Shelly 1 v3

Why Shelly relies on a Matter Bridge

At the beginning of 2023, the smart home supplier Shelly held out the prospect of Matter support for some of its product ranges via software updates. Since then, it has become clear that many of these updates will not be available. Dimitar Dimitrov, CEO of the Shelly Group, announced a change of strategy on Facebook in January 2024 (link). Instead of making all Wi-Fi modules fit with new firmware, Shelly is now planning to use a Matter Bridge.

Matter Bridge instead of software update

matter-smarthome wanted to know more about what this is all about and got in touch. Dimitar Dimitrov and his co-CEO Wolfgang Kirsch answered. Their explanations show that the company weighed up advantages and disadvantages. In short: although the update would theoretically be possible for Shelly products from the second generation (Gen2+) and above, it does not necessarily make sense for Shelly in the current situation.

“In our view, the only visible advantage of Matter today is its simple integration into a smart home system. In the case of Shelly, however, customers would lose other benefits,” Kirsch says. Dimitrov adds that the products are known for offering a variety of functions that are available even when they are not connected to a wireless network or the internet. “All Generation 2 Shelly devices can support Matter, but due to memory limitations, this will force them to limit their capabilities, something we would not want,” he continues. The third generation of products has more memory, which allows Matter to run on the devices alongside other protocols.

Shelly 1 (2. Gen.) und Shelly 1 (1. Gen.)
A first generation Shelly 1 on the right, generation 2 (Shelly Plus) on the left. Picture: Manufacturer

Updates for the 3rd generation

According to Dimitrov, this is planned, but no specific date has yet been set. “Matter is still a new protocol that itself has quite limited capabilities. We are monitoring developments and are ready to add it quickly,” says Dimitrov, who is also in charge of research and development. According to the management duo, a bridge also offers the advantage of connecting older first-generation Shelly products with Matter, as well as the Bluetooth models and the Z-Wave series, which was just launched in 2023. These are all devices that would otherwise have no chance of supporting the new smart home standard.

The fact that a bridge could be unattractive for users of Wi-Fi products does not worry the two CEOs. Other manufacturers such as Eltako are known to rely on native Matter integration (Matter over Wi-Fi) – with a device swap if necessary – to spare their customers additional hardware. According to Kirsch, there are many announcements from many manufacturers, “but currently we are seeing a great deal of reticence from most of them. At the moment, we are also very cautious and are waiting to see what happens with Matter.”

New products with Matter support

Nevertheless, Shelly will soon be offering the first products that have the standard integrated out of the box. Kirsch: “That will show us whether our customers actually prefer it.” Although these new products will then offer all Matter functionalities, they will no longer include other important Shelly functionalities. Kirsch names consumption measurement as an example, which is not yet possible via Matter. “There are still far too many unanswered questions about this on the Matter side”.

In his Facebook post at the end of January, Dimitrov cited costs as a further obstacle. Regular firmware updates, which Shelly also uses to expand the functions of its devices, demand re-certification for Matter products. The upgrade of devices that have already been sold requires individual software certificates for each item, so-called Device Attestation Certificates (DAC), which are also associated with costs. However, it is less about the money, as Kirsch explains, and more about “the lack of technical advantages for us and for our customers. The loss of important functions (which others don’t even have) is a clear disadvantage. As soon as Matter improves this issue, we will certainly be involved. At the moment, however, I wouldn’t place any bets on it.”

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