Neat! Time to review a Zigbee security kit that potentially compete with the Xiaomi Aqara smart home solutions. The Alfawise Z1: marketed as a Tuya powered smart home security kit. Talking about marketing: some manufacturers reuse the codes they use for their products. For example Fiat relaunched their 500 model after 50 years. But Alfawise does it differently: They have a Hologram Advertising Display and an Android TV Box both named the Z1. And now they released Alfawise Z1 Zigbee Smart Home Security Kit. Is this Tuya compatible Security Kit, regardless of this lack of product management of Alfawise, worth your money? And when looking further: is it a good way to get yourself or someone else started with Zigbee?
The specification as can be found on Gearbest:
- Platform: Tuya
- App: Smart Life (Android/iOS)
- Operating temperature: – 10 ℃ ~ + 40 ℃
- Operating humidity: Maximum 95% RH
- Zigbee protocol: IEEE802.15.4
- Zigbee wireless transmission distance: 90 meters.
- Sensor power supply: 3V/CR2 lithium battery (3+ year life)
Wi-Fi/Zigbee Smart Gateway (ZB01)
Power supply: EU Plug / Input: AC90 ~ 250V / WiFi: IEEE802.11 BGN / Wi-Fi wireless transmission distance: 50 meters (open area) / Sub-devices: up to 32 pcs /
Product size :57 x 57 x 22mm
Zigbee Smart Door Window Magnetic Sensor (D02)
Detecting distance: 15 mm / Support Amazon Alexa smart speaker voice query door and window magnetic switch state. / Supports linkage with other “Tuya” smart home devices, such as automatically turning on the light after opening the door.
Product Size: Master:65 x 28 x 18mm, Slave:30 x 16 x 12.5mm
Zigbee Human Body Sensor (M02)
Detecting range: 5 meters or less / Viewing angel: 120 degrees / Installation height: 1.2 ~ 2.1 meters /
Product size: 46 x 38 x 35 mm
Zigbee Temperature Humidity Sensor (T02)
Measure temperature range: -20°C ~ +60°C, ±2 °C / Measure humidity range: 0 ~ 100RH, ±5%RH /
Support for Amazon Alexa smart speaker voice query temperature and humidity. /
Supports linkage with other “Tuya” smart home devices, such as automatically turning on air conditioning when the temperature is too high.
Product size: 42 x 40 x 23.5 mm
Alfawise is the budget oriented brand that you will mostly find on Gearbest. Our experiences with the brand are mainly positive. As told in the introduction, they have a distinctive basic product coding system where the A8 is a TV Box and the S60 is a windows cleaning robot, and now the Z1 is an Android TV Box, Advertising Display and now a Zigbee Smart Home Security Kit. Most of the Alfawise products are decent and good value for money, and some of them are even very good, but sometimes Alfawise just misses the mark. We hope the Alfawise Z1 (the Zigbee Security Kit) is another great product.
The Z1 is shipped in a white retail carton box with printed English text on in. In these box you will find the gateway and sensors packed separately. Each inner box clearly states what product is in it and also contains extra information like a QR code linking to the Smart Life app.
What’s in the box
The contents of the Alfawise Z1 Smart Home Security Kit:
- ZigBee Gateway,
- Door and Window Sensor,
- Temperature and Humidity Sensor
- Body Sensor
All sensors come with a 3V/CR2 battery, an adhesive strip to mount them on a surface and an English manual.
The main features of the Alfawise Z1 Kit as stated on Gearbest:
- High precision and high sensitivity
- Long transmission distance
- Remotely monitor by mobile phone APP
- Support smart devices linkage
- Supports Amazon Alexa voice speaker
- Long battery life while low power consumption
Build Quality & Design
Both the gateway as the sensors have a similar build quality as both the Xiaomi Aqara gateway and the similar Aqara sensors. In my opinion the Alfawise gateway looks even better than the Xiaomi version, because of its smaller size and simpler appearance. On, the other hand: the Xiaomi Aqara gateway has some additional features like a builtin speaker. But to keep the focus on the Z1 kit: quality is good and design is decent.
Heath / Power consumption /Noise
We haven’t been able to test the marketed battery life of each sensor. Alfawise claims the 3V/CR2 lithium battery will last more than three years in each sensor and this is definitely possible for a Zigbee sensor. What is more relevant is the fact that these sensors share information about their battery status with the Zigbee gateway. So you can check the battery status in the app, and even let them warn you when the battery level is low.
Getting Started with the Alfawise Z1 Kit
The Alfawise Z1 Zigbee Smart Home Security Kit consists of the gateway, Smart door and window magnetic sensor, human sensor and temperature and humidity sensor. Installation of the sensors is pretty simple: you use the adhesive strip to mount them on the surface you want to stick them to. Because you need to link them individually to the gateway, we recommend to first setup the app and the gateway.
The Tuya Smart Life App
The gateway runs on the Smart Life app from the Tuya platform. Alfawise decided to use this platform and that’s a great advantage, because the app is decent and it supports an increasing number of smart devices. We already wrote an article on the Tuya platform and it’s advantages. You need to register an account to be able to use the Smart Life app. As you may know, we are not a big fan of that. But since the Tuya platform supports many Zigbee devices, it’s the least worst of these cloud services to register for.
Connecting the Z1 hardware to the Tuya app
After you are able to login the app, you can register the gateway. Put the gateway in the power socket, make sure that it is in pairing mode and add it to the Smart Life app and your WiFi network. For the latter it is important to know that the gateway only supports 2.4 Ghz WiFi. For most WiFi access points this won’t be an issue because they operate on the 2.4 Ghz band by default. Adding a sensor is also quite easy: press and hold the reset button on the sensor for 5 seconds to go to pairing mode and run the add device tutorial in the Smart Life app. When the device is added to the Smart Life app, its signals take a detour through the Tuya platform. So the Zigbee device sends a message to the Zigbee gateway, the gateway converts it to an HTTP message to the Tuya platform. The Smart Life app is logged onto this platform and shows the message.
Using the Z1 Security Kit in the Smart Life app
When you have registered the gateway in the Smart Life app and added the sensors you are ready to go. Literally: you can access the gateway and sensors from anywhere through the Tuya platform. So regardless where you are, you have the following options:
- Manage the devices and devices statuses: show state (e.g. door open/closed or temperature) and battery life.
- Manage your homes, rooms and devices per room.
- Connect devices with platforms like Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT.
- Add automations, like controlling multiple devices through a single command or triggering an event based on output of a sensor.
The kit runs on the Tuya platform and the gateway is Tuya compatible. This means add it to the Tuya network and that it can be connected to other Tuya compatible devices. For instance when the temperature sensor reaches a certain temperature, you can switch on a Tuya compatible lamp or start a Tuya compatible signal. The only limit is the maximum number of Zigbee devices: the gateway of the Alfawise Z1 support up to 32 devices.
We tried adding other Tuya compatible products, a door sensor and a lamp from the brand LSC (both Tuya powered over WiFi, no Zigbee). We were successful, but this did not went as smooth as we hoped. It was because we had to switch to access point pairing mode. Here you have to reset the device and connect your phone to the access point the device creates. This takes a bit of time, but the app guides you through. But this tells us more about the Tuya platform than it does about the Alfawise Zigbee gateway. Because the sensor uses WiFi it bypasses the Zigbee gateway and just uses the Tuya platform. You can use and combine it with the other (Zigbee) devices though.
Next we tried adding various Xiaomi Aqara sensors: a door sensor, motion sensors and a smart button. All devices communicate over Zigbee, but they are not Tuya certified. Unfortunately, I was not able to add the devices through the Smart Life app. The devices simply cannot be detected by the Smart Life app.
Home automation compatible?
Definitely, you can add this kit to your Smart Home system. For Home Assistant there is a Tuya integration available. You can use this to make the sensors available in your Home Assistant. For Domoticz there are also options, but a little less straightforward: as we already discussed in our Domoticz Community update of October 2019, in this forum thread you can find more information on the integration of Tuya in Domoticz.
Complementary Products / Alternatives
Alfawise Z1 vs Xiaomi Aqara
The main alternative of the Alfawise Z1 is clearly the Xiaomi Aqara Smart Gateway. Which option is best for you is in the details. Both gateways work using the Zigbee protocol. Obviously, the Aqara fits better in the Xiaomi Aqara ecosystem. This ecosystem has a large number of products it supports natively.
The Aqara Smart Gateway comes with a speaker and LED Light, the Alfawise Z1 gateway does not. The advantage of the Alfawise is that it is smaller and therefore will less stand out in your interior. Another key difference is that currently the Alfawise lacks Apple Homekit support. It only supports Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, but the Aqara Smart Gateway supports all these features. Because the Alfawise is Tuya compatible, any developments on the platform will directly benefit the Alfawise Z1. So if Apple Homekit support is added to Tuya Smartlife, the Alfawise Smart Home sensors will work with it.
Alfawise sensors vs Aqara sensors
Another point to mention is that you can only buy sensors in a kit when you choose for the Alfawise. The company claims the sensors’ battery life is up to five years. This would mean that these sensors are way more efficient than the Aqara sensors, which have a battery life of only about two years.
The Alfawise Z1 is a Smart Home Security kit that comes with a set of sensors and a gateway to connect these to your smart phone. Both the sensors and the gateway are of good quality and well designed so they are as discrete as a sensor can be. Since all is Tuya compatible, they automatically benefit from the many features of this platform and the integration with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and off course or favorite smart home system Home Assistant. Whether the Alfawise is worth it depends on it’s current price on Gearbest. The biggest alternative is just buying the sensors and gateway from Xiaomi Aqara separately. You will lose a bit of convenience but the quality, integration options and price are similar. You should check the total price and consider which option is the best buy for you.
- Good way to get started with a Zigbee network
- Tuya compatible, so works with other Tuya devices and the Smart Life app.
- Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
- Not necessarily cheaper than Xiaomi Aqara equipment.
- You need to register a Tuya account.
- Gateway can only connect to 2.4 Ghz WiFi access points.
- No support for Apple HomeKit