Useelink WiFi Smart Switch: A Budget-Friendly Option With Some Drawbacks

After using the Useelink WiFi Smart Switch for 6 months in my home, I have come to appreciate its budget-friendly price and ease of connection to voice assistant platforms like Google and Alexa. However, there are also some drawbacks to this generic, no-brand product.

One of the positives of the switch is its ability to connect directly to my home WiFi and provide controls from both physical and cloud controls. Additionally, the buttons are touch sensitive and responsive. However, there are also some negatives to consider. The switch LED is too bright, and there are no LED controls available in the mobile app. Additionally, the switch does not support Apple HomeKit.

Wiring the Useelink WiFi Smart Switch can also be a bit of a challenge, as it requires both a live and neutral wire for operation. This may not be present in some older homes, and would require an electrician to install, incurring additional cost.

The setup process using the Smart Life app is relatively straightforward, but there have been instances where the auto discovery feature did not work, and I had to place the device in pairing mode.

In terms of my preferred way of using this product, I have found that the bright LED makes it less suitable for use in a bedroom. Additionally, I usually prefer to use generic brands that are compatible with open-source firmware like Tasmota, which allows for more local controls. Unfortunately, this switch cannot be flashed with open-source firmware. An alternative option to consider is using Home Assistant (HA) with LocalTuya for automation and local controls, though the setup process for this can be a bit more complex.

Overall, while generic or no-brand products may offer a more budget-friendly option in the short term, the risks of cloud services are no longer supported, network wireless vulnerabilities and data breaches and keep up with apps and bug fixes; the potential drawbacks may outweigh the benefits in the long run. In order to ensure a reliable, secure and long-lasting product, it may be best to go for a branded product.

Saying that, I will choose a generic product every time if it provides additional controls, such as local controls using APIs, hubs or Opensource firmware (i.e Tasmota). By doing this, I can create a separate network that is completely isolated from the internet, which significantly reduces my risk. I would only allow my hub to maintain communication over the internet, and if required, I would only update the hub. This is why I often prefer Zigbee, Z-wave or Matter devices over WiFI, as they are not directly connected to the internet and a hub is required to communicate over the internet. This allows me to have more control over my network, and the devices connected to it, while still being able to benefit from smart home technology.

In my automation setup, I am currently using the Useelink WiFi Smart Switch in conjunction with a Raspberry Pi running Home Assistant as my automation engine. Although I am unable to use the open-source firmware (i.e Tasmota) on this switch as it is not using Espressif chipset, I am still able to control it locally using the LocalTuya extension. This removes the reliance on cloud services, and gives me the freedom to use any products from any brand or non-brand products in my automation. This allows for more flexibility and customization in my home automation setup.