Smart Life (Tuya) vs Kasa (TP-Link)?

Note: Currently not a Hubitat user, but eventually

I'm starting out with new switching in our house, and we're debating on these two echo systems.

What's the community's opinion n these two?

My "hub" right now is Google Assistant (both of these work with GA out of the box) with a min-configured SmartThings and HassIO. I'm leaning towards getting a Hubitat eventually.

Background on why these two: we're looking for dimmers that have physical +/- buttons, with a modern design. I've gone through Inovelli, Insteon, Lutron[1], GE[2], and even WeMo. Nobody has smart dimmers that maintain physical +/- buttons and modern in design. I cannot find any Zigbee or Z-Wave Plus devices that meet these two base criterias. :disappointed:

Which leads me to Kasa or Smart Life/Tuya. TP-Link's dimmer has physical +/- buttons. And Smart Life is an ecosystem filled with all sorts of third party vendor harder that do also retain a physical +/- button.

Now, I'm trying to decide which ecosystem to invest into: Kasa or Smart Life.

I'm honestly leaning towards Smart Life/Tuya, since it's a back-end ecosystem with a plethora third party hardware. Kasa would lock me into TP-Link. But, I really want the insight of the Hubitat community to make sure I'm not shooting myself in the foot later down the road.


[1] It's pretty ugly, to be honest. The switch is complex at first glance. Not anywhere near modern in design.
[2] Uses a "press-and-hold" functionality which isn't immediately apparent when looking at it -- a UX failure on GE's part.

Looks like physical +/- buttons and a modern design... Maybe not the design you "like" though.

1 Like

Correct. Not modern in my book. Modern is simple, edges, solid. This isn't "modern design."

Not the first to not like the Caseta look. But nobody will disagree with their quality and reliability.

The local API this is factory installed on a "Smart Life/Tuya" device requires AES encryption. As hubitat does not (yet) support encryption, to use these devices you will need to make software and/or hardware modification to the device (to change the firmware) so that it can be used with Hubitat (via the sOnOff (Connect) app). If you are going to use these devices, make sure that you are comfortable with the procedure needed to get them working, and the possibility that you could inadvertently render a device useless if the procedure fails.

The local API on the TP-Link/Kasa devices does not require encryption, and there is a native app/driver available for Hubitat. These devices are also readily available at retail in North America (Any Best Buy stocks them, and they go on sale quite often) and UK/EU (Carphone Warehouse, etc).

Just a word of caution... Focusing on the "modern look" will cost you a lot of money and create a lot of frustration and failures in your overall system which will lead to more cost of replacement or complete loss of throwing everything out from frustration caused from incompatible components.

Also look into Sinope Technologies. They have a line of switches and some have official integrations. @mike.maxwell discussed one on the latest pod-cast and you might ask him about specific model status and (not guaranteed) plans.

@cybrmage Now that's good info. Thank you.

to use these devices you will need to make software and/or hardware modification to the device

Is that the actual reason for the nodejs intermediary? I know this is the route people have been using with Tuya, but never saw, or noticed, as to why.

"Smart Life/Tuya" device requires AES encryption [...] TP-Link/Kasa devices does not require encryption

Wouldn't this be irony to security on TP-Link's part? I am a little security focused when it comes to software (software engineer by trade). The fact Tuya uses AES encryption is a positive.

Not the first to not like the Caseta look. But nobody will disagree with their quality and reliability.

@jeubanks Not denying that one at all. We thought about going with Caseta, due to that reliability and local ability with the Pro hub.

But, we just can't stand the hideousness of their switches. The Hue switch looks so much cleaner and even has additional functionality with continuous "On" presses. We're a couple gay men here -- we have expectations to keep up with. :laughing:

Focusing on the "modern look" will cost you a lot of money and create a lot of frustration

The husband focuses on aesthetics. I focus on UX. I actually like the touch swipe switches, but the husband isn't a fan. So our compromise is something in between, like the TP-Link Dimmer. There are a couple Tuya dimmers on Amazon that are simple and elegant that he likes.

1 Like

Umm... those switches are hideous! They can't fit into a gang box so you have to stick them to the surface. The only nice this is the "remote" is removable from the face plate thing.

Good luck... seriously and not even being snarky (currently). Wifi switches/dimmers unless using their specific "hub" for control is an exercise in futility and frustration. Wifi is ok for aux things but I would never trust/want it for lighting as it's not compatible with anything.

Stay with the primary protocols for lighting. Lutron, Insteon, Z-Wave, ZigBee and at least then you have some choices if you tire of the current "hub" or software you're using or something better arrives. Having light switches that require internet and now you're just begging for slow response and bad lighting automations!!! You might as well stick to SmartThings if you want slow performance! :slight_smile:

Alternative direction you can use in-wall modules and then put whatever pretty switch on the outside you want.

1 Like

Oh, I get it. I'm paying close attention to that. That's why I wasn't a huge fan of Insteon, or even Lutron to be honest (Lutron requires their *Pro* hub for local compatibility).

It's also why I'm interested in Tuya over TP-Link. As you said:

I'll paraphrase that to "hardware" -- Tuya is a singular software ecosystem across dozens of hardware manufacturers. It's the internet equiv of Z-Wave Plus. I don't mind software - software can be hacked or proxied. Hardware, though? That's where I'm getting picky.

I'm now using the kasa tp-link community integration and it works perfectly for switches. I also have 3 SmartLife connected switched sockets and still can't yet find a simple way to get them linked in to Hubitat. My vote between the 2 choices you indicate is tp-link. But based on what I've read here, the Caseta range is the best option (although I also do understand your thoughts on the aesthetics).

Not quite the equiv... There's lot of efforts across several platforms to integrate Tuya devices and all with mediocre results. Don't be mistaken they want a closed ecosystem just like the other device vendors.

The Lutron Pro bridge is only needed to integrate with other systems. Insteon protocol is supported by hardware controllers or software choices not "just" the Insteon Hub which is not very good.

Although the Kasa devices do not have AES security, they can be set to local control only (i.e., do not use cloud to control). This used to be available in the Kasa phone app (but has been removed) and is now available through the just publised Kasa Tools application to re-introduce these restrictions.

With local only control, you can control the device through Hubitat and, when on your home network, through the Kasa phone app. For Google / Amazon control, you would use the Hubitat integration to those devices.

The driver set; although developed by me, has evolved based on user concerns and issues. I am just the code-slinger - the users are the boss!

Can it be both? I don't mind remote control. I like being able to control the same device through Google OR Hubitat OR my phone OR HassIO, etc. At least, for now, until I build up my local ecosystem.

Some detail:

  • In local only control, the Kasa App does not control your device and the Google / Amazon Kasa skills do not work (they work through the Kasa Cloud.
  • If Remote Control is enable (this is the DEFAULT for the devices), you can control through the Kasa App and Google / Amazon.
  • Once you install Hubitat, you have the option of using the Hubitat linkage to Google / Amazon to control the devices. That is when local only becomes an option.

I'm sorry if you misunderstood me. I get that. My question is: is it possible to enable local and remote simultaneously?

Note: the reason I ask is the "time delay" between me setting it up through local lan vs the time the husband wants to use it. :joy:

I'd rather it be fully functional through a quick Google link to Kasa, while I do tinkering on the backend with the local network until I'm ready to switch to local-only.

Yes... But the cloud connection is TLS encrypted... Only the the local connection does not use encryption.. local data does not go "over the wire" in plain text, it is encoded. Local and cloud connections can be used simultaneously.

The reason for the intermediary depends on the target platform. Some platforms don't do AES, some don't do UDP, etc... So the intermediary get around those restrictions.

For the Tuya platform, many (most??) of the devices on that platform are ESP8266 based (this is the same basis as the sOnOff devices).... And it has been discovered that the firmware can be "upgraded" to any of the various alternative platforms... The most popular being Tasmota... The Tasmota firmware allows a hub to control a Tasmota device without the pesky AES... It also completely remove the devices ability to connect with the Tuya cloud ecosystem.

Thanks, cybermage. One last question, @cybrmage and @djgutheinz: As I mentioned earlier,

TP-Link recently removed the local option from their app. What's your views on the future of Kasa local-only abilities? TP-Link doesn't have such a transparent CEO connecting directly to the hobbyist communities like Inovelli.

Personally, the local only is embedded in their devices as well as their entire infrastructure. I think it will be there for quite a while but not available through their app. It will have to be invoked through other means (like Kasa Tools).

TP-Link local protocol is UDP. It is also not clear text. Instead, it converts the text to Hex characters and does a progressive XOR on each character. Although not encryption, it makes it more difficult.