The best physical smart buttons for Home Assistant

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I’ll earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.

While Home Assistant does its best to automate every aspect of your smart home, without you having to lift a finger, there are still certain things you might want to execute manually. While you could use your smartphone and the Home Assistant dashboard to achieve the same thing, starting a script, turning on a light, or setting a scene using smart buttons can be more intuitive.

There are many different smart buttons available. Some of them are cheap and others are expensive. Some have multiple buttons on the same device and others might only have one. The goal of this comparison is to help you find the perfect smart button for your Home Assistant.

Please note that this comparison only covers smart buttons and not smart wall switches. Some of the smart buttons, such as the Aqara Opple and Philips Hue Smart Dimmer and Remote can be attached to a wall using their baseplate. These smart buttons aren’t meant to replace your wall switches.

Zigbee smart buttons – Cheap and efficient

Zigbee is, in my opinion, the way to go for all your smart button needs. All you need to get started is a cheap Zigbee adapter for your Raspberry Pi running Home Assistant and a bit of patience for getting ZHA or Zigbee2MQTT set up. Zigbee devices use very little power and battery-powered devices, such as smart buttons, can run for years off a single coin-cell battery.

Because Xiaomi and their various partner- and subbrands are heavily involved in Zigbee, you will find a large selection of cheap options when it comes to smart buttons.

Aqara Wireless Switch

Possibly the cheapest and one of the most popular smart buttons in the Home Assistant community is the Aqara Wireless Switch. You will often find this smart button under the name Xiaomi Aqara wireless switch. I have explained why that is in a previous article.

An Aqara Wireless Switch smart button which can be used with Home Assistant
The Aqara Wireless Switch: Basic but cheap

This smart button can be configured for single and double presses (and triple, quadruple, hold, release depending on the model). There is also a model which ships with a built-in gyroscope which detects when you shake the button.

Aqara Wireless Switch

Battery: Up to 2 years, CR2032

Actions: single and double click (and triple, quadruple, hold, release depending on the model)

Aqara Wireless Switch (with gyro)

Battery: Up to 2 years, CR2032

Actions: single and double click, shake, hold, release

Aqara Opple

If you are looking for more than a single button on your smart button then maybe the Aqara Opple series of smart buttons are for you. There are versions with two, four, and six buttons. These also come with a wall plate to which the smart button attaches using magnets. You can attach that baseplate to any wall or furniture using double-sided tape. The switches on these devices are rated for 50.000 clicks before they give out.

Aqara Opple

Battery: Up to 2 years, CR2032

Actions: Up to six programmable buttons

The Aqara Opple smart buttons which can be used with Home Assistant

Aqara Magic Cube

Aqara Magic Cube

Battery: Up to 2 years, CR2032

Actions: shake, wake up, fall, tap, slide, flip 180°, flip 90°, rotate left, and rotate right

While it isn’t a switch, I had to include the Aqara Magic Cube in this list. You execute commands by shaking the cube, sliding it, flip it, rotating it, and sliding it. That all makes the Magic Cube extremely versatile. It might seem like a gimmick but I actively use mine to adjust the volume and skip tracks on my Google Home speaker while also using to dim some lights.

IKEA TRADFRI remote control and IKEA TRADFRI ON/OFF switch

For those that need something right now, the IKEA buttons, while not quite as cheap as the Chinese alternatives, might make it into your smart home quicker. Both are meant to be used to control lights but while the IKEA TRADFRI remote control has five buttons, the IKEA TRADFRI ON/OFF switch only has two.

IKEA TRADFRI remote control

Actions: Toggle, arrow (left/right) click/hold/release, brightness (up/down) click/hold/release

Philips Hue

There are a number of Philips Hue smart buttons available. Of those, I would only recommend two: the Philips Hue Smart Dimmer and the Philips Hue Tap. While there are others, such as the Philips Hue Smart Button, they are way too expensive for my liking and they don’t offer anything to justify the price.

Philips Hue Smart Dimmer

The Philips Hue Smart Dimmer can be used a smart button in Home Assistant

This smart button is more than just a single button. It has four buttons. That makes the Philips Hue Smart Dimmer useful for controlling lights and speakers. It also comes with a wall plate, to which it attaches magnetically.

Philips Hue Smart Dimmer

Actions: On/off, brightness, up/down/hold/release, click count

Philips Hue Tap

I’ve included the Philips Hue Tap in this selection for one reason: it doesn’t need any battery. That’s right, the actual push of the button powers this Zigbee smart button.

Philips Hue Tap

Doesn’t need any batteries!

The Philips Hue Tap can be used a smart button in Home Assistant

Wi-Fi smart buttons: Rare and power-hungry

Smart buttons which connect to Home Assistant using Wi-Fi are hard to come by. There is a good reason for that: Wi-Fi uses way more power than either Zigbee or Z-Wave and thus, in the context of a smart home, isn’t best suited for battery-powered devices. Charging your smartphone and smartwatch every night is fine but charging every smart device in your home on a daily basis? No, thank you.

Depending on whether you already have the tools, the cheapest option for a Wi-Fi button which integrates with Home Assistant would be to build your own using a cheap ESP8266 and a push-button. You could even try and to make it battery-powered but, from what I’ve heard, ESPHome struggles with that.

Wi-Fi enabled smart buttons, such as the Shelly Button 1, have one big downside when they are powered by a battery. Because Wi-Fi uses so much power, these devices will switch to standby mode when they aren’t being used. When you push the button it will first have to connect to your Wi-Fi and only then will the command be sent. You can expect a couple of seconds delay when using battery-powered Wi-Fi smart buttons with Home Assistant.

Shelly Button 1

If you don’t want to build your own button or haven’t got the required tools you can always buy a ready-made Wi-Fi smart button. While there aren’t many other smart home vendors doing so, Shelly is keeping the Wi-Fi ship afloat. The Shelly Button 1 can be powered via USB and it also has an internal battery. The battery in the Shelly Button 1 lasts for 3000 actions per charge. To integrate the Shelly Button 1 with Home Assistant you will need to set up ShellyForHASS.

Build your own with an ESP8266 and ESPHome

If you don’t intend to ever move the button and it has easy access to an outlet, you might want to consider building your own using an ESP8266 and ESPHome which easily integrates with Home Assistant. I have already published a guide (including code examples!) on how to use a button with ESPHome and the physical volume controller for Home Assistant might also inspire you. Using a rotary encoder with a push button would make this option rather unique when compared to the rest.

Hugo – ESP8266 4-button WiFi remote

This one I have found on tindie bares the name Hugo and gives you four buttons. This 4-button remote is powered by a rechargeable Li-Po battery and can last up to a year on a single charge (though the creator says you will get around half a year in normal use). Communication with Home Assistant can be set up using the MQTT protocol. When buying this remote you are still required to source and solder on the battery.

Z-Wave smart buttons: Expensive and efficient

In my opinion, Z-Wave should be in a similar position to Zigbee. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Z-Wave devices are usually many times more expensive than comparable Zigbee products. This makes it difficult for me to recommend any Z-Wave device to anyone. You’d be better off taking the money you were going to invest in a Z-Wave device and spending it on a Zigbee adapter and sensors or smart buttons from Aqara or IKEA.

Even if you were to stick with Z-Wave, there aren’t many options for smart buttons. The Aeotec NanoMote is, as the name suggests, a tiny remote with four buttons. It has a built-in battery which will last for up to 3 months and can be recharged via USB.

About Liam Alexander Colman

Liam Alexander Colman has been using Home Assistant for various projects for quite some time. What started of with a Raspberry Pi quickly became three Raspberry Pis and eventually a full-blown server. I now use Unraid as my operating system and Home Assistant happily runs in a Docker container. My personal setup includes many Zigbee devices as well as integrations with existing products such as my Android TV box. Read on to find out more on how I got started with Home Assistant.

Leave a comment