Grid Connect Review: Is it worth it?

Grid Connect is an Australia smart home standard. Grid connect devices work with the Grid Connect App allowing you to control multiple devices at once and setup automations. But is it worth buying Grid Connect devices? This is my Grid Connect review for 2023.

About this Review

For this review I have been testing out Arlec Grid Connect Bulbs as well as Orion Grid Connect Smart Security Camera. I bought these devices with my own money. For testing I setup the devices (I used an iPhone) and then tested their connection through different scenarios (such as turning on the microwave, placing them outside etc).

The Grid Connect Range

There are now a huge range of Grid Connect products from a variety of Australian brands. These include:

  • Arlec Grid Connect Lights
  • Grid Connect Robot Vacuums
  • Arlec Grid Connect Smart Plugs
  • Orion Grid Connect Locks
  • Orion Grid Connect Security Cameras
  • Deta Smart Switches

Looking at most of the Grid Connect range it looks like most products are just badged. For example the Deta smart switches are just Tuya switches. What some Australian brands are doing is buying cheap Chinese made smart devices and putting their own brand name on them. They aren’t actually engineering or designing these products themselves.

Grid Connect Cons

I’m starting with the cons for this Grid Connect review as honestly there were more cons than pros:

Wifi and Bluetooth Only

Grid Connect devices connect directly to the Wifi router. It’s a hubless setup. This has pros and cons. The pro being you don’t need any additional hardware. The cons are Wifi only devices tend to have more connection issues compared to smart devices that use a hub. I’ve found this especially true of cheap smart home devices.

If you’re going to install a lot of smart home products (10+ bulbs for example) I wouldn’t go with a Grid Connect setup. Wifi routers struggle with lots of connections. And none of the Grid Connect devices support the latest Wifi standards which are better at handling a larger number of connections.

You’re better off going with a Zigbee, Thread or Hue setup which has a mesh network. Instead of all the devices connecting to the one router, these devices can connect to each other. This creates a more reliable setup. This is especially great if you’ve got outdoor bulbs or a larger house with devices far away from the router. You might need a Wifi Extender to ensure these grid connect devices can connect to the router.

Weirdly, some Grid Connect devices are bluetooth only and require another Hub if you want to connect them to the rest of the Grid Connect devices.

No HomeKit Support

Grid Connect hardware doesn’t support Apple HomeKit.

Seeing as approximately 40% of all smart phones sold in Australia are iPhones, it’s a pretty big oversight to make a smart home standard in Australia that doesn’t support Apple Homekit.

Adding HomeKit to a smart home product requires extra engineering. It can require extra hardware too.

I’ve found that “cheap” smart home products don’t usually support HomeKit. Where as the better made smart home products tend to have HomeKit support.

HomeKit is the best way to control your smart home if you own Apple Devices. So if you own any Apple Devices make sure you get a smart home product that supports HomeKit.

Requires Internet

Grid Connect devices require your router to be powered on and and have an active internet connection. This means if your internet goes down you won’t be able to control your smart home. Competing smart bulbs like Lifx or Hue can still work without the internet.

There’s nothing worse than coming home at night and not being able to turn on the lights because of a temporary internet outage. It’s just not worth it.

Pretty Bad Reviews

If you look at the reviews on Bunnings for most Grid Connect devices it doesn’t paint a particular pretty picture. The reviews match my experiences. Grid connect devices have connection issues, random reboots and the hardware isn’t particularly well made.

Router Issues with Modern Wifi

Grid Connect products run only on the 2.4ghz Wifi band. Which is fine – most Wifi smart home products do. The problem is Grid Connect hardware is not compatible with most modern routers.

Band Steering is a feature on most modern routers. It allows your devices to switch between the 2.4ghz and 5ghz Wifi bands to increase reliability and reduce network congestion. Grid connect recommends in their FAQ to turn this off on your router. This is a red flag for me. I don’t like smart home products that do this. If you have a modern mesh Wifi setup (like me) these devices might not work at all as there is no way to turn off band steering or create seperate SSIDs.

Grid Connect Pros

Matter Support is Coming

It looks like Grid Connect is going to add Matter support to their devices. Looking at their info page though, I’m not entirely sure how it will work. I don’t know if existing devices will support Matter. My guess is it will work on a device by device basis. Some existing devices may not be matter compatible.

This is great news though as it means you’ll be able to add Grid Connect to your smart home no matter what platform you’re using.

I don’t believe that any Grid Connect devices are thread compatible. And there is no word on whether future devices with use Thread. I don’t believe the current hardware in Grid Connect can support Thread.

Grid Connect Devices are Cheap

If you’re looking to add just one or two smart home devices to your home, then Grid Connect is a cheap way to get started. Because Grid Connect devices don’t use Thread or Zigbee I wouldn’t kit out an entire home with these devices. That would be a lot of Wifi connections!

My Experience with Grid Connect

In order to review Grid Connect products (I was reviewing a Grid Connect Camera from Orion and Grid Connect Lights from Alec) I had to break out my old Wifi router just to get them working. Grid Connect devices did not like connecting to my Mesh Wifi. My Mesh Wifi setup doesn’t give me an option to disable band steering (like most modern smart wifi networks). So in my smart home, Grid Connect is basically useless.

Because Grid Connect doesn’t support HomeKit they also don’t talk to any of my other smart home devices.

Grid Connect vs Hue

Are you tossing up whether to go with Grid Connect or Hue? If you want the most reliable experience with fewest connection issues go with Hue. In my current setup (hue bridge running with mesh wifi) I’ve yet to had a single connection issue with my Hue lights. Hue uses Zigbee which is a mesh network. This is much more reliable than having each light connect to the router.

Hue lights are more expensive. But in my opinion they are worth the extra cost. Hue lights will last over 10 years. I use mine every evening and they are still going strong after around 8 years.

Hue also supports more smart home platforms including HomeKit. So no matter what smart home devices you have, they should work well with Hue.

Grid Connect vs LIFX

If you’re looking for smart lights that don’t require a hub, I would go with LIFX over Grid Connect. Again they are more expensive but they are a little cheaper than Hue. The hardware tends to be better quality over Grid Connect and I was able to get them working reliably which I couldn’t do with Arlec Grid Connect lights.

My Grid Connect Review

I’m not a fan of Grid Connect. There are enough great smart home standards like Zigbee, Z-Wave, Thread etc. We really don’t need another ecosystem of products.

The Grid Connect app is fine. It does the job but in terms of look and feel and ease of use it’s nowhere near as well designed as competing apps.

Grid Connect doesn’t support HomeKit. It will support Matter in the future, and that will make Grid Connect a much more exciting product. But I don’t know if existing Grid Connect hardware will have matter support.

Grid Connect is a messy eco system with some devices requiring any extra hub to support some features. Others don’t need a hub.

There are better alternatives in Australia. I believe that it’s worth spending a little more on smart home products. Smart Homes only work if you aren’t constantly having connection issues. Smart Homes should just work and I don’t believe Grid Connect products are reliable enough.

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Anthony is a Smart Home Geek. He's been building the smart home of his dreams over the past 5 years. He loves all things Apple, but works with a number of different ecosystems and platforms.