There are different Smarthome options are available in the market, such as, Action, Hema, Kruidvat and Lidl all have their own smarthome collection. Which one should you choose now? We will tell you in this round-up.
The enthusiast of a smart home should not have missed it. Various retail chains in the Netherlands have started their own collection of smart home products. It started last year with the launch of LSC Smart Connect at the Action, in recent months HEMA , Kruidvat and Lidl have also started selling various smart products. In this article, we look at the similarities and differences between the series. Which one should you buy now? Is it safe? Or is it better to buy an A-brand?
The collections of Action, HEMA, Kruidvat and Lidl have strong supporters and opponents. Proponents are very enthusiastic about the low prices, the ease of installation without a hub and the fact that you can also use all these products together. Opponents often cite security, privacy and the use of the WiFi protocol as the most important points. Both supporters and opponents have good points, but let’s dive into the underlying platform of these collections first.
Tuya as the underlying platform
You have undoubtedly encountered Tuya on this website. Tuya is an American-Chinese company and was founded by ex-employees of Alibaba, which you know from Aliexpress and the Alibaba Cloud. The company has only existed for a few years, but now has several offices worldwide. In fact, Tuya enables anyone to create a smarthome collection within a few steps. The company currently has over 180,000 customers in 190 different countries. There are already over 90,000 Tuya-enabled products on the market in 500 product categories. The company mainly operates in the background, but is one of the largest IoT companies in the world.
Tuya does not make smarthome products at all, but delivers the underlying technology and cloud traffic via the 4A IoT Platform. It provides hardware access to network modules, the underlying cloud and software to develop your own app. The knowledge of Aliexpress of the former employees comes up again here, because via the underlying platform you can work with about 3000 manufacturers with whom you can immediately work with them to design your own smarthome collection. So basically it is an Aliexpress for smarthome solutions. And Action, HEMA, Kruidvat and Lidl have done exactly that.
Via the Tuya website you come into contact with thousands of manufacturers and it is simply a matter of clicking what you want to release in your own ‘collection’. Tuya can take care of a lot, including creating the app. The apps from Action, HEMA, Kruidvat and Lidl are very similar to the Tuya Smart or Smart Life app from Tuya itself, with some adjustments here and there. So anyone can start their own smarthome collection quite easily via Tuya. Would you like to read more about how it works at Tuya? Then read our background article below.
Wifi and Zigbee
It is not the case that someone in the office at a retail chain has created the collection themselves. Action and HEMA have the collection through the company Electro Cirkel BV (known from the Calex brand). Kruidvat through the company iStarworld. These companies have compiled the smart home collections via Tuya on behalf of the retail chains and arranged the affiliated manufacturers. This ensures very equal collections that differ in points, but also show many similarities. The collections of Action, HEMA and Kruidvat all use the WiFi protocol. So you don’t need an extra hub, but simply buy a product, download the app and add the smart product.
Lidl does it differently. In addition to the WiFi protocol, Tuya also supports the Zigbee protocol and that’s what Lidl uses. Brands such as Philips Hue and IKEA Trådfri also work via Zigbee. However, with Zigbee you need a bridge or hub. You will receive this with the Lidl starter package. However, you don’t have to use it. You can also connect Lidl products to the bridge of Philips Hue or IKEA Trådfri. And via the umbrella Tuya app you can also use the Lidl products with the smart products from Action, HEMA and Kruidvat. With this, Lidl seems to have an advantage on paper compared to the collections of Action, HEMA and Kruidvat due to this compatibility with both A-brands and the other store collections.
Compatible with each other
Because all collections use the Tuya platform, you can simply use the products with each other. You can simply use the Action products via the HEMA app and Kruidvat, for example, via the Action app. The mutual compatibility is a major advantage of these collections. And the price is certainly also decisive. For a fraction of the price of an A-brand you can buy a smart lamp or smart plug, whereby the collections of Action and Kruidvat in particular stand out because of their low prices. Installation is a piece of cake. Whichever app you use, open the app. Press the plus sign in the top right corner, choose your product, select your WiFi network and password and you’re done. No hassle with a hub, but your product is added within a minute. In most cases then, because the installation does not run smoothly for everyone. More on that later.
Privacy and security
And while we understand the concerns, we must first give Tuya the benefit of the doubt for now. Tuya is certainly not some obscure Chinese company, but a real powerhouse in the IoT field. And the company simply has to obey the rules here in Europe. Tuya is also a member of the Zigbee Alliance and is now under a magnifying glass everywhere due to the strong growth. And stories of abuse are unknown at this time.
However, this is in contrast to Facebook, Amazon or Google, where privacy is regularly at stake. Many consumers are suddenly much less difficult about privacy at these American companies, but at a Chinese company we suddenly have a hard time with it. That is, of course, crooked reasoning. Especially as smart home enthusiasts, we should always be careful with our personal data, with any manufacturer from any country. And do the concerns about Tuya turn out to be justified afterwards? Time will tell. For now, everyone has to decide for themselves whether we trust Tuya. For the time being, however, we see no reason to skip the collections of the retail chains as a precaution. Don’t you trust it but would you still like to use these affordable products in your smart home? The experienced user can get started with ‘flashing’ the smart lamps and other of these products. With this you change the software on the product and you can use it outside of Tuya (and therefore outside the Chinese servers) in, for example, Home Assistant.
Disadvantage of the WiFi protocol
A point of criticism from the opponents that we can agree with is the use of the WiFi protocol. This is not a problem for a number of products, but if you want to decorate the entire house with smart products that use the WiFi protocol, you will soon run into problems. Especially if you use the standard modem / router from your provider. You often get these for free with your subscription and must of course remain as cheap as possible for the providers. As a result, they do not excel in range and capacity. And Tuya products use the 2.4 GHz network, not 5 GHz.
The problem is that providers prefer not to separate the networks and therefore broadcast both networks under the same name. For example, a smartphone chooses the fastest network at that time and can switch continuously. In theory, a product that is only suitable for 2.4 GHz should automatically choose that network, but practice unfortunately shows otherwise. Many people experience problems with these cheap two-in-one modem / routers from the providers in combination with Wi-Fi products and so you have to dive into the settings to actively turn off the 5 GHz or separate the networks by giving them two different names to give. None of this is very difficult, but not everyone is familiar with this.
In any case, a separate 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz network is recommended, because many equipment cannot cope with it if they both have the same name without separation. Fortunately, there are many technicians from KPN and Ziggo who immediately create this separation during installation, incidentally against instructions from the providers themselves. Otherwise, just ask the technician yourself to separate this immediately upon installation. That will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.
In addition, your capacity of the cheap modem / router from your provider will soon be reached. Your smartphones, laptops, smart speaker and a number of smart home products and the whole is soon about to collapse due to the lack of capacity. With the WiFi protocol, everything goes in one heap on your router. As a result, malfunctions quickly occur and devices no longer work, so you have to reset it every time. The solution is to purchase a good router with a better capacity and longer range or opt for a mesh system in the house. After all, you also want to have good coverage in the attic. And then the cheap products of the retail chains are suddenly a lot more expensive if you also have to replace your network equipment yourself. In contrast to the WiFi protocol, Zigbee and Z-Wave create a separate network next to your WiFi network, so that traffic can be regulated much better.
Another drawback of the WiFi protocol is energy consumption. Anyone who has ever placed batteries in a motion sensor that works with the WiFi protocol knows the timeouts of these sensors to save batteries. After activation, the sensor is in standby mode for a few minutes, so that your visit to the toilet eventually ends in the dark. It just doesn’t work well and you also have to replace the batteries quickly.
The disadvantages of the WiFi protocol and the 2.4 GHz network are therefore present, especially in combination with your cheap router from your provider. However, solutions can be found. Experienced users can easily make a solution for this, but for the normal consumer the installation of these affordable Tuya products can be a little more difficult.
Action, HEMA, Kruidvat or Lidl?
Now that we have listed the pros and cons of the smart products of the retail chains, it is time to look at the differences between the products. Which retail chain should you buy the smart products from? We have extensively tested all four collections and can therefore make a good judgment.
Lidl is the odd one out. At Lidl you need a hub that you get with the starter package, but can also buy separately. These products work via the Zigbee protocol and therefore work together with Philips Hue and IKEA Tradfri, but also with Action, HEMA and Kruidvat via the Tuya Smart Life app. Action, HEMA and Kruidvat work via the WiFi protocol. You do not need a hub and can simply use these products in each other’s app. Lidl seems to have an advantage, because you can simply buy Philips Hue lamps to upgrade your collection from Lidl over time. Lidl is certainly not the cheapest option and in our review you could read that the light output of the color lamps is actually below par in comparison with the color lamps of the other retail chains. We have listed the prices of the E27 color lamps for a comparison.
- Action: 6.95 euros
- Hema: 12 euros
- Kruidvat: 7.49 euros
- Lidl: 15.99 euros
For comparison, on the Philips Hue website , one E27 color lamp costs 59.99 euros. If you look a little further, the cheapest price is still 42 euros for one lamp. A huge difference. Philips Hue is qualitatively better than the color lamps of the retail chains, especially in terms of color and the gradual switching on and off of the lamp. However, you buy almost ten color lamps from the Action compared to one color lamp from Philips Hue. The difference in quality is not that great to explain this difference.
All four of the chain stores’ lights deliver 806 lumens (9 watts). That seems exactly the same, but in our test block we saw differences. For example, the color lamp from Action is the best color option with the most saturated and bright colors. These color lamps can also display shades of white and we saw major differences there. Kruidvat and Lidl are quite cold (blue), the lamp of the Action is very warm (yellow). The Hema is a bit in between. So it just depends on what you prefer. Are you going for functional white (cold) or more for atmosphere (warm)? The Action lamp has the best build quality and is twice as heavy as the other lamps. This color lamp is really built like a tank and is also the cheapest option of the four color lamps.
The different collections
The Action with LSC Smart Connect and Kruidvat with Kruidvat Smart Home have much larger collections than HEMA and Lidl. In the last two chains you will mainly find different types of lamps, smart plugs and a remote control. Lidl also has an LED strip, a table socket, ceiling lamps and motion sensors. Action and Kruidvat take that one step further with security cameras, a video doorbell and a siren. Lidl also has smart Christmas lighting in its range, which we personally are very fond of because this is a very good product.
If you choose the best price, go to Action and Kruidvat. There you will also find the largest collections. Action seems to be the most popular among consumers, because you will sometimes find empty shelves here and you cannot order online at Action. Kruidvat allows you to order smart products both in stores and online in the webshop. Smart color lamps have already been on sale for 3.99, giving Kruidvat by far the best price. Slightly more expensive products such as the video doorbell are slightly cheaper at Action than at Kruidvat.
The HEMA is more expensive than Action and Kruidvat and that price difference cannot really be justified, except that the white tones of the lamp from HEMA are just as preferred because it is better balanced between cold white and warm white. However, the stock at HEMA is in good order, both in the stores and in the HEMA webshop. So if you really need a lamp to expand your smart home collection, you will always succeed at HEMA. Lidl’s products were in the shops during Black Friday, but are now only available through Lidl’s webshop. Lidl is also more expensive than the other retail chains, but does use the Zigbee protocol. If you want to expand later, this is much easier than with the products of the other retail chains.
Differences between the apps
The apps all use the Tuya Smart Life app as a basis, but with their own logo. If you put the apps next to each other, it all looks very similar. The photo below shows, from left to right, the apps from HEMA, Kruidvat and Lidl. If you know how one app works, those other apps will also work. Small differences have been made with slightly different names for windows or the sliders for changing colors or shades of white work slightly differently. Basically, the apps are all equivalent to each other. In any case, that’s not going to make the difference. This includes support for voice assistants. Action, HEMA and Kruidvat support Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, but not for all products. So check the box carefully to see if your chosen product supports your favorite voice assistant. The box should have the logo of your favorite voice assistant. If not, there is no support either. Lidl only supports Google Assistant.
What should you choose from Smarthome options now?
The retail chains have made smart home affordable for ordinary consumers. For just a few euros you get a color lamp that you can control with your voice or via your smartphone. If you take the above-mentioned disadvantages into account, the collections from Action, HEMA, Kruidvat and Lidl offer a nice entry into the world of smarthome. A brand such as Philips Hue has an edge in terms of quality, but the much higher purchase price is accordingly. With the smart home collections, the retail chains have helped the smart home world move forward by putting affordable and high-quality products in the shops. It is therefore a suitable option for starters to start with a smart home, as long as you take the disadvantages into account. And the smarthome enthusiasts know what it is like. Once you started making your home smart,
Are you going for the future and do you want to expand later with A-brands? Then Lidl is the best option thanks to the hub and the Zigbee protocol. As long as you know that Lidl color lamps are not as good as the color lamps from Action, HEMA and Kruidvat. And that difference is quite large, which is also a considerable disadvantage. Lidl is also the most expensive option. Are you going for cheap? Then take a look at Action and Kruidvat. They also have the largest collections. In this case, cheap is certainly not an expensive purchase, because all retail chains score more than satisfactory. Do you really need a lamp and is the stock at other stores not in order? Then walk into the HEMA. The best lamp in terms of white tones, but a more expensive option. Fortunately, you can use all of these products together, so you really don’t have to buy all your products from one retailer.