I’ve been using the original Aqara hub in my home for the better part of a year. I’ve done a complete reversal on my opinion on the use of hubs between devices and HomeKit. In my early days of using HomeKit, I preferred devices that worked on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth without using a hub. In practice, I’ve found that the devices attached to hubs are the most reliable in my HomeKit setup. I use the eufy base station in between my eufy cameras, a Philips hub to manage my entire hub setup, and then, of course, a Starling Home Hub to get my Nest products into HomeKit. I am not sure what’s the difference, but it might be the fact that these devices usually connect back to a device that’s hardwired into ethernet vs. directly over Wi-Fi. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been testing the Aqara M2 hub, and it’s a worthy addition to HomeKit.
HomeKit Weekly is a series focused on smart home accessories, automation tips and tricks, and everything to do with Apple’s smart home framework.
I tested the original hub, and I can report that the new hub is even better. One of the first things I appreciate about the new hub is the inclusion of ethernet. While I had no issues with the original hub, I prefer to wire in as many devices as possible. The new hub supports up to 128 devices (you’ll need some repeaters in the mix to reach this many), an improved speaker for sounding alarms, and USB-C for power. A wall adaptor wasn’t included in the box, but I’ve got plenty of USB-A plugs as the included cable is USB-C to USB-A. It has a new sleek design as well.
Aqara M2 specifications
As I mentioned earlier, the new hub included wired ethernet, but it also still works on Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz). It includes Bluetooth 5.0 and Zigbee 3.0. All of the Aqara products communicate over Zigbee 3.0, and I’ve been very impressed with how well they work. Aqara sells several accessories that will all be exposed inside of HomeKit as accessories you can build around.. The M2 also includes the ability to control IR devices built-in Infrared (IR) transceiver, but I wasn’t able to test this as I don’t have many of these left in my home at this point.
As I mentioned earlier, Aqara supports HomeKit through the Aqara M2, so all of your Aqara devices are exposed in HomeKit, so you can control them via Siri from iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or HomePod. You can also include them in your custom automations and scenes. If you search on Amazon for Aqara devices, you’ll find them to be priced extremely well compared to products that offer similar features. A perfect example is to compare Aqara’s water sensor to another HomeKit compatible water sensor. If you’re just getting with HomeKit, you could build a really nice setup with Aqara. I’d start with the M2 hub, water sensors under your sinks, a couple of motion sensors for trigger lights based on motion in the mornings/evenings, and then a few door sensors. The Aqara hub is exposed as a security system in the Home app, so if you aren’t looking for an entire abode system, this will be work for a budget system that doesn’t have third-party monitoring.
Wrap up on Aqara M2
Overall, the Aqara M2 hub builds on what makes the original hub great by giving it a sleeker design and wired ethernet. I’ve had great luck using all my Aqara products over the past year, and it’s the easiest way to get started with HomeKit without spending hundreds of dollars.
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