Aqara Hub M2 test: a complete home automation gateway

Aqara Hub M2

Aqara Hub Home Automation M2, Smart Home Bridge for Alarm System, Infrared Remote Control, Home Automation, Compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit and IFTTT

Price on: July 4, 2022 20 h 10 min

Following our exploration of the solution Aqara home automation, many of you have asked us about the availability of the brand's ZigBee gateways in European version. If it was difficult at the time to answer you, things have since changed a lot, and it is now very easy to obtain in France the Gateway Aqara M1S, but also the very last version answering the sweet name of Aqara Hub M2.

It is precisely on the latter that we are going to focus because it is the most complete model offered to date by the Chinese company. Available in France around € 50 at Domadoo, this ZigBee 3.0 gateway promises us a easy and scalable home automation. Let's see if she keeps her promises ...

Aqara Hub M2: much more than just a ZigBee gateway

Presentation

As we mentioned when announcing the Aqara news 2021, the Chinese company has come a long way in the past twelve years. Since its creation in 2009 by Eugene You, a former engineer at EnOcean, the brand has grown at a speed that commands respect.

After signing an angel contract with Xiaomi in order to develop the solution home automation Mijia, the startup has indeed propelled itself into the deep end thanks to the rise in capital of its largest client. It must be said that the products offered by Lumi United Technology, owner of the Aqara brand, have many advantages ...

Unboxing

The new home automation gateway Aqara Hub M2 came to us in a 2.0 packaging, in other words with the new graphic identity of the brand. New blue, new logo, but compactness and quality nonetheless remain in the game. Traditionally, we find the product visual on the front.

Le Aqara Hub M2 is now dressed all in black. Exit the white, surely too messy, but also the format to be plugged directly into the socket. The new Aqara home automation gateway can now move away from electrical outlets. It is surely better this way because the previous models had the defect of condemning a wall outlet or two outlets on a multiple because of their width ...

Le M2 Hub QUOTE 10 cm in diameter for only 3 cm high. It is therefore quite compact and is powered by a micro-USB cable (supplied). Good news, this is not the only connection available since it also offers a ethernet port and a port USB type A (inactive to date).

Connectivity doesn't stop there, the Aqara Hub M2 can obviously connect in Wi-Fi and now supporting three protocols useful in home automation. the ZigBee 3.0 of course, the Bluetooth Low Energy 5.0, but also theinfrared (IR).

On the ZigBee side, the Aqara Hub M2 can manage up to 128 devices. Well, almost, because if it is indeed the limit communicated by the manufacturer, it is nevertheless necessary to have a certain number of compatible objects capable of repeating the signal. In reality, the M2 can only support 32 devices alone, and up to 128 if you add 6 "repeaters" (each can manage up to 16 devices, so that gives 32 + 6 x 16 = 128). These devices are none other than those supplied permanently such as sockets, bulbs, wired switches or small modules "Switch". They will serve to mesh your ZigBee network and extend the capabilities of the "Gateway".

Regarding BLE, although the brand does not yet offer compatible devices, Aqara told us about "Future proofing". In other words, it is there for future developments and, in particular, for the next management of the Matter home automation protocol. Very involved in the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), the company logically designed its M2 hub to be scalable and open to universal standard. That's excellent news !

The M2 can also be used as IR hub, which can be particularly interesting for controlling devices such as air conditioners, fans, televisions and other audiovisual equipment, or lighting (yes, it does exist, we are thinking in particular of the Calex tape Smart LED strip). Will it be as efficient as a hub Broadlink RM Pro +?

Finally, the Hub M2 integrates a loudspeaker. Much more powerful and efficient than the one integrated into gateways V1 to V3, it enables instructions and other alarms to be heard perfectly. Obviously, we are not at the level of an alarm siren, but the M2 will be able to alert you effectively when you are at home or can serve as a connected doorbell.

Will it be sufficiently dissuasive in the event of an intrusion? We will not go into this point, but be aware that you can also add a Gateway Aqara M1S in order to strengthen your system. Together, we must recognize that the result may be sufficient for an apartment or a small house, we will come back to this in a future article.

Information

  • Brand: Aqara
  • Model: Aqara Hub M2 HM2-G01
  • reference: ZHWG12LM
  • Dimensions: 100.5 x 30.75 mm
  • Connectivity: Ethernet (RJ45) and WiFi IEEE 802.11 b / g / n (2,4 GHz only)
  • Protocols: Zigbee 3.0, Bluetooth LE 5.0, infrared
  • Supply : microUSB
  • Weight: NA

Installation and use of the Aqara Hub M2

Installation on Aqara Home

It is obviously the Aqara Home application that we need to use. Available for iOS as Android, it allows you to install the bridge as well as all your accessories.

The installation of the M2 hub is very simple:

  1. Open the application Aqara Home,
  2. Create an account Aqara,
  3. Press the "+" top right,
  4. Dance "Gateway", select "Hub M2",
  5. After a few seconds of scanning, the gateway appears, select there.
  6. Assign a room to your device if you wish,
  7.  Let's go ! All you have to do is associate devices.

Other solutions

Contrary to what we hear too often, Aqara does not belong to Xiaomi. Of course, the Chinese giant has invested in the company, but it is not the owner and Aqara now intends to stand on his own feet. The new Aqara Hub M2 is therefore not compatible with Xiaomi Home and never will be a priori ...

On the other hand, the whole range Aqara is HomeKit compatible, and you just have to scan the dedicated QR Code placed under the hub.

TO READ :
Home Assistant Tutorial: Integrate Xiaomi home automation easily

Using the hub

If you are already using a gateway Aqara, you will not be surprised to learn that this one offers exactly the same functionalities, except that it is not equipped with LED lighting… But is it really serious? No, because it has many other advantages.

The main screen revolves around  three alarm modes :

  1. Home Alert : home
  2. Away Alert : outside
  3. Night Alert : night mode

 

Like the Ring Alarm, the Aqara M2 Hub allows you to create modes according to the situation and to program them. You can, for example, define a absence mode when you are not at home, a "home" mode when you are present during the day, or a "night" mode at curfew time. For each one, you can define which devices will be armed as well as their behavior. It's simple, efficient, quick to implement. In short, Aqara!

Infrared hub

This is without a doubt the biggest surprise of this hub, and while it might sound a bit gimmicky these days, the possibility of control infrared devices is actually very practical. Indeed, who does not have a television, an air conditioner or an IR device to control?
We experimented with this on an “old” LG television, not connected… Once the brand was selected, we only had to confirm that two actions were well reflected and it was fully controllable. From then on, it was possible to turn it on, off, change the program or modify the volume. The Aqara Hub M2 is therefore an effective universal remote control.. The only downside is that we can't find these devices in HomeKit or Alexa, but that could well change since Google Assistant is able to detect them. To be continued, but the idea is good.

Voice assistants

With Amazon Alexa, hardly different from the previous Europe gateways. In the app Alexa, activate the skill "Aqara Home for the EU" (yes, well, they could have been satisfied with an Aqara EU), link your accounts and voila.

You will immediately find all the devices connected to your M2. Finally, all those compatible with the voice assistant ofAmazon, namely opening sensors, movement detectors, temperature sensors and certain switches or modules. The list is still a bit reduced for our taste, but Aqara assures us that we are working towards greater compatibility. In writing, we are looking forward to it!

The hub is also compatible Google Home. To do this, you need to activate the Aqara Home add-on in "Configure a device" and "Works with Google", then choose "Aqara Europe" and enter your login details.

Aqara Hub M2 does not appear as a device, but it does raise temperature, motion and opening sensors, and connected lighting devices. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to get anything out of the sensors so far, but take control and Aqara LED Light Bulb, or the Aqara switch (with neutral) is effective. In short, not really great, but if the Assistant was good at home automation, we would already know ...

However, unlike Alexa, Google Home also recognizes infrared devices integrated into the Aqara hub. This is a real plus because it allows vocal control of devices that are not natively compatible.

Aqara Hub M2: compatible devices

Now let's see which devices you can use with your Aqara Hub M2. The list is provisional and only takes into account compatibility that has been proven and / or tested by us. Do not hesitate to consult our tests for more details on the possibilities offered by each device, because we repeat, not all are compatible with voice assistants.

Our opinion

In conclusion, the Aqara Hub M2 is a great success. As usual, the brand ticks a lot of boxes and makes an almost perfect copy. Efficient and responsive, the M2 allows you to easily indulge in the joys of home automation with a simplicity that commands respect.

After several months of tests, we can confirm that the addition of an Ethernet connection is a real plus because it allows to benefit from a very stable system, almost foolproof, because not subject to the vagaries of Wi-Fi. IR hub which is particularly useful for controlling air conditioners. Compatible with HomeKit, the M2 Hub works with the Apple ecosystem and this integration also makes it very easy to use it on Home Assistant.

Only problem, voice assistants benefit from still somewhat limited integrations natively, especially with Google Home which simply controls the sockets and lights, where Alexa can additionally use a few sensors, but only simple switches. Another downside, the range of devices marketed in Europe is still too limited to be sufficient on its own. Fortunately, everything suggests that Aqara will soon open up its system a little via the use of the Matter protocol, which should significantly expand the list of supported devices.

Offered to less than 60 € at Domadoo, the Aqara Hub M2 home automation gateway is “must have” for discovering home automation in “plug and play” mode.
Fascinated by Alexa since the day I received it in beta test, I gradually became passionate about the subject, before deciding to go further by creating a site with Jean-Christophe. An activity that allows me to quench my thirst for new technologies and share my discoveries about the nicest of communities: Les Alexiens.