This article provides a comprehensive comparison of physical Zigbee smart buttons available for integration with Home Assistant (through Zigbee2MQTT or ZHA), offering insights into their features and compatibility. It is structured to guide both beginners and experienced users in selecting the ideal smart button for their needs.
- Why Home Assistant Benefits from Physical Buttons
- The Advantages of Zigbee Smart Buttons
- Spotlight on Linkind: Affordable and Certified
- IKEA TRÅDFRI: Convenient and Versatile
- Philips Hue: Quality you pay for
- Aqara: Cheap but not (yet) certified
- Interested in Wi-Fi and Z-Wave smart buttons?
Why Home Assistant Benefits from Physical Buttons
Home Assistant excels in automating smart home functionalities, yet certain tasks might require manual intervention. Physical buttons offer a more intuitive and immediate solution compared to smartphone-based control. This article focuses exclusively on smart buttons, distinct from smart wall switches, emphasizing their portability and ease of use.
The Advantages of Zigbee Smart Buttons
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 or home server and a bit of patience for getting ZHA or Zigbee2MQTT set up and running. Zigbee-powered devices use very little power and battery-powered devices, such as these smart buttons, can run for years off a single coin cell.
Because Xiaomi and their various partner- and sub-brands, such as Aqara, are heavily involved in Zigbee, you will find a large selection of cheap options when it comes to smart buttons. However, with the popularity of Zigbee exploding in recent years, they are no longer the only option. In fact, I don’t recommend many of Aqara’s Zigbee offerings, as they aren’t Zigbee 3.0 certified yet.
The Zigbee 3.0 certification ensures that Zigbee products from different vendors play nicely with each other. If you are a user of Home Assistant, it is likely that you will be Zigbee products not just from Philips, IKEA, or Aqara, but a mix of brands. To ensure a seamless integration with Zigbee2MQTT and ZHA, the certification is a must. You can find more on why Zigbee 3.0 matters in my article on Zigbee door/window sensors.
Spotlight on Linkind: Affordable and Certified
Linkind, a relatively new but notable player, offers Zigbee 3.0 certified smart buttons. Their products, like the 1-Key Remote Control and 5-Key Smart Tap Switch, stand out for their compatibility and ease of installation. These devices blend functionality with affordability, making them a compelling choice for Home Assistant users.
Linkind 1-Key Remote Control
The Linkind 1-Key Remote Control is, as the name suggests, a Zigbee device with a single push-button. Currently, it is only available as part of a kit, but you can link it with both Zigbee2MQTT and, according to an Amazon review, ZHA. As the Linkind 1-Key Remote Control has a magnetic backplate, it can be attached to many surfaces. While it doesn’t ship with a baseplate, you could easily 3D-print your own using a strong magnet. A single CR2032 button cell powers this smart button, proving once again that Zigbee is the king of battery life.
Linkind 5-Key Smart Tap Switch
The second Zigbee smart button from Linkind is the 5-Key Smart Tap Switch. As with its smaller sibling, confirmation that it is compatible with Zigbee2MQTT is given, and it is Zigbee 3.0 certified. It also has a magnetic baseplate and backplate, allowing you to mount it anywhere you want.
One downside of the 5-Key Smart Tap Switch are the individually labelled buttons. Depending on what you want to do with the smart switch, the labels might not match the action. The intention is to use it as a switch and dimmer, but thanks to the magic of Zigbee and Home Assistant, you can do just about anything you want with. From controlling a garage door and opening shutters to adjusting the volume on a smart speaker, the options are limitless.
IKEA TRÅDFRI: Convenient and Versatile
If you fancy taking yourself down to a yellow and blue Swedish furniture store and, while you are there, picking up some Zigbee smart buttons, then these are for you. There are multiple options available at IKEA, all of which have been Zigbee 3.0 certified: The shortcut button, the on/off switch, the remote control, and the wireless dimmer. With each IKEA TRÅDFRI shortcut button, you get a set of stickers to customize the icon on it. Despite being known for their flatpack furniture, IKEA does have some of the best Zigbee smart buttons (as well as light, blinds, and more) on the market.
For those that need something immediately, the IKEA buttons, while not always quite as cheap as the Chinese alternatives, might make it into your smart home quicker. The whole IKEA TRÅDFRI smart button line-up should be compatible with Zigbee2MQTT, ZHA, and deCONZ.
Philips Hue: Quality you pay for
Despite being one of the leading manufacturers of Zigbee products, there are currently only two Philips Hue smart buttons available: the Philips Hue Smart Button and the Philips Hue Smart Dimmer v2.
The previously featured Philips Hue Tap is sadly no longer available. Although the official website states that it is only temporarily unavailable, I haven’t been able to find it in any other stores. I still want to mention it, as it shows what a remarkable technology Zigbee is. This little remote with three buttons required no battery. The piezoelectricity generated by the click of a button was enough to send a signal to the nearest router.
Philips Hue Smart Dimmer v2
This smart button is more than just a single button. It has four buttons. That makes the Philips Hue Smart Dimmer v2 useful for controlling dimmable lights and smart speakers. It also comes with a wall plate, to which it attaches magnetically. The magnets in the device are strong enough to let it be attached to any magnetic surface, without the baseplate, such as a fridge.
The Philips Hue Smart Dimmer v2, and its predecessor, do have an added functionality that you might not be aware off: They can be used to reset Hue bulbs. This does come in useful whilst you are experimenting with various bulbs. In my experience, using the Hue Smart Dimmer is much easier than toggling a bulb or LED controller a certain number of times and for a certain duration.
One thing I don’t like about the second version of the Hue Smart Dimmer is the branding on one of the buttons. If you are lucky, you might still be able to pick up its predecessor. The downsides of the older version are that the magnet in the device isn’t strong, and I much prefer the design of the newer model. It also appears to be somewhat pricier.
Overall, the Philips Hue Smart Dimmer v2 deserves its spot in the list of the best Zigbee smart buttons for Home Assistant. At US$25 it offers decent functionality for the price. ZHA, Zigbee2MQTT, and deCONZ support this device, and judging by the older model I have, it should be straightforward to set up, with an LED to indicate its status.
Philips Hue Smart Button
Although the Philips Hue Button looks nice, and can be discreetly mounted anywhere, I do find it hard to recommend. At ~US$20 , it costs more than double of other smart buttons mentioned in this article. It certainly doesn’t top the list of the best Zigbee smart buttons for Home Assistant, let alone make the top three.
If you do opt to go with it, Zigbee2MQTT, ZHA, and deCONZ support the Philips Hue Button. It supports both short presses and long presses, making it more useful than a Zigbee smart button that can only execute a single action.
Aqara: Cheap but not (yet) certified
Aqara’s Zigbee products are very popular in the Home Assistant community. They are cheap, look good, and are often functional. However, there is a reason why I do not recommend all of their products at this moment: They are not Zigbee 3.0 certified.
There are many reports of Aqara’s Zigbee devices having issues switching to the nearest router, and thus drastically decreasing their link quality. The good news is that Aqara already has a Zigbee 3.0 certified smart Aqara Wireless Mini Switch with the T1 suffix. Unfortunately, these only ever hit the Chinese market, and I can’t find a single one on AliExpress. Were Aqara to refresh their line-up with a certified smart button, it would surely top the list of the best Zigbee smart buttons for Home Assistant.
Aqara Wireless Mini Switch
In terms of pricing, the Aqara Wireless Mini Switch is hard to beat. Especially if bought from a Chinese marketplace, such as AliExpress. If you are willing to take the risk of having a non-certified device that often has issues switching routers or outright refuses to connect to any router that isn’t from Aqara, you are welcome to give it a go. But I recommend patience. Aqara already has several certified Zigbee 3.0 devices on the American and European market, and a refresh of their existing sensors and switches is bound to happen sooner rather than later.
This smart button can be configured to execute commands on single, double, triple, and quadruple clicks, as well as when the button is held down and released (depending on the model). There is also a model which has a built-in gyroscope, that can detect when you shake the button. You will often find this smart button under the name Xiaomi Aqara wireless switch. I have explained why that is, and Aqara’s relationship to Xiaomi, in a previous article.
Aqara Cube: One of the weirdest Zigbee devices
While it technically isn’t a smart button, I had to include the Aqara Cube in this list of the best Zigbee smart buttons for Home Assistant. You simply deserve to know of it. You execute commands by shaking the cube, sliding it, flipping it, rotating it, and tapping it. That all makes the Aqara Cube, which is often referred to as the Magic Cube or Smart 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 a group of lights. Believe it or not, depending on which side is facing upwards, you can execute different commands. I have written a guide on how to best integrate the Aqara Cube with Home Assistant, if this description has piqued your interest.
Interested in Wi-Fi and Z-Wave smart buttons?
Previously, this article included not only a list of the best Zigbee smart buttons for Home Assistant, but also Wi-Fi and Z-Wave smart buttons. As the selection continued to grow, I have decided to move those options to separate articles. You can find my recommendations for Wi-Fi smart buttons here and Z-Wave smart buttons here.