Are you looking for a HomeKit-enabled, Zigbee wireless sensor that can monitor appliances, drawers, and more? Then look no further, the Aqara vibration sensor is exactly what you’ve been looking for!
In my case – I was just excited to try another Zigbee sensor and integrate this into my Home Assistant installation, and that’s what great about the this sensor – it can be used in so many different ways, for part of a security system, through to detecting when the washing is done. But just how does this sensor rank up against others from Aqura, and should you consider it as a key part of your smart home?
Aqara vibration sensor – first impressions
The sensor is the same size as other “square” based sensors from Aqura, such as the temperature and humidity sensor, measuring 36mm by 9mm high. This makes it easy to use the Aqura vibration sensor in variety of different ways, using the included adhesive back to stick to draws, appliances or in my case, mailboxes (more on this later).
The device itself is powered by a single CR2032 battery (common in most IoT consumer devices). This is identical to other Aqara devices, such as our recently reviewed Aqara Water Leak Sensor. This single battery is rated to last up to 2 years. I’ve only been able to deploy one of these devices for around a 12 months – but given the battery is currently reporting 62% (with light usage) I would rate this as accurate, and the battery life as excellent.
The case is made from a off white plastic that feels sturdy and could easily take a few bumps, knocks and drops without any problem. The plastic used is apparently UV resistant, however I still would not recommend leaving this out in direct sunlight for too long as I would still expect this to degrade and discolour.
As with other Aqara devices, this used Zigbee to connect to its hub or Home Assistant. This is a lightweight wireless protocol that uses little power, has great range as devices can mesh together, and doesn’t require sharing Wifi passwords to new devices or cloud services.
The devices main function is its inbuilt accelerometer. This allows it to detect a variety of movement from vibration, tilting and drops, all from one sensor by looking at the motion angle being detected and the sensitivity applied. This allows for a huge variety of different use cases (some of which I will explain in future posts), from tilt sensors, to vibration detection.
The device also has an inbuilt temperature sensor, although I wouldn’t say this is as accurate as the detected Aqara temperature and humidity detector, this is a welcome addition and can be used to set up some interesting automation and smart home monitoring alongside the main use case.
As with the Aqara water leak sensor, this does not continuously report temperature, requiring a tilting or vibration event to occur before this is updated with the hub or on the HA Dashboard.
Sensor pairing and setup with Home Assistant
As with my other reviews, I have not paired this sensor with the Aqara hub. Instead my review covers testing this device using Home Assistant’s built in “ZHA” integration. Despite the device mentioning that it requires a detected hub, it was detected and paired first time with my Conbee II USB stick. Once picked up the device reported itself as an “End Device”, as would be expected from a battery operated wireless sensor, meaning it cannot route Zigbee signals, but should happily mesh into an existing network.
The device functions itself are slightly more limited in ZHA than with the Aqara hub, with the “drop” function most notably missing. This still allows for the ability to start automations based on if the device detects either vibration or tilting (in my automations I use both). Although its possible you can still use this sensor to distinguish drops by using the tilt functionality, it is a shame we cannot appear adjust its sensitivity from within ZHA, although its possible that this could be achieved through the excellent Zigbee2MQTT plugin (which I will test in a future post).
Integration with Aqara Hub and HomeKit
As mentioned above, integration with the Aqara hub and Aqara app allows for slightly more functionality, although most of this can be re-created in Home Assisant. One problem that does appear to differ is how Aqara handle’s Zigbee routing. As noted with my other reviews, this sensor also suffers from the lack of dynamic or self-healing routing when moved. This may limit your ability to use this sensor if you’re looking to use this in multiple locations around the house. For our use cases we’ve not seen any disconnections (as luckily it is right next to the Conbee II stick), but as recommend you will want to ensure you add this device directly to the nearest “router”, rather than directly in ZHA.
How am I using the Aqara Vibration Sensor?
I’ve only got 2 of these deployed so far – so I’m still looking for ways I can utilise them in my setup. In our house we currently have an outdoor post box just outside the front door. It’s a beautiful, historic Royal Mail postbox, but as its not connected to the house its not possible to check if we have mail or not.
To automate this I fashioned a shim to attach the vibration sensor to that would be hit as post fell in to the letter box. This would set a variable in Home Assistant which would trigger a notification to our phones as well a flag on the dashboard.
When the post is retrieved we tilt the bottom of the box, further setting off the tilt function of the sensor and resetting the variable on the dashboard.
Its a simple implementation that appears to work well – most of the time. The shim I’ve created is only made of cardboard currently, and although its held up well to being outside during the winter, I’d like to replace this with a 3D printed holder that would not only be longer lasting but more reliable.
What I like
- The sensor is small and easy to attach to a variety of different objects
- The sensor can detect different vibrations or tilts – useful in automations when attached to doors or cabinets
- Included temperature sensor is great for additional tasks
- Utilises Zigbee – so can easily be added to an existing network (as noted above – this does not require a Aqara hub)
- Great battery life that stands up to Aqara’s claims.
What I don’t like
- Aqara Zigbee routing – this will be a common problem with all Aqara devices and I’d love to see them fix this in a future firmware update
Should you buy
Recommendation : Strong Buy
If you’re looking for a small, in-expensive sensor to automate tasks around the home, look no further.