There is no smart home platform for smart devices from all manufacturers. Instead, there are numerous isolated solutions that are generally not compatible with one another. When expanding their smart home, users must therefore ensure that the components match the smart home system used. So if you use Apple Homekit, you need Homekit-compatible products. The same applies to Homematic IP, Bosch, Smart Life (Tuya), Elesion (Pearl) and Devolo Home Control, as well as to the wired solutions KNX, Loxone and SPS, to name just a few. This platform dependency severely limits the choices.
From the user’s point of view, it is therefore advisable to rely on a smart home center that supports as many devices and application scenarios as possible. The hardware store specialist Hornbach has one of these in its range.
Smart Home by Hornbach
Smart Home by Hornbach is based on a development by the Norwegian company Viva Labs. The smart home gateway supports the WLAN, Z-Wave and Zigbee wireless protocols, but only connects to the Internet via an Ethernet cable to the home router. A WLAN connection to the router is not possible, which considerably limits the choice of installation location. Unless there is an Ethernet connection in every room.
An online connection is mandatory for the integration of smart home components. If the Internet fails, the sensors and actuators connected to it still work, but new rules or components can then no longer be added.
The smart home center is powered by a 12-volt power supply unit with an output of 18 watts. That much power would not be necessary at all, since the gateway only needs about three watts in operation. That’s a shame because, unlike many smart home centers such as Homey Pro, Smartthings or Homee, the Hornbach gateway cannot be operated via a socket with a USB port. A 230 V socket is therefore required for operation.
Connected devices can be controlled by voice via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Those who are interested can find out exactly what these are from a compatibility list regularly updated by Hornbach. It includes numerous smart home components from different manufacturers. There are sensors for detecting movement, water, smoke, temperature and air quality as well as dimmers, switches and sockets from Abus, Aeotec (see also Smartthings in the test), Eurotronic, Frient, Fibaro, Gardena, Klikaanklikuit, Ledvance, Popp, Silvercrest (Lidl ), Sensative, Steinel, Technisat and Trust. When it comes to lamps, Hornbach supports solutions from Müller Licht, Klikaanklikuit, Paulmann and Trust as well as its own brand Flair Viyu. Lighting solutions from Philips Hue can be integrated via the Hue Bridge. However, Hornbach users have to do without the inexpensive alternatives from Ikea, Innr, Ledvance, Nanoleaf and Tint (see also Up to 40% cheaper: Philips Hue alternatives from Ikea, Ledvance, Paulmann, Tint & Co.) or they – so far possible – also run over the hue bridge. Garden professionals are happy about the support of Gardena irrigation systems and robotic lawn mowers from Gardena and Bosch. Heaters can be controlled by Danfoss and Tado thermostats. And with the Smart Climate Control V3+ from Tado, even compatible air conditioners can be managed (see also From air conditioning to table fans: good room cooling is so cheap). When it comes to surveillance cameras (theme world), however, things don’t look so good: Only a few models from Dlink and Netatmo are on the compatibility list. You also have to do without the integration of higher-quality air quality sensors such as Airthings and Air-Q (see also Better Air: Smart Room Air Sensors for CO2, Radon, Ozone, Particulate Matter & Co). In addition, air purifiers, humidifiers and dehumidifiers (see also Eliminating odors and fine dust: air purifiers for living rooms and bedrooms) are not on the compatibility list, so that Smart Home by Hornbach does not offer any sophisticated scenarios for controlling the room climate.
Set up Smart Home by Hornbach and add devices
Users can manage the Hornbach headquarters using the app of the same name on their smartphone or tablet. A Hornbach account is required for this. If you don’t have one yet, you can create one when setting up the app. Alternatively, a web interface is also available at smarthomebyhornbach.roc-connect.com, the range of functions of which is identical to that of the app. This allows users to conveniently manage their Smart Home from their desktop.
To add devices, users simply click on the plus symbol in the app or in the web interface. It is available in every single section of the user interface, which is divided into Status, Devices, Rules, History and Discover. Then select the manufacturer or device type under Devices to select a product. However, the device type option is missing in the web interface. Depending on the manufacturer or device, further integration differs. Directly supported devices must be put into pairing mode in order for Smart Home by Hornbach to recognize them. There are instructions for this in the app. Others, like the Tado Smart Climate Control V3+, are integrated into the system by connecting to the appropriate account. In the end, the integration isn’t a big problem thanks to a lot of help in the app and web interface.
Smart Home by Hornbach: App
Create rules and scenarios
Smart Home by Hornbach enables home automation in the classic way using if-then rules. On the one hand, users can select templates from the areas of energy, family, climate, comfort and security or create a so-called expert rule. Device, time and gateway status serve as triggers for rules. Users can create rules based on several conditions, so that complex logic can also be mapped.
Operation in everyday life and support
For a better overview, integrated devices can be assigned to a specific room. For the status view, users can also set up favorites and widgets for quick access. While each device can be activated as a favorite for the status page, widgets group the devices by area of application or function such as climate, battery, adapter plug, door/window contacts, availability, security, energy or heating & cooling.
Once devices and rules are set up, operating a smart home system should be secondary. Ideally, the automations ensure smooth operation of the smart technology. In the test, it worked perfectly with Smart Home by Hornbach. The lighting was switched on automatically depending on the time when motion was detected, including the selection of a specific color tone and intensity. Of course, it is also important that the lighting switches itself off again as soon as no movement is registered. That worked too. The Hornbach gateway easily managed to switch off certain sockets, for example to minimize energy wastage in standby mode. The air quality sensor from Eurotronic lost the connection more often in the test. Due to time constraints, it was not possible to find out whether this was a defect. The other components used for the test such as door/window contact sensor, smoke and water detectors from Fibaro, motion sensors and buttons from Aeotec, socket adapter from Popp, radiator thermostat from Eurotronic, air conditioning control from Tado and lamps from Flair Viyu work perfectly.
If you still value manual control, you don’t necessarily have to use the Hornbach app or the web interface. Alternatively, actions can also be triggered manually with buttons so that you don’t have to activate them via the app.
Overall, the app leaves a positive impression. Smart home enthusiasts will be happy about the multitude of options for rules, a configurable status page and a history, divided into events, rules, alarms and messages, while beginners will appreciate the numerous help in the form of graphically well-prepared instructions. Users receive additional assistance in the exemplary support area of the hardware store specialist, which can be accessed directly from the app or the web interface. Interested parties will not only find numerous articles and videos that explain the setup and operation of the smart home center, but also a regularly updated compatibility list, which also contains information as to whether the device in question has a repeater function to extend the radio range of the network offers. The hardware store specialist also offers a fee-based service for installation and operation. In other words: Hornbach shows how good support works in the smart home environment.
However, not all that glitters is gold. Once a component has been integrated, you will not find any information about the manufacturer in the device information either in the app or in the web interface. You also miss the consumption values of the individual components, such as those offered by Homey Pro.
Smart Home by Hornbach: Bilder
The Gateway Smart Home by Hornbach is available for just under 40 euros. Hornbach also offers the smart home center in combination. The heating starter set is available together with three radiator thermostats from Eurotronic for 119 euros. And the security set with smoke and water detectors and a door/window contact sensor from Fibaro costs 139 euros. The individual prices of the various sets are usually a bit higher. The safety set is about 20 euros cheaper than buying the products individually.
With a price of just under 40 euros, Smart Home by Hornbach is one of the cheapest smart home centers. In return, thanks to compatibility with WLAN, Z-Wave and Zigbee, users receive a powerful smart home center with which they can use numerous components from different manufacturers to set up a smart home. The selection is not just limited to classic security components such as motion, smoke and water detectors, but also includes irrigation systems and robotic lawn mowers from Gardena, as well as lamps from Müller Licht, Paulmann, Steinel, Trust and Hornbach’s own brand Flair Viyu. Light sources from the industry leader can also be integrated via the Philips Hue bridge. Heaters can be controlled by Danfoss and Tado thermostats. While Smart Home by Hornbach supports basic functions in the Smart Home area with the supported components, comprehensive control of the room climate is not possible due to a lack of support for the corresponding devices.
Overall, thanks to the great support, Smart Home by Hornbach is a recommendable smart home center for beginners and advanced users. If you also want to integrate more devices into your smart home, especially lamps from Innr and Nanoleaf, you can use open source solutions such as ioBroker, which, however, require a lot of know-how. Alternatively, Homey Pro (test report) is a smart home center that is one of the best solutions on the market in terms of compatibility, function and operation. However, it also costs ten times as much as Smart Home by Hornbach.
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