Aqara Motion sensor review
When anyone mentions cheap, china and electronics you will automatically think rubbish. However, Aqara, the smart home company has been making waves with its cheap HomeKit enabled devices and for a very good reason.
You may not have heard of Aqara and if you have not, then do not write them off just yet. Over the last couple of months I have been extensively testing several of Aqara’s devices and comparing them to some leading brands in the smart home space.
The Aqara Motion Sensor review will be the start of a series of Aqara device reviews coming out over the next month. Continue reading to find out the good and the bad of the Aqara Motion Sensor.
Aqara Motion sensor specs
Any review would not be complete without a specification list.
- Price: £10/$11 (Plus cost of Aqara Hub £30/$35)
- Battery: CR2450 (expected 2 years life)
- Wireless Protocol: Zigbee
- Smart Home platforms: HomeKit
- Dimensions: 30 × 30 × 33 mm (1.18 × 1.18 × 1.30 in.)
- Maximum Detection Distance: 7 meters
- Maximum Detection Angle: 170°
- Operating Temperature: Between 10° and +45° C
- Operating Humidity: 0 and 95% RH
- What’s in the Box: Motion Sensor, 1 Stand, double sided Stickers and Quick Start Guide.
- App: Apple Home app (iOS 10.3 or later), Aqara Home app
Aqara Motion sensor in pictures
Aqara is going with the plain and simple box, similar to Apple packaging. While most won’t notice details of a box, it’s nice to see and appreciate when a company puts time and effort into the packaging.
Inside the box you get the Aqara motion sensor, an adjustable stand, welcome card, double sided sticky pads and a manual.
In this box I got a manual which covers English and most European language’s. However, not all versions include this manual.
The motion sensor comes in a white colour and stands at 33mm with a width and depth of 30mm. It features a flat top with the words Aqara in grey. The front of the device you find the sensors, the first being the motion and the 2nd being the ambient light sensor. On the side of the device has a small recessed button, which is used to set up the sensor and reset.
On the base, there is a rubber circle which allows it to sit on a flat surface, if you choose not to use the supplied stand. If you turn the base of the sensor, you then get access to the battery compartment, which is a CR2450 battery.
You can use the Aqara Motion sensor without using the stand. However, if you want to mount to a wall or ceiling, then it’s best to use the stand to get the right angle.
The most striking aspect of the Aqara motion sensor is how small it is. Comparing it the Philips Hue Motion sensor, even with the stand it’s just a lot more discrete.
This small form factor will be useful if you wanted to use it for security motion sensor detection. However, in my case for this review, I used it in a downstairs toilet to trigger a light using HomeKit automation.
As this is a Zigbee device, you need the Aqara hub to make it work, and this is regardless if you plan to use with HomeKit or not. So make sure that is all plugged in and setup.
As I was using the motion sensor with the supplied stand, the first setup for me was to attach the motion sensor to the stand. You do this by using the double-sided pads to attached both parts together.
Open up the Aqara app and follow the on-screen instructions. You will promoted press the pair button on the motion sensor when prompted. As soon as it has added your device, the Aqara hub will let you know along with the on-screen message. It will then give you the option to rename the device and which room you would plan to use the motion sensor. The room list will reflect what you have set up in HomeKit.
Now you have set up the motion sensor within the app, Its now time to install the device into its location. In my case, I installed this into the downstairs toilet in a position out of the way, but would trigger the light if someone walked in.
One thing worth noting, make sure you get the placement right as the sticky pads supplied have strong glue and when I was taking it down to take more photos, it pulled the paint away from my ceiling.
Performance, range and HomeKit
As mentioned above the device gets exposed in HomeKit and this is thanks to the Aqara hubs HomeKit certification. However, other than being displayed in HomeKit, it does not do much unless you setup some automation.
I setup the Aqara motion sensor to turn on the downstairs toilet Philips Hue smart light, when the device detected motion. As with setting up any HomeKit automation you go to the automation tab in the Home App and follow the instructions.
For reference here are the settings for this automation.
- Light level – 100%
- Trigger – when it detects motion
- Time – Any
- People – Off
- Turn off after – 3 minutes – After all you need time to pee
Range and performance
While the setup was a breeze, but how did it perform when used for real? Well, Users of Zigbee devices know these are faster than Bluetooth versions and the Aqara Motion is no different. Testing it side by side with the Philips Hue Hue Motion Sensor, I found it just as responsive.
I did however find these on the sensitive side and would appear to live up to its 7 meter range claims in terms of how far away it detects motion. So in my case I had to position the sensor in the downstairs toilet, so it would not trigger the light if someone walked past and the door was open.
But when I was testing in the bathroom upstairs in a far larger space, the range and the wide angle of detection was very useful. So much so, the Philips Hue would not detect someone laid down in the bath, whereas the Aqara motion sensor did.
it’s worth noting is that Aqara does not expose the ambient light sensor to HomeKit, so you will get no light level readings via the Home App.
Aqara Motion sensor review verdict
The long and short of this review, the Aqara Motion Sensor is cheap, reliable and fast. The performance has been excellent during my testing period and I have now placed this in the bathroom because of its range and accuracy, instead of the Philips Hue, which is now in the downstairs toilet.
The only downside is that you need an Aqara hub, but you do with any Zigbee device. However, the biggest benefit here is that the cost to purchase this Aqara Motion Sensor is significantly lower than other leading smart home brands that support HomeKit.
So that’s a wrap on the Aqara Motion Sensor review. Don’t forget to subscribe to receive the latest on smart home and tech. If you have questions, then leave them below.