I'm a fan of Apple's HomeKit technology, which lets you monitor and control various aspects of your home using an iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch — and even using Siri. Elgato has been making high-quality Apple-compatible products for a very long time, so I was interested earlier this year when I heard that Elgato released its Eve line of devices. There are currently four Eve devices. Eve Room monitors the temperature, humidity and air quality of a room inside of your house. Eve Weather monitors the temperature, humidity and air pressure outside of your house. Eve Energy monitors energy consumption of a device and can turn a device on or off. Eve Door & Window can tell whether a door or window is open or closed. Elgato recently sent me free review samples of its Eve Weather and Eve Room products, and I've been testing them for a few weeks now. If you are interested in monitoring and tracking the weather inside or outside of your house, these Eve devices work well. My only real complaints, explained more fully below, are that they do not download data automatically, and they are slow to use if you are outside of Bluetooth range from the devices.
Eve Weather retails for $49.95 and is made to go outdoors. The device is rated IPX3, so it is OK if it gets wet from rain, although it shouldn't go underwater or be sprayed with a jet of water. You can mount it on the side of a wall or just sit it outside on a table, which is what I did. The device is a white square with rounded corners, 3.1 by 3.1 inches, and is 1.3 inches deep.
The back of the device has a hole that can be used to hang the device on a nail or screw, and also contains the unique code that you will need when you first connect to the device.
The device is powered by two AA batteries. Because Eve Weather uses the more power efficient Bluetooth 4.0 technology, Elgato says that it can go over three months before the batteries need to be replaced.
Like other HomeKit devices, you assign each Eve unit to a room. Or in the case of Eve Weather, you can assign it to an outside location such as Backyard.
Eve Weather monitors three things. First, it monitors the weather, accurate to within 0.54° Fahrenheit. Second, it monitors the humidity, accurate to within 3%. Finally, it monitors the air pressure, accurate to within 2 mbar / 0.06 inHg. It logs each of these results every 10 minutes.
To determine the current temperature, humidity and air pressure, open the Eve app on your iPhone and select the Eve Weather device from the main screen. You will next see a screen with the three Eve Weather readings.
If you tap on any of the readings, you see a graph with historical information. For temperature, there is a red and a green dot that shows you the highest and lowest recorded temperatures from the last 24 hours.
Historical information is downloaded to your iPhone when you use the Eve app, but is not pushed to the app unless the app is running. Eve devices store 14 days of historical data, so you will want to open the app at least twice a month to maintain a full historical log.
Underneath the graph, there are three dots on the right. Tap those dots to see even more graphs for which you can control the focus: hour, day, week or month. The week and month graphs show you both the high and low temperature over a period of time. As you can see, the temperature in New Orleans was certainly up and down in November:
Finally, if you want to see the data, you can tap Measurements and see every one of the 144 recorded measurements for each day (one for every 10 minutes). You can also delete individual measurements, useful if you know that the Eve Weather wasn't being accurate for some reason — for example, if you had the unit inside of your house for a period of time so you know that it wasn't monitoring the outside temperature and you don't want those inside temperature readings skewing your charts of the outside temperature.
I have more to say about Eve Weather, but it also applies to Eve Room so let's talk about it next.
Eve Room looks virtually identical to Eve Weather. It is the same size and shape, although it doesn't have a hole on the back to hang it up on a wall.
Eve Room is powered by three AA batteries. Elgato says that they will also last over three months.
Like Eve Weather, Eve Room monitors temperature and humidity. But instead of monitoring air pressure, Eve Room measures air quality, and for that reason Eve Room costs $30 more than Eve Weather.
Elgato says that the air quality measurement is based on volatile organic compounds, which includes not only CO2 but also other substances that can cause eye irritation, headaches, tiredness and dizziness such as emissions from carpet, paint, furniture, printers, perfumes, cleaning products, tobacco smoke and many other substances that in large quantities can be harmful. These compounds contribute to what is sometimes called Sick Building Syndrome. In my tests over the last few weeks, my Eve Room air quality measurements were mostly excellent and occasionally good, but I see that they did go up to poor for about 20 minutes last night when my wife was using a wok to make Chinese food in our kitchen — one room over from where the Eve Room was located — and there was some smoke in the air.
Note that while Eve Room classified it as poor air quality, it smelled really good in my house while my wife was cooking. For whatever that is worth.
One of the best features of Eve Room and Eve Weather is that they integrate with HomeKit. That means a couple of things.
First, it means that you can use Siri. If I ask Siri "What is the temperature outside" I get a normal Siri response using The Weather Channel and my location. But if I ask Siri "What is the temperature in my backyard" — with "Back Yard" as a designated zone in my HomeKit — I get the current reading from my Eve Weather. Similarly, I can ask Siri "What is the temperature in my house" and I can get the current temperature in both my backyard and my home theater room, the room where my Siri Room is located.
Although there is not an Eve app on the Apple Watch, you can use Siri on the Apple Watch to ask for information from an Eve device, such as the temperature.
A second implication of HomeKit is support is that Eve devices can work with other HomeKit devices. A perfect example of this is the Eve app. That app is powerful enough to show me not only the readings from the Eve Room and Weather, but also other HomeKit devices in my house — which currently includes Lutron light switches on my front porch, my dining room, and my home theater room.
It is nice to have a single app that can handle all of my HomeKit needs. Indeed, I can tap "At a Glance" at the top of the Eve app to see all of my current readings on one page.
Or if I select the entry for my TV room, I can not only see the temperature in that room (thanks to the Eve Room) but also I can see whether the lights are on or off and, if on, the brightness, and I can control those lights.
In theory, there is no reason why my Lutron app couldn't also get temperature and humidity information from my Eve devices because those two functions are HomeKit standards, but the Lutron app doesn't currently do so. (Air quality and air pressure are not currently part of HomeKit, so only the Eve app can read that data from Eve devices.)
Because the Eve app handles other HomeKit devices, I haven't seen much need to use my Lutron app. Everything that I need for both my Lutron and Eve devices is right there in the Eve app.
A third advantage of HomeKit support is security. HomeKit devices use end-to-end encryption to prevent unauthorized access. Thus, someone else cannot park outside of your house and get your temperature or air quality readings (or, in the case of my Lutron devices, turn my lights on or off). Who knows if anyone would actually do that, but you do get some peace of mind when a home automation device advertises that it is HomeKit compatible.
A fourth (future) advantage of HomeKit support is the ability to automate using what Apple calls triggers. Currently, Eve Weather and Eve Room can only be used to report readings to you. However, Elgato is planning a future firmware update that will allow you to automate activities based upon readings from an Eve device. Perhaps in the future you'll be able to turn on a red light when it is getting hotter outside or a blue light when it is getting colder outside, or perhaps integrate Eve into your HomeKit-compatible thermostat.
Finally, because Eve Room and Eve Weather support HomeKit, they can work with an Apple TV so that they can be accessed from anywhere, which leads me to the next topic...
Eve Room and Eve Weather work best when your iPhone is relatively close to an Eve unit. When you are within Bluetooth range and you ask for the temperature or other reading, using either the app or Siri, you get an answer pretty quickly. Sometimes it works immediately. Sometimes you need to wait a few seconds. For example, you might ask Siri the temperature and be told "Sorry, I wasn't able to do that." But if you ask again a few seconds later, you'll get an answer. Loading historical data to the Eve app takes a little longer when you are within Bluetooth range — sometimes 15 seconds, sometimes 30 seconds — but is quick enough that it never really bothered me.
But if you are not within Bluetooth range of an Eve device, things slow down substantially. If you own an Apple TV and your Eve device is within Bluetooth range of your Apple TV, then the Apple TV acts as a bridge and allows you to get information from the Eve device from anywhere in your house, or anywhere in the world. That's why I placed my Eve Room in my TV room (where my Apple TV is located) and I placed my Eve Weather on my back porch (close enough to my TV room for Bluetooth 4.0 to work, even through an exterior wall). It's nice that the Apple TV can act as a bridge so that you can access your devices from anywhere on the Internet, but the problem is that it is very, very slow to do so.
How slow? It would often take me about a minute or two before I could get the current temperature, but sometimes even longer. The worst example was a few days ago, when I was in my office at 11:34 and I loaded the Eve app to see the current temperature in my backyard at my house. The app told me that the most recent data was two days old. I pulled down the screen to ask it to load more recent data, and it did so, but not until twelve minutes later when it finally told me, at 11:42, that the current temperature was 68°.
But even then, the Eve app was missing the historical data for the last 48 hours, so I left the app open and running so that it could continue to get that data. It started to pull in data about 15 minutes later, and then it finally finished downloading the historical data at 12:05, about 30 minutes after I first started reading data from the Eve Weather.
I am not a networking expert, but 30 minutes seems like a ridiculous amount of time to read a few numbers. I'm not saying that this is the fault of the Eve Weather. It might be that there is something about Apple's HomeKit technology, or the Apple TV itself that makes it crazy slow in these situations. (I'm using the latest model of the Apple TV, and it has a wired connection to the Internet with speeds of around 100 Mbps down and about 20Mbps up — plenty fast enough.) Note also that, while I am in my office away form home, I can use the Lutron app on my iPhone to turn off a light at my house, and the light turns off within seconds. If Lutron remote HomeKit technology is so fast, why is Eve so slow?
While you currently need to be within Bluetooth range of an Eve device to get readings quickly, Elgato says that this should change when companies start to sell Bluetooth range extenders. The Elgago website says that with these "upcoming tunneling devices" you will be able to "access Eve away from home and extend the range of Eve." No company is currently selling Bluetooth range extenders. I don't know how long it will be before we see these on the market, nor do I know how they will compare to using an Apple TV; maybe they will be faster?
I know that some folks have an outdoor thermometer located outside and within viewing distance of a window so you can look outside and see the current temperature. Eve Weather is the same idea. You need to be somewhat close to that window to get the fast Bluetooth connection, but you don't need to squint to read the thermometer, nor do you need to worry about it being too dark outside to see it. Of course, if you are just curious what the weather is outside, you can also use one of a million iPhone weather apps or even just ask Siri. Results from those apps may not be 100% accurate for your precise location, but it is probably pretty close, especially if you live in a city like I do. But the Eve app also gives you historical weather, which is a neat way to see how the weather at your house has changed over time, and is a feature that I don't remember seeing in other weather apps. It is also nice — albeit often very slow — to get the precise weather at my home even if I am away from home. You can't do that with an analog thermometer hanging on the outside of your garage, unless you have some sort of security camera aimed at it.
I think all of that makes Eve Weather worth $50 — currently $47.99 on Amazon. I've certainly enjoyed using Eve Weather for the last few weeks at my house, especially because of the historical data feature. And it is especially nice that the Eve app can monitor and control other HomeKit devices. It is unfortunate that you have to be so close to Eve Weather to get quick results, and it sure would be nice if this could improve in the future, by either Apple or Elgato. But even with its current limitations, I like Eve Weather.
Eve Room has seemed like more of a novelty to me. I suppose it is interesting to see the temperature in a room of my house, and see how that temperature has changed over time, but I cannot say that I find that information all that useful, nor do I find it worth $80. I suspect that Eve Room will be more valuable to folks who have a need to monitor air quality — perhaps for themselves, perhaps for someone with health issues, or perhaps for a child or a pet. If air quality is important to you, then the air quality readings and the log of prior readings could be an important tool for you to learn what is having a negative impact on your air quality so that you can change behavior accordingly. Indoor temperature, humidity and air quality just isn't that important to me, so I'm not the target audience for Eve Room. But if you consider yourself in that target audience, Eve Room does do the job and it does it well.