More HomeKit Smart Plugs for Australia
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Finding HomeKit accessories in certain categories can be a challenge outside the US. This is generally prevalent where the device requires a mains plug as many manufacturers are focused on the larger US market and it’s 120V supply.
For Australian HomeKit users, the smart plug has been particularly scarce. Until recently the only option has been the Eve Energy from Eve Systems. 2019 saw the welcome arrival of two new options, though, the Philips Hue Smart Plug and a new offering from mobile accessory maker Cygnett. 2020 has brought yet another with the arrival of the Australian version of the Meross smart plug.
Smart device maker Meross has been going all out adding HomeKit support to a whole bunch of products lately, and we’ve now seen the newest variant of their smart plug line up get it. The MSS210 smart plug is available in all major plug formats, including Australia, and you can score multiples in discount bundles through the link above. These are a great deal as a 2 pack will cost not much more than the next cheapest model, the Cygnett.
Be aware that there is another version of the Meross plug available in AU format that DOES NOT support HomeKit, so stick with this one.
The Meross plugs are a little narrower than the Eve and Cygnett models, but almost 1cm deeper. The design is similar to the Hue plug, but the latter is considerably more compact. You still won’t get another plug in side-by-side with this, but it is just slim enough to work with power boards that have the wider spaced sockets for power adapters.
They’re pure Wifi, so no additional equipment required, and they claim to use the same chipset as Amazon’s Echo devices giving them a higher quality signal than some cheap competitors. I’ve been using these without issues for a while now and the performance and reliability has been outstanding.
You may be familiar with the name Cygnett, they’ve been makers of mobile phone accessories for some time, and can be seen prominently on the racks of stores like JB Hi-Fi. They now have a new range of smart home products tailored for the Australian/New Zealand market that support Apple’s HomeKit as well as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
The Cygnett Smart Wi-Fi Plug in this range is similar to the Eve Energy in appearance, but uses WiFi instead of Bluetooth, which means it works directly with HomeKit.
While it supports direct control through Cygnett’s own app and account, there have been a lot of complaints about the app not working well. Thankfully, it’s not required to get it working with HomeKit, just scan the QR code in the Home app and it’ll be automatically added to your WiFi network and be ready to use with Siri.
The plug itself sports an off-center design in an effort to prevent obstructing an adjacent socket. This does work to an extent, but it’s still tight and anything wider than a basic plug is going to struggle. It could afford to lose another 5mm or so off the outer edge.
In my testing performance in HomeKit has been excellent 99% of the time. It’s pretty much instant when command via Siri or the app, only once has there been a slight delay of a couple of seconds.
While the plug does come with an energy monitoring feature, as with other smart plugs you’ll need to use the Cygnett app to access that as it’s not natively exposed to HomeKit.
Eve Systems has been making HomeKit exclusive accessories since the beginning, and supports international markets quite well, although some of their products have regulatory limitations. The Eve energy was one of the first products they released, and supports the largest number of socket types of any smart plug. Thankfully, one of these is the Australian Type I standard 10 Amp socket.
As with most Eve accessories, the Eve Energy communicates via Bluetooth using Eve Systems purpose-built HomeKit Bluetooth implementation. This ensures it has comparatively excellent range and generally responds very well to commands. It’s still Bluetooth though, so it’s not as responsive as other models. Eve is in the process of upgrading their products to use Thread which will greatly improve this situation, but the AU model hasn’t been done yet.
The energy monitoring functionality in this device supports native HomeKit attributes, and can be accessed through various third-party HomeKit client apps, including Eve’s own. The Apple Home app, however, doesn’t have any way to display this data.
While the plug works very well and has been rock solid reliable for me, even in fairly extreme situations, it does suffer from it’s size. Being a square form factor it does tend to obstruct neighboring sockets, and the Australian model is limited to 8 Amps so it may not be suitable for every scenario.
The Hue smart lighting ecosystem has been steadily growing every year, and they now have added the long awaited Smart Plug. This device is tailored for lighting applications, so it’s handled a bit differently to other smart plugs.
If you use Hue lights already, you’ll know the Hue app uses the concept of rooms to control groups of lights, and that it controls those lights all together. While you can control them individually in the app, switch, sensor, or scene-based control acts at the room level only.
This is significant, as the Smart Plug is treated by the Hue system as any other light, and will be turned on and off along with other lights in the same room if you are using a Hue sensor, switch or remote. As such, using if for non-light applicants may result in some unexpected behavior if you use Hue switches or sensors to control then lights.
If you stick to HomeKit control only, then the issue goes away, but I find that I tend to use a combination of both for best effect.
The Hue plug runs on ZigBee, like other Hue lights. It can be used with Bluetooth, but not in HomeKit, so you’ll need the Hue Bridge and at least one Hue light to be able to use it with Apple’s platform. With this set up responsiveness and reliability are first class, and well worth the cost if that’s not a major issue for you.
The plug is distinctly smaller than the other two offerings, and when using it on ZigBee it benefits from being able to use other nearby Hue lights as repeaters to give you better range and reliability further from the hub. I’ve actually stuck one in a water proof box to control my pool light for exactly this reason, extended range.
Australian HomeKit users finally have a little more choice when it comes to smart plugs. The introduction of the Cygnett Smart Home range, and Meross’ new AU version of the MSS210, add excellent, low cost options where there was very little before. Being WiFi smart plugs means very simple installation by simply scanning the QR code in the Home app, and you’re good to go.
While Eve and Philips Hue have interesting options, they’re both considerably more expensive. Yes, you’ll get additional benefits from those devices, but if you’re just looking for a device to switch appliances on and off then Meross gets the job done.