Aqara C1 Smart Pet Feeder Review

For the past 12 months, Aqara has been actively developing and releasing new products and devices for the Smart Home market. The Aqara FP1 for example, turned out to be a capable mmWave human presence sensor, which eliminated some major drawbacks of traditional PIR motion sensors.

More devices from their S1 lineup are expected to slowly show up in western markets in 2023, with some already being available. One of those devices is the Aqara C1 Smart Pet Feeder.

This is a complete and comprehensive review of the Aqara C1 Pet Feeder model ZNCWWSQ01LM. As usual, I’m going to disassemble it, integrate in Home Assistant and talk about it’s pros and cons.

Aqara Pet Feeder C1 with SmartHomeScene mug, disassembly, review and how-to integrate in Home Assistant

Technical Specification

  • Model: PETC1-M01
  • Zigbee Model: ZNCWWSQ01LM
  • Dimensions: 193×193×312mm (7.6×7.6×12.3″)
  • Power Supply: 5v1A (not included!)
  • Operating Temperature: -10~45℃ (14°F ~ 113°F)
  • Operating Humidity: 0-95% RH
  • Wireless Protocol: Zigbee 3.0 (Router)
  • Food Type: Only Dry Food
  • Food Diammeter: 2-12mm

Disassembly

The Aqara C1 Pet Feeder comes packaged in a high quality, Aqara branded box, along with the feeding bowl, a manual and a USB cable. Even though the device operates at 5V1A, there is no charger included. You can reuse any old phone charger to power the device.

There is also a desiccant in the box, to control moisture and maintain a dry environment inside the package.

Aqara Pet Feeder C1 package contents

On the front of the body, the pet food dispenser is placed underneath the three control buttons. The feeding bowl is placed at the bottom on the front, which slots nicely in place and doesn’t move or jiggle unless the device is lifted.

On the backside, only the charging port can be seen, a coaxial ring 5v power connector. I expected to see an USB-C connector, but I guess Aqara decided to cut costs. I will note that in my experience, this type of connector holds the pin a little firmer than the USB-C.

The body feels incredibly smooth and premium and I expected nothing less from Aqara.

Aqara Pet Feeder C1 front and back shot of the case of the device

Three buttons are placed on the device for quick control: Feed, Voice Record and Reset button. The feed button is used to manually dispense food. The Voice record button can be used to record your voice and call your pet to the feeder whenever it’s feeding time. The Reset button is used to reset the device and put in pairing mode.

There is a status LED on top of the logo, which can be turned off at any time through Home Assistant.

At the bottom of the feeder, there is a compartment for battery operated backup. This slots 3×1.5v D-Type LR20 batteries [AliExpress, Amazon] which can feed your pet in case of power outage. These are more than enough to handle the correct operation of the device in case of emergencies.

Underneath the top cap, we can see the main rotating blades which push food through the dispenser. These are made out of very soft rubber, which at first seems like a stupid decision but in reality is very smart. The blades must be soft, otherwise food can get stuck and possibly burn out the motor or brake the blades themselves. This way, when food gets stuck the blade will bend and flop over it, keeping the motor and dispenser intact.

On the top lid, there is a meshed chamber which opens by pulling. This is used to place the desiccant included in the package, keeping the pet food nice and dry at all times. A nice addition to the Aqara C1 Pet Feeder.

The top blades push food through a second chamber containing a second set of rotating blades, which makes an exact 60° rotation to dispense one portion of food. If you’ve set the portion to 3 for example, the blades keep turning making a 180° rotation dispensing 3 portions of food.

Once the main container is removed, we can see the gears which rotate the food dispenser blades. They are made out of some ABS derivative hard plastic, which slot into each other. I would have preferred to see metal gears here, but I’m not too concerned as the motor is not very powerful.

When the bottom is unscrewed (held together by 4 bolts), the main motor and micro switch can be seen. When feeding is activated, the motor turns a flower-shaped gear which clicks the microswitch and turns off the motor. One groove of the flower equals one portion of feeding. So if you’ve set 5 feeding portions in Home Assistant for example, the flower-shaped gear will click the microswitch 4 times and turn off on the 5th. Simple, yet effective.

Here is a closeup of the flower gear and the normally open microswitch for easier understanding.

The motor itself is model PC JS-50 5.0V-8R, which can be easily replaced in case of failure with a bit of soldering work. [AliExpress, Amazon]. The microswitch is also replaceable, although these things last ages and the probability of breakage is next to nothing. [AliExpress, Amazon]

The small sound speaker which is used to call your pet for feeding, is located on the bottom on the case. The sound quality is not amazing and feels quite robotic, but it’s probably enough to lure your hungry cat.

Underneath the Aqara branded front cap lies the main PCB. This thing is tiny but contains everything a device of this type might need. For the first time, I am seeing a green PCB in an Aqara product instead of their signature black PCBs. This is purely cosmetic and of no meaning or consequence.

ZigBee communication is handled through the MG21 A020Jl [Datasheet], which is part of the EFR32MG21 Series [Link] chip developed by Silicon Labs. This module is Thread capable, which means this is the Matter support Aqara promised in a press release a while back. Considering OTA updates are supported for this device, I expect to see Matter enabled for this device with a future firmware update.

Even though this device is meant to be fully automated and the buttons not used at all, it’s gives me a certain quality assurance that Aqara used metal buttons instead of cheap plastic ones.

For informational purposes, here is the Aqara C1 Pet Feeder completely disassembled.

Setting Portion Size

The Aqara C1 does not have a dedicated weight sensor to measure your pet food serving size. You need to measure it manually and subsequently operate the device knowing this information. To get an idea of how much you are feeding your pet:

  • Dispense one portion manually with the button
  • Measure the weight with a kitchen scale
  • Let’s say your measurement is 7 grams and your cat needs 35g per feeding
  • Set the portion weight to 7 grams
  • Set the serving size to 5
  • 7g x 5 servings = 35g
  • The Aqara C1 will dispense 5 servings one after another and fill the bowl

Recording Your Voice

You can record your voice on the Aqara C1, and have it call your pet whenever feeding is triggered. The small speaker on the button will automatically play your recording when you start serving.

  • Press and hold the voice record button
  • Wait for the beep sound
  • Say your phrase eg. “Time to eat, buddy”
  • Press and hold the voice record button again
  • Wait for the double beep sound
  • The recording is saved

Please note, the speaker is not very strong and sounds a little robotic. However, I feel like this is enough to call your pet, especially when it’s trained to respond to such a command. Dogs/cats have very sensitive hearing compared to humans and they will no doubt hear the command.

Home Assistant Integration

The Aqara C1 Zigbee Pet Feeder is compatible with ZHA and Zigbee2MQTT. All of it’s functions and settings are exposed in Home Assistant through these integrations and can be tweaked according to your needs.

To pair the Aqara C1 to your coordinator, press and hold the button on the front for ~5sec until the LED indicator starts blinking.

ZHA

The Aqara C1 is fully compatible with ZHA. It is identified as aqara.feeder.acn001 and automatically has a quirk applied to it. If you are having trouble with pairing or entities not being exposed, you must update Home Assistant (and with it ZHA) to its latest version. The device is also a router.

Adding a Schedule

Unlike Zigbee2MQTT, ZHA is unable to directly create a schedule for the Aqara C1 Pet Feeder. For now, you must rely on an automation to trigger feeding at a scheduled time. Let’s say for example, you want to trigger a feeding everyday in 08:00 AM:

description: "" mode: single trigger: - platform: time at: "08:00:00" condition: [] action: - service: button.press data: {} target: entity_id: button.aqara_aqara_feeder_acn001_feed
Code language: YAML (yaml)

This simple automation will press the button to trigger feeding each morning at 08:00 AM. It will dispense food X times, based on the serving_to_dispense entity value. We can change this with the automation too:

description: "" mode: single trigger: - platform: time at: "08:00:00" condition: [] action: - service: number.set_value data: value: "5" target: entity_id: number.aqara_aqara_feeder_acn001_serving_to_dispense - service: button.press data: {} target: entity_id: button.aqara_aqara_feeder_acn001_feed
Code language: YAML (yaml)

This automation will set servings size to 5 portions and than trigger the feeding button. You can adjust these however you want. To keep track of portions you have served to your pet, you can preset the portion weight after measuring it with a scale. This will record as entity states for the weight dispensed today and portions dispensed today sensors in Home Assistant.

Zigbee2MQTT

The Aqara C1 Pet Feeder is fully supported by Zigbee2MQTT. It is identified as Zigbee Model aqara.feeder.acn001 and model ZNCWWSQ01LM. The device is also a router, capable of extending your Zigbee mesh network.

It exposes the following entities in Home Assistant through Zigbee2MQTT:

  • binary_sensor: Error detected
  • lock: Child lock the buttons of the device
  • number:
    • portion_weight: Weight of the portion in grams
    • serving_size: Number of portions to serve
  • select:
    • start: Start feeding entity
    • mode: Manual or Scheduled mode
  • sensor:
    • feeding_source: Remote (Zigbee2MQTT) or Manual (Button)
    • portions_per_day: Daily Quantity of Portions
    • weight_per_day: Daily Quantity of Food Weight in grams
    • schedule: Assigned feeding schedules
  • switch: Master switch for toggling the device on/off
  • update: OTA update available sensor

Adding a schedule

To add a feeding schedule for your pet, you can use the Zigbee2MQTT dashboard. This will set the state of the sensor.aqara_c1_schedule entity in MQTT format and will be executed according to your settings.

You can set different schedules per day, weekend, workdays everyday or however you like. You set the time of day, portion size and click apply. Multiple schedules can be active at the same time, Zigbee2MQTT will populate them as a list:

[{'days': 'everyday', 'hour': 12, 'minute': 0, 'size': 1}, {'days': 'everyday', 'hour': 20, 'minute': 0, 'size': 1}]
Code language: YAML (yaml)

Verdict

The Aqara C1 is great little pet feeder Zigbee capable device. All of it’s clusters are exposed to Zigbee2MQTT and ZHA, so this device can be fully operated without an Aqara Hub. You can set schedules and portion sizes to accommodate the needs of your pet. If you are absent for the weekend for example, the Aqara C1 will handle the feeding aspect of your cat/dog. It will not keep the dog from thrashing your apartment though, so keep that in mind when planning your trips. 🙂

Please note, this device is suitable for cats and small to medium sized dogs. This is appropriately advertised as is by Aqara, so there are no confusions. This will not be able to feed your Great Dane and you should not bother with it at all. A pet of that size can’t live on dry supplement food in any case.

Another important thing to consider when choosing a location for this device is that it’s good practice to place it against a wall or in a room corner. Otherwise there is a possibility that your pet will knock the device over and cripple it’s function. The lid will not open as it it’s tightly secured by clips, but your dog will remain hungry. In summary:

What I like about the Aqara C1 Pet Feeder:

  • High quality build
  • Device is very quiet
  • Easy to disassemble and clean
  • Easy to integrate in Home Assistant
  • Easy to setup and configure
  • Operates as a Router in a Zigbee mesh network
  • Battery backup available in case of power failure, LR20 [AliExpress, Amazon]
  • Thread/Matter capable communication module
  • Motor can be replaced if needed [AliExpress, Amazon]
  • Microswitch can be replaced if needed [AliExpress, Amazon]

What I don’t like about the Aqara C1 Pet Feeder:

  • Power supply not included (come on Aqara)
  • Batteries not included
  • USB-C not used (not a major issue)
  • Speaker has low volume and sounds robotic

Aqara C1 Zigbee Pet Feeder



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SmartHomeScene.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, AliExpress Portals Affiliate Program and Banggood Affiliate Programs. These programs are designed to provide means for websites to earn revenue by linking affiliate products through their content. We are compensated for referring traffic and business to these websites, incurring no additional cost to you as a consumer.
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12 thoughts on “Aqara C1 Smart Pet Feeder Review”

  1. I have 2 of these and recently integrated with home assistant with ZHA, I have automation set up to press a button to dispense and it all works correctly but since setting up at 3 am both machines every night will dispense 1 serving of 8 g no matter what I have set up, is there a way to find if there is some sort of default setting for the 3 am dispensing.

      1. I tried looking but I haven’t played with logs much and and reading about how to see more than last 50 entries, I’ll dig into that and then get back with what I can find in the logs.

      2. This is what it shows, last night it only did it for 1 of them not the other one.

        Mandy aqara.feeder.acn001 Last feeding size changed to 1.0
        3:00:04 AM – 8 hours ago
        Mandy aqara.feeder.acn001 Last feeding source changed to undefined_0x00
        3:00:04 AM – 8 hours ago

        1. Seems like something is pushing a Zigbee payload to the device. I would advise you unpair the device, upgrade the firmware of your coordinator to its latest version and update the zigbee integration to its latest version as well (zha or z2m).

          Let me know how it goes, this peaked my interest admin@smarthomescene.com

          1. OK, so weeks later, I finally figured out a solution, I had to go into HA under the device and change it from manual to schedule then save and wait 1-2 min, then change back to manual for 1-2 min then wait another couple min and change to schedule then back to manual, did it 3 times in a row and it finally “stuck” and quit doing the scheduled times even though I had never entered in any scheduled times, now working only when we press the on demand feeding button. Now the Wife approval factor is through the roof, she loves these things!!

  2. Thank you for this tear down. The section on calculating portion size was really helpful! For the zigbee2mqtt schedule support. Are you aware if schedules are based on UTC?

      1. For me it _does_ seem to be UTC by default, because my “portions_per_day” sensor zeros out at 7PM local (which is midnight UTC) even thought my Home Assistant is set to use EST. Not quite sure how to change it!

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