Running a smart home successfully means having the right devices to help you along the way. To do this, you can replace all of you existing devices with smart-home devices that have built-in smart home tech, or you can simply add smarts at the outlet with a smart plug! But what devices can this tactic really upgrade to “smart” status?
Smart plugs can be used with many common devices like TVs, lights, coffee makers, and more. Using an app or voice command, you can easily control the device by turning it on and off through the smart plug. You can also add smart rules, like telling a light to turn on at sunset and off a bit later in the night.
Once you learn how to use a smart plug, you’ll find it easy to use them with any compatible electronic device. You’ll love how efficient your energy usage will become, and how much money you may be able to save as a result, not to mention the added convenience a smart-plug can offer by automating some small activities for you. In this article, we’ll be looking at how exactly smart plugs work and which devices you can use with a smart plug.
How Do Smart Plugs Work?
Smart plugs are little devices or adapters that are considered extremely smart. They’re smart in the sense that they assist you with running your household. They’re handy little gadgets that sit between your power outlets and the plug of your devices. They can be used to regulate the power feed to your devices, turning them on and off and putting them on a timer.
You can operate your household appliances using a smart plug via an app on your smartphone or voice command if you have an internet connection- whether you’re at home or on the go. One of the best smart plugs is the Kasa Smart WiFi Plug w/Energy Monitoring by TP-Link (On Amazon).
Let’s look at some of the things your smart plug can help you with:
- Scheduling machines to turn on at certain times every time; such as setting your coffeemaker or kettle to turn on for when you wake up in the morning.
- Controlling the time your Christmas tree lights are on.
- Helping to save power by switching off appliances that no longer need to be on after being used.
- Controlling TV watch time, gaming time, and lights for your kids.
- Turning on your fan, air conditioner, or heater at the perfect time.
- Scheduling your lights to switch on and off to create that illusion that you are still at home, when you’re away.
Are There Outdoor Smart Plugs?
If you need to control your outdoor lights, you’re probably thinking an outdoor smart plug would be a great purchase. Smart outdoor plugs do exist and they can help you control the switching on/off of your outdoor lights.
When your outdoor motion sensor detects something outside, it can turn on your lights. Look out for the Kasa Smart Outdoor Smart Plug KP400 (On Amazon), one of the best outdoor smart plugs on the market.
Using the Kasa Smart Outdoor smart plug, you can control two devices independently, as it includes two outlets. It also has a WiFi radio which can help connect to your router from up to 300m away. Don’t forget to make sure that the outlets are facing downwards and covered when not in use to protect them from dust and rainfall.
Setting up the Kasa Smart outdoor plug is pretty simple and it is very good to use for scheduling. Whether you want your lights to turn on at sunset and off at sunrise, or at any random time you wish, you can give voice commands using Alexa, Google assistant, or Smart Things without any problems.
Features of a Good Outdoor Smart Plug
When selecting with outdoor plug to buy, make sure you choose one that is specifically rated for outdoor use. Many indoor smart plugs are not suitable for use outside.
Considering the smart plug will be located outdoors, it needs to be able to withstand various weather elements. The outlets are designed to be positioned downwards to prevent water and dust from settling in them. So the smart outdoor plug should have a durable outer cover to protect it and the outlets.
Make sure you choose a smart outdoor plug with a higher IP rating. The IP rating is the degree to which the smart plug will be protected against liquids and solids. The best ratings are IP44 or IP64.
How to Set Up and Automate an Outdoor Smart Plug
You should first check to see what level of wattage your smart outdoor plug can withstand. Most of them will be suitable for handling small appliances and lighting. They should also be relatively simple to set up with a smartphone app or voice command.
The kind of smart outdoor plug you want should be easy to integrate into your smart home. This means you should be able to clearly set up schedules and monitor the plug’s settings.
Check the Number of Outlets and Size
The best outdoor smart plugs have several outlets so you can use them to control several appliances at once. They do tend to be bigger in size than indoor smart plugs because of their weather-protection features.
You’ll find that smart outdoor plugs will either have an independent or integrated system for your outlets. An integrated outlet means that you cannot perform different functions with your individual appliances. If you give a command like “turn off,” all the appliances connected to that smart plug will turn off.
An independent outlet allows two different appliances connected to the same smart plug to perform different actions.
Compatible with your Smart Home System
No matter what type of smart home system you are using, your smart outdoor plug needs to be compatible with it. Smart plugs are operated using apps, so you need to have a phone to download the required app for your smart plug.
If you wish to use voice commands, you’ll need to ensure that the smart outdoor plug you settle for is compatible. You need to check this before you buy it, so you don’t end up purchasing a smart outdoor plug that can’t be controlled using your Alexa or Google Assistant.
What Devices Are Good to Use with Smart Plugs?
There are so many devices that will work well with a smart plug in your home. You’ll be surprised by how efficient your life becomes once you start operating your devices using smart plugs. Don’t think that switching to smart plugs is hard or complicated to learn; they’re really easy to use.
Let’s look at how you can use smart plugs with some of your devices.
Most people don’t know that to preserve the life of their smartphone battery, they need to change how they charge it. Your smartphone battery shouldn’t be charged fully to 100%, as high voltage will pit stress on the battery. It’s also advisable not to continue using your battery while it’s on low charge, as this can also wear down your battery.
So what should you do? You don’t want to risk charging your phone overnight, nor do you want to risk leaving your house in the morning with a nearly dead phone. The solution? Use a smart plug. Leave your phone to charge overnight, having set up your smart plug to disconnect it once the battery reaches a certain charge level.
You may desire to use a smart plug with your lights for a variety of reasons. When you walk into a room, the lights should turn on without you having to fumble for a switch. Your security lights can be set to turn on at sundown and turn off at a predetermined hour.
During special occasions, you don’t want to have to remember to turn your decorative lights on and off. When you are not around, I’m sure you do won’t want to announce to the whole world; so to create the false sense of you being home to keep away intruders, you should schedule your lights to turn on and off at set times.
When setting up security cameras around your home, there are several roles you may want them to play. The most important one is to monitor the activity inside and outside your home. This can be set up easily whether you’re at home or away.
While you’re away, you can rest assured that you’ll be able to observe what is going on in your home via your smartphone. When you’re at home, you may not want the same cameras following your every movement. So, you can schedule your security cameras to monitor particular rooms only when you need them to.
Games and Videos
You may not always be near your children to limit their love for online videos and games, especially where sneaky teenagers are concerned who might pretend to be studying, but are actually playing games.
Unfortunately, gaming devices are known to consume a lot of power even when they are off. So it would save you a lot to have a smart plug that can cut off the power.
A smart plug could be the ideal solution for controlling screen time for your children, especially while you are not home. Switching off the television when kids are supposed to be playing outside, studying, or doing their chores might help them to establish good and more productive daily habits.
Alternatively, if you’re not home, you could use your television to deter intruders. Schedule your television to turn on at your usual evening viewing time and turn it off at your usual bedtime to make it look like you’re home like usual.
Now that we’ve learned which devices can be used effectively with a smart plug, you’ll be efficiently running your smart home in no time. They’re very easy to use and, as well as saving energy, they will help give your home a more modern look.