Den Automation Launches UK Smart Home Range with Cool Self Moving Switches

New UK Smart Home Range from Den

Earlier this month Den, the London based smart-home technology startup, launched their next generation light switches, sockets, remote controller and hub.

After four years in development, the company founded by 22 year old Yasser Khattak, 17 at the time, has raised over £5m in funding – and with Robert Watkins (former CEO of Amstrad), brought in one of the most experienced names in consumer electronics production. Den has designed, tested and built the most inclusive range of smart home products available on the market, whilst not changing the look and feel of the products already installed in homes.

Den’s product range can be operated at the wall as usual, via an Android or iOS smartphone app, or through an Amazon Echo or Google Assistant.

Mesh Network

Den uses the IEEE 802.15.4 protocol, which is a ‘low-rate wireless personal area network’ (LR-WPAN). This 2.4GHz wireless mesh network is designed to co-exist with Wi-Fi and is very similar to Zigbee…

Our products use a custom wireless protocol built on IEEE 802.15.4 which not only uses very little energy but also allows our Socket Outlets to communicate with each other via a meshing system. Therefore the range can be extended to cover a large area, provided that each device is within range of a connected Socket Outlet. We recommend placing the Hub in a central part of the house and then placing the first set of sockets within 15 meters of the Hub. Further sockets and switches can then be installed within 15 meters of each other.

Den Smart Home App

We asked Den of there are any plans to integrate with Zigbee devices and they told us…

Den uses a custom protocol that is not interoperable with Zigbee systems. We are very much aware that IoT without integrations and ecosystem partnerships is a false start and we are keen to support a number of commonly used platforms in the future, just like we support Amazon Alexa and Google Home.

Power Consumption

Each individual socket outlet contains power consumption monitors, so you can see how much energy each appliance is using. Power consumption for the Den devices themselves is less than 1.0 Watt for the sockets and less than 0.4 Watt for their light switches.

Cloud Connected

You’ll need Internet access to reach the Den Cloud service for the initial system setup and to control the system when you are away from your house. However once inside your home the system can work without the Cloud connection providing you’re on the same network.

Den Self Flick Smart Switch

Flick of a Switch

Perhaps the most interesting USP of the Den system is how its 2-way communication is implemented.

With other systems there can be confusion as physical switches and their status in an app or other control software can get out of sync. However, with Den the physical switch actually flicks on the wall too as you operate it remotely. This is accomplished with magnets via their patented technology.

The click sound the switches make maybe the only slight downside of this idea, although it’s hard to gauge how loud it is from watching the videos below.

Den Smart Socket - Internals

The wall mount modules require a 35mm back box and a 10 mm adapter is included with each Light Switch and Socket Outlet so you’re still ok if you only have a 25mm boxes.

The App

With the Den app you can schedule your lights to turn on and off at certain times. You can also set up multiple timers and schedules per day, for each appliance and Light Switch. We asked if there are any future plans for a more feature rich app that will be paid for or have in-app purchase etc?

We are working on adding more features to our app that will be announced soon – we may begin charging for more premium features in the future.

We then asked if there are any future pans for a subscription fee for the Cloud service?

Possibly in the future, however anyone who buys our products before we publicise that will not need to pay if we do start charging.

Den Smart Tag

Smart Tags

Den Smart Tags are a novel feature that use a thin overlay that sits on the prongs of your plug to identify the appliance that’s in use.

They appear to use NFC / RFID and we asked Den to explain more…

Den Smart Tags are used to identify and keep track of an appliances and its location, even if it moves around the house in and out of various Den Sockets. The Smart Tags use a similar technology to the one found in contactless payment or Oyster cards, they communicate with our Den Sockets. They are the perfect solution to accurately identify the location of your appliances even when they move around.

Neutral?

Checking the FAQ it seems that a neutral wire is not required for the current modules.

Our switches will be direct replacements for your existing light switches and work with standard UK lighting circuits. We use novel and proprietary technology which means that we don’t require a neutral wire in the back box. However, there is an Earth Terminal on the Light Switch that needs to be connected to an Earth wire, in order for the Light Switch to function.

We asked Den if their new Smart Dimmer Switch, promised for Q2 2019, will require a neutral, but they would only say…

We will be publishing final dimmer specs in the coming weeks

Den Smart Socket - Rear

Integration?

The latest round of funding for Den saw a £2M investment (bringing the total to £5M) and the company says the money will be used to bring further integrations to the system.

The latest round of funding will be used in the production of the next range of devices for the home, which will include Den’s Smart Dimmer Switches as well as the entire range with chromed metal finishes. Funds will also be used to expand operations and the team, to enable further product integrations such as Homekit and explore opportunities with further integrations like IFTTT.

We asked Den if there was any ETA for the IFTTT and HomeKit integration?

No ETA, our team is hard at work on HomeKit which is substantially more complex than other integrations and we will be announcing other ecosystem partnerships in the future.

Den Smart Switch - Internals

Summing Up

The current product range includes…

Den believes that it is their combination of conventional switching along with wireless operation that will be key to their success and they hold a European patent for this feature.

Their products are available to buy at Amazon, YESSS, CEF, Edmundsons, BEW and Electric Centre. Check out the links and the videos below for more info.

getden.co.uk  :  Available from Amazon

 

Introducing Den

 

How to Install Den Smart Light Switch

 

21 Comments on "Den Automation Launches UK Smart Home Range with Cool Self Moving Switches"

  1. Expensive, no integration, proprietary technology stack when an open one exists, “patented” the concept of magnetism. If I wasn’t already out, I definitely was when I saw the guy behind it.

  2. Does it offer an open API? It would be great to integrate it with other smart home systems.

  3. An interesting product launch. I like the retrofitting, and style.

    But, if the light switch ‘requires’ an earth to function then I strongly suspect that they are returning current to earth in order to charge a local reservoir (battery? Supercap?) in order to provide power.

    While it’s the only way to do it for LED lighting without a neutral, this isn’t a great idea. Presumably there will be a maximum number of devices possible before the RCD/RCBO trips. Even if it’s a very small current, the protective earth is not intended for this use.

    I’d also place a reasonably serious bet that the upcoming dimmer will need a neutral.

    I may be wrong, though. I hope I am, because that will mean that they’ve solved a very inconvenient problem. Which would be fantastic.

  4. Peter Ebenezer | February 18, 2019 at 3:38 pm |

    If no API for Homeassistant its a massive nail in this product.
    It was bad enough its all proprietary, but if you don’t want to involve the smart home ubergeeks then the community won’t back you…you know, the community that buys batches of sockets and light switches 10 at a time… Instead we will continue to support hack happy diy companies like Sonoff.

  5. Like Lee said expensive, proprietary and a hack to fix the lack of neutral. To be fair this easily worked around using a 5 dollar sonoff switch custom firmware wired into the pendant to use existing switch. The switch actuation is a gimic, I hope these boys fails as this is exactly what home automation doesn’t need at the moment. Some self deserving investors with a half baked idea that probably sounded better in his head……….I’m out.

  6. The Den switch certainly seems to need an Earth connection. In fact there is a 10cm jumper wire coloured green/yellow for the purpose included in the box. It probably has something to do with storing enough power to operate the electromagnets that move the switch toggle, since that must exceed what can be drawn through a lamp load?

    I note that the switch carries the CE mark and also BS EN 60669 -2 -1 marks (which is for “Switches for household and similar fixed-electrical installations. General requirements “) which suggests that they comply with UK requirements for safely using Earth?

    The switch is quite compact with the terminals recessed from the back so that fitting into a 35mm back box should be easily possible (the switch is about 23mm deep and supplied with a snug fitting custom 10mm spacer should you have 25mm back boxes, or a lot of wires to avoid being crushed).

  7. Far far to expensive when you can buy the same from China for a theard of the price you really need to rethink your prices

  8. Kevin Hawkins | February 20, 2019 at 2:46 am |

    They are really loud when they click over .. even noticeable in the next room. Also just to state again, the light switches are not mesh devices, they are endpoints.
    Product is also now too expensive.

  9. Proprietary ecosystem is a deal breaker for me. I use Zigbee for everything. Disappointing.

  10. Proprietary wireless protocol?
    On the crowded 2.4GHz band?
    Sorry, bad choice: WiFi interference can’t be managed using radio tools – bitter experience from similar Nest “Weave” mesh on 2.4MHz.
    Why not 800MHz Z-wave?

  11. The physical movement of the rocker is a ridiculous gimmick. The overwhelming majority of light switches are installed in sight of the lights they’re switching. Who looks at a switch to see if the lights are on or off? And with two/n way circuits it’s impossible anyway.

    I do agree that people often prefer ‘normal’ light switches (particularly those who have experienced sub-standard home automation). In my installs I achieve exactly the same (apart from moving the rocker! ) with Sonoff devices and Tasmota. I have normal switches, wired in 1.5mm t&e, connected to the IO pins, and code that detects a state change. This way it’s possible to switch either physically, or via the automation system. It keeps the Luddites in households happy. In fact, they generally don’t even notice when the switchover to automated is done – the initial set up is just done traditionally, with all the connections made using DIN rail terminals (sometimes Wago lever terminals if the budget’s really tight) so that we can slowly migrate to the automated system when my client decides to upgrade. To achieve this we just return all the switch wires and light circuits on each floor to one large terminal box (per floor), big enough for all the Sonoff units (or whatever else we decide to use). It doesn’t matter that the low voltage signalling is on 1.5mm twin and earth. On one installation a cable was prone to interference, so we just used a lower value pull up resistor to solve that.

    The proprietary protocol of Den makes it dead in the water for me. At the moment I use Domoticz to drive everything.

    And, I still really don’t like the fact that Den use the Protective Earth as a current carrying conductor. No matter how small the current. Even if it does meet regulations. But, that’s probably the purist in me.

    But, it’s all about the marketing, and Den seem to have that covered.

  12. @Stephen do I understand correctly that in your solution you must run wires from switches and lights to the ‘large terminal box’?

  13. Hi michal,

    Yes. It’s only really appropriate at first fix. For retro fit then the Sonoff (or Lightwave, Rako, etc.) goes above the ceiling at the fitting, or wherever makes sense.

    T&E isn’t a significant proportion of the cost of an installation, so running more of it doesn’t have a massive impact on price. Likewise the terminal box, etc.

    I like the flexibility of having everything accessible in one place. Yes it’s a lot of wire, but the benefits make it worthwhile.

  14. Open API and standard Zigbee protocol support is coming.

  15. Also worth stating, Den are looking to reduce the noise of the switching with new versions and they have already listed the price reductions that will take place this year and next, the launch prices won’t be evident for long.

  16. I have been testing the Den Light switch and I can confirm that it does indeed need an Earth connection to function. It seems as though it is used to provide a very small current to power the switch but since this is way too little to power the electromagnets used to mechanically move the rocker switch, it charges some kind of internal energy storage device (rechargeable battery or super capacitor perhaps?) to power it instead. The consequence of this is that whenever the switch is remotely operated, it takes time to recharge before it is able to operate the switch again. I am surprised to discover that this recharge time is 45 seconds. The Den App has an animated graphical indication of the process around the control button and if you attempt to operate it again before the 45 seconds has elapsed a message appears to explain that you will have to wait until it is recharged. In the real world I doubt if anyone will be troubled too much by this. However I do wonder why the system doesn’t buffer your request for operating the switch and then action it automatically when the switch is recharged? At the moment you have to wait and do it again yourself.

    The advantage of this approach is that the switch is a true passive two-way type. No power is lost in the switch so the bulb is 100% on, no power is drawn through the bulb, so no flashing or buzzing and 100% compatible with all bulb types.

    But as others have observed, the mechanical action of the switch is surprisingly loud when it does operate. (Reminiscent of the sound made by the relays inside ancient X10 plugin switches).

    It should be noted that Den use 802.15.4 radios which are the same as used by ZigBee and Google/Nest and capable of forming a mesh network. I find that the Den Light switch responds very quickly to commands but it turns out that they are not Repeaters. Only the Den Sockets have a Repeater function. I suspect that to keep the current drawn through the Earth connection to an absolute minimum, the Repeater functionality has necessarily been omitted in the Light switches, but since the Sockets have a Neutral connection they do not have such power restrictions.

  17. To be honest they sound like contrived garbage, like previously posted who looks at a switch to see what position it’s in? With a 2 or more way switch it’s on even possible anyway. Not a very well thought through device and they drop should drop this in the next iteration if there is any (you read it here first), it’s a gimic at best and worst gets in the way of operating the switch assuming it’s not constantly tripping your RCD with earth leakage. With a 6 quid sonoff a bit of wiring skill you can use your old switch and automate it as well regardless of position if you wire it at the pendant, why would you bother with this? Drop the price significantly, the proprietry protocol and contrived self actuation then you have a half decent solution then…..but then it’s already been done albeit expensive.

  18. In their Installation Notes for Electricians, Den state the following:

    “It is important to note that an Earth connection is required for the Den Light Switch. Whilst this is usually required for safety reasons, the Den Light Switch requires an Earth connection for Earth leakage when powering the electronic circuits within the switch. This leakage will be 2mA Max.”

    With my very limited knowledge of acceptable Earth leakage currents, this would appear to be OK, but those more familiar with PAT testing might like to comment further.

  19. I am glad to see that Den are listening to the community regarding the proprietory protocol. They possibly thought that the Den Tags would be a unique feature that would win people over. Should have talked to the community first! Even though I use Zigbee the space is only going to get more complicated in the future with Bluetooth mesh and the market flooding cheap WiFi products. I think companies need to be agile regarding integration. Proprietary can be successful. After all electricians will buy and install Lightwave to fit out homes for users that are not interested or informed regarding long term integration. Den may be successful here if they can get their kit in ScrewFix or similar.
    The UK HA Market really needs a good range of compliant retrofit devices. I have concern over the increasing adoption of devices bought on ebay with dubious compliance and hacked into homes by hobbyists. This needs to be brought under control before accidents happen.
    So I wish Den success. But urge the swift pivot to interoperability. I want to install Den switches and plugs and integrate them into my SmartThings hub. But for now, for me, they remain on the shelf.

  20. Once you hit 15 switches, and with no other leaking devices (very, very, unlikely given IT power supplies and rfi filtering to earth) then you’re at the limit for earth leakage. For an RCD protected property, that’s more of a problem, as all (protected) circuits are taken through one RCD. RCBO based installations probably less of an issue. But, what proportion of installations currently use RCBOs?

    These Den devices are ridiculous. But, when did that ever guide a purchasing decision?..

  21. Yes, but Lightwave isn’t entirely proprietary – I use Lightwave, and other devices, with Domoticz and RFXComm. No problem at all, and very reliable. It’s easy to mix and match, and I can install it in the first instance when the homeowner ‘thinks’ they don’t care, knowing that it can be included in a more fully featured system in the future if they change their mind.

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