Smart homes give homeowners control over everything from energy use to home security, but transitioning to an entirely automated home can be a little overwhelming. If you don’t already have a smart-home hub, smart plugs might be the perfect compromise. Smart plugs let homeowners turn any device into a smart device.
Smart plugs are an easy-to-use introduction to the world of home automation because they can function independently, but they can also easily integrate into home-monitoring systems like Constellation Connect.
The Constellation Connect system, for example, supports a number of ZigBee and Z-Wave smart outlets, including plug-in models from Centralite and GoControl. Once you discover the many common uses for smart plugs, you’ll get a feel for how making your home smarter can improve your life.
Pro Tip: In the realm of smart homes, “ZigBee” and “Z-Wave” are wireless technologies that can help your gadgets communicate with one another (instead of using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth).
So what are smart plugs, anyway? They’re small devices that look like travel adapters: you plug an appliance into the smart plug and then plug the smart plug into the wall socket. And just like that, they allow you to turn your existing appliances into smart devices.
Smart plugs connect to an app on your smartphone via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, allowing you to control whatever appliance is connected to that plug without the need for a smart hub.
Once connected to an appliance, smart plugs allow users to create “scenes.” Scenes are small IFTTT (If This Then That) programs that can adjust your lighting, coffee maker, washing machine and other appliances based on the time of day, the temperature or anything else your smartphone measures. You won’t sacrifice any wall outlets by using smart plugs, and different plug designs are available to accommodate different space requirements.
By now, you might have some questions: What are smart plugs for, and do smart plugs save energy? Common uses for smart plugs include energy monitoring, easy control of appliances and home security automation. Here are some of the best smart plug uses:
So do smart plugs save energy, or are they responsible for their own energy load? It’s true that smart plugs draw a small current when they’re in standby mode, but it’s a very small amount of energy—only about 1 watt—and that means the overall effect on your energy consumption is negligible.
Also, the savings you gain by controlling devices known for high levels of phantom load, such as gaming consoles, more than make up for that. Used correctly, smart plugs can reduce your energy consumption by between 1 and 4.58 percent.
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The Centralite ZigBee measures real-time energy use. It can also be paired with motion detectors and door sensors to turn on devices when people enter the house or a particular room, and is even compatible with home monitoring systems like Constellation Connect.
The TP-Link Hs110 allows you to create scenes for different days of the week and provides weekly and monthly summaries of power usage. This is one of the best smart plugs to use with Alexa and Google Home hubs.
A good option for pairing with Apple HomeKit, the iDevices Switch allows you to easily access your devices through Wi-Fi. It also lets you schedule both recurring and single events.
The iDevices Outdoor Switch offers all the benefits of the regular iDevices Switch plus dual outlets, a manual power button and a rain-tight casing. It too is compatible with Apple HomeKit.
Since smart plugs can control almost any device that uses electricity, they offer hundreds of possible solutions to the inventive homeowner. In fact, there are so many creative ways to use smart plugs that we bet you can add to this list of best things to use smart plugs for. Here are some of the best smart plug uses:
When considering smart lighting, you have to weigh the relative merits of smart plugs versus smart switches and bulbs. Each device has its own pros and cons. Plugs and bulbs offer easy installation in contrast to smart dimmer switches, which must be wired into your home’s electrical system. On the other hand, smart switches are frequently more flexible.
The iDevices Socket and other smart plugs are best used with lamps and other lighting requiring a wall outlet. Smart LED lights can be used for both lamps and ceiling lights, but they may not come in the style you need for your light fixture. Additionally, installing smart bulbs in all your fixtures can be more expensive than using smart plugs or switches.
Pro Tip: Don’t want to choose between smart plugs versus smart switches? You don’t need to! You can buy smart switches and plugs bundled together.
Smart dimmers are most often associated with smart switches, but smart plugs can also be used to dim and brighten lights. The GoControl ZWAVW plug-in dimmer, for instance, wirelessly controls the brightness of hardwired lights while monitoring energy use. It also pairs well with the Constellation Connect smart hub.
With multiple smart plugs on the market, how do you choose the best plug for your needs? Here are some things to keep in mind!
When it comes to convenience and energy efficiency, smart plugs are an important part of any home automation system. Combine smart plugs with Constellation Connect or other home automation systems, and you’ll be able to take control of your home’s many electronic devices while reducing your energy consumption. And that’s a really bright idea.
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