Eve Energy review: This HomeKit smart plug doubles as a Thread router


A compact, HomeKit-compatible smart plug with plenty of automation options along with robust energy-monitoring features, Eve Energy might be pricier than its competitors, but it comes with an ace up its sleeve: support for Thread, an exciting wireless protocol that will—eventually—work hand-in-hand with Matter, the new smart home platform that promises to finally teach Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit to play nice with each other.

Eve Energy checks most of the most important boxes when it comes with energy-monitoring smart plugs, but because it only works with HomeKit (for now, anyway), Android users will need to look elsewhere. The same is true for anyone who depends on Alexa or Google Assistant for smart home control.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart plugs, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.

Specifications

Measuring roughly 2.5 x 1.5 x 1.3 inches (WxDxH, not including the prongs), the grounded Eve Energy plug is relatively compact compared to its competitors; while it is a tad wide, the plug is short enough to leave the second socket of a two-outlet plate free. A button in the top right-hand corner of the Eve Energy’s face lets you toggle the plug’s power manually, and the button lights up green when the plug is energized.

Eve Energy is rated to deliver 15 amps and 1,800 watts, which makes it suitable for lights, fans, humidifiers, and similar small appliances. It might also work with an air conditioner, but be sure to check that device’s power requirements first; if the A/C unit has a power draw greater than 15 amps, don’t try it (and besides, you might be better off with a smart air conditioner controller).

Connectivity and smart home integration

Unlike the Eve Energy Strip, the HomeKit-enabled Eve Energy doesn’t connect to Wi-Fi networks. Instead, it works with Bluetooth or Thread, a low-power, low-latency wireless protocol for smart home devices that’s been gaining momentum in recent months following a slow start.

eve energy homekit code Ben Patterson/IDG

You can quickly add Eve Energy to the Eve app by scanning its HomeKit QR code.

Eve Energy is also a Thread router, which means that it can extend a Thread network by connecting nearby Thread devices (including other Thread routers, such as Nanoleaf’s Essentials lights, and Thread endpoints, including Eve Door & Window) to each other. You can’t control an Eve Energy smart plug from outside the home, however, unless you also have a Thread border router. Here’s how the three classes of Thread device differ:

Thread endpoints can send and receive, but they can’t relay data packets. Routers can relay data packets, but they can’t connect to the internet. Border routers can relay data packets and reach the internet by forming a bridge to your home network’s primary router. For now, there are only two HomeKit “home hub” devices that act as Thread border routers: the second-gen (or later) Apple TV 4K and the HomePod mini.

Thread has the potential to be one of the more exciting smart home developments we’ve seen in recent years, particularly since it’s a pillar of Matter, a new smart home standard that promises to—eventually—unite the Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit ecosystems.



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