Is the TPLink KASA system really this limited?

Is the TPLink KASA system really this limited?
Is the TPLink KASA system really this limited?
2019-12-13 08:50:56 - last edited 2019-12-30 06:15:25
Model: HS200
Hardware Version: V3
Firmware Version: 1.0.3

I recently bought an HS200 smart switch to test in the house. I wasn't thrilled with the phone only interface, demand for geo location information or reliance on the cloud for full functionality, but the switch performed and at the end of the day it just needed to turn things on and off. I bought 11 more to deploy throughout my house so it wasn't until I really dove into the phone app before I realized just how limited the ecosystem is. Smart actions looked great right up until the fourth switch when I realized I couldn't have more than three smart actions. I cannot imagine a scenario where an engineer someplace thought this was a good idea.

 

I looked for a hub appliance that would extend the smart feature capabilities and found nothing. I looked for a Mac/Windows application that would allow for more complex management and again found nothing.

 

Lets be clear, this is a *completely avoidable* software limitation. TPLink needs to offer a home computer-based software managent system or develop a hub that allows for local management of complex tasks. Alternatively TPLink could open the platform and allow developers to build custom applications to manage their devices and integrate with other open technologies, I would gladly build a more robust home automation system based on TPLink hardware if any of these were an option. Until then I struggle to see how I can deploy any more hardware until I have the ability to manage it better. 

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Re:Is the TPLink KASA system really this limited?-Solution
2019-12-30 06:01:06 - last edited 2019-12-30 06:15:25

@Carl 

 

Thanks for the response. The TLDR; version is I've found an alternative that puts me back in control of the devices and allows me to add advanced management all while disconnected from cloud management. Unfortunately the software isn't a TP-Link product but it works none the less and I'll go this route until there's a better alternative.

 

A couple of comments to some of your points. Please don't see this post as a criticism of TP-Link's products. As I say below, I really like your hardware, I just think in this case there's room for improvement and would like to see a move beyond _only_ mobile/cloud management.

 

Let's first dispel with the premise that a closed system means more secure. The open-source community won this debate with Microsoft in the 2000s when Linux started to prove itself as a viable alternative to Windows. Windows is a closed system and it has all the same security issues that you point out in Android. Implementation, market share, app-store control and review, development platforms, and general design have a lot to do with security. Let’s also not forget that both iOS and OSX are also built on open-source platforms (BSD).

 

I can appreciate the intent to provide a quality product and desire to keep a tight ecosystem but your products are already being reverse engineered by the same open source community you’re criticizing and it hasn't made them any less secure. In fact, if it weren't for their work, I'd still be looking for alternative hardware. Z Wave-based tech has benefitted from projects like Open Z Wave and I’d argue that TP-Link would benefit as well and might even learn something from the thousands of open-source IoT developers that use your products. Give us a try!

 

I also understand the desire to make a simple-to-use, hub-free, mobile/cloud managed system. They are convenient but doing so has shifted the functional complexity that comes with a hub or software-based system to TP-Link’s cloud offering and created the limitations I’ve pointed out. This is the technical equivalent of a paper straw. Sure, it works, but I’m left looking for something else.

 

To those recommending Alexa/Google home, I’m glad some people find these technologies useful however I’m among a small number of people that have opted out of these products. Even assuming they could provide some of these feature requests, I’m not sure I see an easy path to the full list of automation options I’m looking for. If you’ve ever used broad home automation technologies, there is a lot that can go in to configuring them and a litany of complex scenarios you might want to configure, the least of which would be the ability to automate more than three devices.

 

Lastly, I understand that most people simply want the convenience of smart-home devices and put little thought into what comes with that. We're so use to providing personal information and opening our lives up to cloud services providers that we don't think twice about it anymore. The growing list of GDPR-like laws show that there are also a good number of people that, given an the choice, would really rather not give up their personal information, privacy and security if it still allowed them to use smart-home technology. I am among that crowd and, because I found an alternative, have now installed 20+ TP-Link Smart-Home products because they work, they're simple, and I like TP-Link as a company (you make great wireless tech too!). I'm doing it with third-party open-source software, have disconnected all of my TP-Link devices from talking to the open internet, and it hasn’t taken anything away from your products. Consider how much work I’ve saved you in not having to provide me additional services after buying all that. You’re welcome!

 

 

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Re:Is the TPLink KASA system really this limited?
2019-12-13 19:24:44

@IoTGuy 

 

Currently Smart Actions is limited to 3 active actions at a time.  This concern has already be pressed from a support side and we are wating for further word from the software team of why the feature was limited in this manner.  Its quite possible it is hardware related but we simply do not have enough information available to determine that. 

 

We do not have a hub appliance nor is there a Web/ or OS client available outside of Android and Apple IOS.  This is not a limitation but by design.  Our product are designed as hub-free devices and as cloud based product a mobile only approach was implemented.  We also will not open the software to 3rd party or home-brewers as that can and often does comprimise the intergrtiy and security of the software.  Think of how open anddroid is and how overwhelemed with malious apps it has become compared to the more closed and restricted iOS platform.  

 

We do however have a few official partnerships where you can link your Kasa account to their services and open up usablity.  Services like Alexa, Google Assistant are common.  But also services such as Samsung SmartThings and IFTTT are also available. 

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Re:Is the TPLink KASA system really this limited?
2019-12-15 07:00:45

@IoTGuy Note that you can use the Google Home and/or Alexa apps to access your Kasa devices,& create actions there (which is what I do).

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Re:Is the TPLink KASA system really this limited?
2019-12-28 20:38:05

@DeanGibson 

 

Were you able to set up the switch to turn off after a set time on either of these apps?  I hope TP Link fixes this, I bought these just for that reason, and only after installing them I discovered this limitation.

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Re:Is the TPLink KASA system really this limited?-Solution
2019-12-30 06:01:06 - last edited 2019-12-30 06:15:25

@Carl 

 

Thanks for the response. The TLDR; version is I've found an alternative that puts me back in control of the devices and allows me to add advanced management all while disconnected from cloud management. Unfortunately the software isn't a TP-Link product but it works none the less and I'll go this route until there's a better alternative.

 

A couple of comments to some of your points. Please don't see this post as a criticism of TP-Link's products. As I say below, I really like your hardware, I just think in this case there's room for improvement and would like to see a move beyond _only_ mobile/cloud management.

 

Let's first dispel with the premise that a closed system means more secure. The open-source community won this debate with Microsoft in the 2000s when Linux started to prove itself as a viable alternative to Windows. Windows is a closed system and it has all the same security issues that you point out in Android. Implementation, market share, app-store control and review, development platforms, and general design have a lot to do with security. Let’s also not forget that both iOS and OSX are also built on open-source platforms (BSD).

 

I can appreciate the intent to provide a quality product and desire to keep a tight ecosystem but your products are already being reverse engineered by the same open source community you’re criticizing and it hasn't made them any less secure. In fact, if it weren't for their work, I'd still be looking for alternative hardware. Z Wave-based tech has benefitted from projects like Open Z Wave and I’d argue that TP-Link would benefit as well and might even learn something from the thousands of open-source IoT developers that use your products. Give us a try!

 

I also understand the desire to make a simple-to-use, hub-free, mobile/cloud managed system. They are convenient but doing so has shifted the functional complexity that comes with a hub or software-based system to TP-Link’s cloud offering and created the limitations I’ve pointed out. This is the technical equivalent of a paper straw. Sure, it works, but I’m left looking for something else.

 

To those recommending Alexa/Google home, I’m glad some people find these technologies useful however I’m among a small number of people that have opted out of these products. Even assuming they could provide some of these feature requests, I’m not sure I see an easy path to the full list of automation options I’m looking for. If you’ve ever used broad home automation technologies, there is a lot that can go in to configuring them and a litany of complex scenarios you might want to configure, the least of which would be the ability to automate more than three devices.

 

Lastly, I understand that most people simply want the convenience of smart-home devices and put little thought into what comes with that. We're so use to providing personal information and opening our lives up to cloud services providers that we don't think twice about it anymore. The growing list of GDPR-like laws show that there are also a good number of people that, given an the choice, would really rather not give up their personal information, privacy and security if it still allowed them to use smart-home technology. I am among that crowd and, because I found an alternative, have now installed 20+ TP-Link Smart-Home products because they work, they're simple, and I like TP-Link as a company (you make great wireless tech too!). I'm doing it with third-party open-source software, have disconnected all of my TP-Link devices from talking to the open internet, and it hasn’t taken anything away from your products. Consider how much work I’ve saved you in not having to provide me additional services after buying all that. You’re welcome!

 

 

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Re:Is the TPLink KASA system really this limited?
2019-12-30 06:21:58

@IoTGuy 

 

Which alternative/open-source solution did you end up using?

Now that I have already installed a number of TP-Link smart switches and outlets throughout my house I've belatedly discovered the ridiculous limitation of THREE total smart actions that I an enable at a given time.

 

Attempting to work around that, I then discovered that TP-Link devices can now only be used as targets, not triggers in IFTTT.

 

I have not yet figured out what the solution to these limitations is other than ripping out these "smart" switches, and replacing them with something "smarter" from another manufactuerer, so I'm very open to alternative solutions that don't involve replacing what I've already purchased.

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Re:Is the TPLink KASA system really this limited?
2019-12-30 06:30:32 - last edited 2019-12-30 06:31:03

@cran1um 

 

I felt the same way the first hour I discovered the limitation but really, the devices are great once you have something better to manage them with. I'm using "Home Assistant" (https://www.home-assistant.io/) and run it all from a raspberry Pi 4. It's fast, ridiculously capable, and supports a number of vendors and integrations. It also works without the need for cloud connectivity which was the big sell for me. Hope this helps and let me know if I can answer anything else (like locking things down so they don't talk outside of your network). Good luck!

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Re:Is the TPLink KASA system really this limited?
2019-12-30 15:27:49

@IoTGuy

 

Thanks! I've heard of that before, but have not yet spent much time reviewing it in detail.  Your positive feedback related to similar challenges definitely gives me encouragement, I'll check it out in more detail. 

To TPLink team: This is really an unacceptable technical limitation for any consumer who chooses to purchase a significant number of your products, and it would seem like those are exactly the type of customers you would want to have.  If there are serious technical limitations that you are unable/still-trying to address, due to your hardware architecture, you really owe it to your customers to provide some sort of reference/documentation on alternative options/solutions instead of simply stating "this is by design, closed ecosystems are superior."   

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Re:Is the TPLink KASA system really this limited?
2019-12-30 22:10:21

@cran1um 

 

While we understand your comments such an action would be unlikely.  We cannot provide any such documentation of possible alternatives because doing so would be akin to providing an endorsement for that alternative.  The only options to avoid using the Kasa app that we can legitmatily provide documentation for would be those we have official partnerships with such as IFTTT, Alexa, Google, Etc.  Much like loading a 3rd-party open source firmware on your router, we would not be able to provide any documentation or assistance with.  Furthermore its worth pointing out that using such a alternative could very well void the products warranty as it could be determined to be a modification of the product or its software.  While with Smart Home products that is not as likely as with a router's firmware it is still a possibility, so the best we can say is if someone finds a way like IOTGuy did to get more out of the device than we currently offer it would be a use at your own risk situation.  

 

If you do want more out of the product or the services we provide please add the requests to our product or feature request section on the Community located under Feedback and Annoucements.  

 

 

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Re:Is the TPLink KASA system really this limited?
2019-12-30 22:23:12

@IoTGuy 

 

I'd be lying if I didn't say you have valid points. Though we all can agree that every coin has 2 sides.  For all the good the open-source community can provide, there are those who have less honorable intentions.  Also we both know that all though the open-source community is growing in use and popularity because of the "enhancement" potential it provides, many still want simplicity and easy of use.  That is what we gear the products towards.  That said we are always listening.  The company who does not listen to its customer base is a company who loses customers. While the cloud based products are the basis of our Kasa product line we are introducing other products for Home automation, such as our Tapo line of products being introduced.  If you have any specific recomendations please leave them in our product and feature request under feedback and annoucements here on the community.  I send the data to our product teams every month so I do make sure that it is listened to and gets some attention.  

 

 

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Re:Is the TPLink KASA system really this limited?
2019-12-30 23:43:37

@Carl 

 

Since you bring it up, please clarify whether or not utilizing Home Assistant https://www.home-assistant.io/integrations/tplink/ on my network is going to void the warranty on my devices.  I didn't expect that it would, but your statement causes me concern.

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