Dip Your Toes Into a Smart Home, with Stitch from MonoPrice Starter Kit (Giveaway!)
A great starter kit for smart home beginners who don't have a hub. The Stitch app isn't perfect, and the products vary in usefulness, but it's great for dipping your toe into the world of home automation.
Monoprice’s Stitch brand provides a great way to start making your home a smart home. It doesn’t require any hubs, is easy to set up, and won’t cost you a fortune. When you’re just getting started, the Stitch smart home starter kit is a great value option–discounted at $76 until 4/21/2019 (usual price $99)!
This pack comes with five products to get you moving on your smart home journey. Keep reading as we break down each one, and be sure to enter our giveaway at the end of the review for a chance to win a kit for yourself!
What’s In the Stitch Smart Home Starter Kit?
The Stitch starter kit includes the following five items:
- Water Sensor
- Smart Bulb
- Door/Window Sensor
- Smart Plug
- Motion Sensor
While all of these products work over Wi-Fi and don’t require a dedicated smart home hub, you’ll need the Stitch app for Android or iOS to set them up.
Download: Stitch by Monoprice for Android | iOS (Free)
Using the Stitch App
After opening the Stitch app on your phone, you’ll need to create a new account (this is different from a Monoprice account). After this, you can start adding new devices and managing your home.
The basic process for adding a new device is tapping the Plus button at the top-right corner of the screen, then choosing the type of device you want to add from the list.
You’ll also need to put your device into the proper pairing mode so the app can find it. This varies by device—some automatically put themselves into pairing mode once you turn them on, while others require you to hold a button to activate it. This can be a bit confusing, but you’ll know a device is in pairing mode when its LED flashes quickly.
Next, let’s look at each of the devices in turn.
1. Smart Water Sensor
This is a fairly simple device that allows you to detect leaks. Place it near a toilet, hot water tank, washing machine, or other appliance that might leak. If the metal prongs on the bottom detect water, it will beep and send a notification to your phone.
While you can place the unit on the ground directly, it also includes a bracket and probe. This allows you to mount the device on a wall and snake the probe to a hard-to-reach area.
At first, we found the notifications for this were delayed slightly, but they worked fine after a bit more testing. Monoprice claims the built-in battery lasts for up to four years with two activations per month, or up to five years in standby.
2. Smart Bulb
Up next is a 50w equivalent smart bulb. Just replace any compatible bulb in your home with it, and you can then control it with the Stitch app or virtual assistants.
The bulb worked perfectly in the first lamp I tried it in. This was my first smart bulb experience, and I was pleased to find that the dimming feature worked even though my light switches don’t have that capability built in.
Since I had already linked my Stitch account to Alexa and Google Home when I reviewed Monoprice’s Strata Home vacuum , both assistants picked up the bulb without any extra steps. With voice commands, you can turn the light on or off, or change the brightness level.
3. Door/Window Sensor
Monoprice’s simple two-piece sensor lets you install the unit on any unit that opens and closes. This is usually a door or window, but you could also use it on a garage door or even a mailbox.
All you need to do is mount the two pieces close to each other (within 0.4 inches) on a door. You can do this via the included sticky tape or screws. The smaller magnetic piece goes on the door frame, while the larger part moves with the door.
When the door opens or closes, you’ll get a notification on your phone. The unit also includes a tamper-sensitive switch on the back that sends you an alert if someone tries to pull it off the door.
4. Smart Plug
Smart plugs are another staple smart home tool, and this one is easy to set up. Just plug it into any outlet, sync it to your Stitch app, and you can control lamps or other small appliances with your phone or voice.
It handily includes a color-changing light to represent different levels of energy output. Through the app, you can also review how much energy the plug has used. This piece of the kit also works with Google Assistant and Alexa. Just ask and you can turn your plug on or off. If needed, you can also use the physical button to do so.
Unfortunately, the smart plug blocked the second socket in the outlet when plugged in. This may vary depending on your home, but it’s a shame that using it renders your other socket inaccessible.
5. Motion Sensor
Wrapping up this bundle is a simple motion sensor powered using the included batteries or by plugging it in with a micro USB cable. After you’ve set it up, you can mount it using the included 3M sticky tape or screws. The sensor detects motion (up to 33 feet away) and sends your phone a notification when something walks by.
When setting it up, I received notifications that someone had tampered with the device. However, it’s not clear what triggers this, as when I took off the stand and bottom cover, the tamper notification didn’t show up again.
There’s not much more to this one. It doesn’t seem as useful as some of the other items due to the potential for false positives (perhaps from a pet). But it’s still a neat little gadget.
How Is Stitch as a Smart Home Platform?
Now that we’ve looked at all five products, how do they and Stitch as a whole feel to use?
Overall, this is a solid starter kit for a smart home beginner. All devices are easy to use out of the box, the lack of hub is convenient, and the products “just work” for the most part. The Stitch app also lets you organize your devices by room and set up automated routines, which is neat.
However, Stitch has a few minor issues that prevent it from being stellar.
The setup could use a bit more direction. Some of these products go into pairing mode as soon as you insert the batteries. Conversely, the water sensor had a clear tab over the battery (which the manual didn’t mention) for activation. Meanwhile, the smart plug requires you to hold the power button to enter pairing mode. Having this become more consistent across devices or more obviously spelled out would be an improvement.
Stitch also doesn’t make it clear what functions of each device you can use with Alexa and Google Assistant. Since you can set a timer for the smart plug using the app, I tried doing so with a voice command, but that didn’t work.
Actually, the Echo itself seemed confused about what it could do with these devices. After setting up the motion sensor, Alexa let me know that I could ask her to enable it. Yet when I asked her to disable the Stitch motion sensor, she instead disabled the entire Stitch integration. This required me to re-connect accounts in the Alexa app.
Finally, the Stitch app offers no way to change individual notifications on Android. Since you don’t have fine-grained control, the notifications can get a bit overwhelming if the sensors go off several times in a row.
Should Stitch Be the Start of Your Smart Home?
With all these products considered, we’d say that Stitch represents a fine way to dip your toe into smart home automation. For less than $100, you get five varied products that are easy to use.
The Stitch app isn’t perfect, but it’s totally serviceable. If you don’t want a bevy of advanced smart home products yet and don’t mind a few quirks in the app and setup, give this a look.
Note that these products are also available individually. If you don’t plan on using one of them, you can order the others separately to save some money.