We’ve talked before on this blog about the convenience of smart homes. There are so many options to outfit your entire space with appliances, electronics, and homeware that can be controlled remotely or even do some of the thinking for you. But what it you aren’t ready to replace a bunch of things that still work or shell out the money for pricey new stuff? The easiest and most affordable way to embark on a smart home transition is to use smart plugs. With these simple and inexpensive devices, you can make almost any electrical product you already own into a smarter version of itself.
Why Smart Plugs?
Smart plugs are useful for all the same reasons that any smart device is useful—they make your life easier! You can turn on the front porch light when you’re away later than you anticipated, turn down the thermostat from the comfort of your bed, or make sure the front door is locked after you’ve already gotten on the highway. A smart plug is also great for hidden outlets that are difficult to access. No more crawling behind the couch! And if you have an older lamp that you absolutely love, but it’s not compatible with modern smart bulbs, just use a smart plug instead.
Another advantage of smart plugs is the information they can provide on energy efficiency. Let’s say you’re thinking about replacing an appliance. There are some devices that track energy use and provide a simple overview, while others give a detailed report of when power was used, how much power was used, and related costs. Either way, this information can help you assess the best way to spend your money. If you find one appliance is draining your wallet faster than others, it may be time to upgrade. This feedback could also mean giving another appliance a dedicated smart plug so you can turn it off for periods when it’s not in use to combat vampire power.
How Do They Work?
Smart plugs are a very simple design that can be plugged into any outlet, and then a device can be plugged into the smart plug. With the help of a stable wi-fi connection and an app, you’ve just created a smart device. Essentially, you’ve made an existing outlet smart by connecting to your home wi-fi network and using an app as a controller. On a very basic level, the smart plug turns whatever is plugged into it on and off. But you can up your game through a smart home platform. Then you can set timers, design scenes, and create schedules. Using your phone or your voice (or the aforementioned schedules), it’s possible to dim the lights, turn on the crock pot from afar, or trigger any number of actions in your home.
Choosing a Smart Plug
There are a lot of different smart plugs available to consumers. Which one you buy depends on what you want to do with it, but a good starting point is to find something that easily interacts with the products you already own. For example, if you have a Google or Amazon device, buy a smart plug that’s compatible so you can use voice control. Another good idea? Search out some reviews to see what sounds most useful for your home. You may even decide it’s better to purchase a smart power strip. These look pretty much the same as a regular power strip, but they have multiple controllable outlets.
Get Plugged In
If a fully-automated smart home is intimidating to you, smart plugs are a great entry point for the curious but cautious. Choose a single item you’d like to control remotely and give smart plugs a try. If you find yourself enjoying the convenience, add more. Then you can move on to a hub that can set up scenes, building out your smart home one component at a time. Once you get started, it’s easy to see the advantages and hard to stop making the entire house smart.