Product Features | Thread

Discover your Thread Network

Feb 15, 2021 - by slavikus - Comments
 
 

Routers, endpoints, nodes, partitions – this article is somewhat of a more technical description of Thread, the future-proof smart home networking technology that enables a new generation in your HomeKit-enabled smart home.

Make the most of Thread

First, if you haven't already installed the Eve app, you may want do so now. We recently added a feature conveniently named "Thread Network" in the Settings section, which can survey your home's Thread network setup and display a whole slew of information: Which accessories are connected to which other accessories? How is the network laid out? What connection quality does each Router have?

 

Surveying your Thread network works best when you have at least one Eve accessory that can act as a Router (more on that later) and when your iPhone or iPad is on the same local network as your HomePod mini. 

 

We are actively working on improving the Thread Network view with each new release of the Eve app, and after reading this post, you will certainly be able to understand better what that is all about. And while these are just first steps in that direction, the Eve app delivers still much more than any other tool out there due to the capabilities and integration of the state-of-the-art Eve accessories.

 

Our goal here is to help you build smarter homes and make your daily life a little bit more convenient. Of course all while preserving your privacy, which continues to be one of our key pillars for everything we design and produce – absolutely no information about your network ever leaves your local devices.

How did we get here?

Before digging into what Thread is, let us briefly explore the history of the topic. The two original, native connectivity options for HomeKit-enabled accessories are Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy.

 

Both technologies have tradeoffs: While Wi-Fi usually offers a greater range and quicker response times, these advantages go hand in hand with a very high energy demand, making it unsuitable for battery-powered devices and a bad choice even for mains-powered accessories that would waste a significant amount of energy by using this technology. And as the number of Wi-Fi devices increases in a home, some internet routers are starting to struggle with so many devices or may even run out of allocated IP address range for the home network. In contrast, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is completely decoupled from the home network strain and highly energy efficient. Yet due to the protocol's constraints, Bluetooth connectivity is less responsive in larger setups and usually delivers a smaller range due to the low energy footprint. 

 

Focusing exclusively on HomeKit-enabled accessories using native connectivity options, Eve naturally embraced both options, carefully choosing the appropriate technology for each accessory's use case. To mitigate some of the disadvantages of Bluetooth connectivity, Eve Extend was introduced to combine the advantages of  both technologies for more demanding setups.

 

There is definitely awareness for all of these technological challenges across the industry, which sparked the development and broad support for Thread as the next-generation networking platform tailored to be used in the smart home, including Apple's strong commitment and inclusion as a pillar of HomeKit-enabled accessories. 

 

 

Join us in being an early adopter

Why is Eve a first-mover on Thread you may ask? We are thrilled about all the advantages it has to offer. First, it is a peer-to-peer mesh network, which means the devices do not need a direct connection to a central hub to communicate with each other. Second, it is designed to be a self-maintaining and self-healing network, so even if some devices come and go, the connection will still be kept alive and the network will automatically reconfigure itself as needed. Third, it is designed from the ground up with the smart home in mind, which means a special focus is made on the battery life and power consumption for the devices that do not have a permanent power supply. 

 

With Eve Door & Window, we are the first company to get a battery-powered HomeKit over Thread accessory in the hands of everyone. And this is just the beginning: we are in the process of updating our portfolio of Bluetooth-enabled accessories to include Thread connectivity in each product's new generation. So naturally, we've gathered a lot of knowledge around Thread, which we are eager to share. Enough introductory words, let's dive in! 

Thread networking deep-dive 

As stated earlier, Thread is a mesh network. Which means, the devices on the network can talk to each other independently of some bridge or central hub. Even more so, they can relay messages to other devices by passing them through so they reach some device otherwise inaccessible due to the range, walls, or other factors. And the network can organize itself independently if some devices disconnect from the network.

 

Thread Roles

 

The Thread network consists of two types of roles: Routers and Endpoints. And this role is not fixed – if a device is capable of routing, it can be either, depending on the current network situation and demands. Each device on a Thread network is called a node

 

Let us dig deeper. Router nodes are meant to route information packets around the network. A Router node may have some Endpoints, too – the Router is considered a Parent. Mains-powered Thread accessories that are always on, such as Eve Energy, can act as Routers within your Thread network and relay data packets.

Endpoint nodes (also known as End Devices or Children) are the ones that are attached to a particular Router node and are not participating in the packet routing, but they still can send and receive. A Router-capable device can act as an Endpoint, but the devices that are meant to be Endpoint-only (also called Minimal Thread Devices), such as battery powered ones, cannot be a Router

 

Each Router node has a connection to every other Router node; each Endpoint node only maintains a connection to its parent Router node

The Thread network also has a so-called Leader node, which is responsible for promoting other capable Endpoint nodes to Router nodes and back. This is not something built-in, static or even especially important – any Router node is capable of being a Leader and these get elected in a somewhat random manner based on the current network conditions. 

 

There is also a separate entity which is essential for Thread: A so-called Border Router. This is a Thread Router node that is also connected to  your home network and that knows how to route information packets between the Thread network and the rest of your local network. Without the Border Router, your home accessories will not form a Thread network because they'd be unable to communicate with other devices outside of your Thread network, such as your iPhone. Instead, they will revert to their default Bluetooth connection (yes, all Thread-enabled accessories have dual connectivity – Thread and Bluetooth). Currently, the one and only Border Router for HomeKit over Thread is HomePod mini.

Joining the network

 

When a Thread-capable accessory is powered on after its setup, it will quickly check whether there is a Thread network available. If it is, the accessory will join the network with the valid network identifier and credentials provided by the Border Router. Upon joining, any Thread device becomes an Endpoint of one of the existing Routers. If it is capable of being the Router itself (in Thread terminology, this is called a Full Thread Device), it may be told by the Leader Node to upgrade itself to a Router, depending on the number of Router nodes already present in the network. If less than 16 Routers are in the network, the device will be designated as a Router. If there are already 16 Routers in the network, Thread will automatically optimize all roles for optimal coverage. A maximum of 32 Routers will ultimately form the Thread mesh network.

 

If the accessory is not capable of routing, it remains being an Endpoint. Still, it may change the Router node it connects to (its Parent) later, based on the connection quality that is being surveyed automatically across the Thread network. 

 

Endpoint Characteristics

 

For Endpoint nodes, there is also a distinction in form of so-called Sleep Interval. Each Endpoint, depending on its physical characteristics, may be a Sleepy Endpoint or a Regular Endpoint. The idea is simple: if an accessory must by design conserve energy, it may choose to sleep for certain amount of time and then ask its Router whether there is anything of interest (similar to you having to click on the "Check Mail" button back in the days when it was not automatic). For example, Eve Door & Window has a sleep interval set to 5000 milliseconds, which means it wakes itself up every 5 seconds and asks whether there is something new for it to digest. Of course, it can wake up more often to transmit something important from its side – for example, when the door is opened. This sleep mechanism significantly helps preserving battery life. 

 

Partitions

 

What happens if you have a large house and there are problems with some accessories being unable to hold a reliable connection? If you have more than one Border Router-capable device (or, in other words, more than one HomePod mini), they may form two independent Thread networks that would still be technically cover your single home. Such independent networks are called Partitions. If the connectivity gets better, the disjointed Partitions will re-unite again and form a single network Partition, with all but one Border Routers stepping down to a regular node role.

Grow your network

 

What about the number of devices that any single Thread network Partition can handle? It will always have one Leader node, and up to 32 Router nodes. Each Router node may have up to 511 Endpoints. So, as you can see, the total capacity of the network is quite huge and should cover most modern use cases. 

 

Stay tuned

With all this knowledge in mind, we hope you enjoy building your Thread network and watching it grow. In the Eve app, head to "Thread Network" in the Settings section to get a look behind the curtain of your Thread network and all the different roles and connections of your Thread-enabled accessories.

 

We'll be adding more explainers, guides as well as articles on Eve app updates that deliver new or improved Thread functionality. The Eve Blog is the go-to place for information on HomeKit over Thread, so stay tuned! 

 

Discover here if your Eve accessory supports Thread

273 Comments
Hello Ian! The current generation of Eve Smoke is not ready for Thread. We will be releasing new hardware generations of many Eve devices with Thread support later this year, but unfortunately can't give any further details on when this will be the case for Eve Smoke at this time. Well, we are member of the Matter group, don't expect accessories using Matter from any vendor before the end of the year or early next year. But Thread will be mandatory…
Best regards, Volker
Reply
May 29, 2021
David
I have three Door & Window sensors (thread), and two HomePod Minis, and everything appears to be functioning ok, though I can't judge responsiveness as I don't use your sensors to trigger anything that occurs on a regular frequency.
I have the new Apple TV 4K due to arrive tomorrow, and ordered the new thread enabled Eve Aqua. I'm wondering whether there's any benefit to adding an Eve Energy (i.e. a router) to this setup? If all Endpoints can be seen in your app and appear to function correctly, and I have HomePod Minis and a new Apple TV 4K spaced throughout my home, what benefits are there in adding Routers?
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May 20, 2021
Hello David! Powered Thread enabled accessories with expand the Thread network as they can act as a Thread router in the Thread network. All battery powered are always endpoints. Depending on the range you have to cover a powered one can help. But your probably don't need it having two HomePod mini and a new Apple TV 4K soon. Best regards, Volker
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May 21, 2021
Charles
Can Eve Thread-enabled devices work with the Thread-enabled devices from other manufacturer, for example, the Nanoleaf Essentials A19 Bulb?
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May 19, 2021
Hello Charles! Of cause they do, that's the plan behind. I am using 14 Thread enabled accessories, among three Nanoleaf Essential bulbs. Best regards, Volker
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May 20, 2021
Florian
Guten Tag, ich habe einen eve weather in meinem aufblasbaren Whirlpool in einer wasserdichten Kunstoffbox versenkt. In ca. 3 Meter Entfernung hinter einer Balkontüre steht ein HomePod Mini. Trotzdem habe ich momentan keine Verbindung zu dem Sensor, wobei es am Anfang bestens funktioniert hat (ca. 24h).
Woran kann das liegen? Der Sensor ist direkt am Beckenrand versenkt und durch eine ca. 10cm dicke Luftkissen-Wand und die Balkontür Scheibe vom HomePod Mini getrennt, das sollte thread doch schaffen ?
Oder muss ein eve Energy im Netzwerk sein, damit der eve weather thread nutzt ?
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May 11, 2021
Hallo Florian! Das ist eigentlich ein typisches Support-Ticket, hier die Adresse für das nächste Mal: https://www.evehome.com/de/support/ticket
Ich bin mir nicht sicher, ob die diversen Hindernisse die Kommunikation verhindern, Wasser, Kunststoffbox, versenkt, Balkontür. Zunächst würde ich mal die App Eve öffnen und dann zu Einstellungen > Thread-Netzwerk gehen. Was wird da für Eve Weather angezeigt? Ein Strom-Versorgtes Gerät mit Thread würde nur Sinn machen, um das Mesh-Netzwerk zu erweitern, also bei Distanzproblemen helfen wenn auf halber Strecke genutzt. Oft hilf ein Neustart des HomePod mini, einfach den Stecker für eine Minute ziehen, wieder einstecken und 3-4 Minuten warten. Viele Grüße, Volker
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May 12, 2021
Ben H
Hi! Many thanks for the article, very interesting to see how it all works and I’m enjoying building my network!
I have a HomePod mini and 5 thread accessories, however the HPM is not showing up in the “Thread Network” section of the Eve app? Just wanted to check if this was normal?
Many thanks!
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May 2, 2021
Hello Ben! To make the HomePod mini appear at least one Eve accessory must be installed, that can act as a Thread router. As or today this is Eve Energy (EU/UK/US) or Eve Light Switch (EU): Best regards, Volker
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May 3, 2021
Were you able to get the HPM to show up on your thread network because I’m having the same problem
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May 7, 2021
Hello Dominick! The HomePod mini will only show up in Thread Network if you have a Thread enabled Eve Energy (EU/UK/US) or Eve Light Switch (EU) installed. It needs a powered Eve accessory to be displayed. Best regards, Volker
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May 8, 2021
Ian K
Now that more people are expanding their Thread networks, is it possible to get a legend for the symbols used in the Thread Network section of the Eve app?
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May 1, 2021
Hello Ian! It is pretty much self-explaining.A square is the symbol for the leading Thread border router. A home icon symbold a thread router accessory, a filled home symbol a thread router (leader) and zz an endpoint (battery powered) accessory. Most of this in the explaining test. Best regards, volker
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May 2, 2021
Hi Volker, what about the colouring of each thread connected device. For example, one of my Nanoleaf bulbs is correctly showing as “Router” in the thread network screen, but this the text is a light orange colour, my other 8 nanoleaf bulbs have “router” in a dark grey text.
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Jul 2, 2021
Hello Tony! The text shows the color of the room the accessories are in. Best regards, Volker
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Jul 2, 2021
Gerry
Hi! I have just bought an eve aqua and eve weather and of course they can't be seen on my network. it seems like the eve extender is from the pre-thread days. Would buying an eve energy be a better way to go even if nothing is getting plugged into it right now? Also, I don't have a homepod mini but do have an appletv 4k. some places seem to say that it can also be a border router? thanks!
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Apr 28, 2021
Hello Gerry! The new versions of Eve Energy (EU/UK/US) would act as a Thread router in the mesh network and expand it - even if nothing is plugged in. To use Thread a Thread Border Router is mandatory. This is either the HomePod mini or the just announced new model of Apple TV 4K. The old one (like mine) won't. Best regards, Volker
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Apr 28, 2021
Dang, I'm sure my AppleTV 4K doesn't support it either so for me a thread network won't happen until I naturally upgrade that hardware. So then for now is the eve extender the best way to get my new eve devices onto my network? Do you intend to upgrade the extender to support thread so its more futureproof?
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Apr 28, 2021
Hello Gerry! Eve Extend uses Wi-Fi and won't get Thread support. Best ragards, Volker
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Oct 24, 2021
Scott Handley
Will the current Eve Water Guard (2020 version) be able to have Thread with a firmware update?
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Apr 27, 2021
Hello Scott! The current generation of Eve Water Guard is not ready for Thread. We will be releasing new hardware generations of many Eve devices with Thread support later this year, but unfortunately can't give any further details on when this will be the case for Eve Water Guard at this time.
Here's a list of all the currently available Thread-enabled Eve accessories:
https://www.evehome.com/de/identify-your-eve-accessory
Reply
Apr 28, 2021
Harko Bols
Is there a schedule fir the update of EVE Thermo to be Thread ready?
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Apr 27, 2021
Hello Harko! The firmware update for Eve Thermo (2020) with Thread support will be available later this year. Best regards, Volker
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Apr 27, 2021
Marcus Prokes
Hallo
In meinem Smarthome befinden sich 2 Eve Aqua, 1 HomePod Mini (Entfernung ca Aqua ca. 10 Meter) und 1 Eve Energy (Entfernung zu HomePod Mini ca 10 M und zu Aqua 20 Meter) - obwohl alle Geräte Threadfähig sind läuft die Kommunikation (einwandfrei) über BT. Wäre Thread nicht sinnvoller bzw. wie kann ich dies erreichen? Den HomePod Mini habe ich mehrmals resetet danke lg Marcus
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Apr 17, 2021
Hallo Marcus! Nur wenn es sich um ein Eve Aqua (2020) und ein Eve Energy (EU, 2020) handelt, können die überhaupt Thread nutzen. Die Distanz mag allerdings schon etwas am Rand liegen. Ein Eve Energy (EU) auf halber Strecke würde das Netz erweitern. Sonst gibt es halt nur Bluetooth-Verbindung. Viele Grüße, Volker
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Apr 17, 2021
Ueli
Hallo Volker
Ich bin an einem Projekt für ein Gebäude mit 30 Heizkörper. Kann ich als Thread-Router auch Fremdprodukte nutzen?
Mit freundlichen Grüßen Ueli
Reply
Apr 12, 2021
Hallo Ueli!
Der einzige Thread Border Router für HomeKit ist der HomePod mini. Viele Grüße, Volker
Reply
Apr 13, 2021
Raymond
When will Eve Energy US model ship? It's already Apr 11 and I still can't find it in any store.
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Apr 12, 2021
Hello Raymond! Due to shipment delays this is delayed to April 27th. We apologize. Best regards, Volker
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Apr 12, 2021
Axel
Erweitert ein Node auch immer das Bluetooth Netzwerk und ist damit praktisch ein Übersetzer? Bei einem iPod Mini ist mir das klar. Aber würde das auch bei einer Eve Steckdose funktionieren?
Beispiel: Im Keller funktioniert die Steckdose über Thread einwandfrei. Bluetooth kommt aber nicht mehr an. Wenn ich jetzt aber ein Gerät habe das nur über Bluetooth ansprechbar ist, würde es dann aufgrund der über Thread angebundenen Steckdose ansprechbar sein?
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Apr 11, 2021
Hallo Axel! Die Kommunikation bei Thread läuft über IPv6, Bluetooth-Geräte können hier nicht eingebunden werden. Die Erweiterung des Thread-Netzwerkes läuft nur mit anderen Thread-fähigen Geräten. Viele Grüße, Volker
Reply
Apr 12, 2021
Ingolf Poser
Hallo Volker,
ich habe 6x Eve Thermo im Haus installiert und die Seriennummer beginnt bei allen mit CM.
Warum werden sie in der EVE App beim Thread-Netzwerk nicht angezeigt?
Gruß Ingolf
Reply
Apr 8, 2021
Hallo Ingolf! Die Eve Thermo (2020) haben zwar schon die Hardware-Voraussetzung für Thread, das Firmware-Update ist aber noch nicht verfügbar. Das kommt später im Laufe des Jahres. Viele Grüße, Volker
Reply
Apr 8, 2021
Cr0oky
Hi Volker.
How long is the range capacity of thread compared to Bluetooth? I’m considering buying Eve Acqua, and I have and HomePod mini. The distance between them is about 10 meters and I have not a outlet outside for say an Eve Energy, so I’m only dependent on HomePod mini and thread.
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Apr 1, 2021
Hello CrOoky! This may work or be already on the edge. Depends on the wall and window between. Best regards, Volker
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Apr 2, 2021
Aaron
Frage:nWarum werden meine 4 HomePod Minis nicht in der Eve App Thread-Übersicht angezeigt?
Die Nanoleaf Essentials A19 E27 hingegen werden dort angezeigt.
Hier im Blog, neben der Überschrift „Thread unter der Lupe“ sehe ich eine Art iPhone-Screenshot, bei diesem werde die HomePod Minis angezeigt. Ideen, warum ich meine 'smarten' Lautsprecher nicht angezeigt bekomme?
Alle Geräte habe die neueste Firm-/Software u d auch die Eve-App liegt in der aktuellste Version vor.
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Mar 22, 2021
Hallo Aaron! Sobald ein Eve Energy (EU, 2020) unter den Geräten in Deinem Netzwerk ist, werden die HomePod mini in Unbekannter Raum auch angezeigt. Es muss ein Eve-Gerät sein, das als Thread-Router arbeitet, das ist aktuell nur Eve Energy (EU). Die HomePod mini werden in Unbekannter Raum angezeigt, das geht nicht anders und der Name is auch Router. Das dargestellte HomePod mini im Screenshot dienst nur der Verdeutlichung. Viele Grüße, Volker
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Mar 23, 2021
Hallo Volker, Dankeschön für Ihre Antwort. Ist meine Denke falsch, dass ein in jedem Zimmer aufgestelltes (Border)Router-fähiges Thread-Gerät (wie der HomePod mini), das Netzwerk stabilisiert?
Oder ist die Eve App (nur noch) nicht in der Lage, dieses Netzwerk korrekt abzubilden, im Hintergrund jedoch läuft diese Vernetzung via Thread unsichtbar?
Hoffe Eve werkelt fleißig an diesem Problem, denn eigentlich nutze ich Eure App sehr gerne und lieber als die Home App von Apple.
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Mar 23, 2021
Hallo Aaron! Sind mehrere Thread Border Router (HomePod mini) in einem Netzwerk, werden alle von HomeKit genutzt, das Thread-Netzwerk aufzubauen und zu verwalten. Es werden auch alle angezeigt und die Routen der HomeKit-fähigen Geräte mit Thread-Unterstützung. Wie schon gesagt, muss ein Eve-Gerät, das per Strom verbunden ist, dabei sein. Das ist aktuell das Eve Energy (EU). Eve ist die einzige HomeKit-fähige App, die das Thread-Netzwerk abbildet. Viele Grüße, Volker
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Mar 24, 2021
Manuel Ortiz III
I have Thread for HomeKit with some other vendor light bulbs. I have the Aqua and waiting for the thread update. My question is I have 6 HomePod Mini but don’t see them on the thread network? I see in your picture above it shows HomePod mini in an unknown room. All I see is two light bulbs as routers? Is Thread enabled on HomePod Mini?
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Mar 20, 2021
Hello Manuel! You are using a Nanoleaf Essential bulb, it is the only Thread enabled bulb, so. And it can act as a router and already does. The HomePod mini will be displayed in the Thread Network in Eve once you have one Eve accessory added that can act as a router, like Eve Energy (EU) or Eve Energy (US/UK). The EU version is already shipping the US model with Thread support will start shipping on April 6th, the UK version on May 4th. I wish you a great weekend, Volker
Reply
Mar 21, 2021
Correy
Great article! If you have a non-thread device amongst thread devices, can that non-thread device connect to a router node or border router if it is closer than the main network router or wifi?
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Mar 19, 2021
Hello Correy! This is not possible of cause. Thread enabled accessories can only talk to other Thread enabled. Have a great weekend, Volker
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Mar 20, 2021
Timon
When I will setup my own border-router (using a Raspberry Pi 3B) which supports OpenThread. Can I connect, access or control Thread-supported Eve devices?
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Mar 19, 2021
Hello Timon! No, this won't work for any HomeKit enabled accessory with Thread support from any vendor. What's needed is a Thread Border Router for HomeKit. The only one available is the HomePod mini. Best regards, Volker
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Mar 19, 2021
Shane
What is the time frame to see thread applied to Eve Energy products for Australia? Or even some more products for Australia?
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Mar 14, 2021
Hello Shane! Ihave no information yet on a Thread enabled version of Eve Energy (AU), sorry. Best regards, Volker
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Mar 14, 2021
Rob
I have 2 Eve Energy (EU) Model 20EBO8301 with FW version 2.1 (2045). Both say Thread Status- Disabled.
I am also showing 4 other routers, (Router 28, 78, C4, and F4) in an unknown room, that I assume are my HomePod Minis.
Am I missing something here or should the thread network be enabled and running?
Reply
Mar 12, 2021
Hello Rob! Are you using four HomePod mini? Please power cycle both Eve Energy, just plug off the wall outlet for a minute, plug in again. Open Thread Network in Eve again, and be patient for a minute. If it does not work as extected, please mail me, this is not the place for support. This would be https://www.evehome.com/en/support/ticket
or in this case mal me at [email protected]
Best regards, Volker
Reply
Mar 12, 2021
peter
Hallo, ich habe 5 Eve Thermo im Einsatz, alle aus 2020 ( 20EBP1701 ) . Gestern gab es ein Update 1.2.14(1389) für 2 Geräte, die anderen 3 blieben unberücksichtigt. Was hat es damit auf sich und warum gab es dieses Update nicht für alle 5 Geräte.?
Reply
Mar 11, 2021
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