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What is a Smart Plug?

Years ago, you might’ve used a plug with an on/off timer for your Christmas lights….

Years ago, you might’ve used a plug with an on/off timer for your Christmas lights. Or maybe you remember the Clapper, which lets you turn the lights on and off by clapping. 

Now we can control “standard devices” (devices that aren’t smart like your old holiday lights or coffee makers) within our homes by tapping the screen on our phone. This is done with the help of smart plugs and your smart home hub.

Smart plugs can turn your previously “dumb” devices into smart devices, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of a modern smart apartment or smart home without the costs of upgrading appliances or rewiring. 

Smart plugs explained

A smart plug is an outlet that plugs into a regular wall outlet, or completely replaces an in-wall outlet, that allows you to control the outlet remotely via a smart home app. Smart plugs enable your everyday appliances and devices to be voice or phone operated. 

Moveable vs in-wall

Smart plugs usually come in two different formats: one that is plugged into an existing outlet. And one that is installed into the wall like a regular outlet in your home.

Many people find the advantages of moveable, plug-and-play smart plugs that allows them to decide where they’d like to have smart plugs installed. This is great for older homes or apartments where rewiring and changing outlet boxes isn’t an option.

For many in the multifamily industry, though, in-wall smart outlets make the most sense. By installing plugs and outlets directly into the wall, this prevents stealing or accidental removal by a tenant. 

Whatever the use case, though, if you’re working with a smart home provider, ask them for best practices. They should be able to help you understand your floor plan and give you guidance on the best placement of smart smart devices in your home.

The smart plug can connect to other smart devices through a Wi Fi network, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, or Zigbee. This connection allows you to plug in any device to the smart plug and control it through your smart home assistant or on your phone. 

What are smart plugs used for?

Smart plugs are mostly used for simple automations and timing. Instead of controlling everything with the regular switches, you can set up a schedule, or tell your smart voice device to turn off the lights or turn on the fan. 

What can you automate? Well, anything that plugs in can be automated, but we’re going to share a few ideas that can make your life easier and save you time and money. 

Lights: Leaving lights on 24/7 will quickly become an expensive habit. You can set your lights to turn on when you wake up and right before you get home from work, so you don’t come home to a dark house. 

Coffee makers: Most coffee pots have built-in timers, but they can be a pain, especially if your schedule varies every day. A smart plug lets you turn on your coffee maker from your phone. 

Air conditioners, space heaters, and fans: Turning on the A/C and heat can add a significant amount to the monthly energy bills. With a smart plug, you can control the temperature without wasting energy. Turn on the heat a few minutes before you get out of bed or turn on the A/C or a few fans as you’re getting home.

Just remember that your smart plug can’t press any buttons or flip switches for you (at least not yet). They only control the power going to your device. This means that your devices will need to be set to the on position to start working when you turn it on via your app or smart home assistant.

You can also connect your smart plugs to motion sensors. This can allow your lights, fan, or other devices to turn on when you enter the room. 

What are the benefits of a smart plug?

Save money: Smart plugs help reduce wasted energy by turning off your devices when you’re not using them. It’s easy to forget to turn everything off when you’re leaving in a rush and already late to your appointment. Smart plugs help by giving you control from your phone, and you can easily set on/off schedules. 

Most devices also draw a little bit of energy when you’re not using them. Usually, it’s not noticeable, but your smart plugs can save money on your electricity bills by turning your devices off completely when you’re not home.

Save time: Are you looking for ways to optimize your morning routine? Setting up smart outlets is a great way to cut down on waiting times. Your smart plug can’t cook you an omelet yet, but it can heat up your hair straightener or switch on your coffee maker. Even if you just saved 10 minutes every week, it would add up to a full 8 hours by the end of the year.

Peace of mind: We’ve all had those days where it feels like we’ve left something turned on. Smart plugs give you control even when you’re not at home. You can be sure that your bedroom lights and toaster oven are turned off. You can also turn things on when you’re away. Turning on a few lights can make it seem like you’re at home and deter burglars.

Some final thoughts

How should you integrate smart technology into your home and make them work for you in the best way possible? You’ll get the most out of your smart outlets by integrating them with your smart home assistant and using them for the right devices. With Alexa and Google Home, you can use the voice command compatibility to control your smaller appliances at home. This will take a little bit of configuration in your smart home app, but it’s fairly easy. 

When you’re not at home, you’ll still be able to control your smart plugs using your app or by setting a daily schedule. Most have capabilities to connect into your current setup, but Amazon also offers a smart plug that works exclusively with Alexa.

We believe that smart plugs are a low-cost way to connect more devices to your smart home network. We’re expecting them to continue to innovate and open up more opportunities to automate your life. For now, you can enjoy the added convenience and the time and energy savings that they offer. 

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