Getting Started with SwitchBot: Making Smart Home Automation Accessible

SwitchBot is an affordable smart home brand that is starting to make a name for itself in the world of IoT home automation. The company’s vision is quite simple: take “dumb” conventional household items and make them smarter using a SwitchBot product.

Considering the cost-effective nature of SwitchBot’s products should pique your interest. The brand makes clean, minimalist gadgets like smart security cameras and mechanical switches that support a wide variety of smart assistants and ecosystems. SwitchBot devices are compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT and Clova.

The concept of a smart accessory performing manual functions is exciting to say the least. I felt especially intrigued because many of SwitchBot’s gadgets convert your “dumb” objects like curtain rods and physical switches into smart objects that you can control with your choice of voice assistant or an app on your phone. You don’t have to throw away or replace light fixtures around your house, which has been my dream for a long time. Let’s see if SwitchBot helped me achieve these dreams with its wide range of cheap smart home products.

Upgrade your home with SwitchBot

SwitchBot Bot smart switch attached to a manual wall switch

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi/Android Central)

SwitchBot sent me a set of matching products to create a smart home setup and test it. While you don’t necessarily need a hub to use everything, some features can’t be unlocked until you have one from the brand. Luckily, you can choose between the full variant or the tiny (and incredibly cheap) SwitchBot Hub Mini.

I received the Hub Mini, and it didn’t take anything away from my home automation experience. Here’s the full list of all the other SwitchBot items I tested over the course of two months:

  • SwitchBot Mini-Hub
  • Bot SwitchBot
  • SwitchBot remote control
  • SwitchBot color bulb
  • SwitchBot Pan/Tilt Camera
  • SwitchBot Motion Sensor
  • SwitchBot touch sensor
  • SwitchBot Plus Counter

SwitchBot also offers other products that deserve your attention in addition to those listed above. If I had to name the most interesting products that I haven’t had the opportunity to try, I would say that the SwitchBot Curtain and the SwitchBot Lock are the most interesting of the lot.

The first step in assembling your own smart home is the setup and installation process. With all of this, I found it incredibly simple and straightforward to hook everything up. SwitchBot includes everything you might need in the box including cables, 3M adhesives, adapters, screws and plates if needed. At such competitive prices, the inclusion of extras like these just makes the deal that much sweeter.

Since SwitchBot’s gadgets feature a simple design language and generally compact form factors, you don’t need a lot of space for these accessories, and they blend in well with the background.

Connecting everything is really fast and seamless, without any confusing steps. After installing the SwitchBot app, just follow the on-screen instructions to set up your device, or you can follow the included manual. The whole process is extremely user-friendly. For context, I managed to get the SwitchBot Bot up and running in less than five minutes!

SwitchBot Smart Hub Mini on a table

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi/Android Central)

The SwitchBot Hub Mini is really tiny and extremely light. This wonderful little hub has an infrared blaster that helps you add commands to electronics controlled via infrared rays on your phone. I had a lot of fun with it, mapping the controls for my cheap no-name Chinese TV to my phone, then controlling it with the SwitchBot app instead of the bulky remote. My TV went from dumb to smart in minutes.

The Hub Mini increases your experience by connecting various SwitchBot smart home tools to each other and helping you create schedules for them. The level of detailed routines and automation you can create is amazing. You can set a condition for the SwitchBot motion sensor to trigger the color bulb or pan/tilt camera or configure the meter thermometer to press a button using the SwitchBot robot when it detects a specific temperature.

The level of detailed routines and automation you can create is amazing.

I attached the Bot to the power button of my outdated, unsmart AC and connected it to the remote. It allowed me to click the wireless button on the SwithBot remote from anywhere in the house and turn on the old AC that didn’t even come with a remote.

There’s no end to the conditions you can set, and it’s all voice controlled on top of those smart home benefits. Whether you have a Google Nest Mini or an Echo Dot, just talk to your smart assistant to control your SwitchBot smart devices.

SwittchBot manufactures many smart home gadgets, all of which are in the middle or lower price segments. Not only is the cost of acquiring these smart home accessories attractive, but they also perform very well.

Even in the face of fierce competition, many of SwitchBot’s offerings are decent alternatives to the crème de la crème. You can see detailed stats and logs about your smart home in the companion app, and the color bulb even records how much energy you’ve used and saved over time. This brilliant smart bulb has adjustable brightness and you can choose shades from a 16 million color wheel.

Then there’s the Switchbot Pan/Tilt Cam which comes in a 1080p model and a 2K variant. Many of its features are found in the best indoor security cameras. It can be mounted upside down, the pan and tilt camera has night vision, gets two-way audio communication and even rotates 360 degrees. The SwitchBot smart security camera offers local storage with an SD card slot, or you can store footage directly on your phone. It even has a privacy shutter, though it makes it look like a creepy Matryoshka doll with an eyeball for a face.

The caveats of cutting corners

SwitchBot smart home products showcasing their micro-USB ports

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi/Android Central)

Not all SwitchBot products are perfect. Of course, this is to be expected in economy products. My biggest issue with these gadgets is that they still use Micro-USB. To compensate, SwitchBot includes a cable and even a wall charger in the box.

I am appalled by Micro-USB and wish the world would let it die in peace.

However, that doesn’t make up for it being a terrible USB standard. The connectors are just awful, and micro-USB is not reversible, causing more pin damage at a faster rate over time. I am appalled by Micro-USB and wish the world would let it die in peace.

Some of the smart products aren’t great at converting every stupid post into a smart post. The SwitchBot Bot can activate almost all switches, but it cannot deactivate most of them. You need a very specific type of switch for the Bot to turn off, which defeats the purpose of getting a simple fix like this in the first place. Why replace your conventional switch with a compatible switch if you could just get a smart switch from another brand?

SwitchBot’s offers are always compelling

SwitchBot smart home products in boxes on a table

(Image credit: Namerah Saud Fatmi/Android Central)

That said, I think SwitchBot’s smart home accessories and add-ons are still worth buying. Their wide compatibility, low cost, and easy setup are enough to justify the outdated micro-USB port. Having the SwitchBot Hub or Hub Mini makes it easy to create your own routines and schedules, and you can integrate it all with your favorite smart speaker.

SwitchBot is regular with its firmware updates, and I’ve had a positive experience with customer support as well. All things considered, SwitchBot is a great place for your smart home automation needs. You won’t have to break the bank or confuse your senses with complex installation instructions.

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