Building a SmartHome as an engineer is a tricky business of weighing ease against online-safety. For every joy a smart-switch brings, there's a complicated issue of trusting increasing amounts of control in our lives to giant international systems often packaged as turn-key solutions such as Tuya.
Controlling a light-switch shouldn't require a packet doing a round-trip around the world so putting aside the issue of privacy, the sheet lag is reason enough to want a local solution. This leads us to Tasmota, a piece of software which runs on the smart-device in question, and handles all the inputs/outputs. It's open-source, well-developed and so far, quite fast.
The issue behind Tasmota, is getting onto a piece of hardware in the first place. The installation process essentially boilds down to "hope to find your device on this list, void every part of your devices warrenty then hope to god that the manufacturer hasn't swapped some wires in the latest models or your house might burn down".
For a few years now, engineers have been screaming for a factory-flashed Tasmota, and finally a chap called Adam went about doing all the paper-work to get it to the UK.
I bought 4 at £9.50, which came to more than £30 so free-shipping as well. Design wise they're perfect, without the chunky exterior that competitors often have. Specs on the box claim they work on 2.4G Wifi with a max-load of 10A.
Setup is an "easy" process (for an engineer), with the first step being to plug the smart-switch into a device, then connect to the emphemeral wifi created by the device when it first turns on.
Once connected, you visit a website called "http://192.168.4.1" which is actually hosted on the smart-plug! You then tell it to connect to your wifi of choice. On this page you can also set other options like the Hostname.
The smart-plug will then connect to your wifi, and the page should redirect to the website hosted on smart-plug (but now via your own wifi).
The "website" that the plug hosts gives you now a huge array of options and things to do. It's important to highlight now the difference between this and a product you could buy off Amazon. Whilst this might involve a step or two more, you can change any setting you like, add a password, and update the security when in a few years time something goes wrong. The internet can go down, the company behind the product can go down, but the device is still yours. If you're technically minded, you can even start to do fun things at this point.
Let's start, by enabling Alexa support! The easiest way to do this, is to tell Tasmota to emulate being a Hue Bridge device. All you have to do is select the button on this page, and hit save.
Then, over in the Alexa app, tell her to find new devices and she'll hopefully find the new device.
Overall, my impressions of the devices have been great. They do what they say on the tin, support Tasmota perfectly and are near instant when turning on and off.