In this review we look at the Somfy TaHoma smart home system, an extensive smart home system with sensors, electric window decoration, lighting and much more.
More and more manufacturers are bringing complete smart home systems on the market that allow you to operate a complete home smartly. Somfy is one of these manufacturers and of course we know the company from the motors for gates, doors and window decoration, among other things. Somfy has introduced a complete smart home system with the TaHoma system, it communicates with the products of the company itself and a number of products from other companies. In this review we look at the Somfy TaHoma system.
What is Somfy TaHoma smart home system?
The TaHoma system from Somfy is simply a platform to which you can connect various compatible products and with which you can automate the operation of these products. It all starts with the TaHoma hub, a central unit with which all devices communicate. In addition, there is an app for your tablet or smartphone, and a web interface where you can create various scenarios and make settings.
Somfy’s smart home system can then be expanded with a large number of products. You have the so-called sensors and detectors that receive an input and send it to the control panel, and you have the devices that can respond to the input. Sensors and detectors are available in the form of smoke detectors, light sensors and door sensors. Devices that can respond to input include smart plugs, thermostats and of course the well-known products with a Somfy motor such as the garage door and the window decoration. The latter is important because the smart home system from Somfy is basically especially suitable for people who already use Somfy products or compatible products from other manufacturers.
Somy currently offers support for Axis (IP Cameras), Hitachi (Air conditioning + Heat pumps), Philips Hue lamps, Velux (Skylights), Honeywell Evohome thermostats and some z-wave products (smoke detectors, danfoss radiator knob and lighting products). Combined with the Somfy products you can estimate whether the TaHoma system is an interesting option for you.
The Somfy website has a large number of sensors, detectors and packages with other products (motors for garage doors and Philips Hue lamps, for example) that you can choose from. For this review, we have received two smart plugs, a smoke detector, a motion detector, an opening detector and a light sensor. In addition, of course, the TaHoma central.
We already use Philips Hue lighting ourselves, but we have no other Somfy products or partner products. That is also the limitation of the review (and it confirms the above); in our case only the lighting can react to the input of the sensors. Yes, we can set up text messages, emails and push messages but the only devices that can respond are the Hue bulbs and the smart plugs. However, everything can of course be connected to the smart plugs.
What is the big advantage of Somfy TaHoma smart home system?
In its own words, Somfy distinguishes itself mainly in the field of safety, and the company has a safety certificate from a German test lab (SySS GmbH). This is also a reason not to simply open the Somfy smart home system to other parties, and especially to work with renowned parties such as Philips, Honeywell, Velux and Hitachi. New Somfy products have 128-bit encryption with each other, so they cannot be hacked.
Somfy also distinguishes itself in the feedback of products: the user receives from Somfy a confirmation of the position of a product – open or closed. With this Somfy responds to the demand of users, for example whether a garage door is actually closed or a Velux roof window is closed.
What does Somfy TaHoma smart home cost?
The TaHoma box costs you 349 euros, but in combination with other products it is cheaper again. This also applies to loose plugs (from 25 euros), light sensors (from 109 euros) and motion detectors (from 79 euros). In short, the costs for a system really depend on the wishes you have, the Somfy products you already have and of course how far you want to go with the automation of your home. Once you have purchased everything, it also works. You are not bound by subscriptions or other costs.
Installation and assembly
The installation of the Somfy products that we use in this review is quite simple. For example, you can attach certain sensors (door sensor and motion sensor) with the supplied tape and screws and plugs are included for the light sensor and the smoke detector. The smart plugs are purely plug-and-play. However, a correct position is of great importance for the sensors. For example, hanging the light sensor close to a garden lamp is not a good idea, and the ideal position of the smoke detector differs per room.
The sensors must all be paired with the TaHoma unit. You can place this compact device anywhere you have access to a LAN cable. It is a matter of connecting, powering it and you can get started with the registration via the Somfy website. Here you have to check a number of data in the input and settings. The complete installation of your smart home system is possible via a tablet (free app for iOS and Android) or the browser interface. According to the manufacturer, a smartphone (free app for iOS and Android) offers a screen that is too small to add products to your system or to assign advanced settings. In any case, we started with the installation via the website, the portal of TaHoma.
The interface takes some getting used to and it is especially good to search what everything is for. The icons are not all equally clear, some buttons disappear in the background and the navigation is not explained clearly enough on some pages. However, that is also the only downside of the TaHoma interface, both on smartphones and tablets and within the browser environment. Once you know what everything is for and have also discovered ‘hidden’ buttons, you can navigate through the interface fairly quickly.
The first thing we did is design our house. Via the interface you can indicate what your garden looks like, how many floors with what kind of rooms you have and what the front garden looks like. You can also add a carport or a garage. In this way you get a virtual representation of your home, and in any location (in any room) you can place the products you add to the TaHoma system.
Adding a sensor or other device to the TaHoma is quite easy. Via ‘configuration’ you get to a screen where all kinds of products can be added. You have a tab for products that use the Somfy io protocol (products from Somfy itself and that are supported by Somfy), a tab for products that work through RTS (radio frequencies) and a tab for ‘other Somfy products’. Depending on the sensor or the product you want to add, select the tab and add a new product.
With a few simple steps, any sensor or product is added in no time. In our case, the Philips Hue lighting was also quickly found and all lamps were immediately placed in our overview of applications. It is then up to you to place those products and sensors in the right space in your virtual home.
There is also a switch on the front of the TaHoma unit. If you press it you can operate one or more products. For example, you could set it so that when it is pressed the shutters open and a push message is sent – useful for example to know if the children have come home. Somfy also supplies a small remote control, but this currently has the only function to be able to add stern motors to the TaHoma. From the beginning of next year it will also be possible to secure various zones in the house with this.
You can also set the notifications via the web interface of TaHoma. You have the choice to receive notifications by e-mail, by text message or by puhs message. Mail and push messages are free, you have to pay for text messages. In the web interface you can then get started setting up scenarios, schedules and smart applications. It is better to do this on a tablet or computer because here too, certain functions are not accessible via your smartphone. For example, you can only turn off or turn on the smart applications on your smartphone, not edit them.
Scenarios, schedules and smart
You can choose from three options for setting up your smart home; a scenario, a schedule and a smart scenario. Schedules speak for themselves. Here you can have a specific scenario executed or an application (product) respond based on the time and day. You can record this time setting in combination with a scenario or product such as ‘holiday’ or ‘working day’. You can then place this day on one specific day or set different days so that the time schedule is repeated. Again, it is not entirely clear at first what to do and how. It really takes time to figure out how it works.
A scenario is a function to have various applications (products) react together at the touch of a button. For example, you can create a scenario that allows you to close your shutters, turn off the lights and lower the thermostat at the touch of a button. Or you can create a ‘watch TV’ scenario, which dims the lights and closes the electric window decoration at the touch of a button. You can link all products in order to set up a scenario according to your own wishes. This also works with a drag-and-drop interface, which gives you a clear overview of what you link in one scenario. In our case, only the Hue lamps and smart plugs could respond, so we set up a scenario in which all lighting is switched off at the touch of a button.
A smart scenario is a scenario that works through the sensors you have installed. This way you can have applications / products respond to the input of the light sensor or the motion sensor. Using the same drag-and-drop interface, you can make connections between sensors and applications / products. “I want” and you choose an action of an application / product, “If” and you choose a time or input from a sensor. If the motion sensor detects a movement, you will receive an email or push message and the light is automatically switched on. If the light that the light sensor receives falls below a certain value, the lighting in the living room switches on.
So you can choose from the input of a sensor (movement, light, etc.) or a time frame. These smart scenarios therefore require no manual input and are completely automated. Every now and then small bugs or cumbersome solutions pop up in the interface. This way you can not let the time run past 00.00. For example, if you always want the lights off between 10 p.m. and 4 p.m., you must create two smart scenarios; one from 22:00 to 00:00 and one from 00:00 to 16:00. That is a bit cumbersome.
Ease of use and software (app)
Both the app and the web interface provide access to a dashboard. Here you can see which (smart) actions and scenarios have been carried out every day. The web interface also offers a ‘monitoring’ window in which you can see a timeline of the day. This shows the actions and scenarios that have been carried out or are planned.
We have already largely discussed the web interface above, the app (for smartphones in particular) is a stripped-down version of this. You have fewer setting options, but once everything is set, you can operate everything in the house with the app. You can even set a favorite for certain actions and scenarios so that you can perform them quickly. The application works stably and has a clear menu, but certain parts are not clearly indicated so that you can quickly get confused. For example, at the top of the window with ‘My house’ you see a large icon of your house, with the applications that can be found in the house below. We had a long time looking for the possibility of getting this same window for the garden, where the light sensor is hanging. As it turns out, you can simply swipe left over the house. That is simple, but you should know that this is possible. Small things like that influence the ease of use and give the software an image of being more difficult than necessary.
In general, it should also be said that the really novice user, someone who is starting a smart home business for the first time, needs the necessary time to get to know the software. While the interface is good to use with a lot of drag-and-drop, it lacks that little bit of clarification with each option to really walk through it without thinking. The Agenda / schedule option is an example of this. It is not clear enough what you can and cannot click on to do something. However, it is to try and learn by doing. Most things are small but all together they mean that the ease of use is not optimal.
Everything else works properly as soon as it is set correctly. Communication between the applications and sensors is fast, lights go on immediately when the sensor reaches its preset value, and even when you execute a command from the app, the smart plugs and lamps respond almost immediately.
Incidentally, we use two smart plugs that are equipped with RTS. This means that they are easy to operate with a compatible Somfy remote control and the app, but always with one-way communication. As a result, you never know whether the plug is on or off, because no signal is sent back. In our view, that is not really up to date. Yes, RTS makes operation possible with Somfy RTS remote controls, but we are heading towards the smart home and that remote control is no longer part of that. That being said; Somfy also has smart plugs that do communicate via the io protocol. They are slightly more expensive but really smarter.
Somfy TaHoma smart home system – Conclusion
All in all, the Somfy TaHoma smart home system is a very comprehensive and easy to assemble and install system. In terms of hardware, the company offers a huge range, from sensors to motors, and in the field of software you have hundreds of setting options to automate your home. It is certainly one of the most extensive systems that we have ever tested, but in our view it is only really interesting when you already have products from Somfy and / or partners. Think of electric window decorations, garage doors, skylights, etc. From there you can see if Somfy TaHoma suits you and you can expand the network with applications and sensors. If, like us, you only have lighting that can respond to input, the usefulness remains quite limited. In the field of software, Somfy offers a lot of setting options and there is something for everyone, but the ease of use leaves much to be desired here and there. Not all options are clearly explained, some options are cumbersome and it is not always clear where to go when it comes to navigation. Once you have mastered that, in combination with the drag-and-drop interface, it is child’s play to add a (smart) scenario and make your home a lot smarter within a few minutes.
- Simple installation
- large assortment for complete smart home
- Many setting options
- Only really useful when you have Somfy products
- Software not always user-friendly
- Not everything is explained clearly enough