Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis
Internet of Things
Following the launch of the $69 Homey Bridge, the $399 Homey Pro is now available in the U.S. Stacey reviewed the lower-costing Bridge model back in March, and reported feeling mostly positive about the product. The more expensive Pro model removes most subscription fees and limitations found in the Bridge. It also adds optional ethernet connectivity for an additional $29 and the promise of future Matter support, including Matter over Thread.
Depending on the devices you have in your smart home, I see great potential in the Homey Pro, but it’s not for me. I’ll explain why shortly. First, let's cover the basics.
Homey Pro is a more powerful version of the original 2019 Homey Pro with what it claims is 3.5 times more CPU performance. The Pro also has double the storage and memory (8 GB and 2 GB, respectively) than the Bridge. And there’s a good reason for those upgrades: Unlike the Homey Bridge, which is more cloud-centric, the Homey Pro uses local control as much as possible for your smart home.
That’s good from a privacy standpoint. It also means the Homey Pro works when there's an internet outage. You can still control your devices and have your automations run provided they don’t rely on the cloud.
From a features standpoint, both models effectively do the same thing. You can add or manage devices and set up automations, and both have largely the same radios. For the U.S. model, there’s Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, infrared, Zigbee, and Z-Wave.
The more expensive Pro adds a Thread radio — 833MHz for older devices — and gets past the five-connected device limitation of the Homey Bridge. With the lower-cost Bridge it costs $2.99 a month to add more devices. The only subscription available on the Pro model is a
$1.99 $0.99 monthly fee for cloud backups if you want them.
I found the Homey Pro setup process easy, much as Stacey did with the Homey Bridge. I powered the Pro device with the included USB-C cable and charger, downloaded the Homey app on my phone, and answered a few basic questions. I really like how the Homey app asks how your home is set up, specifically how many floors you have as well as which rooms are on what floor. I think this is a time-saver compared to how most other smart home apps and services work.
Once I got the Homey Pro connected to my home’s wireless network (the Pro has both 2.4 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi), I started adding devices. Or rather, I tried to. Homey says it supports more than 50,000 devices, and on the surface, that sounds great. However, I was only able to get it to support about half of the devices in my smart home.
I was able to add my Lutron Caseta switches, Philips Hue bulbs, and Sonos speakers, for example. But Homey fell short with my Schlage door lock, Ecobee Thermostat, Nanoleaf bulb and light strip, Govee electric kettle, Wyze cameras, Eve Home devices, Logitech video doorbell, and all of my smart plugs. I can forgive Homey on the smart plugs as most of the ones in my home are Matter-certified and Matter support isn’t yet in the Homey Pro, although it’s expected to be later this year. (Update: A Homey representative reached out to us to say that if a Matter device works over WiFi, it should be possible to add it. All of my Matter devices use Thread, which explains, for example, why my smart plugs did not work.)
The rest of the devices? While many of the brands I own appear in the Homey app, the specific devices I own from those brands do not.
Take Nanoleaf, for example. All of the non-traditionally shaped Nanoleaf lights show up; the triangles, hexagons, and lines are there. The regular Nanoleaf bulb and smart lights, though? Nope. Again, that could be a Matter problem, as they support the new standard. But not even the older Nanoleaf Essentials are available in the Homey app. The same goes for my Meross Garage Door opener.
My Schlage Encode Wi-Fi lock does appear in the Homey app. Unfortunately, when I follow the process to add the lock and sign in with my Schlage credentials, the Homey Bridge says, “No devices found.” I got farther with our Govee Wi-Fi kettle, but instead of “no devices found,” the Govee integration returned an error message.
My one non-Matter smart plug is a Cync by GE product. There’s no integration for that product line in Homey yet. And although Ecobee is a supported Homey brand, the only compatible devices in the app are the Ecobee 3 Lite and Ecobee Room Sensor. I have the Ecobee Thermostat Premium and a newer sensor, so it’s a no-go for Homey Pro there, either. Note that I long ago moved away from most Zigbee and all Z-Wave devices. If you have these, you may have better luck with the Pro.
I’ll reiterate that these specific integration challenges are based on the devices in my home. And I get that. However, I have to note what works and what doesn’t so you can make a smart buying decision based on the devices in your home. I looked on the Homey website to see a list of product integrations but didn’t find one. (Update: The integrations are found under this link, titled “Apps”) So your best bet is to download the free Homey app and search for your devices before considering the purchase of a Bridge or a Pro. And I should point out that my supported devices reacted nearly instantly when controlling them with Homey.
As noted on the API key support page, though, these are for “hobbyists and developers to create integrations.” I like the offering, but most mainstream consumers will never use this functionality or even be aware of it.
Having said all that, let’s get to the good news. The Homey app, which you use to control and view devices, is great. It’s more modern-looking than most competing apps and it exposes both basic and advanced features. I like how simple it is to add devices to rooms or floors, for example, although I wish this could be done during device integration. I had to go back into the settings of each device to assign it to a room.
I also appreciate the intuitive controls for each device. And I really like the estimated smart home energy use, which can be viewed in near real-time as well as historically.
I say “estimated” because you have to manually enter the wattage used for each device to get this feature. It takes a little more effort during the setup process, but I think it’s better than not having any energy management. And Homey Pro adjusts energy usage based on the light output, too. When I dimmed some lights to 50%, the estimated energy use numbers reflected half of the power draw. You can view the energy data in the app or on the web. If you choose the latter option, you can also view local temperatures, barometric pressures, and humidity, which is a nice touch. (Update: A Homey representative tells us that if a device can report actual electricity usage, Homey will show and use that data.)
For automations or routines, Homey uses something called Flows. Given their power, they remind me more of Home Assistant’s automations and less of the standard routines from Amazon, Apple, Google, and the like.
Flows take the form of IFTTT but use a “When…and…then” approach instead of an “If this happens, do that” one. Homey also allows for more complex logic with “else” conditions, and Flows can trigger other Flows. I set up a few Flows and they worked flawlessly. I created my Flows in the Homey app but you can also get seriously complex ones using an advanced mode in the Homey web interface. From there, you can also view or control your devices, just as you can in the mobile app.
Overall, I see the potential in a local smart home hub with just about every radio you’d want in a smart home device like Homey Pro. The market has shifted away from such devices as more smart home services became cloud-based. I like that we have a new hub with the capabilities found in the Homey Pro. And I like the overall user experience with the app for both initial setup and device additions as well as room management.
What holds me back from buying my own Homey Pro should be obvious, though. For $399, I can only use the device with half of my current connected devices. Will that change for the better over time? Probably, but there are no guarantees. For now, I’ll be sticking with my lower-cost Home Assistant setup where nearly all of my devices work.
As for you? The idea of a local, privacy-centric smart home hub may be appealing. And if it is, then Homey Pro may be the right choice. Just be sure that the devices you have, or plan to have, in your smart home are supported first.
Updated on 8/16/2023 at 11am ET with some clarifications and corrections based on communication with Homey representatives.
Filed Under: Featured, Reviews
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Check https://community.homey.app/t/homey-pro-2023-zwave-too-much-traffic-error/84036/ before buying.
RE Willy – luckily updates are made to Homey Pro's Z-Wave in the latest experimental release of v10.0.3 that should address the Z-Wave issued you mentioned.
Also, it's good to know that Homey Pro's integrations can be found over at https://homey.app/apps/. You can download the Homey app as well, but the Homey App Store has everything with quite some information.
Well, you should now I have the Homey Pro 2023 myself and the problem still persists even in the latest RC firmware. And the apps have nothing to do with it, it's a firmware issue.
Is there a reason to buy a Homey Pro over a Hubitat? It’s way more expensive and doesn’t have as many supported devices. The UI looks nicer but is that all?
I believe the homie folks have more integrations with other devices in the market, which might be a reason to go with that. But if you like hubitat, then stick with hubitat.
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Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis