Review: VOCOlinc VS1 is a highly-affordable HomeKit contact sensor
VOCOlinc continues its trend of releasing affordable HomeKit solutions that improve the smart home with the VS1, a new contact sensor which is an essential component of any smart home.
When asked to think of exciting or fun smart home accessories, you're likely to conjure images of smart lights in various colors, speakers to fill your home, or a wall panel where you can see your entire home at a glance. What you likely won't think of is a basic contact sensor.
We won't pretend or try to sell you on the VOCOlinc VS1 Smart Contact Sensor as being fun or exciting, but something as basic as this is crucial for making your home truly smart, rather than just connected. It can also help your house be more secure, aside from automating various scenes.
What we will say about the VS1 right out of the gate, is that it is — thus far — the most cost-efficient contact sensor for HomeKit we've stumbled across. Others from all the big names in HomeKit carry higher, at times much higher, price tags.
For a pack of two tags, at the time we've written this review, they are $37 on Amazon but drop down to $34 when a $3 coupon is clipped. The only other one comparable in price is from Aqara but it requires the Aqara hub whereas VOCOlinc is purely Bluetooth.
The VS1 Smart Contact Sensors
So what do you get for your $34? In the box, you get two sets of contact sensors. Each has a primary portion that houses the battery and the Bluetooth chip while the other portion holds the magnet.
There is also replacement adhesive for one of the magnets and four adhesives for the larger part of the contact sensor. Finally, there is a set of CR2023 coin cell batteries that need to be installed. With a fresh battery, users can expect roughly six months of normal use, with the long battery life attributed to a reliance on Bluetooth 5 Low Energy.
Once more compared to other sensors on the market, the VOCOlinc VS1 is quite thin, with it designed to be very shallow as to fit in more locations, particularly the magnetic portion. It is also reversible, with the magnet able to align with both the left and right side of the main portion, which is very unlike other sensors. This makes it much easier to install as you don't have to worry about which way to orientate anything.
In a unique choice, there is a circular light on the VS1 that is quite bright. Others, like the Eve Door and Window Sensor, have a status light that flashes whenever the contact sensor is opened or closed, but it is subtle. It is behind the plastic and is just a soft white.
With the VS1, the light is vivid and bright, for better or for worse. We can see that being useful in some situations but maybe a bit bright in others.
That light encompasses a button on the VS1 which is used to factory reset the device, should you ever have the need.
One thing we dislike is the location of the HomeKit pairing code, right on the front of the device. This is a tricky problem for VOCOlinc because you want the code to be easily accessible to be scanned, but on a device so thin, it almost only fits on the front or back.
If it were on the back, it would be inaccessible when mounted, leaving only the front as the area where it can be placed. It just sticks out like a sore thumb as it stands.
The last thing we had an issue with is that you have to remove the adhesive to replace the battery. That's why VOCOlinc includes multiple replacement adhesives for the main portion compared to the magnetic piece.
Eve gets around this by allowing it to slide off while still attached to the door, but those are much larger than the VS1.
What can it do?
With something as simple as a contact sensor there are endless possibilities. It just depends on what you are looking for them to do and how well you can think outside of the box.
The most simple and commonplace automation is to get a notification from HomeKit whenever your door or window is opened while you are away. You can also trigger your lights to come on whenever you open your front door, or perhaps you could turn off your AC when the windows are opened.
You don't have to put the sensor on a door or a window. Perhaps in your bar, you could get an alert when someone opens the liquor cabinet, or turn on a warning light to red when your child opens up a pantry with cleaning supplies. You could even connect it to your blinds to turn on the lights when you close the blinds within 30 minutes of sundown.
If you don't have a HomeKit garage door, a contact sensor can let you know if it is open or closed and when it is controlled. The same goes for drawers, folding closet doors, or anything else that opens and closes.
All of this can be set up from within the Home app as soon as the VS1 is paired. Ours paired instantly once we scanned the HomeKit pairing code.
Should you buy the VOCOlinc VS1 Smart Contact Sensor?
Whether you are just starting your HomeKit smart home or you already have an established one, a contact sensor is an easy way to make your home more secure as well as smarter.
Between the low cost, reliable connectivity, and slim design, the VOCOlinc VS1 is our current go-to recommendation for HomeKit contact sensors. With its price where it is, we recommend picking up a few of them. You just have to get creative on how you use them.
- Very responsive
- LED notifications
- Slim design
- Works from either side
- Cheapest around
- Replaceable battery
- No hub necessary
- Still more expensive than a contact sensor needs to be
- LED ring could be too bright
- Large footprint
Rating: 4 out of 5
Where to buy
Grab a two-pack of the VOCOlinc VS1 HomeKit contact sensors on Amazon for $37 before clipping the $3 coupon.