Lowe’s Iris Next Gen Home Hub – Not Ready
We bought our original Iris home hub from back in 2014 and have been using it since then to control a subset of our home devices. We were originally excited to have a hub that was marketed by Lowe’s – the Internet is great, but sometimes you just want to be able to drive to a local retail outlet and pick up some compatible devices for your home, just like you would buy a regular light switch or sprinkler part.
Right from the beginning we were a bit put off that Lowe’s expected you to enter your credit card at registration, unlike the other hubs we had been using. Over the last couple of years we have migrated most of our things to either Wink or Zipato, but there are a couple of devices we like that were only available on the Lowe’s platform – our Orbitz automated water faucets, a bathroom light hooked up to a motion sensor, and a water leak sensor. So we have kept the hub active and have been paying the monthly service fee.
We were pleasantly surprised last year when Iris announced their 2.0 hub and a free replacement program for existing customers, so we signed up as soon as we heard about it. After we signed up, it did take several months (and a few email reminders from us), but we did eventually receive our new hub.
Conversion fast and easy
The Iris team did an outstanding job on the conversion process, it was seamless and easy. We simply plugged in the old Iris, started the conversion process on the web, then plugged in the new unit, and all the devices were converted to the new platform. We only had a few, so we can’t speak for what it would be like if you had a home full of things, but we were really happy with this compared to some other platforms we have used. They also provided a pre-paid UPS box to return our old hub.
Using the new interface
For the 2.0 version, Iris eliminated the web app it had before. All set up and control is now through the iOS app. While the interface looks different, it is not any easier to use. There is a main dashboard where you can see the status of everything, and while the devices are easy to control, the scripting seems to be lacking. We find we often get signed out of the app and need to re-login, which can be very frustrating.
App still incomplete
The current app has several things you can do: history, safety alarm, security alarm, lights and switches,and climate. When we first installed Iris, there were a lot of things that were listed as “coming soon,” such as doors and locks, home and family, cameras, water, windows and blinds, lawn and garden, care, and energy. Now with a recent update the app only lists what is available, and they have added some new services, including lawn and garden.
When we first installed the system, the lack of services meant that some of our existing Iris rules just stopped working. For instance, we have a motion sensor in one of our rooms to turn the lights on and off, that works fine. However, we also had two water faucets automated. The app turns them on and off manually, but if you try to combine it into a rule, it does not work, and there is no history of the action at all, since that part in the app is still “coming soon.”
The reliablity of the device status is also inconsitent – it is hard to tell if a monitored device is on or off. When we use our faucets, we have to double-check to make sure they are working so we don’t leave the water on all night.
Since we can not use all the services we had originally, we have migrated some of the devices to the free service and a motion detector to another platform. We love our Orbitz automated faucets and that is what is keeping us tied to Iris at all. Without the paid service, we are now restricted to just turning single devices on and off.
Customer service has also been an issue. Twitter customer support is great, but at one point when we were trying to get something working we called the telephone support and were on hold for 30 minutes – which is really frustrating for a paid service and not what we expected from a national chain like Lowe’s.
Iris recently acknowledged some of these issues in a blog post. We appreciate their honesty about some of the issues evidently there are a lot of people who have still not received their new hubs and they have added new support channels to get people help faster.
We were really hoping to love the new Iris. The hub is small and elegant, and the transition is great, but the reliability of the platform, the incomplete UI, and the $10 service fee with missing capabilities have disappointed us. We are still keeping it running for now, but we don’t expect to rely on it to run the majority of our devices. Once it is more complete we may consider trying it again in the future.