24 May 2017

REVIEW: Devolo Home Control

Easy-as-pie home automation.

If you've decided to make your home smart, but have been somewhat bewildered by all the options and ways in which to make it happen, calm down. There is a simpler solution to automating your home, and one that that won't break the bank (not all in one go, that is). We check out the modular home automation system that is Devolo Home Control.

Devolo usually feature on this site with networking tools and gadgets, so we were already confident they knew a thing or two about connecting things. What we weren't expecting was the sheer amount of 'stuff' they threw our way, as a package containing ten products arrived at Test Pit Towers. You see, Devolo Home Control isn't just a single product that lives in one box, but a collection of different things which all service different purposes. To complete your system the way you want it, you merely buy the bits you need. Makes sense.

The Devolo Home Control system revolves around the Starter Pack which contains the main base unit, a smart metering plug, and a window/door contact. The set is the best way to get started, as it covers all the main bases; connectivity, security and energy use. But... you don't need the kit to get started, as the base unit is also available separately. So, if you're only looking for a smart home system for safety, you can buy the base unit and also maybe the connected smoke detector. However, if you're mad keen to improve security, you could buy the base unit, a couple of window/door sensors, and maybe even the connected siren. You build what you need.

We were lucky enough to get the entire kit, and because everything either plugs into a wall socket or clips onto a radiator, it was by far the easiest smart install we've ever done. There is no need to get an engineer out (as there was with the Hive), nor did we have to do any re-wiring or knocking through walls. The Devolo Home Control is designed to be modular and, for the most part, powered by batteries.

Our bundle of smart home joy contained... the Home Control starter pack, an extra window/door sensor, a smoke detector, a moisture detector, a handy control key-fob, a motion control sensor, a room thermostat, a radiator temperature controller, an energy metering plug, and a pretty awesome control switch. 

The key thing to mention about all of these things is that they are Z-Wave components. We've written about Z-Wave in the past when reviewing the Piper, but essentially it means they are compatible with lots of other wireless automation systems. This adds an even greater degree of flexibility as the Devolo Home Control units can therefore be used with your existing smart home system - if it is Z-Wave compatible too. So, if you have something like the Piper set up already, you could add the likes of the moisture detector - something that we've yet to see a Z-Wave system possess.

But if you're coming to the smart home game completely green, you're well catered for by Devolo themselves. The accompanying Devolo Home Control app (iOS and Android, as you might have expected) is clean, minimal, and easy to use. It is a simple case of adding the separate components of your system to the app, and then setting the parameters of how each works (such as what happens when motion is detected, or what happens when you hit the control switch). Even if you've never set up a system like this, doing so with the Devolo Home Control app is a breeze.

We've had the benefit of trying the lot, in one go, but building up a system like this over time will spread the cost of creating a smart home - which is never going to be a cheap endeavour. After using everything we'd offer the suggestion of definitely snapping up the starter kit first, and not just because it has the word starter in the title. The combo of the base unit, meter plug, and door/window contact not only turns out a lot cheaper than getting each separately, but it also ticks the most boxes in terms of practicality in one go. Stick the sensor on your home's most at-risk point of entry, and you'll receive huge peace of mind when you're not there. Plug in the metering plug, and you can keep an eye on your energy use in real time, allowing you to kill a few appliances in order to save the dosh. Good combo.

After that, get what you need. Obviously a smoke detector is a home essentially, and just like the Nest Protect we reviewed a couple of years ago, being able to get alerts and warnings while you're away from home is fantastic (and this one is a lot cheaper than Nest's efforts), so we heartily recommend that. The door/window contact sensors are relatively inexpensive, too, so buying a couple more of those will improve your home's security ten-fold. Other than that, get what you want.

The Devolo Home Control is a flexible and versatile system that uses well-established wireless compatibility to open up the idea of what a smart home can do.

Check out the whole range at www.amazon.co.uk

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