The moment that Apple revealed its take on the smart home, HomeKit, way back in 2014, I knew that it was the platform that I wanted to base my entire home around. Needless to say, since then, I have spent a ton of money on HomeKit accessories. Whether it was trying to find the perfect HomeKit light switch, or being an early adopter and paying the Apple tax the first devices in a particular category like HomeKit cameras, my wallet has taken quite a beating.
With Black Friday in full swing, I am truly amazed as to how far HomeKit has come. With a thriving ecosystem of accessories, each with unique features, and of course, just how much cheaper everything is, now is truly the best time to jump into the world of HomeKit. If I were to start today, I would be all over Aqara's Smart Starter Kit, which at just $90, offers a great mix of accessories for beginners, but more importantly, it sets those new to HomeKit up for success with reliable Zigbee connectivity and expandability.
Aqara's Smart Starter Kit comes with a full suite of HomeKit accessories. In the box, you get a smart plug which makes any connected device instantly smart, a smart button that can toggle on and off accessories like the plug, a motion sensor for enabling automation possibilities, and a door and window sensor that secures your entry areas.
Also included in the Smart Starter Kit is the Aqara Hub, which ties all of the accessories into HomeKit. The Aqara Hub is the most critical piece of the puzzle as it connects to your home via Wi-Fi, but it uses the Zigbee wireless protocol for communicating with all of the Aqara accessories.
Zigbee offers better reliability and faster response times versus other low-power connectivity methods like Bluetooth, and with mesh networking capabilities, it allows for far better range. More importantly, though, it keeps your home Wi-Fi from becoming bogged down with a bunch of accessories.
In addition to acting as the command center for all of Aqara's accessories, the hub also works as an alarm with an integrated siren and LED light. Through automation, you can set the hub to play a sound when the door and window sensor opens at night, or you can use the onboard LED as an indicator for things such as temperature conditions.
Room to grow
Another important factor to consider when beginning your HomeKit deployment is the costs associated with future purchases. Aqara's line of HomeKit products are some of the cheapest around, with many being half the next closest competitor's price.
For example, if you plan to use HomeKit for things such as detecting water leaks, Aqara's Water Leak Sensor retails typically for less than $20. With the category being somewhat niche, there are only two other HomeKit options available, with Fibaro's Flood Sensor being the closest in price at $50. During special shopping events like Black Friday, Aqara's sensors are even cheaper, with the Water Leak Sensor currently down to just $14.
Finally, since Aqara relies on Zigbee for connectivity, it can offer unique accessory options like the only HomeKit vibration sensor on the market. Aqara's line of light switches includes a traditional single button that controls a single light fixture and a double switch that gives you more in the same amount of space. Aqara also offers a light switch variant that does not require the presence of a neutral wire in your electrical boxes, which is huge for older homes, and it is only the second HomeKit switch of its kind.
Start it off right
If you are looking to begin your HomeKit journey, then I whole-heartedly recommend starting with a system like the Aqara Smart Starter Kit. Not only are you getting all of the essentials at an excellent price, but you will also be getting rock-solid reliability, fast response times, and significant expansion potential with Zigbee. I wish that I could have begun with a complete system like Aqara's — it would have saved me a whole lot of time, frustration, and of course, money.
Looking for more HomeKit Black Friday deals or just want to see what other crazy deals are out there? Be sure to check out our guide to the best Black Friday deals available now, as well as our Best Apple Black Friday deals roundup.
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