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So much smart technology dominates the market today, from voice-activated home assistants to smart thermostats, home locks, and more.
If you want to make your home a “smart home”, you might have heard of smart plugs.
But what exactly are they, and what’s so smart about them?
In this article, we’ll cover what smart plugs are, how they work, the different types, their benefits and drawbacks, and more.
Here’s everything you need to know about these simple accessories that provide a huge upgrade to your home.
So, What is a Smart Plug?
Smart plugs are simple devices that plug into your outlet and provide a socket to plug your devices into, just as you would if you plugged them directly into the outlet.
The smart plug can automate the device plugged into it via an app, opening a world of possibilities.
Let’s say you plug an ordinary lamp into your smart plug. You can set it up to automatically turn on in the morning and shut itself off when it’s bedtime.
If you have a voice-activated smartphone hub, you can even connect your smart plug to it, allowing you to turn your devices on and off using your voice.
How Do Smart Plugs Work?
The possibilities of this technology go on and on. But how does it work?
The first step to setting up your smart plug is to plug it into the wall and follow the instructions provided in the user guide. In most cases, you’ll either connect the device to your home Wi-Fi network or your phone’s Bluetooth through an app.
The device typically features a button that’s used to turn it on and off. It may also be used to connect to your Wi-Fi. In some models, this may also serve as a reset button if the plug isn’t operating properly or a connection has been lost.
They’ll also often come with a notification light to communicate various stages, such as if there’s an issue or the device is in pairing mode.
It’s important to note that the device, the app, and any voice assistant you will use must be connected through the same stable Wi-Fi network.
Once your device is set up, it’s time to plug something into it and watch a standard device get an immediate upgrade. Once something is plugged in — such as a fan or a light — you’ll be able to switch the plugged-in device on and off from an app or a voice assistant (if you’ve set that up).
If you want to use a smart assistant to control something, the plug’s app must also be linked to that device. Then you can use commands like “Turn on the bedroom fan” or “Turn off the lights.”
Renaming your plug makes this easier, especially if you have multiple throughout your home.
You can even set devices connected to smart plugs to operate based on a set schedule, such as turning on your bedroom fan in the evening and automatically turning it off in the morning.
Sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it?
Types of Smart Plugs
If you think your home could benefit from an upgrade by putting some of these to use, your next step is to decide what type of smart plug to purchase.
Below, we’ll cover some of the kinds you might encounter in your search and summarise them to give you an idea of which type best suits your needs.
Wi-Fi Smart Plugs
As their name would indicate, Wi-Fi smart plugs maintain a connection via your home’s Wi-Fi. This allows you to switch your devices on and off via an app compatible with your plug.
The benefits of Wi-Fi include a longer range and less sensitivity to obstacles than you’ll experience with a Bluetooth connection.
Bluetooth Smart Plugs
No Wi-Fi? No problem.
Some plugs use Bluetooth technology to control your devices. This way, you can monitor and control devices using your phone’s Bluetooth.
However, it’s worth noting that this is more limited. While you can turn devices on and off this way, you can’t control devices when you’re away from home as Bluetooth’s range is much more limited than Wi-Fi’s.
Z-Wave Smart Plugs
Z-wave refers to a wireless mesh networking technology. This technology has primarily been developed for use with smart home devices. This is another form of technology used to operate smart devices, and you can find plugs compatible with Z-wave as well.
Smart Plugs with Energy Monitoring
Different models come with different features, including energy monitoring, which helps you to keep an eye on how much energy your devices are consuming.
This is useful to stay in the know about how much your appliances are drawing. With this knowledge, you can make informed decisions about the energy you consume in your household.
Outdoor Smart Plugs
Who doesn’t love the peaceful atmosphere of string lights in the backyard? With an outdoor model suitable to withstand the elements it might encounter, you can set your outdoor appliances to an automatic schedule that best suits your household.
Pros and Cons of Using Smart Plugs
So is a smart plug right for you?
Here’s everything you need to consider before you decide if you should introduce a smart plug — or perhaps several — into your household.
- Save Energy: Did you know plugged-in devices drain energy even when turned off? With a smart plug, you can decrease this energy drain when items aren’t in use — you’ll only be using the power required for your device to maintain its connection.
- Convenience: Imagine the convenience of having your lights turn on and off by themselves at specific times. If you ever worry you left the iron on, a Wi-Fi-connected plug even allows you to cut off the power to appliances plugged into them when away from home.
- Compatible with Voice Assistance: There are so many smart appliances these days that are compatible with voice-activated home assistants, but with smart plugs, you can even turn your standard devices into “smart” ones. Just connect it to your device, set it up, and you’re good to go.
- Size: These plugs typically take up more space than a standard outlet. If you’re working in a confined space, you may not always have room for one.
- Programming: Especially for those who aren’t tech-savvy, the setup can be difficult — but once you have everything set up properly, it’s well worth it. Just take care to program things safely so you don’t, for example, accidentally set your heat appliances to turn themselves on at dangerous times.
- Compatibility: Your model might not be compatible with the existing technology in your house. Double check everything is compatible before purchasing.
How To Set Up EcoFlow’s Smart Plug
Setting up your EcoFlow Smart Plug is simple! All you need to do is plug it into the wall, plug your appliance directly into it, and set it up via the EcoFlow App. From there, you can start enjoying all of the benefits that come with saving energy, being able to control plugged-in appliances from afar, and more!
When the EcoFlow Smart Plug is used in conjunction with the EcoFlow PowerStream Microinverter users can monitor energy consumption even further. The microinverter will allocate the correct amount of electricity for each appliance that’s hooked up to it and can store excess energy in a portable power station.
Tips for Maximising the Use of a Smart Plug
To make the most out of one of these in your home, there are some simple tips you can implement to see how they transform your routine. Here are some things to remember to get the most out of your new device.
Using your smart plug to set schedules on many devices can bring your household to the next level. Have lights turn themselves on and off and set times, or get your morning cup of coffee to brew itself (just don’t forget to prep your coffee machine the night before).
Make Regular Devices Voice-Activated
Turn off your television, fan, or lights with the power of your voice — even those that aren’t “smart” devices. Connecting your plug with your voice-activated home assistant allows you to upgrade just about any device in your home.
Decrease Your Energy Consumption
There are many reasons to decrease your carbon footprint, and smart plugs are an easy way to make a small difference — and small differences add up. As so many appliances in your home drain electricity when plugged in, even when not in use, these plugs can help combat that and allow you to enjoy a lower carbon footprint and a lower electricity bill.
Use in Conjunction with a Portable Power Station
As mentioned above, you can take things a step further with EcoFlow’s Smart Plug. When used with a microinverter, the smart plug can allocate the right amount of electricity to each appliance and store surplus energy in a portable power station. And, during peak times, the EcoFlow Smart Plug prioritises home use, storing most energy during off-peak times.
Frequently Asked Questions
Smart plugs allow you to have better control over the devices that are plugged into outlets. By being able to switch on and off, they can cut down on power drained from plugged-in devices that aren’t in use, upgrade your home by making ordinary devices “smart,” and more.
It’s common for these plugs to use a small amount of electricity when plugged in to maintain a connection so you can control the devices plugged into them. However, this is only a small amount of electricity, and you can typically save more electricity than the plug uses, depending on how you’ll be using the smart plug.
Yes, there are certainly ways you can set up your smart plug to save energy. If you set your smart plug up optimally, for example, by using schedules to shut devices off when not in use, you can combat the drain of electronics that aren’t being used and reduce the amount of electricity your home consumes.
Want the Smartest Smart Plug? Check Out EcoFlow’s Smart Plug!
Want to upgrade your home?
Check out EcoFlow’s Smart Plug today for a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled device that will bring your home to the next level. With voice control compatibility and the power to set schedules and timers for your devices, you’ll quickly see how this handy outlet can transform how you interact with your home’s devices.