1 week in Beijing - to buy or not to buy


  1. Context

    I’ve started toying around with home automation, managing to add a few Z-wave sensors to OpenHab. Recently I’ve managed to switch RF-plugs on and off with a 433-MHz emitter/receiver set with the Raspberry Pi.

    I’ll be in Beijing for a week in Spring.

    Shopping online for sensors one immediately realizes that a lot of them come or seem to be made in China.

  2. The general question

    I am strongly tempted to use the opportunity and try to buy in situ all the sensors etc I would otherwise not dare order per AliExpress etc. Is there anything obvious I may be overlooking which speaks against this? The potential lack of warranty is not a big issue.

  3. The specific question

    Has any of you been recently in Beijing and would have some pointers as to where one should go (beside what one finds immediately in Google, e.g. Zhongguancun Hailong Electronics Supermarket)?

Thanks in advance and happy OpenHabbing!

Have purchased many items from AliExpress here in Australia with no issue at all. Postage does take a few weeks but all have arrived.


My poorly expressed idea was to potentially exploit the fact of being in Beijing for 1 week to try and buy electronics (just 433-MHz or Z-wave sensors) locally, should anyone have good pointers regarding where to go/avoid if they’ve done it before.

Failing that, no problem, I’ll take a look in situ, report back in case I find something interesting and, if all fails, I’ll just overcome my initial/irrational doubts when ordering
through Aliexpress or equivalent.

Personell opinion:
The prices via AliExpress or the like are that low and YOUR time being in Bejing is rather limited, I would not spend any time looking for such shops there.
Look around the forum which devices have successfully being bought, shipped and are working and take YOUR time to visit places to remember.
But that is MY personell opinion.

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Certainly! I was not planning to spend more than O(1h) on any shopping. Guess I’ll just overcome my unwarranted AliExpress aversion and carry on.


If you have a chance to go to shenzen this seems to be the place to buy electronics:

Thanks! Something along these lines is what I had naively thought of. If there’s something similar in Beijing I will check it out.


Keep in mind that Zwave devices are region specific… so make sure any you buy are the correct ones for your existing ( and hopefully correct) region.

Thanks! This is one aspect I was almost forgetting…

I just placed my first AliExpress order last week, after hearing positive reports from others. I purchased the Xiaomi Mijia Gateway 2 and some of the accompanying sensors, and the hard part was sifting through the various listings and figuring out which devices were compatible (some of the descriptions are very minimal).

I live in Canada, and one of the tips I got was to use the ePacket shipping option to avoid customs fees. It cost more, but I discovered that if I order everything from the same storefront then bulk shipping decreased the total. You might want to google to find shipping tips for wherever you live.

I haven’t received the items yet, but I like how AliExpress told me up front how to register a dispute in the event that the package doesn’t arrive within the shipping time frame.

Huh! Kudos to AliExpress then for customer care. Confidence increasing!

if you purchase throgh aliexpress a z-wave device you’ll have some control over receiving the version with your region’s frequency. if you purchase locally- no clue.
happy hunting!

Shopping for electronics in China is a bit cumbersome. There are large malls with many, many small sellers. The problem is, that in the end, they all sell the same stuff. I once was looking for a hard drive, and it seemed that every seller had to go fetch something and then came up with exactly the same drive each time. it was effectively following me around the mall. So the sport was to figure out the original source.

I agree that most stuff comes from Shenzen, probably you can get a wide choice over there, but then you have to know where to shop. Don’t expect a widely stocked large mall of everything. It is mostly small sellers specializing in a certain area and you have to find the right one.