Cheapest ZigBee Door & Window Sensor For Your Smart Home

When you plan out your smart home devices and gadgets, there are certain areas where you want to get a higher quality device. Smart plugs, mains connected in-wall smart switches, thermostats, anything inside your breaker box. But, some things do not need to be expensive.

Recently we talked about the Cheapest ZigBee PIR Motion Sensor you can add to your smart home, manufactured by Tuya. Today we are going to test the cheapest ZigBee Door & Window Sensor, the Tuya TS0203 ZigBee Contact Sensor priced at ~$7-8 and compare it to the worlds most popular contact sensor, the Aqara Door & Window Sensor.

Technical Specification

  • Model: TS0203
  • Connectivity: ZigBee 3.0
  • Power: Button Battery CR2032
  • Working Temperature: -10°C – 45°C
  • Working Humidity: 10%-90%RH
  • Dimensions: 50x25x11mm and 30x14x11mm
  • Certification: CE

What’s Inside?

As with any contact sensor, the Tuya TS0203 comes in two parts, a main PCB holding all the electronics in one case and a smaller shell containing magnets to trigger the sensor ‘tube’. Its powered by a common CR2032 battery.

On the front side, a status LED blinks through a small hole in the middle of the sensor. It flashes continuously when set in pairing mode and blinks once to indicate open/close events. If you want to hide the LED, consider mounting the stickers on the front side and placing the sensor with the LED facing the door/window frame (see picture). This way the LED blinking on events will not annoy you.

Once disassembled, the components are exposed. There is not much to be seen at a sensor of this kind, so the layout is pretty simple. Contact tube soldered on the left side, reset button on the top, a ZigBee chip in the middle. On the back, a button battery slot and not much else. As usual, there is a protective film slid between the contacts of the battery to avoid drain when in storage/shipping.

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Communication is handled by a Z2 ZHU2114 ZigBee module manufactured by Tuya. The Z2 are a series of low-powered ZigBee communication chips developed by Tuya for battery powered devices, compatible with ZigBee 3.0 protocol.

The ferromagnets triggering the sensor tube are weak, iron alloy magnets but are perfectly fine for the purpose. The trigger range is somewhere between 12-16mm. The tube seems a little flimsy at first, but the solders are solid.

Integration Compatibility

As of the writing of this article, this Tuya ZigBee Door & Window sensor is compatible with ZigBee2MQTT and ZHA, but not with Deconz. There is an ongoing feature request for Phoscon which you can track here. To pair this sensor, we use a pin in the small hole on the top and hold it until the LED starts blinking continuously. 

ZigBee2MQTT

Once paired with ZigBee2MQTT it is discovered as model TS0203 with ZigBee manufacturer _TZ3000_26fmupbb and exposes the following entities to Home Assistant:

  • Contact Binary Sensor
  • Battery Low Binary Sensor
  • Battery Percentage Sensor
  • Tamper Binary Sensor
  • Link Quality LQI Sensor

ZHA

Once paired with ZHA it is again discovered as model TS0203 and exposes the following entities to Home Assistant:

  • Contact Binary Sensor
  • Battery Low Binary Sensor
  • Battery Percentage Sensor
  • Tamper Binary Sensor

A quirk was applied for this sensor in ZHA, so no additional configuration is needed.

Tuya vs Aqara

The Aqara Door & Window sensor is the most popular and widely used contact sensor on the market. Rob, from The Hook Up decided to run an experiment with 14 different door and window sensors opening and closing them constantly for 4 months! The Aqara turned out to be the most durable and most consistent out of all the competition.  You can check the experiment HERE.

We can compare the Tuya based sensor with the Aqara and note their important differences.

First, they differ in size with Aqara being the smaller sensor by 9mm in length and 3mm in width. Their thickness is the same. This may or may not be an important difference, depending on your placement location.

They are both powered by a button battery, the Tuya by a CR2032 and the Aqara a CR1632. The 2032 being a bit larger, has a bigger capacity: 220mAh versus 140mAh on the 1632. They both have a shelf life of 10 years and are fairly easy to find.

For communication, the Tuya uses its own Z2 ZHU 2114 module, while the Aqara is based around the JN5159, an ultra low power, high performance wireless microcontroller supporting ZigBee and IEEE 802.15.4 networking stacks to facilitate the development of Smart Energy, Home Automation, Smart Lighting and wireless sensor applications. Both of these have no trouble communicating with a ZigBee stack and integrate without issues with ZHA and ZigBee2MQTT.

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Some Aqara devices, are known to refuse to communicate through incompatible router devices in your existing ZigBee mesh network and cause issues when they need to rebuild a new path to the coordinator. To test if this is the case with the Tuya, I moved the sensor several rooms over from its original pairing spot and triggered open/close events. Without issues, the sensor developed a new path to my Conbee 2 coordinator and sent it’s payload. It was received in Z2M without delay.

The Aqara beats the Tuya sensor in contact range too. The Tuya magnet component needed to get inside 15mm to trigger a closed event, whereas the Aqara triggers around 20mm. This may not seem that much, but does provide more flexible mounting positions.

As far as pricing goes, the Tuya is obviously cheaper. Priced at around $8 it is almost half the price of the Aqara, which retails for around ~$15.

Verdict

The Tuya TS0203 ZigBee Door & Window Sensor worked with ZHA & ZigBee2MQTT out of the box. If you have a strong ZigBee mesh network, it presents no latency when triggering open/close events. It’s a super simple device, very small and easy to install on your door or window frame.

When compared to the most popular contact sensor on the market made by Aqara, it lacks behind in some areas. A bit larger in size, possibly because of its larger battery, it’s based around a Tuya based Z2 chip. At this point, it’s a question mark whether these chips manufactured by Tuya stand the test of time. The Aqara contact sensor has been on the market longer and I personally had them installed for around 2 years so far. If integrated correctly, they work without issues, never dropout of the network and their batteries last ages.

Even though we found no obvious issues with the Tuya ZigBee TS0203 Door & Window sensor, we recommend considering the Aqara as your first choice. This observation is based on the price difference, the components they use and the Aqara being an already proven device. If you want to test the Tuya TS0203, consider using our affiliate links bellow.

Tuya ZigBee 3.0 Door & Window Sensor TS0203
AliExpress 1 | AliExpress 2

Aqara Door & Window Sensor
AliExpress 1 | AliExpress 2 | Amazon


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