Aeotec Smart Switch 6 Review – 3 years on

Aeotec Smart Switch 6 Review

9.4

Features

9.5/10

Price

9.0/10

Interoperability

9.5/10

Design

10.0/10

Ease of Use

9.0/10

What we like (Pros)

  • Design is nice and the LED energy lighting is cool
  • Fits well in to plugs and crowded busy power strips
  • USB charging port on the side is smart
  • Built-in surge protection a bonus

What we like less (Cons)

  • None at this price for the features.

The Aeotec Smart Switch 6 is made by Aeotec, formally called Aeon Labs, so it is also referred to as the Aeon Labs Smart Switch 6 sometimes.

This review of the Aetoec Smart Switch 6 (ZW096) is something I’m writing after owning these switches for 3+ years, so the opinions below come after putting these Z-Wave switches through their full paces. I think it’s fair to say I’ve reset, updated, moved and used these plugs enough to know how they perform.

I have three of these Z-Wave smart switches and consider them to be a staple of my Home Automation set up. I have them integrated with my abode home security system and they work great.

I have the abode security system – gen 1 which is Z-Wave, not Z-Wave Plus so I don’t get to utilize the full range and power of these smart switches. These switches are Z-Wave plus and bursting with very cool features which I’ll run through below.

Aeotec Smart Switch Features

Design and Looks

I believe, after purveying the landscape of smart switches, that the Aeotec Smart Switch 6 is one of the best looking smart switches on the market. The form factor is really nice and it fits well into switches, even crowded switches and power boards/power strips.

The square shape suits our interior decorating approach with minimalist angles and shapes. The white finish doesn’t look cheap, rather a nice finish to it.

The switch has a USB port on the side also. This means not only can you power a device from the plug but you can also charge a phone or power anything else that can be powered off a USB plug. It’s aimed at smartphones and tablets but works for anything needing 1.5A or less.

Z-Wave Plus

The Aeotec Smart Switch 6 is Z-Wave plus certified (Z-Wave certification number: ZC10-15050012 is that is important to you.) so that essentially means increased bandwidth and range.

Pairing & Resetting the Aeotec Smart Switch 6

Pairing the smart switch is straight forward. When you plug in the plug the plug’s outer LED ring will change/cycle through all its pretty colours. This means it isn’t paired. Then you:

  1. Put your home automation hub into Z-Wave pairing mode
  2. Switch on the switch – if it pairs it will flash green twice and then stop flashing
  3. If it doesn’t manage to pair it will flash red a few times and then go back to cycling through pretty colours. Try again.

Resetting the Aeotec Smart switch is just a matter of pressing and holding the button on the front for 20 seconds. It will flash and do all sorts of lighting things but at the end of that, it will return to the state of cycling through all the pretty colours again.

Power features with lighting indicator

The Smart Switch 6 has an LED strip built-in on the front which can handle 16 million colours. The cool part of this is that it can indicate how much power is being used by the device plugged into it. Red is the highest power usage colour and Green is the lowest by default.

You can turn this feature off, but it’s nice. You can have:

  • No colours
  • 2 colours – on and off
  • 16 million colours – which will change based on the amount of power being consumed by the device plugged into the switch.

Compatible gateways and Hubs

As a Z-Wave smart switch, it is compatible with a huge range of hubs out of the box. You can also integrate it with Home Assistant, OpenHAB and other open source community systems.

I’ve used the Aeotec with Home Assistant and it gives some great energy use and power consumption reports. Abode doesn’t offer these reports but it’s a home security system more than anything so that’s fine.

Here are the hubs and Z-Wave gateways that are compatible, but as mentioned it should work with pretty much all of them.

  • Control4
  • Fibaro
  • SmartThings
  • Vera
  • Abode
  • Home Assistant
  • openHAB
  • Webee
  • Wink-hub
  • Zipabox
  • Open Z-Wave
  • Oomi
  • Jeedom
  • Indigo 7,
  • InControl
  • HomeSeer
  • eedomus
  • Universal Devices ISY994Zw

You can also do some cool things with IFTTT via your hubs and the Aeotec switch.

Aeotec Smart Switch 6 Specifications

  • Z-Wave Plus (Also Z-Wave backwards compatible).
  • 15 Amps (USA). Amps vary for other country plug formats – 10-15 Amps.
  • Comes in all international plug formats (AU/NZ/Brazil/EU/UK/USA)
  • Comes in 110v and 220/240v versions based on the country plug configuration.

Aeotec Smart Switch 6 Features

  • Acts as Z-Wave repeater and range extender (not as powerful as the Aeotec range extender 6)
  • Built-in power surge protection
  • Energy consumption via LED lighting strip
  • Schedule on/off times
  • USB side port for charging mobile devices

What can I do with the Aeotec Smart Switch 6?

Here are some examples of how I am using the plugs

  • Lights – schedule lights on and off – I have the lounge light turn on at sunset via IFTTT and Abode. Sun goes down and the Aetoec Smart Switch 6 turns on.
  • Devices – We have a dehumidifier plugged into the smart switch in the same room as our Piano. We have a moisture sensor also in the same room connected to the abode security hub. If the humidity goes above a certain percentage, abode turns the switch on for the dehumidifier and when it drops below a certain percentage it turns the dehumidifier switch off again.
  • Fish tank light. I have our fish tank light plugged into the Smart switch and it turns on in the morning and off at night. I can also say ‘Alexa, turn on (or off) the Fish Tank Light’ and it works great.
  • Heaters – In winter we plug our heaters into the smart switches and then we can do one of many things:
    • Time them to come on and off during the day.
    • Set them to turn off if the abode alarm is set to away.
    • Turn them on from our phones if we are coming home and want to heat the house early.
    • Say ‘Alexa, turn on the bedroom heater’ a few minutes before bed so the bedroom is warm.
    • Set a temperature sensor from abode to control the on and off of the smart switch (heater) based on the temperature of the room.

Warranty, Support and one weak switch

So, of the 3 switches I have, 1 was fine and while it still works it lost some signal strength along the way. It could be from repeated moving around, resetting and giving it a hard time.

I can’t figure it out and neither can the support team at Aeon Labs. These things come with a 1-year warranty, my first one is over 3 years old and going strong. Two others are younger, more like 2.5-3 years old and only one of them has lost signal.

This is quite binary hardware, so the issue I have had is quite odd and seems a first for Aeotec.

I will say here that the support from Aeon Labs is great. It’s usually Chris that replies and he does all he can to make things work for you. I give them a solid B+ for great service. Only missing out on an A as I think they should offer replacement units to customers direct for purchase, with a small discount…but they don’t.

My plan to fix this ‘weak but not broken’ switch is to get a couple of the Aeotec Range Extender 6 units. These are Z-Wave plus extenders which should do the trick to support my Z-Wave devices reaching up and down the house.

Anyway, back to the funny switch. The odd switch I have works, it’s just lost some of its range. If it’s close to another unit then it’s fine, or if it’s close to the abode hub it’s fine. It just can’t reach (or respond) as well if it’s too far away.

Limitations Z-Wave and Z-Wave Plus (and z-wave range extenders)

It’s important to note here that if you have any devices on your Home Automation Z-Wave Plus network that is Z-Wave and NOT Z-Wave Plus it will force your hub and system to operate as a Z-Wave network and NOT use Z-Wave Plus functionality.

That’s the first important note.

The second important note is just getting a z-wave range extender to get the signal to your z-wave smart switches might work but your switch has to get its response signal back to the hub to report in. It looks a bit like this:

Outbound communication: Hub talks to Range Extender > Range Extender talks to Switch as it can reach a long way.

Inbound Communication: Switch then responds to Range Extender…but can’t reach…so the switch status can’t be reported and is deemed out of reach.

So, if you have a Z-Wave Plus network, with only Z-Wave Plus devices then you might be fine. But if you’re having connection issues on a limited network then you might want to consider extenders.

Note that this isn’t a fault, or specific to this post. It is just the reality of any Z-Wave network.

Example being, if I can shout louder than you in a noisy bar then you will hear me at a distance but I might not hear you if you have less vocal oomph.

The art of Z-Wave network connectivity

Why you might need two Z-Wave range extenders not one on a Z-Wave network

So – the point of the above section is to say this: If you have Z-Wave switches, or devices, on the edge of your range a range extender will get signal from your hub down to the device but you might also need a device closer to the outer devices so that it can boost the signal back to the first range extender.

Because range extenders like the Aeotec Range Extender 6 are more powerful than most devices it’s easier to pay the money to have two extenders talking to each other, throwing long and powerful signals and then have devices around them.

It will give you good results. Trust me.

Firmware Updates for the Switch

Firmware updates are possible with the Aetoec Switch 6. Some gateways support this but mine doesn’t. So, I went all out and bought the Aeotec Z-Stick Gen5 so I could do two things:

1: Build a Rasberry Pi Home Assistant computer and use the Z-Wave stick to try out Z-Wave Plus on my home network

2: Do firmware updates on my 3 smart switches and my Aeotec Garage Door Opener.

If I’m honest, it works fine but it’s a faff to have to use the stick. In my ideal world, the stick would have a simpler firmware update path. I had to unpair all the devices, update them, and then repair them to the abode hub. Not ideal, but it works.

About Aeotec

Aetoec, formerly Aeon Labs, is a funny name and one might assume it’s a name from an exotic country. It was actually founded in 2006 in San Francisco.

They have offices in London & Hong Kong. Like most, all Home Automation device makers the devices are manufactured in China.

Summary

I wrote this much about the Aeotec Smart Switch 6 because having owned them for 3 years I think they are great.

The examples of use I have given above are the main uses I have for them now but there are so many options. We had our kettle plugged into one and set it up to turn on to boil the jug for Tea in the morning but that just seemed silly, so we stopped that.

You could also use them to control device time for kids and switch off things like games consoles and TV’s.

So many more options.

Can’t recommend them enough for looks, design and well thought out energy use features.

You can see pricing and more information here.

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