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Smart home on a budget: The great Aqara gift guide

NextPit Aqara Camera Hub 3G Lens
© NextPit

Aqara has built an exciting ecosystem out of countless affordable smart home products that are not only priced easy on the pockets, but have also convinced NextPit in various reviews. In our major gift guide, we show you just which product categories and products make up Aqara's smart home ecosystem. You would be pleased to know that this ecosystem is also future-proof thanks to a special feature.

In the tables below, you can see Aqara's most important smart home products at a glance. In the corresponding paragrams, we will explain what makes each product category special. To begin, however, let's first clarify what Zigbee and the hubs are all about.

Jump to:

  1. Aqara: How the smart home system with hub works
  2. Comparison: Zigbee hubs and cameras with Zigbee hub from Aqara
  3. Comparison: Actuators from power sockets to radiator thermostats
  4. Comparison: Sensors for door and window contact to humidity and temperature
  5. Comparison: Aqara switches from wireless wall switches to smart cubes

Whether it is for you or for your loved ones: Aqara is an interesting candidate to look into when you are about to get started with your smart home. The manufacturer relies on the Zigbee standard for communication, which - just like the new Matter standard - relies on mesh networks. This has its own advantages but also disadvantages as well since no system or standard is perfect.

Aqara: How the smart home system with hub works

The advantage of a mesh network is how robust it can be and energy-saving at the same time. Wireless light switches or window contacts, for instance, can last for years on a single CR2032 coin cell. On the other hand, the wireless Zigbee standard is not compatible with WLAN or Bluetooth. To control Zigbee devices with your smartphone or Alexa voice control, you will require an interface, a so-called hub.

You can buy these hubs from Aqara either in the form of simple USB dongles or integrated into various other products. The Aqara Camera Hub G3, for example, is an extremely flexible surveillance camera with an integrated Zigbee hub. In addition, the Aqara Hub M2 comes with a speaker and also serves as a universal remote control thanks to its integrated IR blaster.

Aqara G3 Camera Hub
Aqara G3 Camera Hub: This cute surveillance camera has an integrated Zigbee 3.0 hub. / © NextPit

You can now connect numerous different devices to this hub. We've divided the solitary Aqara devices into three classes:

  • Actuators: The actuators perform selected actions such as turning devices on and off, turning the heating up and down, drawing curtains open, or feeding your pet.
  • Sensors: The sensors measure various values, which you can then use to trigger actions via the actuators. An open window, for example, triggers an alarm - or turns down the heating.
  • Switches: The switches serve as a contact point for you to switch certain actions even without a smartphone. Aqara offers classic wall switches here, but also a sophisticated cube, for example.

You can now create routines with all of these devices in the Aqara app and use them to link individual devices with certain conditions. You can even import data from outside the system, such as your location for heating control or the weather report for the blinds control.

Zigbee Hubs and cameras with Zigbee Hub from Aqara

In the following table, you can view a selection of Zigbee hubs and surveillance cameras from Aqara with an integrated Zigbee hub compared. If you want to have a fully-powered Aqara smart home, you will inevitably need one of the following devices (or another hub).

Category Hub / Speaker Hub / Camera
Device
Current price $49.99 $59.99 $69.99 $109.99
Image
Aqara M1s Gen 2
Aqara M2
Aqara Camera Hub G2H Pro
Aqara G3 Camera Hub
Sensors Light sensor None Camera (Full-HD, IR), Microphone Camera (2K, IR), microphone
Actuators RGB light, loudspeaker IR LEDs, loudspeaker IR LEDs, loudspeaker IR LEDs, loudspeaker
Special features none Also serves as a universal remote control NAS via Samba, microSD slot Gesture control
Pan & Tilt
Also serves as a universal remote control
microSD slot
Ports none Micro-USB, USB, Ethernet Micro-USB Micro-USB
Radio standards Zigbee, WLAN 802.11 b/g/n Zigbee, Bluetooth Zigbee, WLAN 802.11 b/g/n Zigbee, WLAN 802.11 b/g/n/a/ac
Hub feature yes yes yes yes
Homekit yes yes yes yes
Matter per update yes per update per update
Power supply Mains adapter power adapter Power adapter Power adapter
Battery life - - - -
Dimensions 80×80×41,5 mm 100.5×30.75 mm 82.4×56.5×50.5 mm 123.4×85.1×67.8 mm
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The two puck-shaped hubs, the M1s and M2, are more suitable to be wall-mounted to remain standing. Apart from the hub feature, they also offer a few features of their own, such as a speaker to serve as a door chime. The Hub M2 also serves as a universal remote control for TV and other compatible appliances thanks to the IR blaster.

Aqara G3 Camera Hub
The Aqara Camera Hub G3 can rotate 340 degrees on its base, which also holds the cable. / © NextPit

The two surveillance cameras with hub, on the other hand, offer many options for creating complex routines. They not only detect motion, but also individual people or even gestures. When a certain person enters the room, for example, you can set the individual temperature or open the curtains using gesture control.

One more exciting point for all those who want a future-proof smart home: Aqara provides all hubs listed here with a software update for compatibility with the new smart home standard known as Matter.

Actuators: from the socket to the radiator thermostat

With the collected data, you can switch all kinds of things at Aqara. We have selected four popular examples for you here, which you can see in the table below:

  Actuators from Aqara
Device
Image
Aqara Smart Plug
Aqara Radiator Thermostate E1
Aqara Curtain Driver E1
Aqara Smart Pet Feeder C1
Sensors On/Off Button Temperature sensor, rotary control, touch screen Brightness sensor None
Actuators None Heating valve control Motor for curtain rod or rail Feed output
Special features No Touch screen display Two versions available: for poles and for rails Power failure proof with batteries
Tank for 1.7 kg of dry food
Ports 230V plug, 230V socket None USB-C USB-A
Radio standards Zigbee Zigbee Zigbee Zigbee
Hub feature No No No No
Homekit Yes Yes Yes Yes
Matter Per update Per update Per update Per update
Power supply Mains power 2 × 1.5V AA Lithium battery USB, LR20 batteries
Battery life - 1 year 1 year Not specified
Dimensions 85×63×6.3 mm Φ57×89 mm 140.5×96×44 mm 193×193×312 mm
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The simplest example is the smart socket, which switches any device on and off - from the floor lamp to the coffee maker. Especially during the winter of 2022/2023, which would make the presence of a smart radiator thermostat most interesting in any home. Through this, you can intelligently regulate the temperature of each individual room. Thanks to the geofencing feature, the thermostat can even heat up intelligently as soon as you get close to your home.

Aqara Radiator Thermostate E1 Display
The Aqara Radiator Thermostat E1 is easy and convenient to install. / © NextPit

The Aqara Curtain Motor E1 opens and closes your curtains automatically. You can set yourself a "Netflix routine," for example, and at the touch of a button, a hub will then turn on your TV and the curtains will close. Last but not least, there's the pet feeding machine. In conjunction with a camera hub, you can always have short videos sent to you at the time the food is dispensed and see immediately whether your pets like it.

Click here to go to the Aqara store on Amazon

Sensors for door and window contact to humidity and temperature

To switch your routines in the Aqara universe, the manufacturer offers various sensors. In the following table, we show you three exciting options.

  Sensors from Aqara
Device
Image
Aqara Motion Sensor P1
Aqara Door and Window Sensor
Aqara Temperature and Humidity Sensor
Sensors PIR Motion Sensor Magnetic sensor Temperature sensor, Humidity sensor
Actuators None None None
Special features None None None
Ports None None None
Radio standards Zigbee Zigbee Zigbee
Hub feature No No No
Homekit Yes Yes Yes
Matter Per update Per update Per update
Power supply 2×CR2450 CR1632 CR2032
Battery life 5 years 2 years 2 years
Dimensions 33.1×33.1×41.6 mm 41×22×11 mm 36×36×9 mm
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The motion sensor is suitable for detecting the presence of others in rooms. You can then, for example, switch on the light in the storage room or have a video recording of the feeding machine sent to you if movement has been detected in the designated areas.

With the help of the door and window contacts, on the other hand, you can set up an alarm system - or simply turn down the radiator thermostat automatically whenever you air the room. The combined temperature and humidity sensor can also support heating control or, for example, activate a radiant heater as a frost monitor.

Click here to go to the Aqara store on Amazon

Aqara switches from wireless wall switches to smart cubes

Do you think using your smartphone to switch the light on and off is totally stupid? If so, just use a light switch. Aqara offers different types of switches here - you can find three popular examples in the following table.

  Switches / Controllers from Aqara
Device
Image
Aqara Smart Wall Switch H1
Aqara Wireless Mini Switch
Aqara Cube T1 Pro
Sensors One or two push button sensors Touch sensor Position sensor
Actuators None None None
Special features Available with and without neutral None None
Ports Terminals for wires None None
Radio standards Zigbee Zigbee Zigbee
Hub feature No No No
Homekit Yes Yes Yes
Matter Via update Via update Via update
Power supply Mains power CR2032 CR2450
Battery life - 2 years 2 years
Dimensions 85.8×86×37.55 mm 45×45×12 mm 45×45×45 mm
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With the wall switch from Aqara you simply replace your existing light switches. You can then still control the lights connected here by pressing a button, but can then also integrate them smartly into routines. Aqara offers single and double switches, optionally with and without neutral conductor. The Mini Switch from Aqara offers additional flexibility. You can stick or place this small switch anywhere you like and assign any function to it in the routines.

The cube works in a similar way, but is even more versatile. If you place the cube with a certain side up on the table, a certain routine is activated. You can also rotate the cube on the table or shake it to trigger further actions. The only challenge? You have to remember which side of the cube does what - or label it accordingly.

Click here to visit the Aqara store on Amazon

What do you think of Aqara's smart home ecosystem? Are you interested in their products or do you have another favorite in mind? We look forward to hearing your opinions and experiences in the comments!


This article is part of a collaboration between NextPit and Aqara. This collaboration has no influence on the editorial opinion of NextPit.

NextPit receives a commission for purchases made via the marked links. This has no influence on the editorial content and there are no costs for you. You can find out more about how we make money on our transparency page.
Stefan Möllenhoff

Stefan Möllenhoff

Stefan gathered his first tech journalism experiences in 2004 – and works in this field full-time since 2008. His enthusiasm for everything digital started already in the 80s with a Sharp MZ700. The smartphone enlightenment came 2002 with a Symbian IRC client for his Nokia 7650. Currently, Stefan is sometimes behind the camera, sometimes writing but mainly taking care of organisational aspects at NextPit. Leisure time consists of cooking, fitness, bouldering, running and everything that has to do with AI and the concept of a Singularity.

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