My First Step Towards Building a Smart Home in Indonesia in 2021 – Medium

For me, it’s all about HomeKit, Thread, and a little bit of Zigbee.

2020 was a great year for home automation. Apple introduced their HomePod mini in October, the first Thread border router from the company, and Nanoleaf launched their new Essentials line up around the same month. It’s a good time for me in my late 20’s to start transforming my room towards a better, more automated future.

Disclaimer: information and opinions inside the article below are based on my experience and own research, and is not the view of my employer(s). I am not paid for these reviews and opinions, and I bought all these smart products using my own money. Your mileage may vary.

Thread is a low-power wireless mesh networking protocol designed for easy integration for the smart home. Thread allows smart home devices to create a smart mesh network between them (250 of them!), making them securely and reliably connected directly to the cloud. While I just heard about Thread this January, it turns out to be not new. It has been around since 2014 by several well-known companies, and it’s been a topic for Google I/O sessions in the last several years. Apple also joined the Thread alliance in 2018.

It is in 2020 when people’s interest in Thread has grown, also helped by the fact that several companies including Apple, Nanoleaf, and Eve have released “real world” Thread-enabled devices: The HomePod Mini (as the Thread border router), Nanoleaf Essentials (light bulbs and light strips), and Eve’s portfolio of HomeKit over Thread. Those devices excite me, along with the fact that we are moving towards the unification of the network protocols (Thread, Zigbee).

Zigbee is a wireless technology developed as an open global standard to address the needs of low-cost, low-power wireless IoT networks. It is currently the standard for many popular Smart Home platforms like Philips Hue and IKEA TRÅDFRI Home Smart, both very popular and available in Indonesia.

In the smart home landscape, we have internationally recognized brands like Philips Hue, IKEA Home Smart, and Yeelight, as well as local players like Bardi. Unfortunately, Nanoleaf and Eve are not yet available locally.

Bardi, for me, is the most unique brand on the list. They have very good support and presence in Indonesia, and they have just opened a showroom in 2020 in Tangerang. Their portfolio of products covers light bulbs, smart cameras, smart plugs, smart vacuums, window sensors, as well as pet feeders. Their prices are so low (under 9 USD for a 9 watts RGBWW bulb) and they often have additional discounts in the marketplace like Tokopedia, Shopee, and JD.ID. Based on their Tokopedia page alone, they have sold more than 100,000 light bulbs and thousands of other sensors and smart gadgets.
Pros: affordable, good portfolio of products,
Cons: not compatible with HomeKit, all devices connect to the router/they don’t make a dedicated mesh network.

Philips Hue is one of the most well-known Smart Lighting brands in the world. In Indonesia, their portfolio covers the Hue bulb, dim switch, light strips, and several other lighting accessories. Based on their Tokopedia page, their sales are on mere thousands of items and their price can be quite steep, more than 30 USD per bulb and around 99 USD for the starter pack (1 gateway + 3 bulbs).
Pros: well-known brand, HomeKit-capable, good support in Indonesia, Zigbee protocol has proven track record of stability,
Cons: steep prices, portfolio not diverse enough (mostly lighting).

IKEA Home Smart (TRÅDFRI) is another well-known brand in the world. In Indonesia, their portfolio of TRÅDFRI products covers LED bulbs, Gateway, remote controls, motion sensors, smart shades, and several versions of their E27 as well as E14 Bulbs. Their prices are generally lower than Philips Hue’s offering (83 USD for the starter pack of 2 white bulbs, a Gateway, and remote control) and it seems that IKEA will add more products into their HomeKit portfolio soon.
Pros: well-known brand, HomeKit-capable, good support in Indonesia, growing portfolio, Zigbee protocol has proven track record of stability,
Cons: each bulb needs to be connected to a remote before connecting to the Gateway.

Yeelight is a brand I discovered at the end of 2020. It is interesting for me since they provide HomeKit compatibility at an affordable price. They are still building their popularity in Tokopedia, selling hundreds of smart bulbs on top of not-so-smart bulbs and other lighting accessories.
Pros: affordable, HomeKit-capable,
Cons: I am not familiar with the brand, not sure about their support in Indonesia.

Nanoleaf, a company famous for its wall-mounted modular lighting, currently does not have any presence in Indonesia other than mentioning that their products can be shipped from their HK warehouse. Although their portfolio of products is not that diverse yet (they just launched their Essentials line of products in October 2020), I think they are taking the best route of implementing Thread on their products.
Pros: HomeKit-capable, Thread-enabled, beautifully designed rhombicosidodecahedron bulb,
Cons: Still no distributor presence in Indonesia, costing me additional shipping and import tax.

  1. Secure and privacy-centric, it’s my private space called home, I want to keep it that way,
  2. Future-proof, unlike my smartphone, these smart devices will not be updated or changed every 3–4 years. I want to make sure that these items will still be rocking in 2025 and even beyond,
  3. Fast and responsive, but at the same time long-lasting and reliable, because yes,
  4. Sold by a company that is reachable in Indonesia, making sure everything is legal and I can reach them in case I need any help or have any questions.

Since my focus is building a HomeKit-centric Smart Home, I almost remove Bardi from the list. However, the fact that their prices are so low made me buy two of their 9 watts RGBWW light bulbs (8.3 USD each) just for fun.

Bardi Smart Light Bulb 9 watts — RGBWW

These are my first ever smart home products, and they are very nice for 8.3 USD. I can’t complain about the boring bulb design since they rarely get disconnected from the network. The colors and brightness are on par with the promised 900 lumens.

It is not without a problem, though. The first expected problem was that these bulbs do not support HomeKit natively, so every command from Siri needs to be connected to the Bardi app via Siri Shortcut, and the response time between me speaking the command to the bulb actually doing it can take 2–5 seconds. I tried installing the Google Home app on my iPhone and Android phone, and it gives me more commands with a slightly faster response.

The real deal-breaker is the fact that every bulb connects to the router directly instead of building its own mesh network, making them unscalable. I don’t want to have 25–35 bulbs in my future home to be connected directly to my router, I can already see big problems with that approach.

Overall, these are nice products from Bardi, and it would be great to have HomeKit support and a mesh network for scalability.

The Nanoleaf Essentials — Light bulb and Light strip

I got hooked by Nanoleaf’s Essentials lineup a couple of weeks ago upon researching about HomeKit and Thread resources, watching videos from several YouTubers, Google I/O, and online articles. At first, I thought I couldn’t get them in Indonesia, but it turns out I can.

After reaching out to Nanoleaf on Twitter and Nanoleaf Singapore distributor, I ended up buying these from Singapore. They were more expensive than the listed price because of international shipping cost and import tax, but I found them to be the best fit for my needs.

First, there is Thread. It is FAST, like instantaneously fast. Remember the light switch? It’s that fast, but wireless. Also, it uses a mesh network, so whenever I add a new smart device/node into my home, it will make the mesh network more reliable.

Second, HomeKit. It’s just fun to add more items to my home network, and the Siri command is just as fun. Now, as long as I have my phone with me or I am in the same room with my HomePod mini, I can just talk to Siri and ask her to change the lighting in any room in my house.

The third is the Nanoleaf product itself. This is the most beautiful bulb that I have ever seen. The rhombicosidodecahedron design is so unique and it stands out from the crowd, the setup process is fast, and I have never had an unstable connection between the light bulb and light strip. My only wish right now is to have these bulbs available in Indonesia at the same price as in the US or HK (20 USD).

HomeKit

I am looking forward to adding more smart products into my home, starting with bulbs and remote control (for the lighting). In the future, I also plan to have security cameras and smart blinds.

My Wishlist:

  1. Smart light bulbs, 11 or 12 watts (1000–1200 lumens), white spectrum (non-RGB), to be used generally in the house,
  2. Smart light bulbs, 9 watts (800–900 lumens), RGB, to be used in office room, movie room, and bedroom,
  3. Smart light bulbs, 11 or 12 watts (1000–1200 lumens), RGB, to be used in the living room,
  4. Smart light strips, 2m starter, extendable to 8m,
  5. Smart remote control, for physical control of the light bulbs and light strips,
  6. Smart cameras that support HomeKit Secure Video,
  7. Smart blinds, and
  8. Router with mesh network capability.

All items on my wishlist (except the router) should be Thread-enabled and HomeKit-compatible because I believe that’s the future many of us are heading to.