What Is a Smart Plug?
A smart plug can be described as a power receptacle that can be plugged into a traditional electrical outlet and integrates it into your smart home network, allowing you to control whatever you connect into it from your smartphone via an app or with your voice through a virtual assistant.
What a Smart Plug Can Do!
A smart plug can transform even dumb electrical devices into smart devices making them a part of your smart home network, giving you greater control and customizable options just by plugging the device in. Devices such as table lamps, the clothes iron, and even the coffee maker get an IQ upgrade with smart plugs. Stick with smart plugs that connect to Wi-Fi either directly or using a bridge or dongle that plugs into your router, for the most features and best reliability.
Getting plugged into the latest smart plug features:
- A few, like Amazon’s Echo Flex, have virtual assistant support built-in so you can speak directly to the smart plugin lieu of using an app to control it.
- Wi-Fi connectivity permits you to remotely control devices plugged into smart plugs with your smartphone.
- Voice control options also allow you to use Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant to control devices plugged into the smart plug unit (some models of the smart plug might require a bridge or dongle for this capability).
- Using your smartphone to set timers that turn devices on and off at scheduled times.
- Track information about energy use as well as the cost of use for a device using the plugin in real-time.
- Some models contain a separate remote to operate your smart plug unit without requiring your smartphone for simple on/off functions.
- Scheduling smart plugs in your home or office to turn on or off at specific times — no more pondering if you left the coffee pot or clothes iron on. And you no longer need to fret about walking into a dark house or your house looking empty while you’re on vacation.
- Smart plugs designed for outdoor use allow you to control (and schedule) items plugged in outdoors like holiday lights and decorations.
- Set smart plugs to restrict as well as prevent latent energy consumption by devices while they’re turned off.
- Smart plug strips work much like a multi-plug surge protector and also can send you alerts if a power surge occurs or notify you when the number of devices connected to the strip poses a safety hazard.
Specific features vary by brand as well as model. Our features overview presented here includes options from a range of smart plug brands and models available in the market.
Common Concerns About Smart Plugs
At any time electricity is involved, it’s wise to be cautious. Let us review some common questions and concerns people have about smart plugs.
Do smart plugs increase the risk of electric shock or fire hazard?
Smart plugs are designed to meet the same codes as well as standards of installed plug receptacles (outlets). Several models of smart plug actually exceed the minimum requirement of safety standards. Smart plugs include automatic shut-off features in the event of power surges or other electrical incidents that can damage items using that plug. In several ways, smart plugs increase the safety of traditional plugs for many homes.
How much do smart plugs cost?
The average Wi-Fi compatible single unit (one plug) smart plug is sold for $25 to $50. Specialty smart plugs like those made for outdoor use or multi-plug strips will be more expensive.
Are there devices that should not be used with a smart plug?
Almost all smart plug manufacturers recommend plugging devices directly into the smart plug unit and to avoid using a standard power strip and additional extensions with your smart plug.
For example, using a standard power strip with multiple extension cords plugged into it with your smart plug will possibly trigger the smart plug to shut off to prevent a fire hazard. By the way, using multiple extension devices such as plug splitters, power strips, and extension cords together is not really recommended because of it safety hazard in some situation, therefore smart plug involved or not, you need to be very careful and always endeavor to read instruction from whatever electrical device you purchase before using them.
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