Review of Aqara RTCGQ13LM: Presence Sensor for Xiaomi Smart Home, Integration into Home Assistant 2022.
In this review we will talk about another novelty for a smart home from Aqara – a zigbee presence sensor. This sensor is functionally very similar to a motion sensor, the main difference from it is much higher sensitivity and customizable interval between events. For example, a conventional motion sensor stops responding to a relatively motionless person and considers that there is no movement, and to activate it, you need to wave your hand. That the presence sensor will react to the smallest movements, up to breathing, it will be extremely difficult to deceive it, a living person.
Where can I buy?
- Model: RTCGQ13LM
- Type: presence sensor
- Detection distance: 5 meters
- Sensor coverage angle: 60 degrees
- Detection area: circle with a diameter of 6 meters, at a distance of 5 meters
- Interface: Zigbee 3.0
- Operating temperature range: -10 + 50 С
- Humidity no more: 95%
- Protection class: IPX5 – protection against water flows from any direction.
- Sensor size: 74x74x43.3 mm
- Mounting module size: 113x113x41 mm
- Power supply: 2хCR2450
- Service life from one set: 6 years
The device comes in an ecosystem-specific white cardboard box with a photo of the sensor on the lid. In addition to the brand name, all other symbols are hieroglyphs. On the back side there are brief parameters of the sensor, almost all the inscriptions here are also in hieroglyphs, which means that this version is intended for the domestic Chinese market.
From experience I can say that devices for the global market have boxes that are much larger than for the internal one and have better protection against damage. Nevertheless, the option for the domestic market arrived safe and sound.
The set includes a presence detector in the installation pocket, a small instruction booklet and a set of fasteners.
The instruction, of course, is completely in Chinese, if you wish, you can use a translator with a camera, but there will not be any additional data to what I said.
The sensor can be installed in the ceiling, according to the principle of spotlights. An installation pocket for this mounting method is included in the kit.
The diameter of the outer frame of the pocket is 11.3 cm, the diameter of the hole into which it can enter must be at least 9 cm and not exceed the outer diameter.
The design is split, the sensor also assumes independent installation on the ceiling or wall without a pocket.
The sensor is a washer 74 mm in diameter and 43 mm thick. Most of the frontal surface is occupied by a translucent sensor screen. As you can see, the screen is not uniform, it looks like either flower petals or fish scales.
The back cover in the transport position is installed back to front, this is done on purpose to make it easy to remove. In the standard position, if the cover is not rigidly fixed to the wall or ceiling, it is very difficult to remove it. The complete hardware is designed just for her.
Under the cover – there is a battery compartment, here two CR2450 cells are used at once, obviously in order to increase the battery replacement interval, which, according to the manufacturer, is 6 years.
On their own behalf, they may add that my very first Xiaomi motion sensors, which operate on such a battery and stand in passages at the beginning of 2017, and as of the end of 2020 – I have not changed the batteries yet.
The top plastic cover is held in place by a pair of latches and can be easily removed with a pair of old plastic cards.
The sensor board also rests only on latches, although there are clearly three holes for fastening with self-tapping screws. It is not clear why they decided to save on them.
The inner side with a sensor – which does not differ from the outside from those in conventional motion sensors. Another question is a large amount of space with undiluted elements, perhaps there will be some more multifunctional version of such a device.
On the outside – there is a button for switching to pairing mode and two seats for installing batteries.
Sensor shield from the inside. Its unusual design, apparently, also plays an important role in the operation of the device.
Let’s start the logical part with the native Aqara Home application. The sensor, of course, is supported in it, you can select it from the list, and then indicate to which gateway to connect it – I have it Aqara M2, after which it will remain to choose a name and location.
After that, the device plug-in appears – when it is launched, a diagram is displayed by the number of activations, in the context of a day or a week.
In the settings, you can change the name of the device and the location to see in which automations it participates. There is a trigger log, from which you can see that the default detection interval is 1 minute. There is also a menu where you can see the quality of the zigbee signal.
The sensor can be configured, firstly, by the level of sensitivity – there are three of them high, medium and low. The selection must be confirmed by pressing the sensor button. The same setting principle is used, for example, for vibration sensors, and taking into account the installation method of this device, it must be set up before installation.
The detection period is also configured – from three seconds to three minutes, including you can select any value of this parameter. The shorter this period, the more often the sensor will generate events.
In automations, the sensor can only work in the IF section as a trigger and offers two event options – motion detection and no motion. In the second case, you can choose an interval from a minute to a day.
A feature of this sensor is that the Aqara Home interface does not show the presence or absence of movement, but simply the time of the last triggering. That is, you need to navigate by it and the current time.
The sensor is automatically forwarded to Apple HomeKit through the gateway connected as a bridge. When motion is detected, the status of the sensor appears in the upper line of devices, so here you can already understand whether there is a trigger at the moment, you do not need to estimate the time.
The class of the device is a motion sensor, it, like Aqara Home, can participate in automations for detection and absence of motion.
In addition to the ones offered always and everywhere – I leave home and come home, you can set the switching on of the lamp, the actual cases with the lamp, I think, will be the most relevant for such a sensor.
Accordingly, for an event – no movement – shutdown. Thanks to the ability to set a very small interval between motion detection events, as well as the high sensitivity of the sensor, it is possible to completely dispense with the delay after a motion no event.
An example of how such a scenario works – when motion is detected, a light is turned on, which will work until the movement stops.
Experimentally, I found out that in Homekit, the sensor remains active for one minute after the last movement is detected. Obviously, this is also true for Aqara Home.
Here is a list of devices from Aqara that are supported in the Mihome app. Unfortunately, neither the hero of the review, nor, by the way, like those who have already visited my previous Aqara T1 relays or the Aqara M2 gateway.
Physically, the sensor can be connected, for example, to the third version of the Xiaomi gateway, which supports the Zigbee 3.0 protocol. To switch the gateway to the mode of adding new devices, you can select any supported sensor – it does not matter.
The connection process goes well, you can even see the name of the connected sensor, however, you cannot do something with it – launch a plug-in, add to automation – you cannot, just delete.
At the time of the release of this video, the integration of the Xiaomi Gateway 3 from AlexxIT – does not support forwarding this sensor to the Home Assistant – obviously for the reason just discussed. But in theory, there is still such a possibility.
The same applies to the integration of zigbee2mqtt – as of the release date of this video, the device can be physically connected to a stick that supports zigbee 3.0. However, the device is marked as unsupported and will not work yet, even if the integration version for developers is installed.
There is also a nuance in the work, which consists in the fact that the integration log does not show the events that the sensor generates upon motion detection, for those who want to write their own external converter, it is worth trying to take the existing Aqara motion sensor as an example.
Or, be patient, since the corresponding request to add a new device to the list of supported ones is already open on the github of this project.
But the sensor is supported by SLS Gateway, in firmware no older than December 25, 2020.
The gateway is put into the mode of adding new devices, and the sensor – into the pairing mode, after which it is added to the system.
Extended information on the device, just in case, I will say that the sensor is an end device, does not function as a router.
This is what the device looks like in the network map. The absence of a picture is temporary, it does not affect performance in any way.
7 parameters immediately flies in, including the sensitivity and response interval and the actual state of the motion sensor.
They, in the form of separate entities within one device, appear in Home Assistant. The logic of work is exactly the same as that of any other motion sensor.
When working with the SLS gateway, the interval between the last movement and the switching off of the sensor is 2 minutes.
During testing, I was primarily interested in the sensitivity of the sensor, in comparison with conventional zigbee motion sensors from the same manufacturer, which tend to stop responding to a relatively motionless person.
An Aqara motion sensor is installed in the room, oriented in such a way that the door to the room and the sofa fall into its field of view. The sofa is less than 2 meters away.
I put the presence sensor further, more than 3 meters away, and turned it in the same direction – towards the sofa.
The test is simple – just watching a movie, two people are sitting on the couch in relative immobility. The motion sensor is not active most of the time, it reacts only to significant movements – if someone gets up or raises a hand.
Presence sensor – constantly shows movement, even if you specifically try not to move, it reacts to the smallest movements.
The sensor will not respond to movement behind the glass, I specifically did such a check, because I know that the question is relevant for many.
Thanks for your attention.