Smart plugs aren’t just for turning normal gadgets into smart devices: they’re also silent protectors of your home. Imagine being able to control your appliances from your phone, set schedules, and monitor energy consumption, all from the palm of your hand. In this guide, we’ll explore how smart plugs improve home safety
In this guide, we’ll explore how smart plugs go beyond convenience to improve your home’s safety. We’ll also touch on how they can cut your energy usage, how to combine them with home security systems, and more.
What Is a Smart Plug?
A smart plug is a good place to start if you’re thinking about automating your home. But what is a smart plug?
A smart plug is a small plug-in switch that functions similarly to a typical light switch. The primary difference between a light switch and a smart plug is that the latter is controlled by an app (but most also feature buttons) rather than a physical toggle or button.
Smart plugs turn your ordinary devices into smart ones. Why? They connect to your home’s WiFi network, letting you control them remotely via a smartphone app or voice commands with virtual assistants such as Google Assistant. They are the magic device that makes your coffee makers and other appliances dance to your digital tune. Isn’t that great?
- How do smart plugs work?
Smart plugs are invaluable little devices. They are installed between an appliance’s plug and an existing outlet, regulating power on and off to the device at the user’s command. Smart plugs are available in different types, with each manufacturer aiming to produce quality models. These innovative devices work with their proprietary apps, with which you can flip them on and off through your phone, voice, or a preset schedule.
- Do you need to connect smart plugs to WiFi to work properly?
Most smart plugs need WiFi to access their features, though some models can function without it. If the internet buffers, the button on the side of most smart plugs allows you to turn the plug on and off. Unfortunately, most smart plugs won’t respond to voice commands and adjustments made through smartphone apps.
However, some devices use radio signals rather than WiFi. Such models feature a smart hub that interacts with the user through WiFi. In most cases, preset features and scenes will continue functioning, but you may not have access unless the WiFi resumes. Generally, WiFi is necessary for most smart plugs to work properly.
- Best way to use smart plugs at home
There are numerous smart plug applications around the home; the greatest uses are case-by-case. Most homeowners use smart plugs for security when they are away from home. With two plugged into smart plugs throughout your home, you can set scenes to switch on at specific times and more automatically.
Besides security, you can use a smart plug for holiday lighting. This lets you turn on string lights and decorations with your voice or set a schedule. Another common use of smart plugs is restricting parasitic electricity draw on various appliances.
Appliances with standby modes do not power down. They consume energy even when they’re not in use. With a smart plug, you can cut the power to the appliance.
- What to consider when shopping for smart plugs
Many smart plugs look similar and promise the same features. But first, there are a few things you should know.
First, check your smart plug’s compatibility with your Google Assistant and mobile device. Not all smart plugs work on both Android and iOS systems. As such, you should pick the right one for your smartphone. It should also be noted that some smart plugs can only work with two or three digital assistants, so check that yours is among them.
What’s more? Brand names do matter. Many companies manufacture smart plugs, though they are just as likely to disconnect from the internet or test users’ knowledge as they are to function well. Buy in bulk if you plan to make the most of home automation. Many smart plugs are available in three or four-packs, allowing you to save money while automating more outlets.
- What else you should know about smart plugs
There are a few things to know about these gadgets, such as that most do not work on 5GHz WiFi networks. Instead, they need 2.4GHz, which many WiFi routers use. If your smart plug stops functioning, ensure you connect it to 2.4GHz.
It’s also worth noting that smart plugs only work for on-off devices, like fans and lamps. If you leave these gadgets on, the smart plug can turn them on and off based on your preference. If your devices use standby mode, the smart plug can switch it off to save the parasitic draw. However, it can’t turn it back on.
What Does a Smart Plug Do?
If you plan to build your dream smart home, smart plugs are the best starting point. These devices are among the most affordable and easy-to-use smart home devices. They let you convert nearly any wired appliance in your home with an on-and-off switch into smart, responsive ones that you can control with your smartphone.
So, whether switching off forgotten appliances, scheduling your coffee maker to start brewing before you wake up, or creating a comfortable, automated evening routine with your lights, smart plugs add convenience and control to your home, making it feel futuristic. Smart plugs can help you cut your energy usage and bills with these features.
That said, let’s discuss how smart plugs help cut your energy usage.
- Cut your latent energy use.
Many home devices consume energy even when they are not turned on. These devices can account for up to 21% of your home’s energy bill annually. With a smart plug, you can turn off the power to these appliances without physically unplugging them from the wall. The best part? You can set timers to cut them off when they’re not in use, like at night or when you’re away.
- Turn off outlets from anywhere.
With the daily rush to take kids to school and hectic commute to work, it’s no surprise that you often forget to turn off your bedside lamp or coffee maker. Fortunately, a smart plug can cut off such appliances from the comfort of your location. If you forget to check after arriving at work, set a timer so the outlet shuts off automatically at a specific time. Doing so helps you save money on energy bills and makes your home safer by ensuring devices that pose a fire hazard are not left unsupervised.
- Track energy usage
It isn’t easy to track your energy usage if you don’t know how you consume it. Smart plugs address this issue by storing detailed data on how much energy your appliances and other electronics use daily.
- Create schedules
A smart plug lets you set on/off schedules through a smartphone app for any appliance or electronic device plugged into it. After setting up the smart plug, you can establish schedules or cut off the plug manually using your phone from anywhere. This prevents lights, appliances with standby modes, computers, and other electronics from consuming energy when you’re not around.
- Set up loop timers.
Loop timers are among the latest features you’ll find on smart plugs. These invaluable features allow you to program the smart plug to turn on/off repeatedly at varied intervals. This helps you make pool filtration systems, security lights, and other devices that must be recycled on and off energy efficient.
- Cut holiday light electric bills.
Smart plugs are not only for indoor use. There are also models for outdoor use for Christmas lights and other lighting. Like the indoor variety, outdoor smart plugs allow you to set timers to turn off the lights at a certain time. This helps reduce your utility costs when furnishing your home for the holidays.
- Best things to use smart plugs for
Here are the things around your home that need smart plugs:
- Slow cooker
If you enjoy making set-and-forget meals in your slow cooker, a smart plug will help you control how long your food cooks. Let’s face it, sometimes we find ourselves away from home longer than expected. That’s where a smart plug comes to the rescue. This device lets you flip your slow cooker off from the comfort of your location to avoid overcooking food.
- Christmas tree or holiday lights
Smart plugs can assist with spreading energy-saving love all year. Use your smart plug to create a schedule to turn the lights on/off during the day. Doing so ensures you’re only running your holiday lights when people are around to enjoy them.
- Coffee maker
Nothing beats the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning. With a smart plug, you can set your coffee maker to begin brewing before you wake up. Alternatively, you can turn the app on in the morning and let it brew as you enjoy the last precious moments in bed.
- Air conditioners and space heaters
If you use a small space heater or a window air conditioner unit, a smart plug can help you keep your home at the right temperature. Set the heater to switch on before you arrive home so it’s nice and toasty inside.
- Curling iron or hair straightener
Here comes another morning time-saver. Plugging hair-styling devices such as a curling iron or hair straightener into your smart plug can help save time. Schedule these devices to preheat to perfection before you typically style your hair so they are ready when needed.
It’s inconvenient to get up, wait a few seconds, and then plug it back in to reset your router. You can make things easier by plugging your router into a smart plug. Then, if you need to reset the router, you can use the smart plug app to cut off the power supply and turn it back on without disrupting your work.
How Does Smart Plugs Improve Home Safety?
Smart plugs are the unsung heroes of home safety; here’s how they step up the game:
- Remote control
Smart plugs offer the convenience of remote control via smartphone apps. That means you can manage your plugged-in devices from any location with a reliable internet connection. Whether it’s switching off appliances, electronics, or lighting fixtures, this feature ensures you manage your home’s energy consumption and guarantees safety even when you’re not physically present.
- Preventing fire hazards
Overloading electrical sockets is a significant fire hazard. Smart plugs come with energy monitoring capabilities, letting you track and regulate the power usage of connected devices. You can prevent overloads, minimize the risk of electrical fires, and improve overall home safety by being informed about the energy load on your outlet.
- Scheduled automation
Establishing a routine is essential to home safety, and smart plugs facilitate this via scheduled automation. You can replicate an occupied home even when you’re not around by programming specific times for devices to switch on or off. For instance, setting lights to turn on in the evening can prevent burglars, creating the impression that someone is at home.
- Away mode
The “Away Mode” feature on smart plugs enhances security when you’re far from home. This mode creates the illusion of an active household by randomly turning lights on/off throughout the day. It also protects against potential break-ins and enhances your home’s overall safety and security.
- Integration with smart sensors
Combining smart plugs with other smart home devices, like smoke detectors, improves the whole safety ecosystem. Smart plugs can automatically disconnect power to connected appliances when a smoke alarm goes off, minimizing fire risk.
Families with kids reap from the childproofing capabilities of smart plugs. These devices offer a proactive approach to ensuring curious kids don’t play with hazardous appliances by controlling device accessibility via scheduled usage or remote control. This contributes to a safer home environment for families.
How Do You Combine Smart Plugs With Home Security Systems?
Integrating smart plugs with home security systems helps improve your home’s overall safety and efficiency. Here’s a detailed breakdown of how these two technologies can coexist:
- Motion-activated lighting
Create an intelligent lighting system by combining smart plugs with motion sensors. The smart plug can turn on connected lights when motion is detected, illuminating certain areas. This enhances security by deterring would-be intruders while offering added safety to household members when navigating the home at night.
- Simulated occupancy
Sync your smart plugs with your home security system to give an impression of occupancy. When the security system is in “Away” mode, smart plugs can randomly switch lights, TVs, or radios on/off. This creates the impression that someone is in the house, discouraging perpetrators.
- Automated door locks
Pair smart door locks with smart plugs to develop a comprehensive home security strategy. For example, when you use your smart lock to lock your doors, the security system can signal the smart plugs to switch off non-essential devices, indicating that the home is securely locked.
- Smoke and carbon monoxide alerts
Combine smart plugs with smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms, as these devices can signal the smart plugs to cut power to appliances during an emergency. This minimizes potential fire hazards while enhancing the safety measures implemented by your security system.
- Customizable security scenes
Create custom security scenes by integrating smart plugs with other smart devices. For instance, when the security system is activated, smart plugs can trigger sirens and flashlights or alert you via connected devices, establishing a dynamic and responsive security environment.
- Energy-efficient security
Integrate smart plugs into your security routines to optimize energy consumption. When you arm the security system, non-essential devices can be automatically powered down, ensuring energy is conserved without sacrificing security measures.
- Remote control
Connecting smart plugs to your home security app allows for centralized control. Whether it’s confirming that unnecessary devices are switched off when you leave or remotely switching on lights for added security, remotely controlling your smart plugs improves your home security system’s effectiveness.
- Notification automation
Incorporate your smart plugs into your home security system’s notification alerts. In the event of a security issue, like a breached entry point, the smart plugs can be set to trigger specific devices. This includes switching on lights or activating alarms to offer a visual and audible deterrent to would-be intruders.
How Smart Plugs Improve Home Safety
Smart plugs allow homeowners to control power to all the gadgets plugged into it. It offers peace of mind and makes homes more secure. For instance, these handy devices can randomly turn your lights on and off, creating the impression that someone is home even when you’re not around. That’s a powerful deterrent to would-be burglars, who frequently target empty homes.
Another way in which smart plugs enhance home safety is by preventing electrical fires. These devices detect power surges and automatically cut off power to deter overheating and electrical fires. They also prevent accidental shocks by cutting off power to an outlet when it detects an electrical overload or a short circuit.