How are you using HomeKit? I'll go first!

A topic that doesn’t seem to get discussed much here (at least lately) is how people are using HomeKit. We’re a few years in now and it seems progress is being made with recent developments like Thread and Matter support. So, who’s using it and how? Anyone want to describe their set-up?

A few questions I’m personally interested in…

  1. How do you tend to interact with devices: Touch or Siri?
  2. Are you using a thread hub/devices and if so do you notice an improvement?
  3. Any favorite devices that seem more reliable?
  4. Any particularly good deals you’ve found on devices/brands?
  5. Any particularly unreliable devices/brands?
  6. Any favorite automations/automation scenarios?
  7. Tips/methods for managing device codes?
  8. Any particular problems or troubleshooting tips that might be helpful for others?

I live in a “tiny house” which means my needs are generally simpler. I’ve got an AppleTV HD (4th generation, the 1st to support HomeKit) and two HomePods, all set-up as hubs. So, no Thread support yet and also no Thread devices.

Two of my goals in setting up was keeping cost as low as possible and also avoiding adding any hubs. I ruled out the Phillips system right off for both of those reasons.

I’ve got 5 light bulbs. 4 of those are VOCOlinc multi-color bulbs and one a Bluetooth only Sylvania bulb, dimmable but not multi-color. All of these were the most affordable I could find, all from Amazon for around $20 each.

I’ve got 2 Wemo plugs, 3 iHome plugs and 2 from Koogeek powering:

  • String lights on my porch
  • String lights in my cabin
  • Dumb electric oil radiator style heater in my cabin
  • Dumb electric oil radiator style heater in my detached well house
  • 2 fans
  • Dumb coffee maker

My network consists of an AirPort Extreme (in my cabin) and an AirPort Express (in the well house, 150 feet away). Both of these are located near windows as the signal barely reaches.

Last, 2 iHome 5-in-1 Smart Monitors. One of these is in my cabin, the other in my well house.

Troubleshooting has usually involved the Smart Monitors which are the first devices to act up. Of the plugs, the iHome and Koogeek have also been somewhat unreliable. The Wemo have been the best of the plugs in terms of remaining connected. Also, the HomePods frequently ask me to re-enter my account information.

The well house distance sometimes proves to be a problem as the Wi-Fi signal is weak. The Airport Express is set to extend network and generally works pretty well to keep the iHome plug/heater and the iHome monitor connected. I sometimes have to restart these to reconnect them. I’ve got an automation set-up which turns the heater on when the monitor dips to 30° F then turn back off when it reaches 38° F. I do the same with my heater in the cabin but at a higher temperature. Also, in the cabin the two fans turn on to circulate the air while the heater is on.

Other automations include turning the porch string light on and off at sunset/sunrise. I have a winter time scene that sets all of the interior lights to mostly white color at 100% brightness during daylight hours for my plants. I could automate this but just activate it with Siri once I’m up and ready. After dinner I use Siri to switch scenes to turn on my colorful string lights and dims the various bulbs and adds color to them.

I work from home and live in rural area so I’ve not bothered with cameras, security devices or locks as I’m home most of the time.

I use a combination of Siri and tapping the screen of whatever device I have in hand. Mostly Siri and it’s worked very well. While it’s all been pretty useful and fun, the most convenience has come with the temperature monitoring and automated heating in the well house. Not only does it make it easier to keep track of the temperature but it’s probably saved a lot of energy/money due to the more efficient heating.

Something I figured out after setting up my Home was that sometimes I need to go back and reset devices and rescan code. A pain to do from the plug or bulb. I’ve since set up an Apple Note that has name of each device and a scan/photo of the HomeKit code. Now if something get’s wonky I can re-add to my home by scanning the photo in Notes. Much easier.


I have us all in on HomeKit. Generally speaking, we have had a great experience. I just replaced the Insignia garage door opener with the Meross version and it is slap damn awesome.

I would love a smart thermostat to set my heater. As you can it see it’s from the last century - maybe some 50 years old at least.

It’s not smart.

Could I hook it up to some smart thermostat system somehow that would allow me to control it to turn on and off etc?

One of these temperature controller switches’ll work for that situation (and the far off well house). It’s not a smart solution, in the online sense, but it’ll switch on and off between a range of temps. I use them for our potting shed when we start seedlings and for converting an old chest freezer to a fridge.

There’s also these wireless sensor tags that monitor temp/humidity/soil/movement and can be hooked up to another service, like IFTTT, for automation. We use them in greenhouses.


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Cheers I’ll look into that. I’m based in Europe btw if that matters. I’m also in the market to turn my coffee machine smart by making it start brewing before i wake up in the morning. But it’s just an ordinary coffee machine plugged into an ordinary outlet, what should I go for there? Is there something maybe that works well with the thermostat as well?

Eve has some nice looking devices that may help you out (I’m guessing they should fit your Danish thermostat): Eve Thermo |

This might work for your radiator and perhaps this for your coffee machine (though I’d be cautious about automating that in case I forgot to set it and ran dry). Not as fun, expensive, or pretty as smart things, though.

You could add this to the radiator to “smarten it up”

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Thanks any recommendations for the dumb coffee maker?

Does it have a mechanical on-switch? This way you can add a smart plug to start the process by powering on the device at a certain time, or when you push the tile in Homekit (or via shortcuts automation)
(f.e. hue or aqara smart plugs tie in with Homekit)


Does it tie in with HomeKit as well?

that would work, if you have a homekit enabled plug.
I have my coffee machine plugged into an Aqara smart plug, and every morning during the week at 7am it powers up, and I have coffee at 7:15 :slight_smile: (weekends it’s 9 and 9:15)

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I have added a switchBot switch to mine. You can get a Homebridge plugging to add it to HomeKit

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Can someone recommend a good HomeKit smart plug? This seems an appropriate thread to ask. I was thinking just yesterday that I’d like my window fan on an automatic schedule.

Of the 3 brands I’ve tried: iHome, Koogeek and Wemo, I’m finding the Wemo is the most trustworthy. They currently have a sale if you purchase from their website. A single plug with sale discount is around $16, a 3 pack on sale is around $37. I’ve got 4 of those and have had no issues. A nice benefit is that they only take up 1 plug space (vertically) so in a standard 2 plug outlet you can still use the other outlet.

After a couple years use I’m finding that the iHome and Koogeek plugs are virtually unusable in that they will not stay connected, giving the “No Response” error most of the time. Initially they did not have this problem. I’m not sure if it is to be expected that these plugs have a short lifespan but at the price I’d hope to get more than 2 years out of them!

2nd vote for WEMO plugs here!

Indoors we use 3 iHome and 8 WEMO plugs (Holiday season is here) and have had good luck with both brands. The new WEMO plugs are much more reliable than the older models.

Outdoors we have a Meross plug on the front porch, iDevices plug on the covered deck and a RING plug out back running the pump for a small water feature. All of them allow you to control either outlet separately and set timers for each. Just wish the RING plug was HomeKit native…

I’m using both Aqara and Hue smart plugs, no issues.
I used to work with Wemo, but a few years ago they changed something (think they required login) and then I stopped using them. Still great tech though

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Meross has been excellent for us. I’ve just started using Aqara and the devices are working great.

I just ordered 4 Refoss smart plugs off of Amazon yesterday for $42. I have several other HomeKit controlled devices but this is my first foray into smart plugs. For what it is worth they are reasonably well rated (for what that is worth) and at a bit more than $10 each it is low risk. Doing this simply because I want a smart plug to control my Christmas tree lights. They arrive today and I’ll report back on how well they work.

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