2017-11-02

Do Not Buy Avi-On Light Switches

I bought a GE Avi-On light switch for my daughter's room. This replaces the regular wall switch with one that can be remotely controlled from her phone. The idea was to allow her to turn off the overhead light from the bed. It worked for about 10 minutes until it started downloading a firmware update to the switch, at which point the update failed. The switch no longer works. Lots of people are reporting the same issue, which means there are thousands of these switches throughout the country with this problem.

The Avi-On switches have these problems:

  1. The phone software requires an internet connection and a login to the Avi-On site. Why? This is a bluetooth app. There is no reason whatsoever that it needs a connection to a remote network It only needs a connection between the phone and the switch.
  2. It requires location services turned on and access to the file system on the phone. Why? This just smacks of them just wanting to harvest information from the phone, because there is no need for these permissions. The only thing that would require these accesses is for a firmware update to be downloaded from the network to be pushed to the switch. Which leads to...
  3. Firmware updates fail. You cannot push down a firmware update to remote switches if the firmware destroys the switch! And if your testing is abysmal and you somehow screw up and release one, you must pull the firmware update off your site the moment you realize it. The people have been reporting that the Avi-On current firmware update is causing problems for the last two months, but they are still pushing out the update.
  4. These switches supposedly make a bluetooth mesh with other switches in the area to allow spanning past the normal range of bluetooth. Bluetooth isn't the right technology for home control. The range is too short, which means you either need a lot of these, or you need repeaters in various places. That's an expensive solution to home control.

In summary, do not buy Avi-On GE Bluetooth light switches, or anything else made by Avi-On Labs. I will be returning this switch to where I bought it.

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