With smart plugs you can save power, save money and make your home or office a lot more pleasant to live and work in. We live in a world of smart devices, from smartphones to smart displays and speakers and even smart fridges.
But what if you’ve got a house full of perfectly serviceable devices that aren’t smart? Are they automatically dumb, cut off from the benefits of smart technology? Not if you add a smart plug into the mix.
What makes a smart plug so smart, then?
Smart plugs are actually pretty simple devices at their core. They’re plugs, like you might find in a simple double adaptor so they plug into your wall and provide at least one external power socket, though some can be more complex depending on needs or budget.
So far, so simple and seemingly not so smart. However, once they’re plugged in, the small Wi-Fi radios within the plug can connect up to your home or office Wi-Fi and then be intelligently controlled through a companion app, or voice controls if they’re smart-assistant ready.
This gives you a lot of control power when it comes to switching on whatever gadget you then plug through into that smart plug.
Is it hard to set up a smart plug?
It’s not particularly hard for most smart plugs, because the core tasks they have to do are nowhere near as complex as with other smart gadgets. Typically, you’ve just got to plug them into a wall socket or power board, switch on the power and then download their companion app onto your smartphone.
That should find the smart plug and get it talking to your home’s Wi-Fi connection. If the smart plug you choose supports your choice of Smart Assistant – Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple’s Siri via HomeKit – you’ll typically also have to pair the plug up to those services as well if you want voice control.
Of course, you can always call on one of our friendly technicians to give you help setting up smart plugs or any other smart home or smart office devices you might want to install.
Can smart plugs save me money?
They certainly can!
We’ve all gone out and wondered if we left an appliance at home on, right? With a smart plug, you could fire up the app on your smartphone and find out instantly if that device is indeed still on, and switch it off remotely without having to dash home in a panic – or simply reassure yourself that indeed you did switch the power off before you left home.
Some smart plugs also incorporate energy usage monitoring facilities within them, making it easy to count your power usage over time. That can clue you in to which gadgets are slurping up the most power. That can make it easier to adjust your usage of those devices and lower your monthly power bills.
Are smart plugs safe?
Generally, yes. Like any other powered device, it comes down to how you use it, but properly safety certified smart plugs – like every plug you’ll find in your local Officeworks store – are as safe to use as any other electrical device.
If you’re planning on using smart plugs outside, look for models that advertise that they’re suitably weatherproof.
What other features should I look for on a smart plug?
It very much depends on your need. Some models come with just one plug, so they’re effectively a “single adaptor” plug, while others act more like smart power boards, or incorporate USB plugs for easy charging of smaller mobile devices as well. For most multi-plug devices, you’ll end up with a system that “sees” multiple plugs as their own power sources, so you can still switch off one gadget on a smart power board while leaving another running.
Will smart plugs still work if I switch the power off at the wall?
No. They’re smart plugs, but they’re not quite smart enough to unplug themselves, waddle over to the power point on their prongs and flick the power back on if you deprive them of their essential electricity.
What can I do with a smart plug?
Any device that needs standard power can be controlled with a smart plug; here’s just a few possibilities that are easy to enable:
Switching on the kettle before you get out of bed: With a smart plug between your kettle and the wall, you can enable the power to flow without having to take your head off the pillow, so that your morning cuppa is ready to brew before you get to the kitchen
Remote light switching: Whether you’re away for a period and want to maintain the idea that your home is occupied, or want to have lamps come on as you head up the driveway, any standard lamp can be controlled with a smart plug.
Automate festive lights: Got a Christmas light display, or want a spooky Halloween flickering light effect? That’s feasible – and in some cases timed to enable usage without wasting power – with smart plugs.
Kill your home’s Vampire drain: A lot of the appliances we leave plugged in continue to use a little power in standby modes, often referred to as “vampire drain”. Smart plugs aren’t immune from this, but their usage is typically way lower than many TVs, game consoles, kitchen appliances or computers. Using a smart plug to ensure that devices are properly off can save you serious money.
Manage usage time of power-hungry devices: Whether it’s stopping an electric blanket from overheating you in the middle of the night, or charging your phone just as long as you need and no longer, a smart plug with timing capabilities can make it easy to use exactly the right amount of power.
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