German smart-home company Senic has announced a new and super-easy way to extend smart-home control into your yard, without the need for wires or even batteries. The Friends of Hue Outdoor Switch ($79), developed in cooperation with switch manufacturer Gira, is a portable, weatherized two-button switch that can control a host of devices, from Philips Hue smart lighting to Sonos speakers to virtually any Apple HomeKit device.
To get around the need for batteries or wires, the switch harvests the tiny amount of energy generated when you push down on one of its rocker-style buttons. Being a Friends of Hue product, you will also need to have a second-generation Philips Hue Bridge on your network to use it.
Unlike the indoor Nuimo Click we reviewed in May, 2019, however, the Friends of Hue Outdoor switch doesn’t also require Senic’s Nuimo Hub. You can check out this animation on Senic’s website to see how the Click harvests the energy needed to send a radio signal to the bridge. The outdoor product operates on the same principle.
Senic gives the wireless outdoor switch a protection rating of IP44, which means it’s dust-resistant and can withstand exposure to water sprayed from any direction (you can read more about IP codes in this story). That’s certainly not the highest degree of protection from the elements, but it should suffice if you take reasonable care to protect the switch (e.g., don’t hit it with a power washer). It can operate on any horizontal surface, so you can carry it around like a remote control. It may also be mounted to a vertical surface using screws or the provided dual-sided adhesive pads.
Once the switch is set up via the Philips Hue app, you can program it to control individual lights or groups of lights—dimming them, turning them on and off, or triggering color scenes (subject to the Hue Bridge’s 50-device limit). HomeKit compatibility opens a broad range of other control scenarios, including newer Sonos speakers and the Sonos Amp.
Senic says the switch has a range of up to 30 meters indoors and 50 meters outside (about 98 and 164 feet respectively). The number of walls, and the construction material in the walls between each switch and the Hue Bridge, will surely reduce that range.
The Friends of Hue Outdoor Switch is available for purchase now from Senic’s website at the temporarily discounted price of $69.