Aqara products - should I use them

Aqara products have been mentioned in the HomeKit Check-In podcast.

Aqara has a lot of amazing products, I am actually thinking of Aqara Magic Switch S1E, if and when I can get my hands on it

However , when I drilled deeper into the company background, I found that the HQ is in ShenZhen, China. I am not saying it is a bad company. I believe they are related to Xiaomi that produce a lot of mobile phones and other electronic products and are distributed widely.

However, I am very careful to select products that form part of my home network infrastructure. I know that I can probably do something to harden the security, like setting up vlan, etc., but still it is a risk.

I also mentioned cybersecurity risk in general for IOTs in this post

Am I over paranoid about these issues?


I’ve been slow to adopt any IOT platform for more or less the same reason.

The perfect combination of low price, ample features, platform compatibility and preferred country of origin … doesn’t seem to exist just yet.

Edit: One thing I discovered is that at least some of the mesh wireless networks let you limit the degree to which HomeKit devices can phone home. That might help allay some of your concerns.


I think/hope I prevent “calling back home” by pairing my Aqara (Zigbee) sensors with my Homey instead of an Aqara hub.

I think that is a good call but seems not cheap. Seems this provides future proofing and a lot more flexibility. @rob , I guess you are using the standard Homey and not the pro version?

I guess you are using the standard Homey and not the pro version?

I indeed have a standard Homey, which works fine so far.

They very recently introduced their new (2023) Pro model, which will be available at the end of the year via an Early Access program, but I don’t think I need that (yet).

glad to know that the standard version suffice, the pro version is almost 6 times in cost , apart from more powerful processing, I think the additional features are thread and matter , not sure that worth the additonal cost

I have been using Aqara for a while now and find them exceptionally stable. That said, I don’t use the Aqara app and put everything straight into HomeKit. Maybe it doesn’t make a difference, but made me feel better LOL. :smiley:

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How do you add these (Zigbee) devices “straight into” HomeKit?

Don’t you need Aqara’s hub, an Athom Homey, or something similar in between?

I use a lot of these sensors and items on a Home Assistant install. It’s replaced my Hue hub for the most part and adds a lot more functionality, and it can prevent some of these sensors calling home, as they’re controlled using Home Assistant rather than their in built app which you have no control over.

Yeah, I have the E1 small hub added to HomeKit and just scan the QR for the devices.

This YouTube video offers a great overview of Aqara’s products.

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Wouldn’t that be the one “calling home”?

Or does E stand for Europe with special legislation?

Um… maybe we can identify the use cases that China’s “Super Surveilance Force” might actually care about?

Because barring that I don’t see an issue here.

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I don’t think that is what the E stands for? Sensors connect through the hub and hub connects to HomeKit.

Aqara E1 Hub

Correct. It’s not like other governments aren’t surveilling their citizens. Apple’s products are made in Shenzen, China however you use them.

In any case I use my own Zigbee stick and Home Assistant; I rarely open the apps for these devices. The paranoia over Chinese owned IOT devices is telling, because backdoors can be put in any device, Chinese or otherwise.

I wonder if other countries are worried about backdoors into IOT devices created in the West…

I think the issue is not where the products are made. It is which companies are managing the products and whether they are genuine about security and privavcy or just a marketing ploy. As I said, there are great products made in and by China. I personally admire the innovative approach of the Aqara products, like the Aqara Magic Switch S1E

follow on earlier post,

I like Aqara products but try to avoid using their hubs (cybersecurity concerns). Just wondering whether it is possible or how to connect their sensors to 3rd party hubs like the Ikea Dirigera Hub or other zigbee hubs. I placed order for HA skyconnect but has not been delivered yet and the Ikea hub is already in operation. I also have a Philips Hue bridge but guess this is an unlike option

That are Zigbee products, but don’t technically follow the Zigbee protocol from what I can gather - unfortunately, it’s the same with most of the Xiaomoi based devices. This is the information I’ve taken from my research on them.

Therefore, I wouldn’t imagine that whilst the Hue and Ikea bridges are Zigbee based, they won’t pair and work with them.

I run Zigbee2MQTT on my Home Assistant and it appears that there is a “template” that the hub needs to know to understand the messages that it’s getting from the device.

I have the Sonoff Zigbee USB, and this works perfectly with almost everything I’ve thrown at it - this, running Home Assistant and Zigbee2MQTT should work with the following Aqara products, based on their website. This tells you what is exposed to the Home Assistant install as well.

In terms of security etc, I’ve recently purchased, but need some time to install it, a TP-Link Omada router, so I can move to VLAN’s at home to help separate my IOT devices from my main network. My router supports VLAN’s for WiFi, so I should be able to split off all my devices on to different networks going forwards.

thanks, this is very helpful indeed. I have ordered the HA’s skyconnect, but have not been delivered yet. Eagerly waiting to set that up. Hope they are as good as the Sonoff Zigbee USB.

I have been interested to do that as well, but I do not know enough how the VLAN could affect access to my main devices (iPhone, iPad, Google Home Hub, etc). I hope I do not have to switch wifi SSID to gain access to the VLAN. This is something that I need to know more.

Any other suggestions welcome from anyone