Nowadays, even HEMA and Action (Netherlands) sell smart home stuff, but for a fraction of the price at other stores. But, is it also useful to buy a smart plug from Action or HEMA?
Buy a smart plug from Action?
HEMA and Action have been selling smart plugs for some time now. These plugs are called ‘smart’ because they are able to make ‘dumb’ devices smarter. With a smart plug, for example, you can create a schedule for your lamp and indicate that it switches on at 07:00 in the morning and switches off at 22:00 in the evening.
The Dutch are currently under the spell of smart homes, and shops have not missed that popularity. Where home automation used to only be available from specialist shops, you can now simply get smart home stuff from Action and HEMA.
The smart Action plug costs twice as little as that of the HEMA. You can get the (grounded) entry-level model for 7.49 euros. At HEMA you pay considerably more for a smart plug. The ‘smart Wi-Fi plug’ costs 15 euros.
Price is therefore the main plus of these budget options. Other smart plugs easily cost between 20 and 60 euros, so 7.49 (or 15 euros) is certainly not a bad price tag. The price difference between the smart plugs of the Action and HEMA is striking, because they are (almost) exactly the same products.
Get to know the company behind it
That’s how it is. Action and HEMA are retailers, not producers. The stores therefore do not make the smart home stuff themselves, but enlist the help of other companies, in this case Tuya. This smart home company was founded by former employees of Alibaba, the giant Chinese webshop that you may know from the iPhone chargers.
Stores such as Action and HEMA turn to Tuya for white label items. Tuya makes the smart plugs, and Action or HEMA then sticks their own sales label on them and puts them on the shelves. The underlying infrastructure is also ‘borrowed’. In other words, Tuya creates the app to control the smart plugs and makes sure everything works on the back end.
This is useful for resellers such as Action and HEMA, because they do not have to make their own smart home stuff – something for which you need a lot of technical knowledge. The company also does not have to worry about warranty applications. If your smart plug is broken, you will simply receive a new one and the defective one will be sent to Tuya.
Why pay more for HEMA smart plug?
The question therefore arises why you would go for the smart plug from HEMA, instead of the one from Action. Again, this is a personal decision. On a technical level, both smart plugs do the same: make your ‘dumb’ lamp smart.
With a smart plug from the Action or HEMA you can therefore remotely switch your lights on or off, dim the lights or set all kinds of time schedules via the LSC Smart Connect app.
You therefore pay for the ‘brand name’ and packaging. The HEMA smart plug has its own packaging, while the Action smart plug comes in a more general box. You may also expect a little more service from HEMA for that additional price.
Conclusion: why you should (not) buy a smart Action/HEMA plug
Nor is it the quality of the products. The smart plugs from Action and HEMA are cheap, but certainly not junk. After all, they do what they have to do.
However, you must take any security and privacy concerns for granted. If you prefer not to do this, it is better to work with a reputable provider who has proven itself in this field for a long time. Very sneaky, the information from a smart plug can reveal a lot about your personal life and that is not a nice thought if you do not know exactly what happens to that data.
Privacy of the smart plugs
Your exact location, GPS data and contact details (such as your telephone number) will be sent to Tuya, among other things. On top of that, the privacy terms are pretty superficial. For example, the company promises not to misuse your data, but that is about it. It is not clear how exactly your personal information is stored and secured.
The fact remains that your data goes up and down to China, and it is quite unclear what exactly happens to it. Whether you have anything against this is a personal decision. Tuya has not yet suffered any data breaches, but its security has been compromised before.
For example, in 2018, a German hacker showed how to crack and remotely control Tuya smart home products. This has to do with the fact that the Chinese manufacturer builds a back door into all its devices to be able to perform updates silently. As a result, Tuya (technically and theoretically) always has full control over the device. You as a user will not notice anything else about this.
The ‘hack’ has now been closed and – as far as we know – there are no known cases in which the security problem has actually been exploited. It is worth mentioning that the option to perform ‘secret’ updates is present. No one knows exactly how well Tuya products are secured.
Another consideration is the price. Because Action and HEMA purchase exactly the same Tuya plug, they sell an (almost) identical product. Even the accompanying apps are very similar. This is because Tuya also supplies those. Action and HEMA therefore do not make their own applications for the smart plug.
But there is a solution!
One of the most important features of the ESP HomeKit project is security. Because it is open source, you can see that no data from you is being recorded anywhere or anything like that. Of course because you program the code yourself, you can decide what happens and not another large company that collects your data and sells it on to other companies. You are in control!
Home is your most private space. The only place where you can do as you please, on your terms. Which is exactly why ESP-HomeKit accessories are designed to safeguard your personal data. Secure software requires a foundation of security built into hardware. That’s why ESP-HomeKit devices have security capabilities designed into silicon.
All data is fully encrypted and only transferred directly between your ESP-HomeKit accessory and iPhone, iPad or home hub. Strong encryption verification during each connection attempt makes sure that only you hold the key to your home.
Privacy by your design
What happens at home, stays at home.
|No data in cloud
The best way to prevent security breaches is to not make data accessible in the first place. Since privacy is designed into the core of all ESP-HomeKit accessories, no cloud or any other proprietary device can ever breach your most personal data.
|No account or registration
ESP-HomeKi does not harvest your personal data by forcing you to set up an account or registering your accessories. Inviting ESP-HomeKit into your home is a purely personal affair between each accessory and you, without exposing any details to any company database.
|No tracking or profiling
Your data will never be analyzed or used for advertising purposes – because it simply isn’t accessible to anyone but you. Neither Apple nor thirth party can see any of the information your accessories generate. You are a person, not a product.
The best security mechanisms are worthless if the keys to the wealth of private information are generously shared. With ESP-HomeKit, there are no back doors built-in and no risks of exposing your data through a cloud or proprietary attempts at device security. Choosing ESP-HomeKit does not only mean choosing a secure connected home… It means choosing privacy.
Want to dive in on the security architecture that ESP-HomeKit accessories use? All communication uses Apple HomeKit technology, with absolutely no parallel, unsecured connections. Learn more about HomeKit security in the official iOS Security Guide.
You can find multiple ESP-homekit examples here on my site, and… esp32-homekit is comming soon!
User-friendly in every way
Engineered to make life smarter, not more complicated. Designed around you, not the data you generate. ESP-HomeKit accessories are tailor-made to enhance your comfort, uplift your well-being, and give you absolute peace of mind.
Note: To produce and sell HomeKit compatible accessories, your company need to be certified for that (https://developer.apple.com/homekit/, If you’re interested in developing or manufacturing a HomeKit accessory that will be distributed or sold, your company must enroll in the MFi Program.) Espressif have their implementation of HomeKit framework, but it will give you it only if you have MFi certification (notice this text at the bottom of page you mentioned: Please note that the Espressif HomeKit SDK is available to MFi licensees only, and you need to provide the Account Number for verification purposes when requesting the SDK.). This project is a non-commercial implementation of HAP protocol, not meant for commercial use.
Maxim Kulkin, esp-homekit-demo (2019), Demo of Apple HomeKit accessory server library , https://github.com/maximkulkin/esp-homekit-demo Paul Sokolovsky, esp-open-sdk (2019), Free and open (as much as possible) integrated SDK for ESP8266/ESP8285 chips, https://github.com/pfalcon/esp-open-sdk Espressif Systems, esptool (2019), ESP8266 and ESP32 serial bootloader utility, https://github.com/espressif/esptool HomeACcessoryKid, life-cycle-manager (2019), Initial install, WiFi settings and over the air firmware upgrades for any esp-open-rtos repository on GitHub, https://github.com/HomeACcessoryKid/life-cycle-manager evehome, eve app (2019), Eve works with all HomeKit-enabled accessories. See your home at a glance., https://www.evehome.com/en/eve-app Iphoned, slimme stekker action aankoopadvies, https://www.iphoned.nl/tips/slimme-stekker-action-aankoopadvies