More cheap AliExpress Zigbee Switches and Repeatability

Ok, so from time to time, AliExpress have cheap Zigbee and WiFi switches for sale – all seems good.. I purchased two Zigbee units along with an unrelated item, all of which arrived in one package, delivered this week (5 day delivery to Spain) and tested today. One is marked Aubess, the other isn’t.

You see left the device which I’ve labelled “cheap-tuya-1” on the actual device marked 16A. The unit claims on the box to work with Alexa and Google and the instructions inside state the brand name Aubess. The box however has no brand name or device ID , which makes giving recommendations difficult. The device itself matches the photo above left but again no brand name or ID. The AliExpress AD contains some kind of ID – “white ZN28972502”.

My order combining this with another seemingly identical unit and a USB lead, came to €7.97 total including free post to Spain – and this switch was €2.99 (all in). Bargain.

Functionally this unit has live and neutral in, live and neutral out and a contact pair for manual switching. It also has on the back, a “button” – see photo – for setup.

I used these switches with Zigbee2MQTT as against a Tuya or Smartlife APP, no problem. On initial powerup I saw no flashing lights so, as is typical for devices like these – I held in the rear “button” you see above for several seconds until a blue light behind the button started flashing. I then told Zigbee2MQTT to search for new devices and in seconds the unit was found. It came with the usual long hex number and I renamed it to “cheap-tuya-1”. The info panel in Zigbee2MQTT described the switch as “manufacturer: tuya” and “model: TS0001”.

That pairing “button” on the back could now also be used for on-off control using a short-press. Pressing it several times in a row showed no ill effects. I could of course turn the unit on and off via Zigbee2MQTT. Setup options included “power-on behaviour: off-previous-on”. All of this worked fine.

Next test – the two link connectors – short – on, release – off – all good but doing that 5 times in quick succession reliably took the switch out of my Zigbee network. WHY? Why does the button on the back operate as you would expect and only reset on long-press – but the links which might be attached to a real switch allow reset – a child (or other person feeling awkward) could easily cause that result just by playing with whatever mechanical wall-switch you might attach to one of these units – at which point you could of course easily re-introduce them to the network provided you had physical access to the back “button” or the contact pairs – but not remotely via software. Of course you can tell Zigbee2mqtt remotely to accept new devices for a short time but there is no way remotely to trigger the pairing function on the switches.

The second unit I bought was not branded Aubess (or anything else), price the same €2.99 in my order but looking on the AliExpress site for the item for normal pricing – €7.00 – just like the first one. These “special bargains” are quite regular at AliExpress. The device looks virtually identical to the first and setup was exactly the same, this time Zigbee2MQTT stated “manufacturer: tuya” and “model: TS0001_switch_module”. Well, that sounds the same but in this case the blue light stays on all the time…. not so good.

So if you are looking at smart Zigbee on-off switches with the sole goal being very low priced, these seem to be a good deal – they certainly work – but if you need repeatability or arbitrary quantities – no. At the price I paid I could have only one of each item per order (hence ordering two seemingly identical units from 2 different parts of the AliExpress site and combining into one order). Worth a try. In my case these will end up merely acting as remote on-off for computers or other devices, controlled by Node-Red and hence Node-Red dashboard on my phone so repeatability is not an issue as long as they work reliabily as simple on-off switches.

In the WiFi world, devices that run the excellent, free Tasmota firmware have options to enable or disable multi-press reset behaviour and LED behaviour as required. Shame we can’t seem to do the same in the world of Zigbee and Zigbee2MQTT.

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