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The state of HomeKit in iOS 10

Apple HomeKit platform goes back to iOS 8. It was not very fleshed out at the time, needing more polishing over the years. Last notable change to HomeKit was made in 10.2, which enabled device notifications. This, along with other improvements in iOS 10, led me to think that HomeKit was finally in a "usable" state. Thus I have invested in the HomeKit ecosystem since early April of this year, around when iOS 10.3.1 came out.

As I gathered enough tangible material to share, I did a 5-part write-up of my HomeKit experience, spanning sensors, lighting, and energy control. I felt that my 5-month experience in a non-American environment may be of use to many people who are considering the platform.

1. Moving to Apple HomeKit with Elgato Eve
2. Philips Hue adds light to the HomeKit setup
3. Controlling 220V Power & Light with HomeKit
4. How much power does HomeKit use?
5. On installing and configuring HomeKit lighting

But now, big changes are coming in the coming weeks. Most notably, the GM(Golden Master, finished version) of iOS 11 will come out in two weeks, as Apple's new iPhone announcement will be made on September 12, 2017. It will contain significant improvements for HomeKit. As noted in the 5th post, Philips will expand the range of Hue products that will be recognized in HomeKit. Elgato has announced five new HomeKit products including lock and smoke detector.

All this means that my iOS 10-based HomeKit write-up should be wrapped up at this point. I'll come back to this topic as the dust settles and I had my hands on the new features and products.

How much power does HomeKit use?

Measuring power consumption on Incipio's light bulb adapter (left) and Leviton switch (right)

Home automation devices have to be on standby at all times to respond to commands. This means that the baseline power consumption will increase as more devices are added. So if you're installing them not just for convenience but for more efficient energy use, you have to be conscious of the level of power that they may entail.

Unfortunately, detailed power consumption data are not usually found in the technical specs, likely because they are not deemed important. I had to take individual measurements to get the whole picture, and here are the results for the HomeKit devices I have.

Company Name Off Min. Max. Rated
Smart Power Plug
Elgato Eve Energy 0.68 - 1.01 2,500 (EU)1
Incipio CommandKit W. Smart Outlet 1.70 - 2.20 1,200 (US)
Koogeek Smart Plug P1 0.92 - 1.60 2,500 (EU)1
Smart Light Switch / Adapter
Incipio CK W. S. Light Bulb Adapter 3.32 - 3.39 1502
Leviton DH15S-1BZ 3.15 3.153 3.27 6004
Koogeek Smart Switch KH02 1.30 1.955 2.60 600
Smart Light Bulb
Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance 0.43 1.7 8.6 10.0
Hue White Ambiance 0.66 1.5 10.2 10.5
Hue White 0.38 1.6 9.2 9.0
(Initial Peak) 13.86
Hue Bridge - 1.12 1.26 2.32
[ Terminologies & Explanations ]

Off: The device is connected to the power but is turned off (i.e. standby mode).
Min.: Device operating under the lowest power mode possible.
Max.: Device operating under the normal or highest power mode possible.
(Minimum and Maximum values are measured with no external apparatus attached.)
Rated: How much the the device is rated to draw electricity at maximum.

1. Or 220V mains. 1,800W for the U.S. mains (120V).
2. For the LED and CFL bulbs. 600W for incandescent and halogen bulbs.
3. The indicator LED light is turned off.
4. For the LED and CFL bulbs. 1,800W for incandescent bulbs.
5. Only one switch is turned on.
6. Steadily decreases to the stable level (9.2W) over the span of 30 minutes.

It became fairly evident that the consumption profile is quite different between manufacturers even though the devices serve essentially the same purpose.
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Philips Hue adds light to the HomeKit setup

Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit (left) and Dimmer Switch (center)

Lighting is one of the first things to be considered for being controlled in a smart home because it's an essential part of a house, and the light bulbs can be replaced relatively easily. Therefore the solutions are abundant, and even in Korea where HomeKit-compatible devices are practically non-existent in the market, Philips Hue series of smart lighting stand out as the rare exception. Only a subset are officially imported, but the available ones are priced lower than the overseas market, so I was quite happy to buy them locally. To start things off, I bought a Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit and a Dimmer Switch four months ago.

This Starter Kit contained three light bulbs and a Hue Bridge, all 2nd generation

The kit contained three 2nd generation Hue White and Color Ambiance light bulbs and a HomeKit-compatible Hue Bridge. Buying them individually would be noticeably more expensive, so it's indeed a good value. I should note that 3rd generation bulbs with richer colours in the green spectrum were already available in overseas markets, but they have yet to be officially available in Korea even at the time of this writing. In my experience, it's not a critical difference and the 2nd generation ones hold up just fine.
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