Benext Review

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Benext Review

Postby martinisoft » Mon Mar 14, 2016 9:41 am

Dear fellow forum members,

Recently an Uncle of mine ask me about automating some things in his home. He received a smart meter from his utility company and wanted to be able to register his Electricity and Gas usage. In the near future he wants to control his roller shutters and introduce an alarm system in his home. Somewhere further down the road he would also like to introduce a zone heating system in his house and would like to be able to control some lights trough domotics. (His wish list is mainly based on what I showed him in my house :) )
When I build my own system I started with MControl, migrated to HS2 and I am running HS3 since the release date.
HS3 is very flexible and can do anything and much more than what is required in this case. But in my opinion the system is to complex for someone without affinity in this area which means that I would get to maintain two systems instead of one. So I did some research on the different controllers on the marked and Test drived Domoticz with an old Aeon Labs stick I had lying around. Domoticz also proved to be to complex for this situation. Based on this I assumed that Vera would be to complex (not based on hands on experience since I never owned one). After this I asked my Uncle to spend an evening in the online Demo environment that Benext has to test drive their product. I also took a short look myself an we both where very enthusiast about it. I advised him to purchase a Benext starting kit (gateway PIR and Energy switch) and door sensor and go from there. The Benext gateway has a P1 connector and cable out of the box so we placed the unit next to the smart meter and connected it to it. After adding the P1 device in the web console the readings for Electricity and Gas came in. Adding the PIR and Energy switch to the system realy whas childsplay, the system is taking the user by the hand by describing each step in great detail. For every product supported by Benext the function of every Parameter is described in great detail. The user does not have to understand the concept of Parameters these are just well described settings per device.
My Uncle owns an Android phone and tablet, so we installed the Benext app on those. And I must say, the app looks very polished and intuitive.
When seeing the Benext hardware on the pictures in Webshops (PIR Eneryswitch and Door sensor) It looks a little clumsy and big but in Real live the opposite is true. The hardware feels really well made. The PIR and Enegeryswitch have a really decent and professional look, and the Door sensor is just as big as a small matchbox. And there is native support for several third party devices from Fibaro, Qubino, Aeon Labs and other companies.
The web Gui is also really well made and intuitive and has native support for Heating control (they even sell a Opentherm module), Alarm and Energy reading.
Since Benext is a Dutch company you can put the interface of the web Gui and Apps in Dutch which is a really big plus for my Uncle.
In every rule (event) you create the status Home/Away/Sleep is a condition. This is a state you can put the system in by Web Gui, App or alarm panel. A really well made design choice If you asked me.
The system is heavily relying on the cloud Benext cloud platform that you are entitled to use for free when you own their gateway. This means that Benext needs to be in business for the system to function, but also means there is no need for Ports to be forwarded and connecting to your own home by IP adres since the gateway connects to the cloud system and you are entering the web Gui and App by just Username and Password.
At the moment the system is closed and there are no scripting possibilities or API's that I know of. Based on these facts I contacted Benext and asked them If it would be a good idea to Integrate IFTTT support in their system which would be the Ideal addition to a Cloud based system like theirs in my opinion. And what do you know, they are working on that right now!

So my verdict is that Benext has created a really intuitive system that has all the possibilities for someone who wants to automate his home without getting to complex to understand for someone with les than average affinity with home automation.
Working IFTTT integration would mean that the system would be even more flexible without gaining in complexity.
I will never be able to replace my HS3 system with it, but for normal situations It is more than good enough and way less complex.
Those guys sell a really great system that is to often overlooked at the moment.

greetzz

Martijn.
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