Xiaomi Aqara Contact Sensor

 

Introduction

 

Meet the Xiaomi Aqara Contact Sensor (model #MCCGQ11LM). It’s a tiny contact sensor with great wireless range and battery life. It’s powered by a single CR1632 battery, which should last over a year. The sensing distance isn’t the best, but the price is. If you need to connect a large number of doors and/or windows to your smart hub, then this sensor is for you.

Although this isn’t a SmartThings-certified sensor, it will work with the SmartThings hub. You’ll have to add it through the SmartThings IDE, which is a small inconvenience for the price you’re paying. Additionally, it will report battery percentage if you use the correct device handler.

The Xiaomi Aqara Contact Sensor is a ZigBee device. Keep that in mind if you need to monitor a door or window too far away. If you need to extend the range of the sensor, you’ll need a ZigBee repeater. A Z-wave repeater will NOT work with this sensor!!!

I picked up mine through GearBest.com. I paid an average of $7.35 for these sensor. 16 contact sensors for $118! This is an incredible deal. The “cheap” sensors through Amazon (such as the Visonic Window Sensor
) cost $18 each!

 

  • Price
  • Range
  • Battery Life
  • Installation

Summary

Holy cow this thing is cheap! If you don't mind ordering from overseas with a 2-3 week shipping wait, then order the Xiaomi Aqara Contact Sensor now! As far as SmartThings goes, it works as good as any other contact sensor, but it's not as easy to set up. Also, you might have to add it to SmartThings more than once. Once you get them set up, they are very reliable and work very well. They have good range and decent battery life. I have used 16 of these for the past two months and have had very few problems.

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Check It Out On GearBest.com!!!

Gearbest Xiaomi Aqara Window Door Sensor
Xiaomi Aqara Window Door Sensor

 

Adding Xiaomi Aqara Contact Sensor to SmartThings

 

Adding the Xiaomi Aqara Contact Sensor to SmartThings is easy once you know how to do it. One thing to note- this sensor is designed to be used with its own hub (the Xiaomi Gateway), not the SmartThings hub. It will work, but you may have to add it more than once to get it to work. In my opinion, this small inconvenience is worth the price trade-off.

Adding the sensor is a two-step process. First, you’ll need to add the sensor to SmartThings. This will add it as a generic “thing” in the app. Then, you’ll need to head over to the SmartThings IDE on the web to configure the sensor so you can use it.

We’ll begin by adding the sensor in the SmartThings app:

Slideshow- Tap or click to view

SmartThings will start searching for devices.

Now, press and hold the pairing button on the front of the sensor until you see it flash. Release the button. Press the button again (don’t hold it). You should see three quick flashes.

Keep pressing the pairing button (waiting for the 3 quick flashes each time) until you see this screen. If you’re not seeing quick flashes, start over by pressing and holding the pairing button. The pairing process can take a minute. Tap Save once it pairs.

Tap OK.

The Xiaomi Aqara Contact Sensor will show up as a Thing. You will need to configure the sensor in the SmartThings IDE.



Once the sensor is added to SmartThings, you’ll need to login in to the SmartThings IDE to complete the setup.



 

Configuring the Xiaomi Aqara Contact Sensor

 

Before you can continue in the SmartThings IDE, go here to get the device handler code.

The following slideshow will walk you through everything, from adding the correct device handler to editing the sensor so you can use it.

Slideshow- Tap or click to view

Click on My Device Handlers.

Click the green + Create New Device Handler button.

Click on From Code.

Right-click in the editor and select Paste to copy the device handler code to the editor.

Scroll to the bottom of the screen and click Create.

You’ll see a confirmation message highlighted in green. Next click on the Publish button.

Select For Me.

You’ll get another confirmation message. You’re finished with the device handler.

Now click on My Hubs.

Scroll down a little and click on List Events.

You’ll see a huge list of all events received by your hub. Scroll down until you find the last “Z-wave include search started”. Now scroll up from there until you see “catchall” followed by a string of numbers and letters.

The first 18 numbers and letters can be ignored. What you need is the alphanumeric group of four digits that follows. Remember or write down this code (3C40 in this example).

You might also see something like this: zbjoin: {“dni”,”xxxx”,…. In this case, 845F would be the identifier we need.

Next click on My Devices in the menu at the top of the screen in the IDE. Then scroll down until you find the generic Thing.

Click where it says Thing.

Here, you’ll see why the sensor don’t work yet. SmartThings doesn’t know what it is (type will show Unknown). Click on the Edit button.

Give your sensor a name. Next, click the Type dropdown box. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the list and you’ll see your custom device handlers. Click on Xiaomi Door/Window Sensor.

Device Network Id and Version (required), as well as Zigbee Id (not required), should already be filled in. Double-check to make sure that the Device Network Id matches the four digit alphanumeric code you saw earlier.

You might have to select a hub if you have more than one. Click Update.

You will see a confirmation message. You should now be able to go to the SmartThings app and see your device!

 

Checking the Xiaomi Aqara Contact Sensor

 

Once you have everything configured, go back to the SmartThings app. You’ll definitely want to make sure that everything is working.

Slideshow- Tap or click to view

The Right Now tab will show you the current status of the sensor. Notice (initially) no battery percentage will show up.

The Recently tab will show you all sensor activity, including times the sensor was polled. This info is useful for troubleshooting, but is annoying if you’re looking for anything else.

If you add the sensor to a SmartApp, you’ll see it here under the SmartApps tab.

Click on the gear icon.

Here you can rename or delete the device from within the SmartThings app.

After 15-20 minutes or so, you’ll see the battery percentage start to be reported in the SmartThings app.



 

Problems and Solutions

 

The Xiaomi Aqara Contact Sensor is terrific for such a cheap device, but it’s not perfect. I ordered 16 of these devices, and 14 worked out of the box as described in this tutorial. However, 2 of them had to be re-added to SmartThings more than once. One sensor had to be added twice, and one had to be added three times.

To keep an eye on sensors going offline, I started using a SmartApp called Simple Device Viewer. It’s capable of notifying you when a device hasn’t responded for a set amount of time. You can download it from GitHub here.

 

Conclusion

 

All I can say is wow. You can’t beat the Xiaomi Aqara Contact Sensor at this price point. If you need whole-home monitoring of doors and windows, get this sensor. Whether you want rain from coming in an open window or use SmartThings for a security system, you will need a lot of contact sensors (even for a small home). After two months of use, these sensors are as good as either the Visonic or SmartThings sensors, but are 50-70% cheaper.

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