Enter the smart home: part 5 – Devolo
Shopping guideSmart home

Enter the smart home: part 5 – Devolo

Raphael Knecht
Zurich, on 20.01.2021
Translation: Patrik Stainbrook
Smart home products can automate your everyday life. And to help you navigate this jungle of providers, allow me to introduce you to the most common systems. Following Netatmo's climate expertise, it's time to turn to Devolo, the jack of all trades.

These days, monitoring your belongings to protect them isn't just paranoia, but part of any well-equipped smart home. Water or humidity sensors warn you of impending danger in an emergency. Alarm systems, door and window contacts add additional security to your home. Smart thermostats will also save you money, turning down the heating when you're away for a long time. You can even control it remotely. The optimal solution: make sure to purchase ever product including access points and repeaters from the same manufacturer to avoid compatibility problems. And Devolo has just the right products to help you along the way. Following Homematic IP, Philips Hue, tado° and Netatmo, here's how Devolo devices use smartphones to come into their own. All that and more in part five of my smart home introduction series.

Control every aspect of your house with *Netatmo**
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Control every aspect of your house with Netatmo

From network to room climate to monitoring

Devolo is a force to be reckoned with in the networking sector. Their access points, repeaters and powerline plugs are among the better devices in their respective divisions. The Devolo range brings fast Internet into almost every corner of your home. Especially if you've got poor Wi-Fi strength, an angled apartment or a multi-storey house. Extend the range of your wireless network with Devolo repeaters, powerline adapters and access points. The same applies to wired LAN networks. However, the portfolio of the German company also includes other products. Such as adapter plugs with which you can turn any device connected to a socket on or off and measure its power consumption via your cell phone – always in conjunction with the Home-Control panel. If you don't want to exclusively rely on your smartphone, Devolo offers a corresponding remote control.

Devolo's access points are among the best in their field. Image source: notebooksbilliger.de
Devolo's access points are among the best in their field. Image source: notebooksbilliger.de

Other Devolo products are moving even further into smart homes. For example, there are the two smart room thermostats – one for floor heaters and one for radiators. You can use them to write up heating routines, so you'll be warmer on winter weekends if you're home more often then than during the week. Or you can turn down the heat during a vacation to save on costs while you're out of the house. Combine that with smart shutter actuators and your shutters will automatically open as soon as the sun's up. Yet again, it'll save you money on heating. Make the process even more efficient with window and door contacts: the heating switches off as soon as you open a window or door, to ventilate, for example. But they're also good at catching burglars when used with an alarm system or siren. And finally, complete your smart security system with motion, humidity and water detectors to increase your home's quality of life.

Included in Devolo's range: window and door contacts to secure your home. Image source: loggn.de
Included in Devolo's range: window and door contacts to secure your home. Image source: loggn.de

What you'll need

For the access points, repeaters and powerline adapters, you'll need an Internet provider and its router as the starting point for your home network. Then decide how many products you want to connect and where to connect them to get wireless or wired Internet throughout your home. For the thermostat – whether radiator or wall-mounted – you'll also need the Home Control center from Devolo. Or you can use any other smart home hub that works with the Z-Wave protocol. The same applies to the smart shutter control or the dimmer. If you use a hub from the same provider for all your Devolo Smarthome products, you can be sure of unlimited compatibility throughout the system. If you work with devices from another manufacturer that supports Z-Wave, the whole thing should work as well. In this case, however, it may be that not everything always works completely error-free.

AC repeater (867Mbit/s, 300Mbit/s)
Devolo AC repeater (867Mbit/s, 300Mbit/s)
Magic 2 WiFi next Multiroom Kit (2400Mbit/s)
283.–was 319.–
Devolo Magic 2 WiFi next Multiroom Kit (2400Mbit/s)

The hazard detectors – such as motion, humidity and water detectors – also communicate with the Home Control central unit from Devolo. You can combine several devices from each detector to cover and monitor a larger area. The same applies to the home control centre. Thanks to the sensors, you can detect when water is flooding into your basement or garage early. You'll also get a notification on your smartphone when the humidity in your home is too high. Or you'll be warned as soon as someone tries to gain unauthorised access. The switch and measurement socket let you switch devices on and off via your smartphone or Devolo remote control. They're not smart by themselves but connected to a socket instead. You insert the plug in between, and presto, you can add lamps or fans to your smart home routines.

Home Control Room thermostat
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Devolo Home Control Room thermostat

Devolo has a solution for (almost) everything

The advantage of a smart home system with exclusively Devolo products is that compatibility is guaranteed. In addition, thanks to the supported Z-Wave standard, various other products can be added that also work with it. Depending on the situation, not everything may run smoothly this way. Still, thanks to the same radio standard, no major problems should arise. What also speaks for Devolo are the many different areas that are covered. From network devices to hazard detectors and flush-mounted actuators to room thermostats, you'll find everything you need to network your home and make it smarter. The design of Devolo products is simple and unobtrusive throughout no gaudy colours, extraordinary shapes or flashy lights. I like the simple black or white look.

With Devolo Smarthome, everything runs through your Home Control center. Image source: avguide.ch
With Devolo Smarthome, everything runs through your Home Control center. Image source: avguide.ch

In addition, Devolo products are quickly installed, set up and ready to use. Apart from the flush-mounted actuators for shutter control or light dimming, you don't need to unscrew or rewire anything. Just plug in the home control centre, follow a few steps in the app, add desired accessories and your smart home is ready. As the home control centre runs over Wi-Fi, you also don't lose a slot on the router. You control the whole thing either via your smartphone or via the Devolo remote control. The home control app for the smartphone is clear, simply designed and runs smoothly. It's available for both Android and iOS.

The smart Devolo app leaves nothing to be desired. Image source: Caschys Blog
The smart Devolo app leaves nothing to be desired. Image source: Caschys Blog

One disadvantage Devolo and Netatmo share are the obligatory need for a home control centre for the sensors. Or at least a hub that can handle Z-Wave technology. Some users report connection problems with the hazard detectors when the sensors are too far away from the home control centre. They find fault with the fact that the control panel has to be in the same room for everything to work smoothly. The compatibility, which I praised in the smart home section, leads to incompatibilities with some customers who use additional products from another manufacturer in their network. However, complaints like this are the exception. Any way you slice it, buyers rate Devolo products above average across all areas.

The water sensor warns you if, for example, your washing machine overflows. Image source: Devolo
The water sensor warns you if, for example, your washing machine overflows. Image source: Devolo

Possible alternatives

When it comes to thermostats, Homematic IP, Netatmo and tado° are serious contenders as well. The smart wall and radiator thermostats work similarly and are also set up almost as quickly. The only thing you can never be completely sure about is whether the radiator tops will fit your heater. But no matter which manufacturer you choose, you should always try out different attachments. Eve Room is also a possible alternative solution to the Devolo thermostat. In addition to the room climate meter, this manufacturer also offers a smart light switch, a motion detector and a smoke detector. Aside thermostats, Homematic IP also offers a wide range of products in the smart home sector. The Netatmo range is a treat, especially for climate fans and freaks who want to upgrade their homes with smart weather stations and sensors.

For the hazard and motion detectors, I again recommend Homematic IP or Netatmo as fallback options. Both manufacturers have identical or at least similar products on offer, are priced in the same range and offer the same functions to protect your belongings. If you're looking for alternatives for your shutter control or flush-mounted dimmer, Homematic IP is the right place for you. Even if I personally found the installation of Homematic IP products a bit more challenging in each case, I can highly recommend it to you. Basic knowledge of electronics is required for this, which doesn't extend to Devolo – an interesting tidbit, especially for beginners.

If you need an access point, Ubiquiti products are highly rated by digitec Galaxus customers. Alternatively, you can get Powerline adapters from TP-Link, should Devolo not come into question. And when it comes to Wi-Fi repeaters, there's nothing wrong with looking at AVM. The devices from the manufacturers just listed all offer a comparable range of functions at a similar price.

FRITZ! repeater 2400 WLAN Mesh CH (1733Mbit/s, 600Mbit/s)
AVM FRITZ! repeater 2400 WLAN Mesh CH (1733Mbit/s, 600Mbit/s)
UniFi AP AC-PRO (1300Mbit/s, 450Mbit/s)
Ubiquiti UniFi AP AC-PRO (1300Mbit/s, 450Mbit/s)

For a user-friendly and expandable smart home

If you already own Devolo access points, repeaters, or powerline adapters to bring the Internet into the farthest corners of your home, and you're toying with a smart home, I recommend sticking to the brand. The compatibility of your devices is guaranteed, and additional accessories can be added as you go along. If you've acquired a taste for smart homes and are looking to expand further, you can do so without much additional effort or in-depth knowledge thanks to the Z-Wave protocol supported by the Devolo home control centre. The Devolo app is easy to understand, runs smoothly and explains the installation step by step for each product. If you're already an advanced smart home user, use devices from different manufacturers and like to tinker with your system yourself, then I recommend the products from Homematic IP instead of Devolo. You'll also find cheaper alternatives for every smart Devolo item. However, you might have to accept a lack of compatibility, confusing apps or complicated installations. I'd therefore only recommend the cheaper solutions to experts and hobbyists.

Aside from the flush-mounted actuators, no tinkering is necessary with Devolo. Picture source: ComputerBase
Aside from the flush-mounted actuators, no tinkering is necessary with Devolo. Picture source: ComputerBase

Homematic IP offers an easy entry into the smart home universe. It's even easier to work with Philips Hue, whereby the focus here is on lighting. tado° plays to its strengths with smart heating systems with high compatibility, simple operation and long-term cost savings. Netatmo products monitor the climate, your garden, and windows or doors in and around your home. Finally, Devolo offers you an easy entry and a powerful network product range in addition to an extensive assortment.

In the next part, I'll show you what Aqara are all about. If you want to join me on my mission and don't want to miss any smart home articles, follow me by clicking on the «Follow author» button on my profile.

Image sources for the teaser: Devolo and loggn.de

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Raphael Knecht
Raphael Knecht
Senior Editor, Zurich
When I'm not stuffing my face with sweets, you'll catch me running around in the gym hall. I’m a passionate floorball player and coach. On rainy days, I tinker with my homebuilt PCs, robots or other gadgets. Music is always my trusted companion. I also enjoy tackling hilly terrain on my road bike and criss-crossing the country on my cross-country skis.

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