YoLink’s LoRa Home Control Product Has Unique Features
by Ken Dulaney
LoRa is a local area limited bandwidth wireless technology operating in the 433, 868 (Europe) and 915MHz (North America and Australia) bands. These public frequency bands’ prime characteristic are their long-range capability; YoLink, the supplier I am using, estimates 1000-foot range. On its website, YoLink supplies several different control devices based on LoRa.
I have a highly automated home. My home has 7 TVs, two cable boxes that permit content switching to any of the TVs. I have Android TV, xBox, Apple TV, Windows PC, Roku, Lorex security cameras, and TiVo using Comcast as content sources. Installed are Logitech Harmony remotes that have been extensively programmed to control all the functions. Tablets, smartphones, and PCs can also be used as control points and as content sources via WiFi Direct.
My Automated Home
The garage door, various lighting fixtures, a water recirculation system, under counter leak detection, security cameras, front door bell, Orbit B-Hyve, RainMachine and Sprinkl irrigation controllers, Hunter Douglas automated window shades, a Litter-Robot automated litter box for our cats, solar panel control, Nest CO2 detectors, Roomba vacuum, and a few other miscellaneous items and controlled by WiFi.
There are 7 different versions of Google Home devices installed and an Alexa device. These can control almost all the devices above.
However, the most complex solution requirement I have is for my Koi pond. Being somewhat lazy, I lam loathe to hand feed the Koi and to change out an amount of water each week as instructed by those who supplied the fish. The water change function is controlled by conventional WiFi plugs and switches from Leviton. However, the fish feeder needed a switch that could turn a motor on for several seconds. All the WiFi switches that I have reviewed seemingly use the same based technology and only operate in hours and minutes.
YoLink's Home Automation Support
A recent review with YoLink revealed that they had a unique feature that permitted control by seconds. Within the application you can create a script that includes a schedule, an action by the switch (typically on or off), and any delays between actions including seconds’ control. To control the fish feeder, I was able to program the device to turn on for 8 seconds, which is one feeder unit or any multiple of 8 seconds at the two feeding times that occur each day. The exceptional range permits the device to be placed at distance from my garage where the YoLink LoRa hub is located. If I want to perform an ad hoc feeding, I can set that up through Google Home, Alexa, or IFTTT service.
Another interesting application is for a large plant that we have in our living room. After I installed the plant, I noticed that it was growing only on one side and looking pretty ugly. The reason of course was that while the plant was near the window, it was not getting rotated to promote growth on all sides. So, to solve this problem I created a Lazy-Susan like device controlled by a barbecue motor that would turn the plant. It was located under the plant pot. However, I didn’t want to just plug in the barbecue motor and having it turning continuously all day. I wanted the barbecue motor to turn on for 2 seconds every 30 minutes. The YoLink plug permits me to do this although it is somewhat cumbersome to program. I had to set up a string of on/off and delay commands over a 24-hour period. It would be nice to have a repeat function in the Smart Automations section of their application.
There are a few other applications I have in mind, but the YoLink LoRa solution with its long range and seconds programming has permitted me to do things I could not do with the current crop of WiFi controls.