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With the release of iOS 11 came the long-awaited introduction of the Home app for iPhone and iPad. It provides a new, simpler way of interacting with your smart home accessories and, most importantly, a way to automate your home with devices from different brands. But, almost a year on from the release of iOS 11, HomeKit-enabled devices are still hard to come by – that is, if you’re not looking at Elgato’s Eve range.
The Eve range is HomeKit-enabled and fully compatible with the Home app for iOS 11 and Apple's HomePod, providing a range of accessories – from window sensors to smart plugs – that can be used via Siri on your smartphone. We’ve spent some time with the Eve range, and here’s our Elgato Eve smart home review, including individual accessory star ratings.
Eve Accessory Setup
So, how simple are Elgato’s Eve accessories to set up? Thanks to integration with Apple’s HomeKit, setup is as easy as pointing your iPhone camera at the accessory – literally. Every Eve accessory comes with a unique HomeKit code in the box; using an iPhone or iPad running iOS 11, you simply open the Home app, tap the + icon, scan the code with the camera and let your iPhone do the rest. It’ll automatically be connected to your network of accessories, and will also become available in the dedicated Elgato Eve app for iPhone.
It’s worth noting that Elgato’s Eve accessories are iOS exclusive due to HomeKit support, meaning those with Android smartphones will not be able to set them up or interact with them either.
Our one complaint about the setup? Elgato seems to assume knowledge about the setup of all its’ accessories, and doesn’t provide any documentation in the packaging about how to get the accessories up and running. Take the Door & Window for example; it comes with optional accessories used to help make both parts align on oddly shaped doorframes, but doesn’t include any instruction – physically or in the app – about how to attach it to your window/door.
While they are admittedly not that hard to figure out, it does limit the audience to tech-minded users – during the setup phase, anyway. Once the accessories are connected and set up, things become much easier.
Let’s first talk about Apple Home, as that’ll be the main reason that many users opt for Elgato’s Eve smart home system. Along with providing easy setup of accessories, Home offers additional benefits. Those concerned about the security of smart home accessories will be happy to hear that all Home-enabled accessories feature advanced end-to-end encryption that should be impenetrable to hackers.
Home’s biggest draw is the ability to use Siri on your iPhone or iPad to control any Home accessory, whether it’s asking Siri if your bedroom door is open or whether you’re telling Siri to turn on your fan on a hot day. You can also program scenes that perform multiple actions at once and trigger these with pre-set responses like “Hey Siri, Good morning”.
As well as this, the Home app provides a way to interact with all your HomeKit-enabled smart devices, not just those from Elgato. The app allows you to split your accessories on a per-room basis, and provides a summary of information from all devices in that room; temperature, humidity, door status, etc.
From here, you can toggle accessories on and off, or long-press to get more details. It’s a handy way to control your smart home without having to switch between multiple apps, although the Home app doesn’t provide all available information about connected accessories – for that, you must head to the Eve app.
Though Apple’s Home app is great, the Eve app for iPhone and iPad is where it’s at as far as data is concerned – especially for the Eve Room and Eve Energy. The app’s basic layout is similar to that of the Home app; you can view your accessories on a per-room basis, get an at-a-glance overview of your accessories and toggle scenes, though the Eve app also provides a ‘types’ menu that displays information from all accessories based on data type (Air Quality, Temperature, etc).
From the Rooms menu, you can tap on any accessory to get more information; tapping on the Eve Energy will provide access advanced data like Projected Cost, Total Consumption, Voltage and more, allowing you to monitor power consumption as well as being able to turn it on and off remotely. The Eve Home will provide access to graphs, allowing you to monitor the air quality, temperature and humidity over a period of hours, days or months to help you make positive changes to your environment.
Most importantly, the app is well-built, simple to navigate and responsive – actions given via the app are almost instantaneous, and data displayed is essentially real-time for most accessories in the Eve collection.
Next, we’ll talk about each of Elgato’s Eve accessories in a little more detail.
Eve Room is an Elgato accessory that may terrify you. It tests not only the temperature and humidity of the room, but also the quality of the air that you breathe. It provides data in the form of a handy graph, showing you the times in periods of hours, weeks or months, of when the lowest and highest readings took place. Why is that scary? You might find out that the air that you’re breathing isn’t quite as fresh as you’d imagined – some indoor products can cause air pollution.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that are found in products including plastics and detergents, and are also created during cooking and burning candles. It’s harmless in low concentrations, but high levels may affect your health. This is monitored by Eve Room, giving you an insight on when you should open your windows to let in some fresh air.
Thanks to the smart nature of the device, you can also use Eve Room to trigger actions like turning on a dehumidifier when humidity reaches >70%, or turning on an air purifier if your air quality deteriorates (as long as you have the Eve Energy Smart Plug, anyway!). It’s one of our favourite Eve products because it provides an insight into something we rarely even considered, and we’ve found that it performs well with no inaccurate readings.
While there are many smart plugs on the market that let you turn your appliances on and off via your smartphone, there aren’t many that offer the same kind of in-depth power consumption monitoring offered by Eve Energy. As well as being able to use Siri or the Eve app to toggle the power of appliances like fans, lamps and TVs, the Eve app will give you information such as current consumption, voltage, total consumption and, impressively, the total and projected cost for running that appliance on a yearly basis.
The Total Cost and Projected Cost data can be extremely handy, as it allows you to keep an eye on power-hungry appliances and monitor how much electricity is being used. In fact, if used properly, the Eve Energy could help you lower the amount you pay on electricity bills every year.
We’ve found this ourselves; we set up the Eve Energy with our portable air-con, and found that based on a week’s usage, it would cost £99 per year to power. Now we know that, we can cut down the amount of time we use it and save some money!
And, like all other Eve accessories, it can be used to automate your home when used in conjunction with other supported devices.
Eve Door & Window
Eve’s Door & Window sensor is one of the simpler Eve accessories available, but it’s still a handy addition to your smart home nonetheless. It comes in two parts; one part attaches to the frame of your door or window, while the other part attaches to the door or window itself. Using magnets, the sensors can detect whenever it’s open or closed, and can send you notifications to your smartphone to let you know.
This is handy both for security purposes (did I close the bedroom window? Now I can ask Siri and check) and home automation purposes. Though admittedly limited in what it can offer, the Door & Window sensor could detect whenever you return home and trigger a scene that’ll turn on your lights and TV, or turn off the air conditioning if the window is open.
It’s not really designed as a standalone accessory, but more of an enhancement that’ll improve the Apple Home ecosystem in general, when used in conjunction with other devices.
Eve Thermo 2
Smart radiator valves are handy as they allow you to have more granular control over the temperature in each room than a single smart thermostat offers.
The original Eve Thermo had a few drawbacks including the fact there was no way to adjust temperature on the valve itself: you had to use the iOS app.
The Thermo 2 addresses this by integrating an LED display and touch-sensitive controls. Its design remains similar, though, and it still comes with three adapters in the box to suit most types of radiator valve.
Once added to the Eve app, you can set up schedules just as for a thermostat and see historical (and real-time) data for the actual room temperature.
Unlike some smart TRVs, the Thermo allows you to configure an offset. This compensates for when the temperature measured by the Thermo doesn’t agree with your own thermometer and makes it easier to achieve the temperature you want.
The Thermo 2 is still more expensive than we’d like, though, and it means you’re unlikely to be able to fit one to every radiator in your home.
As well as being able to interact with your smart home accessories via Siri and the Eve app, the Eve Button provides a physical way to enable and disable accessories and scenes. It offers three actions: single press, double press and long press, all of which are customisable via the Home and Eve apps.
The actions can be just about anything; you can trigger a single accessory to turn on or off, or use it to trigger a rule or scene. It’s ideal for those that don’t have access to an iPhone or the Eve app (as well as guests), as it still provides a way to interact with the smart home.
The customisable nature of the Eve Button means that it can be used just about anywhere in the home. You could place it near your front door and use it to turn on all your appliances when you get home, and use it to remotely turn everything off when you’re about to leave. Or, you could put it in your kids’ room and use it to trigger the bedtime scene, turning off the lamp and turning on the nightlight.
Like the Eve Door & Window, this isn’t really an accessory that is designed for standalone use, it’s more of an enhancement that’ll improve your existing Home-enabled setup. But if you do have a decent setup, we must admit, it’s a pretty handy (though pricey) accessory to have.
The Aqua is a small box that attaches to the thread on a standard outdoor tap. Like other automatic watering systems you can schedule it to water your garden at certain times, but as this is also HomeKit compatible, you can say "Hey Siri, water the garden".
Obviously you'll need to connect a suitable hose to the Aqua's output, and any attachments you want to that, be it a sprinkler for the lawn, drip line for your beds or something else.
Via the app, you can keep track of how much water is used (an estimated amount, at any rate) and easily create a custom schedule which can differ on each day of the week if you like.
The unit itself is made from aluminium and powered by a pair of AA batteries. It's not exactly simple to change the batteries, but in theory you shouldn't have to very often.
It communicates via Bluetooth (which means it has the same limited range as the Thermo radiator valves) and requires an Apple TV or iPad to use as a hub for remote control. Those are limitations which apply to other Eve products, but it's also a little disappointing that there isn't much intelligence built in: the Aqua will stick to your schedule even if it's raining, or has just stopped raining.