devlolo, a company best known for their home networking power line products has decided to jump headfirst into the Internet of Things, however is it a valiant effort or does it fall at the first hurdle?
For the past couple of months now we’ve been given the opportunity to try out the Home Control Starter Kit from devolo which comes with four products. The first is the Home Control Central Unit, the brains of the outfit; Door/Window Contact, a sensor that monitors the opening and closing of a window/door as well as the environment around it; Smart Metering Plug which you can use to wirelessly monitor any electronic item; and a Radiator Thermostat, which wirelessly controls the temperature of any radiator it’s attached to.
The kit is supposed to offer an entry point into wirelessly controlling your home, however is the kit all it’s really cracked up to be?
Out of the box, everything seemed pretty straight forward, however actually getting everything connected became more of a hassle than anything. First, connecting the Control Central Unit was an absolute pain as it required to be directly connected to a wall socket in order to create its own powerline network. With nothing more than two blinking lights to give you any warnings or notifications, this ten minute installation turned into three, maybe four hours of actually getting it to work. What’s more, the Control Central Unit is incredibly cumbersome and has no passthrough meaning you lose a plug socket in your home.
This might have been easier had we not got our own TP-Link powerline set up, however this really shouldn’t have been that much of an issue. At first I hoped that this wasn’t a hint of things to come, but boy did I underestimate this “starter kit”.
Getting the Door/Window Contact set up was the most harrowing installation as it had a complete mind of its own. At first, it seemed to pair up well, but the Control Central Unit didn’t recognise it, so it required to be reset using a tiny little lever towards the rear of the sensor, though this for some reason didn’t seem to work. It actually required fully resetting using the Control Central Unit, though again this didn’t have all of the answers. I’m not entirely sure how I got it set up in the end, but once it was all linked, I stuck it to the door frame using the sticky pads provided and left it well alone.
The only simple thing to connect was the Smart Metering Plug which required a simple press of a button. The Radiator Thermostat was also pretty simple too, though getting it to automatically secure itself to the radiator was another issue I had.
Installation was honestly the worst part of this kit and isn’t at all user friendly. I also wouldn’t consider myself an Average Joe either when it comes to tech and kit actually cased more headaches than anything. It also probably didn’t help that the portal to access the controls was actually mostly in German.
Once installed it was time to see what this kit could do, and honestly at this point it doesn’t really do a lot – unless I decide to go and purchase more devolo Home Control products, that is.
While you can set up various “Rules”, the kit doesn’t actually contain enough products to make this feature worthwhile. One example shown is that the Door/Window sensor could be used to notice that you’ve opened the window, then it’ll tell the radiator thermostat to turn the heat down. It’s definitely a good use case, but that would mean most of this kit would remain in one room.
The Door/Window sensor is actually the most useful bit of kit in this package as it not only senses when the door or window is open or closed, it also tracks light and temperature of the surrounding area allowing you to create many more Rules, however there’s one huge flaw with the devolo Home Control Starter Kit and that’s the fact that it’s a completely closed system.
We have a Tado Thermostat controlling our heating, which is fantastic, however without being able to talk to the devolo kit, there’s little we can really do to fully control our home. The devolo kit currently has no compatibility with IFTTT meaning if we also had Philips Hue, Netgear Arlo, or any other smart product, we couldn’t use the devolo Window/Door sensor to trigger any other actions.
It’s unfortunate that devolo have kept their system closed, because paired with IFTTT and other IoT products it could be a match made in heaven, however at this stage all the kit currently controls is a single lamp in our living room and the temperature of the radiator in the office. Oh, and the Door sensor tells us that our cat enters and leaves the house way too much.
While devolo are definitely on the right track to bringing a good IoT kit to the general public, it currently feels very early days and has some definite teething issues. Should these problems be rectified in the future, as well as a willingness to be open to platforms like IFTTT it’d definitely be a good starting point, but right now you’d be better off putting your money elsewhere.
I wanted to love the kit, but sadly it’s become an ubiquitous light switch ensuring our dog doesn’t get left in the dark whenever we’re not home.