home: Smart Home devices that do not recover from a power outage

Well, all this time at home has meant that we’ve put a lot of smart home devices into the house. Last week we had a power outage and I can definitely say that while more powerful, these devices are not particularly resilient to failures like this (particularly the cheaper devices), but here are the problems and the fixes we’ve put in:

  1. The good news is the HomePod minis have largely come back. They definitely were not very happy when the power returned after an outage. You would hope that everything would just recover, but it took probably two days for all the HomePod minis to finally get back to work. The main symptom was that they reported the inevitable not responding, but they did come back. Also, these devices keep throwing messages about being on the wrong WiFi SSID. They really like your iPhone and your HomePods to be on the same network.
  2. Meross Smart Switch. These are very low-budget and they definitely had issues. In fact, one Meross would not even survive moving from one room to the other and required a complete reset. The good news is that the Apple Homekit number is at least on top of the system, but no matter what I would do they would not connect. It turns out that this is one of the devices that definitely do not work with a WiFi SSID that is dual 2.4/5GHz, The reset is a little complicated, for the dual outlet, you have to hold the top button and wait for it to flash green and yellow. Then you start the Apple Home application and choose Add Accessory and then use the camera to scan the eight-digit number. Your main thing is to make sure you are on a 2.4GHz-only network as the Meross will not work without that.
  3. Meross Smart Surge Protector. This is another device that didn’t come back. You push the power button for five seconds to do a factory reset as this one, like the Meross Smart Switch, could not find the WiFi network after a power outage.
  4. Belkin SoundForm Connect. We have two of these $99 devices that are Airplay 2 compatible. Neither of them survived the reboot and getting them working is complicated. Basically, you have to depower them and then plug them in while you use a paperclip to push the reset button on the back. One of the Belkin’s has an eight-digit code but the other was blank. Instead, you have to start the Apple Home application and then hold the phone close to the back. Then you wait a few minutes (it is not instant like Apple devices) and it will ask you to connect. This took quite a while to figure out, it doesn’t work like Apple Pay, it takes a long time to have the connection work and there is no visual feedback at all as to something being in progress. Once you do this, I found that they will connect to 5GHz networks, but these are definitely pretty flaky, they will lose connection to Wifi and not reacquire them. If this keeps happening, I’ll have to try the 2.4GHz network-only trick.
  5. UniFi G4 Pro Camera. One of the two cameras ended up hanging, they should automatically return after a power failure, but one didn’t I ended up having to unplug the POE from the switch and then it restarted fine. Sigh.
  6. Eufy 2K Camera. We have a bunch of these (please don’t hack them!) and all but one recovered. I’m still not sure why it lost its Homekit settings, but it did work in the Eufy application. Eventually, I chose the home and then Add Accessory and it appeared as an “unpaired” device when I added it, it asked for the Homekit code and just worked.
  7. Hue Lights not responding. OK, this was super annoying, but lighting is the one thing that you would hope would work. These are all theoretically not on WiFi, but I found that about six of the Hue lights did not return. They need to be power cycled for them to appear again. I forgot to check if this was in the Hue application in addition to the Apple Home, but it is really annoying.

Net, net, all these devices do not seem to have a very good recovery mode. Well, I guess that’s what happens when you go smart home (which is very much in the beta stage) and power recovery doesn’t work all that well.

On the other hand, some devices seem pretty robust to power outages including the Lutron which did come back, but wow, that’s a lot of failures, so caveat emptor. I’m hoping that Thread will make this a bit better, but it does seem like sudden loss of power is really going to corrupt some of the in device data.

I’m Rich & Co.

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