For the security conscious or the terminally lazy, this little device lets you control lamps and other devices from any distance
Everything you need to know
- Switch lights and appliances on or off using your phone
- Set up takes just a few minutes
- Control all devices at once or operate them individually
- The kit used here costs a little over £90
- Easy to use but some minor issues with one smart plug not responding
There are three reasons why you might like the option to control your lighting and appliances from your phone. 1) If you are away from home, perhaps on holiday, and want to give the illusion of someone being home, to deter burglars; 2) You’re energy conscious and want to be able to make sure nothing is switched on when it doesn’t absolutely have to be; 3)You can’t be bothered getting off the sofa to flick a switch all the way over on the other side of the room. MiHome addresses all these issues.
Connect devices to the MiHome Gateway and you have control over them wherever you are. Additional accessories in the miHome system allow you to control your heating and light switches, but we were testing just the MiHome smart plugs. These will turn power to an appliance on or off with a touch of a button, using the app (available on Apple or Android).
What’s in the MiHome Gateway box
In one box there is the MiHome Gateway, which is the small square control centre for all your MiHome devices, plus an Ethernet cable and power supply. Gratifyingly, the included instruction manual is a single tiny sheet of paper which lists only four steps. The MiHome Adapter box contains three large plug things, all slotted together like a plastic, less harrowing Human Centipede.
What we tested it with
We used the MiHome smart plugs with three lamps. To add devices you plug the adapter into a power outlet, plug the device into the adapter, then select ‘Add Device’ in the app. It asks you to hold down the button on the adapter so it can detect it, then asks you to give the new device a name in the app. We set up three lamps on the system and it took maybe eight minutes in total (not including time spent untangling wires that had tied themselves in impossible knots).
The MiHome App
Clearly laid out and very intuitive, the MiHome app allows you to control all your devices at once or individually. You can group devices by room, purpose or just according to whatever whim takes you. Using geolocation you can set devices to come on when you’re close to home, or when you leave, which could be helpful to those who are always in a rush in the morning and forget to switch things off before they leave the house. Setting the lights to come on when you’re nearly home does seem extraordinarily lazy, but the option is there.
Setting it up
So easy. It takes minutes. Download the app and set up an account. Then connect the MiHome Gateway to a power outlet and a router. The app asks you to scan the QR code on the Gateway’s base to complete set-up and then you’re done.
Living with MiHome
Real User: Olly Richards
Lives: In a ground floor flat in a Victorian conversion
Works: Full-time freelance
What are your first impression?
The MiHome Gateway was small enough that it can be hidden out of the way. It’s not yet another big grey or black box to clutter up the flat. The adapters were rather large and ugly, so I wouldn’t want them all over the house, but since most of the plug sockets are hidden behind furniture it didn’t much matter. The set-up for MiHome was so easy that even I, a technologically useless man, sailed through it.
What didn’t work?
One of the adapters would occasionally ignore me when I turned it off or on, although the other two were much more obedient. Re-syncing the non-responsive one seemed to do the trick. The lights don’t come on instantaneously when you operate them via the app – there’s a delay of up to five seconds sometimes – which was no great inconvenience but did put paid to my plans to make the lights flash in time to Night Fever by The Bee Gees.
What did work?
The app really was an absolute doddle. The ability to control everything at once or isolate devices was helpful. This is definitely something I would use if I were going away for a few days. It’s good to know I can switch on a few lights in the flat and make it look like someone’s home, even if I’m thousands of miles away. To set up the whole flat, including heating and mains lighting, with MiHome would cost hundreds of pounds. I’m not sure I’d consider the investment worthwhile for that outlay.