny devices you install behind a switch or outlet that lets you control the electrical impulse it emits. The last time I was so excited about relays they belonged to Fibaro. But unlike Fibaro’s relays, Shelly’s are all WiFi-based. Some of them are also UL-certified, and for those of y’all who, like me, worry that your DIY wiring might spark an electrical fire, some of the relays have a sensor included that monitors for sparks and excessive electrical loads.
Shelly also makes plug-and-play devices including light bulbs, several sensors, a smart outlet, and a few more odds and ends (my favorite is a UV-C air purifier). Shelly’s products integrate with Alexa, Google, and several open source hubs, such as Hubitat and OpenHAB. And of course, there’s the upcoming Home Assistant integration.
You can also control the devices using Shelly’s software, which is pretty sophisticated as it features scheduling, actions, and even sunrise/sunset triggers. If you are a hardcore local network aficionado, you could even use MQTT to communicate with Shelly devices on your network. From there, you could use software such as Node-RED to design your own routines.
The products and software are incredibly powerful, but they are also mostly DIY. Many of my readers aren’t shy about experimenting with relays in their walls, but the average consumer isn’t going to want to set up a home MQTT server and get out their wire strippers. So while Shelly’s plug-and-play options aren’t a fit for those users, I view them primarily as a way to round out the existing ecosystem of products for the hardcore Shelly users. Heck, I watched a video that showed someone rewiring a lamp to place a Shelly relay in the base so it would dim. That’s hardcore, given that a smart bulb would have worked just as well.
Still, the relays will solve a lot of problems for smart home nerds. In a conversation with CTO Doug Roberson, he shared how he uses the Shelly relay to track when his washing machine finishes (a common podcast listener request). He uses the relay to monitor the power consumption of the washer; when it goes above 5 watts for a while and then falls back below 5 watts for a subsequent few minutes, it knows the wash is done and sends a notification.
Allterco is working with the DIY community, but it is also working with the CEDIA channel of smart home professional installers. So expect to hear and see more of the Shelly brand next year.
Updated: This story was updated from the version that ran in the newsletter to reflect that Shelly’s integration is with Home Assistant, not Homebridge.