|At a Glance|
|Product||Securifi Almond + Home Automation [Website]|
|Summary||Wireless router easily connects to ZigBee H.A. devices, but what you can do with them is a work in progress|
|Pros||• ZigBee devices are very easy to link to network
• ZigBee/Z-Wave devices are added via the touch screen interface
• Android/iOS apps
• Wide range of available ZigBee/Z-Wave compatible devices
|Cons||• No instruction manual
• HA features require internet connection
• Notifications are only available via in-app notification - no email/text options
• Notifications currently only work on Android platform - iOS support planned
• No support for IFTTT
Several weeks ago I reviewed the Securifi Almond+ router. In addition to having a color touch screen interface, the Almond+ features include both ZigBee and Z-Wave radios. With support of these two popular Home Automation wireless connection methods, the Almond+ can function as an all-in-one Smart Home hub supporting both data networking and home automation control
While the original Almond+ review primarily covered basic router functions, this follow-up review focuses on the Almond+' Home Automation features. I'll be looking at how the router works with (image above, clockwise from lower right) GE's Link Smart LED bulb ($15) and Securifi's Peanut Plug (not sold separately), Window/Door sensor ($25), PIR Motion sensor ($30), Key Fob ($15) and flood sensor ($25).
Securifi provides a fairly extensive list of compatible sensors that work with the Almond+. Supported devices include LED light bulbs, tilt, motion and vibration sensors, door locks from Yale, Schlage, Vision and Kwikset and thermostats from Trane, Lowes (Iris) and others. Other ZigBee and Z-Wave products not included in the list may also work with the Almond+ if they properly support ZigBee and Z-Wave protocols. The Securifi Wiki also has a list of sensors that don't work with the Almond+.
I'll preface this section by noting that all HA features require a working internet connection. To test this, I connected my iPad to the Wi-Fi network on the Almond + router. I was able to turn the GE bulb on and off, energize and de-energize the Peanut Plug and check sensor status. I then disconnected the internet connection from the Almond+ router and could no longer control devices or read sensor status.
Setting up Home Automation devices is simple and the same for almost all devices I tested. For battery powered devices, in most cases you'll have to remove the cover from the device and install a battery. Generally, on the inside of the case you'll find a link button as well as an LED. To link the sensor, you just depress the link button for about 1 second, then tap the "Add Device" icon on the screen of the Almond+. The Almond+ will find the device, read its configuration and link to it. The touch screen confirms the link and gives you an opportunity to rename the sensor and its location.
Securifi Almond+ Add Sensor and Confirmation
If the sensor fails to link, it may have been previously linked to another device. If so, just press and hold the link button for about 10 seconds to return the sensor to factory defaults.
After adding a device, the status screen will update to show the total number of connected ZigBee and Z-Wave devices. The status screen below shows I have six ZigBee devices linked.
Securifi Almond+ Status
For the devices included in this review, only the Peanut Plug and GE bulb are controllable; the others are read-only sensors. By clicking on the "..." icon, you reveal any configurable options including renaming the sensor and the sensor location.
The user interfaces for controlling the devices is a little convoluted. Not all functions can be performed using either the web UI or the mobile apps, i.e. each UI can do things the other can't do. From both the Web UI and the mobile app UI, you can control devices and view sensor status.
On the Web UI, this is done under the Sensors tab. The screenshot below shows six linked devices using the web UI. GE bulb #1 shows the expanded option of setting the light level. One nice feature is when you change the status of a controllable device, the web UI shows the latency. Turning on or off either the Peanut Plug or the GE bulb reported latencies obetween 250 ms and 400 ms.
Securifi Almond Plus Web UI showing linked sensors
The browser interface is the only place where you can create rules and you can only do that connected to the router's LAN. If you attempt to create or modify rules remotely through your Securifi account at connect.securifi.com, you'll be informed the feature isn't available.
Creating Securifi rules is much like rule creation on IFTTT. You select a condition that must be met and then you select an action. The composite screenshot below shows the "If" selection criteria on the left and the "Then" actions on the right. Notice that in addition to time and day of week, the conditions for all sensors can be triggers. However, "Home/Away" is not a trigger condition.
You can select multiple trigger conditions, but all of them have to be satisfied for the rule to be executed. You could think of this as rules being "AND" rather than "OR". For this rule, I selected "Contact Switch Closed" as the condition. For actions, you can only choose controllable devices. In our test scenario, that's either the Peanut Plug or the GE Light. I elected to flash the GE light at 50% brightness three times in one second increments.
Securifi Almond+ Rule Creation
I created a similar rule to flash the light four times when the door switch changes to "Open". I also created one other rule to turn on the GE light at 8:00 A.M. and off at 6:00 P.M. on weekdays. Each rule can be edited and can be switched between active and inactive modes. All rules executed exactly as expected.
However, I observed one "flaky" action. With the "door switch open" rule active, I discovered that if I clicked on the home/away icon, the door switch open rule would execute and flash the light four times. If I disabled the rule, clicking on home/away didn't cause the lights to flash. The door switch closed rule didn't execute when the home/away icon was clicked. Here's the summary page for my current rules.
Securifi Almond+ Rule List
Action items, as noted, are limited to controllable devices. You can't, for example, send a text or email message based on a change in status of one of the sensors. If Securifi supported IFTTT, you could create some rules for email or text notification. Notification are currently limited to in app notifications, and are currently only available on the Android platform. In-app notifications for iOS is currently in development. Here's a screen shot example of the notification log from my Nexus 7.
Securifi Almond+ Android Notification Log
Currently, the rule creation feature is still marked beta even though the Almond+ has been on the market since sometime in 2014. I'm wondering if the Rules feature is going to have a similarly long beta cycle as the "Time" and "Weather" beta features that were introduced with the original Almond in 2013. The icons for Time and Weather are still marked "Beta" in the Almond+.