The advantages and disadvantages of smart plugs
Smart plugs or smart power points have become increasingly prevalent on the market over recent years. These handy devices can easily automate daily tasks so they are an easy entry point towards total home automation. There are a myriad of manufacturers producing smart power points to the extent that it is difficult to keep up and it can be a tad overwhelming to make a selection. This article is written to assist people considering smart plugs and we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages in detail.
If you are new to the world of smart home automation, smart plugs or smart GPOs are a good place to start. As a resut your home will be more intelligent and safer and, ultimately, make your life a little easier.
What is a smart plug or smart power point?
Smart plugs are devices that get placed between normal electrical outlets and the appliances we wish to connect. Instead of plugging your appliances or TV straight into a wall socket, they connect to the smart plug. By doing so we gain control of any device connected to this technology.
Smart plugs empower many possibilities such as configuring the plug to monitor its on or off status at a certain time of day, or controlling the devices while away from the house.
Advantages of Smart plugs
Many characteristics of these smart devices present advantages. The list is detailed below:
Better spend of time
Smart plugs can saving time in many ways. If it's programmed to switch on every morning at a particular time, you will not have to manually switch on the appliances in your home. You simply have to schedule the time to turn on the appliance and that could be any device you plug into power such as a television, a fan, kettle … and they will be ready when you need it.
Smart power points can also save on electricity bills. This can be achieved by activating devices only when needed but also is very convenient because control of lamps, fans, air conditioners can be done so remotely. Its no longer necessary to remember to turn such devices on or off to maintain the ideal temperature in your home. In addition, you can automate some lights to ensure they are not left on when you leave the house, or when you go to sleep. There are numerous models that provide information on power consumption. This adds convenience and also saves you money by optimising the use of energy consumed by devices.
Another function of smart power points is to protect you from potentially dangerous appliances or items. Thanks to the remote connectivity to these smart outlets, the risk of leaving something plugged in and switched on is reduced, such as: an iron, a heater, a kettle, or any other appliance that radiates heat. This will reduce the risk of fire damage or physical damage to your home.
It is also useful to control usage of gaming consoles or televisions when we are not at home - particularly where children cannot self regulate. Kids can also be protected remotely from any dangerous heat emmitting device that they can activate by accident.
The catch phrase is "mocupancy", whereby you mock occupancy in the house. Smart plugs allow you to create presence simulations by activating the smart outlet to switch on and off randomly during the day to make it appear that the home is occupied. Particularly applicable for those situations where you leave the house for a period of time, whether that be work, vacations or any other activity. You can prevent any intruder from getting the impression that nobody is home even if you are thousands of kilometres away.
Furthermore, smart plugs can be programmed for an automatic shut-off functions. They get disconnected if there are power surges or other electrical wiring problems that could damage the devices that are connected to it. Therefore, you will increase the security of the normal plugs and of the whole house.
Some smart plugs can integrate with voice assistants such as Google Home, Apple HomeKit, or Amazon Alexa. Thanks to voice assistant compatibility its simple to switch on or off any device by simply using your voice. Best practise is naming the device correctly and placing it into a room which Google Home, HomeKit, etc allow. This way the voice command is "Siri, turn off the kitchen kettle".
Monitor power consumption
Outlets can be monitored using mobile apps; either the manufacturers app or via Google Home or Apple Homekit. Some models can also monitor the consumption of the devices which allows you to measure how much an electrical appliance consumes over a period of time. With such powerful information you can understand how much energy your home uses. You can determine which devices are consuming the most electricity and adjust the time of day they run. For example; operate the dryer at night when the rates are much cheaper. You can also calculate the amount of time you need to charge a device and thus make more efficient use of energy.
Most smart plugs are very affordable and the more of them that come to market the more price competitive they become. In the market you can find prices that range between $25 and $45. If you compare these prices with those of other smart home systems, the option of a smart plug is very competitive. If you want to know smart plugs with a good quality and price ratio, we suggest you take a look at the TP Link range that is available at most hardware of home entertainment stores.
For many users, smart plugs are worth it. They use less energy than other devices providing they're set up correctly. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and CLEAResult found that using smart plugs saves between 1 and 4.58% of energy usage or about 500-1000 Kilowatts each year.
House-Mate Home Automation 2023