Zigbee is one of the most popular smart home protocols. It’s both reliable and fast and there is a huge ecosystem of devices.
While some Zigbee devices like Philips Hue lights work with HomeKit, the majority don’t.
How to Connect Zigbee with HomeKit
There are a couple of ways to use Zigbee with Homekit:
Zemismart Zigbee HomeKit Bridge
The Zemismart Zigbee hub bridges Zigbee devices with HomeKit. Basically Zigbee devices that can connect to the Zemismart hub will become visible in HomeKit.
There are a couple of caveats though. Not every Zigbee device will work. That’s because Zigbee isn’t standardised. Not all Zigbee devices work with all Zigbee hubs. This is one of the cons of Zigbee. The other caveat is not all device functions are available in the HomeKit API. There are some things that just won’t work because HomeKit doesn’t support that function. It’s best to google the Zigbee device to see if others have had success adding it to the hub.
Zenismart sells a range of Zigbee smart home accessories and all of these will work with the hub. Devices that work with the Tuya app should also work with the hub.
Homebridge is a server that runs on low cost hardware like the Raspberry Pi. It connects non-homekit devices to HomeKit. There are hundreds of plugins for Homebridge the connect devices from a huge range of manufacturers. And there is also a Zigbee plugin.
You can find out how to install the plugin here.
Homebridge can be quite complicated and it’s best used by people with tech skills. It’s not something I would recommend for everybody. While you can follow guides to install Homebridge if something goes wrong (such as a corrupted SD card 🙁 ) it can be quite complex to fix.
Why Add Zigbee Devices to HomeKit?
While there are a lot of great HomeKit devices, the range (especially in Australia) can be quite limiting. There are a lot more Zigbee devices. If you can add these to HomeKit you’ll be able to massively expand what you can do with your smart home.
Cost can also be another issue. HomeKit devices tend to be more expensive. For example Zigbee light switches tend to be much cheaper than HomeKit light switches. And if you’re fitting out an entire house you could end up saving quite a lot!
Is Zigbee Compatible with HomeKit
By default, Zigbee devices won’t work with HomeKit. Although this might change if Zigbee devices add support for Matter. Apple is one of the biggest contributors to the open standard Matter and iOS has recently added support for Matter devices. It’s up to hardware manufactures to add support for Matter. When they do they should automatically work with HomeKit and the Apple Home app in the future.
Why Use HomeKit
Smart Home devices that work with HomeKit will have the advantage of deep integration with Apple devices. HomeKit devices can be controlled using pretty much all Apple Products including the iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, HomePod and more. HomeKit devices can also be controlled using Siri.
HomeKit smart devices will also integrate with Apple’s Family Sharing tools. If you’ve setup a “Family” group, your smart home setup will automatically be shared with the entire family. They can use their devices with their accounts to control the home. You don’t need to get family members to download multiple apps, they can just use the default Home app.
And finally one of the big advantages of HomeKit is the ease of use. You don’t need a third party app to use HomeKit products. The usually just work with the Home app.