Device claims Alexa, WiFi, etc support. How do I know it will work with HA?

I’m new to this automation quest. I need a device to turn a 120V / 2kW hot water heater on and off. Found one on Amazon but it gives no specs on the firmware controller being used although a user comment stated it uses the Beken module. In general, most devices don’t specify the controlling firmware involved but do specify Tuva, Google Home, Alexa, etc.

How does one know that HA has the capability to control these devices instead of the cloud based services that I want to avoid?

Generally speaking things that are WiFi are going to mostly be cloud based - if all they mention are things like Google and Alexa that’s a good warning. Things that mention Tuya or Smart Life are part of the Tuya ecosystem, which is also cloud based, but some may work locally with a suitable custom integration. Of course, two apparently identical Tuya devices may be totally different under the hood, even if they have the same model number.

If you want something guaranteed 100% local then you want Zigbee or Z-Wave (and eventually Matter, but Matter is still pretty early days). Otherwise hit up your favourite search engine to see if you can replace the firmware with Tasmota or ESPHome - which may require some soldering.

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You should, as a rule, check here before buying a device that you are unsure about to make sure it’s supported. Quite a bit of that stuff on Amazon that says it works with Alexa, Google, etc, has local integrations written for HA (like Tuya for example, which is cloud based but has been hacked to work locally).

Not only does pre-searching for the model of device here help make sure if it’s supported or not, it also keys you into any potential issues people have faced. There have been several devices that I found that really fit the bill for what I needed but I came here to find out that people have loads of issues with them so I went a different route.

An ounce of prevention, in this case, is worth twelve metric tons of cure.


Bekin is Tuya. Which means, you might be able to flash ESPHome to it. Are you willing to risk bricking the device?

On the other hand, 2KW at 120V is only 17Amps. Any 20 Amp or larger contactor would work. Put the contactor on or near the water heater and control the contactor with any smart switch.


@Tinkerer - Thanks for the information. I’ve watched some videos on this topic and discovered that Zigbee, Z-Wave, Matter and Thread are the names to watch for. This video in particular was helpful:

@CO_4X4 - The reason I’m here is to take advantage of the knowledge base I assume lives here. Once I get enough knowledge of my own about how everything hangs together, I’ll be more self sufficient but will still ask for input from folks that have more experience. Thanks for the invitation.

@stevemann - The comment I read on Amazon made it seem that Bekin was some new evolving standard. Thanks for letting me know it’s just another hook to some cloud based thing I want no part of.

I checked out that contactor and your approach is to use a smart switch to toggle the input side of the contactor as though it were a lightbulb or other low power device. I thought of that myself but considered that the input side would probably be a coil and the collapsing magnetic field might fry something designed for a resistive load.

If I were to do the smart switch to contactor to load approach, I suppose it would be a good idea to invest in a smart switch architecture that might also be usable for other things and capable of switching an inductive load in this case. Am I correct in assuming that a decision to use a Zigbee compatible switch or something from the Shelly line is the way to approach this? What smart switch device would you use or what technology brand are you thinking of?

= cheaper.

IOT manufacturers are switching to the Bekin chips because they are a few pennies cheaper than ESP. The chip is irrelevant to the cloud. That is in the software on the processor chip. If you flash the chip with ESPHome or Tasmota, then there is no cloud.

Cloud fears for security reasons are WAYYYY overblown. No one can point to a home internet that was accessed through a cloud-based device. I don’t like cloud-based simply because that adds too many layers of failure points.

That’s what these are for:

Google “Flyback diode”.

That would be, any of them. I have a combination of everything here. WiFi, Zigbee, Z-Wave and a couple of Bluetooth. Most of my WiFi devices are DIY using ESP modules. The Z-wave is used in areas where I want to dim the lights at night. Everything else is “on” or “off”. WiFi would be the cheapest entry since you already have a WiFi network in your house.

Does it have to be a wall switch? There are several alternative approaches you could take. One that comes to mind is something like the Shelly or Sonoff Mini located next to or on the contactor. You control the switch through Home Assistant. If there is a wall switch for this, you could put any smart switch here, I would probably go with WiFi, and simply detect the state of the switch in Home Assistant and let Home Assistant turn the shelly/sonoff on or off.

Oh, on device ratings. When they advertise 10 Amp or 20 Amp, do NOT assume that is useable rating for long periods. That is the maximum rating for brief periods. Any switch should not be routinely be used for more than 75% of the “rated” power.

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Thanks for the reply.

Before retiring, I owned a consultancy that did white hat hacking. I have no fear of the cloud. My problem with the cloud is the middleman that actually gets to control the devices. The island I’m on now has intermittent Internet service and low bandwidth, so counting on the cloud is out.

Insteon, a smart lighting company, went bust and their cloud users lost control over what they purchased. I’m not opting into a similar situation. It’s the failure point, as you mentioned, that I want no part of.

I’m also an EE. I have no idea how protected these devices are from spikes induced by coils or capacitors that they see as the load. At this point, I don’t want a new hobby, I’m after equipment that ‘just works’. The hobby part might come later as I get deeper into this tech.

Maybe you could comment on my choices for purchase so far:
I believe this is the latest ‘E’ variant hub.

As a new user here, I’m not allowed to include 3 links, so the remaining 2 are in the next post.

Yup, for ZHA that’s a good choice

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A 25A 2 pole variant of what you suggested since the heater is a resistive 17A.

A 4 pack of smart plugs that claim some additional ability to record usage.

BTW - I found the YouTube channel Home Automation Guy to be a good source of information. Can you suggest any others?

You picked three devices that I use in my system every day, good choices all! Those ThirdReality outlets are rock solid for me and very cheap.

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Home Assistant has a solution for that. This is an example of the best reason to avoid a cloud-based system.

Router v Repeater?
I made the same assumption a few weeks ago when I asked if there was a difference from “Repeater” or “Router”. Repeater is a marketing term because the general public wouldn’t understand Router. Practically speaking, they are the same, but router is the technically correct term.

?? The product info says “No Power Meter”. If you mean to record the on/off periods, Home Assistant will do that for you.

Your purchase choices all look good. I just installed some of those ThirdReality switches in my house to get the router features. In fact, you could just plug your contactor coil into one of those switches. That would be a just-works solution. If the inductive load cooks the relay contacts (doubtful), the router will still work.

There are several. Just Google Home Assistant and filter to “Videos”. The most watched videos tent to the top of the results. (Google does get some things right).

On Youtube, there is mostlychris, Smart Home Junkie, and Paul Hibbert, Hibbert Home Tech (manic and entertaining- must be fun at parties). But I take what he says bit a bit of salt. In fact, watch Paul first.

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There’s another version of the ThirdReality that does power meter, those are the variants I purchase and they have been very accurate so far. It’s an extra $9 for a 4 pack but worth it.

I intend to get the version that does power metering. It’s good to know other people have been using them with success.

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I never understood the panacea for power metering. I turn off things that aren’t in use. I habitually turn off lights when no one is in the room, and I still pay between $200-300 per month for electricity. My computers are probably the biggest power hogs, but I won’t turn them off every time I leave the room. So, what good would power metering at the switch do for me?

Personal preference. I have similar issues in my house, I have a rack where all my house-running equipment runs and it eats 300W all day every day and I can’t do much about that. However, by knowing what other things in my house are using I am able to treat them differently and as a result I’ve carved about 20% off my energy use on any given month.

My history is this: I get a report every month about how I do in comparison to my neighbors and I’m always 20% to 100% more than my “similar sized home neighbors” which irks me because I’m supposed to have a “smart home” (so, yes, part of it is a vanity thing). The reality is that the energy I save isn’t saving me much money but I enjoy finding ways to be smarter on power usage every day.

So my habits change. Here’s a couple biggies that I didn’t know until monitoring power: the amplifier that powers my TV speakers was eating a ton of energy every day for no reason, even when “off”, so putting a smart plug on there lets me only power it up when we want it. Same for my subwoofer, it powers up only when I’m watching something that needs it. I can also see how much power my refrigerator is taking to know if it starts increasing then my coils may be dirty or the compressor may be failing. I also use it on key systems like my deep freeze and other refrigerators to let me know if they are no longer drawing power and thus defrosting thousands of dollars in food.

I have smart plugs in most of my sockets (either inline with a Shelly or a plug in module like ThirdReality) and I monitor my power usage constantly, it has helped me to find things that weren’t even needed any longer that were still eating up power (old hub with nothing on it, a device that was still plugged in but not doing anything).

In the end, it may not make much difference, but it depends on how you look at it. Different strokes for different folks.

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Another note regarding why power metering is nice. My computers eat between 85W and 150W when in use, but less than 10W when sleeping. So, to your point, I know this through power metering and now I tell my computers to sleep when I’m not in the room. This extends to my smart speakers and all sorts of stuff.

In total I’m using at least 200kWh less per month from these little tweaks I would otherwise not know about.

Me too.
But how many of my neighbors have a server room and two desktop PCs with three monitors?

I had not thought of this. Maybe I should rethink my reluctance to meter everything.

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My electricity rate is $0.45/kWh and rising constantly. A/C is on 24/7/365 because it’s always warm and humid. Knowing where power is being used is the first step toward conservation.

Thanks. I’ll stop complaining that mine was just raised from $.011 to $.017…
Have you considered solar?