Review: Koogeek's Light Strip and Door & Window Sensor Offer Solid Low-Cost HomeKit Options

Discussion in 'Guides, How Tos and Reviews' started by MacRumors, Jul 26, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot

    MacRumors

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2001
    #1
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    Koogeek is one of the more interesting HomeKit accessory manufacturers, with an array of relatively low-cost and in some cases unusual products that can help users expand their Apple-focused smart home ecosystems.

    The company offers HomeKit-compatible smart outlets, switches, bulbs, and sockets similar to other manufacturers, but also has some less common products like light strips, door/window sensors, environmental monitors, and even power strips.

    LS1 Light Strip

    One of Koogeek's more popular HomeKit accessories is the LS1 Light Strip, a 2-meter string of LED lights that lets you choose from 16 million dimmable colors, whether you're looking for bias lighting behind your television or monitor, accent lighting in a kitchen, or any of a number of other applications. While Koogeek offers its own app for setting up and managing the LS1 Light Strip, HomeKit support means you can access it from the centralized Home app on iOS (and soon macOS Mojave) or Siri, and you can integrate it with other HomeKit devices to activate as part of a scene or other automations.

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    Consisting of 60 LEDs, the LS1 is a 2-meter strip with some additional cord and a single-button controller that allows you to turn the lights on and off manually. The light strip is USB-powered, which can be a benefit as it gives you some interesting flexibility in terms of mounting locations when you can use a USB port on your TV, a computer, a dock, or a power bank to run them.

    On the downside, Koogeek doesn't provide a power adapter in the box, so you'll need to provide your own if you want to power it from a wall outlet. The light strip is rated for 10-watt power draw, and Koogeek recommends a 2A power adapter for maximum brightness. The power cord isn't terribly long (about 0.5 meters), so that may also be an issue depending on where you want to install the light strip.

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    The LS1 Light Strip offers a total of 500 lumens of light output for the entire string, which is a decent amount of light but less than some competitors like Hue and LIFX Z that offer 1400-1600 lumens. Particularly for ambient lighting in darkened or semi-darkened rooms as many people are likely to use light strips, I found Koogeek's light strip plenty bright.

    Setup of the light strip is extremely simple, requiring you to download the Koogeek app, create an account, and grant permissions for Home and location access. From there, just plug in the light strip, scan the HomeKit code on the controller or instruction manual, allow it to connect to your Wi-Fi (requires a 2.4 GHz network), and give it a name and room location. Colors can be adjusted either in the Koogeek app or the Home app, but the Koogeek app is a bit more powerful in that regard.

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    Adding an accessory in the Koogeek app takes you straight to the HomeKit interface

    Overall documentation is a little bit weak, and there are a few language issues here and there in written materials, the app, and Koogeek's website. They could certainly benefit from some polish by native English speakers, but it's clear enough to let you figure out what you're doing.

    Mounting the light strip is fairly straightforward, with 3M adhesive running along the entire back of the light strip portion. It's very strong, so you shouldn't have to worry about your lights falling down, although it does give me pause about whether certain surfaces might be damaged in the removal process.

    As with pretty much every light strip, it's a little tricky making the LS1 conform to the exact shape you want, as it's thick enough that bends and corners become tricky. The adhesive is strong enough to help secure the light strip, but you'll want to be careful not to bend the strip too much as Koogeek says you shouldn't bend to less than a 30-degree angle. The LED portion of the light strip is rated IP65 for water and dust resistance, but Koogeek says it shouldn't be used outdoors or in a bathroom or other humid environment.

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    The LS1 Light Strip can be cut to shorten it to a desired length, but obviously only the portion with the controller will be functional, so the removed pieces will need to be thrown away. Unlike some other light strip brands, the LS1 is also not extendable. Hue and LIFX Z, for example, come as 2-meter strips like the LS1, but you can purchase extensions in various lengths up to a total length of 10 meters with one controller and plug. With the LS1, you'll need to use separate strips if you want to go longer than 2 meters.

    While the light strip will remember your selected color when you turn it on and off, if the strip is ever unplugged or completely loses power for any other reason, it will default back to white and you'll have to set your desired color again.

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    The Koogeek Home app can serve as a nearly full substitute for the Home app, as it shows all of your HomeKit devices and offers you quick access for controlling them, but I wouldn't recommend the app for regular use. While it's good enough to get your Light Strip set up, the design is certainly lacking and there are some bugs such as my thermostat's temperature being displayed in Celsius units despite Fahrenheit being selected in its options within the app. During the World Cup, the Automations tab also included an odd ad offering prizes and discounts for participating in Koogeek's contest related to the event.

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    General Koogeek Home app interface

    For the light strip in particular, Koogeek's app offers quick access to a brightness slider, as well as a selection of favorite colors. But you can also dig in further to customize your colors using a color wheel or temperature wheel. You can even upload photos and let the app automatically select a single color that represents the photo, and you can configure Alexa and Google Assistant integration.

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    Color controls in Koogeek Home app

    Controls in Apple's Home app are somewhat similar, with a quick tap on the light strip's tile toggling it on and off and a deeper press bringing up a brightness slider. From there, you can dive in further to choose from favorite colors or customize by color and temperature.

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    Color controls in Apple's Home app

    While Koogeek's LS1 Light Strip comes up short in the feature department compared to other strips that are brighter, can be extended, and perhaps support multiple color zones (LIFX Z) or syncing with music and movies (Hue), where it wins out is in the price department, and that's a big one. The LS1 is currently available for $35 at Amazon, compared to $90 for Hue and LIFX and more like $55-60 for Sylvania's offering. Unlike Hue, Koogeek also doesn't require a hub, making for simpler installation and less clutter attached to your router.

    So if price is a significant consideration for you, the Koogeek LS1 Light Strip is definitely worth checking out as a HomeKit light strip solution. It's not as full featured as some of the other available light strips on the market, and it lacks some polish in the app and documentation areas, but if those aren't deal-breakers for you it's hard to beat the value of Koogeek's LS1.

    DW1 Door & Window Sensor

    Among Koogeek's other products is the DW1 Door & Window Sensor, a simple magnet-based contact sensor for letting you know whether a door or window is open or closed. We looked at similar sensors as part of the Ring Alarm kit, but other companies like Koogeek also sell standalone sensors that with HomeKit support can send you notifications when there is a change in status of the monitored door or window. You can also check on the status at any time via Siri, the Home app, or Koogeek's app.

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    Aside from simple status checks and updates, HomeKit support allows you to integrate Koogeek's Door & Window Sensor with other HomeKit products in the form of scenes and automations. For example, you can trigger a light to come on when a door is opened, either for security purposes or to simply provide light in a dark closet or room without needing to fumble for a light switch.

    Setup of the DW1 is again very simple, with the Koogeek app pulling up a Home app interface to handle the addition. Pulling the battery protection tab on the sensor turns it on, allowing it to be automatically discovered by the app via Bluetooth. Once you've scanned the HomeKit code, it'll take a minute to get fully activated, and then you'll be able to give it a name and a room location for grouping and automation purposes.

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    Sensor installed on inside of door frame and magnet on door

    Stick the sensor and the magnet on your door or window, and you're good to go. The two pieces must be within 2 cm of each other to register the closed state, and Koogeek recommends that the lighter magnet portion be mounted on the movable door or window while the larger sensor sits on the frame. Attachment is via adhesive included on the rear of the parts, and an extra set of adhesives is included in case the initial set wears out or you decide to change locations.

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    Once you're up and running, you can use Siri, the Home app, or the Koogeek app at any time to check on the status of the door or window, and you can configure notifications and see battery level in the Home app.

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    As with the LS1 Light Strip, the Koogeek app leaves a bit to be desired when it comes to managing the Door & Window Sensor. It similarly displays battery level and pertinent information like open/closed state and room location. It also has a section for "Logs Records" which shows a history of the last 100 open and close events, but date and time formatting are rudimentary and events are shown as non-intuitive "On" and "Off" states rather than "Open" and "Closed."

    The DW1 Door & Window Sensor uses a replaceable CR2450 button battery, and should last up to a year on a single battery. The DW1 is currently available for $31.99 from Amazon and includes the sensor and magnet parts, an extra set of adhesives, and a SIM removal tool to access a pinhole reset button on the sensor if needed. That's a bit cheaper than the Eve Door & Window and significantly cheaper than Fibaro's Door/Window Sensor, so the Koogeek DW1 might be a good option for those looking to integrate this type of sensor into their HomeKit setups.

    Note: Koogeek provided the LS1 light strip and DW1 door and window sensor to MacRumors free of charge for the purposes of this review. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon and may earn commissions on purchases made through links in this article.

    Article Link: Review: Koogeek's Light Strip and Door & Window Sensor Offer Solid Low-Cost HomeKit Options
     
  2. Onexy macrumors regular

    Onexy

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    Sep 14, 2012
  3. BrentD macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2010
    #3
    I have a Koogeek smart outlet. It is rock solid for the most part, but if we have a power blip of any length I always have to go reset it by unplugging and plugging back in before HomeKit or their own Koogeek app will see it. This low cost light strip intrigues me, but I'm afraid its low 500 lumen output may disappoint me when I'm used to the Hue Lightstrip I currently have for indirect lighting in my kitchen. At 3+ times the output, the Hue is double the price, but I also have zero issues with the Hue stuff being reconnected to HomeKit after a power surge or outage.
     
  4. munpip214 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    #4
    I got the light strip a month or so ago and have noticed several issues. Although it is quite cheap, it works great in homekit (0 issues communication and setup) and is colorful, but with several downsides. For me the adhesive was not strong enough to adhere to the back of my tv stand with the weight of the controller pulling down to be plugged in. As mentioned above, this does not include a 10W power supply. A 5W (iphone) will turn it on, but will result in flickering, unfortunately. Another downside is the length from end of lights to plugin is really short. need to have a USB extension in many cases or extension for power supply. Another issue was the color accuracy when using homekit. I would pick red, for instance, using the color wheel, but it would show up pink. Only when I asked Siri to do "red" would it be a true red. Any slight deviation would turn pink (compared to philips hue bulbs which maintain deep red colors). I also noticed a slight deviation in color between the individual LEDs. Not being extendable is not an issue for me, but would like one that could bend corners. I have it set up and working great with homekit, but make sure to use Siri or predefined "good" colors. I will keep it, but won't get another one until it's a little better.
     
  5. bLackjackj macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2016
    #5
    You get what you pay for. Cheap & nasty comes with all the cheap & nasty bells & whistles. This is no Philips Hue.
     
  6. Icaras macrumors 603

    Icaras

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Location:
    California, United States
    #6
    Yea, I just wish the Hue didn’t have to require a hub. That’s the one thing that catches my attention with this light strip.
     
  7. Rychiar macrumors 6502

    Rychiar

    Joined:
    May 16, 2006
    Location:
    Waterbury, CT
    #7
    Koogeek makes some solid products for the money but their lighting sucks. I had the first homekit bulb they made and the colors were so blah. You could never get a truly orange or pinkish orange hue out of it. It always looked washed out and green. Sadly this light strip is the same. I got it for over my desk so I don't really care and im plugging it right into my iMac so it lights up the shelves behind it. works for that situation. for my other rooms thought I stuck to Life or even Sylvania. MUCH better colors!
     
  8. groovyf macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2010
    Location:
    Halifax, UK
    #8
    I like the idea of an automation to turn a light on when a door is opened, but can you be more granular with the settings and only have a light come on after a certain time (ie, 15 mins before sunset) when the door is opened?
     
  9. jeff_cook macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2018
    #9
    Beware! I have a couple Koogeek HomeKit wall switches and they phone home. I blocked their MAC address on my router from making outbound internet connections because I don't to be part of a botnet due to an exploit. Have you check to make sure that these devices don't phone home as well?
    --- Post Merged, Jul 27, 2018 ---
    I like Sylvania Smart+. They work well, however they all seem to be HomeKit over Bluetooth instead of Wifi. As long as you are with Bluetooth range with ATV, they are great.

    btw, what's the other brand you list" "Life"? have not heard of that one.
     
  10. CarlJ macrumors 68030

    CarlJ

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2004
    Location:
    San Diego, CA, USA
    #10
    Roughly one-third the price of the Hue LightStrip+ for roughly one-third the output isn't much of a bargain, especially given that they don't supply proper power. USB-powered is a cute idea, but 5W is the spec for power from USB, if I recall correctly, and selling a lighting system with the proviso of, "well, just don't tell it to go full brightness", seems absurd.

    BTW, when putting a light strip on the back of a TV, you can avoid all those pesky problems of limitations in bending angles, by simply putting the strip on its side - the strips already ship coiled up, just uncoil it somewhat, carefully zip-tie the resulting spiral to a sheet of cardboard, with all the LEDs facing out from the center, and attach the assembly to the back of the TV (making sure to cut holes in the cardboard matching the vents on the back of the TV to allow proper airflow). You'll get more even lighting, too, without that funny strip following the back of the stand.
     
  11. justperry macrumors G3

    justperry

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2007
    Location:
    In the core of a black hole.
    #11
    Isn't that the whole purpose of remote control your light or other stuff when you are NOT in your house, it needs to phone home.
    And then this, why are you afraid of this while the NSA and lots of others spy on people daily, the USA might even be the worst one.
     
  12. jeff_cook, Jul 27, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2018

    jeff_cook macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2018
    #12
    "It", being the light, is not supposed to phone home. That's not the way the HomeKit architecture works.
     
  13. cstout macrumors newbie

    cstout

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2011
    #13
    This is the perfect, real review. I have the same light strip and if I had to write a review of my experience it’d be exactly what you wrote here.
     
  14. PlutoPrime macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2009
    #14
    As a Chinese company, Koogeek suffers from the somewhat common problem of awfully translated software. The UI in their app is very poorly translated with some bizarre UI design choices with their dialogs. Honestly that made me very skeptical about installing their remote-controllable hardware in my home, in fear of the same standard of quality in their “security” model.

    As another reviewer pointed out, their parts are prone to freezing and becoming unresponsive. I used one of their outlet control units to manage my fireplace and every 2-3 weeks it would freeze. I replaced it with a similar unit from Elgato and Elgato’s hardware is rock solid and their app is much better designed. (Albeit more expensive)
     
  15. BrentD macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2010
    #15
    I'm guessing they meant Lifx.
     
  16. munpip214 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    #16
    I found that once I gave my koogeek products a static IP address, I have had 0 issues since, for over a year now. Better behaved than my elgato or philips devices. To be clear, I do not use their app, though. Only home or elgato.
     
  17. laszlo182 macrumors regular

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    Nov 17, 2013
    Location:
    Bratislava, Slovakia
    #17
    how do you do that?
     
  18. joeblough macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2006
    #18
    old thread - i bought a koogeek window/door sensor so i could check if the garage door is closed from inside the house. turns out the bluetooth connection is so weak that despite being just about 5 feet above the sensor, my phone can not see the sensor from my bedroom. in fact, the only place the phone can see the D/W sensor is from inside the garage, which makes having one of these pretty pointless for me.
     
  19. joeblough macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2006
    #19
    following up - i set up an ipad as a homekit hub. i unpaired the koogeek from my phone and paired it to the ipad and left it in the garage. i also turned on notifications for that door on my phone.

    whenever the door was opened or closed, i'd sometimes get a notification, but if i tried to check the status of the door, most of the time i'd get "not responding" from the sensor. at first i thought maybe the sensor itself was going to sleep when the door was in the same state for a long time, however, i think what was happening was since the ipad was not plugged in, it's own wifi would go to sleep periodically. i plugged the ipad in and since then i'm consistently getting notifications and the sensor seems to be available anytime i check the status.

    i'm thinking of replacing the ipad with an old appletv though, we'll see how that goes.
     

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18 July 26, 2018