HomeKit Weekly is a series focused on smart home accessories, automation tips and tricks, and everything to do with Apple’s smart home framework.
Apple added support for sprinklers and faucets in HomeKit as part of iOS 11, and now the first accessories with support are starting to hit the market. This week we’re going to take a hands-on look at Elgato’s Eve Aqua, a smart accessory that adds HomeKit control to your existing sprinkler system.
Elgato sent over a sample to try ahead of release, and we got to check it out today. Sprinkler control in HomeKit is much smarter than basic on and off control with Siri too — HomeKit ensures you won’t forget and leave the water running.
The smart controller itself is a chunky little box that runs on AA batteries (included) and connects via Bluetooth. HomeKit compatibility is advertised right on the packaging, and Elgato includes a HomeKit set up code on the controller and in the box.
Water control is done simply. A small door within the water controller opens when you want your sprinkler system on, and it closes when you want water to stop flowing. The water controller has a hardware button for toggling water flow, but the real benefit comes from automating and scheduling.
Setting up Eve Aqua is super easy. You don’t even need to use the Elgato app to start. Just scan the HomeKit set up code in the Home app, and the new accessory is ready to go. You do need the Elgato app to update the accessory’s firmware occasionally however.
Once added in the Home app, you can rename Eve Aqua and assign it a room — Eve Aqua 078A to Sprinkler, and Default Room to Outside, in my case. This is the name and location that Siri will use as well as how it is presented in the Home app.
Once the hardware is in place, sprinkler control in the Home app is unlike other HomeKit accessories. Sprinklers have unique icons just as you would expect, but their toggles work in a surprising way.
First, my sliders were solid before use then showed the drop of water icon after use. I’m not sure if that went as intended, but something observed.
Next is how toggling sprinklers on and off are connected to timers. You can’t turn a sprinkler on indefinitely like you can a light bulb. Instead, sprinklers are tied to timers that you can set to last for up to four hours.
Timers are set to a specific duration by default, but you can customize the duration with any five-minute interval between 5 minutes and 4 hours. The max duration was initially up to 1 hour in the Home app, but increased to 4 hours after a firmware update in the Eve app.
The curious bit is that sprinklers don’t appear to be exposed to scenes and automation in Apple’s Home app. This limits your ability to schedule your sprinkler on at a specific time on certain days through HomeKit. Control appears limited to manually toggling sprinklers on for a timed period for now.
You can set up scheduling in Elgato’s Eve app, however, which exposes more data including last watered and estimated water consumption. Scheduling is fairly extensive with the ability to select certain times of day, certain days of the week, and specific durations for water to turn on. You can even set up multiple programs for different rules on different days.
Ideally, Apple’s Home app would cover all the bases and let you manage sprinklers without needing to rely on the accessory maker’s app, but for now you’ll likely spend a bit of time in both apps.
At any rate, Siri and Home app control is a welcome feature for outdoor sprinklers. My plan is to turn one of those inflatable sprinklers into a Siri-controlled summer toy for the kids.
Stay tuned for future installments of HomeKit Weekly, and catch up on the first eight entries below:
- HomeKit Weekly: Getting started with Apple’s Home app on iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch
- HomeKit Weekly: Turning your old garage door into a Siri-controlled entrance
- HomeKit Weekly: Using Automation to put sensors to work
- HomeKit Weekly: Automating outdoor lights on and off based on sunset/sunrise and time
- HomeKit Weekly: Using hardware buttons to make smart lights familiar for guests and family
- HomeKit Weekly: Personalizing icons for lamps, bulbs, and other lights
- HomeKit Weekly: Replacing your keys with Siri, Control Center, and automation
- HomeKit Weekly: Home app debuts on Mac in macOS Mojave