Gone are the days you’d have to spend a small fortune to achieve that “Hey Alexa” lifestyle. With the invention of smart plugs, turning your house into a smart home has not only become more cost-effective — it’s so much simpler, too.
Haven’t heard of such a thing as a smart plug yet? Well, it’s about time you sat down and learned about them, especially if you’ve been dreaming of automating your home on a budget.
Smart plugs: Your key to an affordable smart home
I myself was late to the smart plug party; but while gushing about this newfound (to me) technology to my friends and family, I found that still not a lot of people knew about them!
So, here’s what a smart plug is in a nutshell: It’s an adaptor that transforms your “normal” appliances into smart devices by connecting to your WiFi network. And yes, you can plug them into your regular wall outlets — no fancy instalments needed. All you have to do is download an app to go with it, set it up, and voila! Within just a few minutes, you’ll be able to control your devices remotely, no matter where you are.
And what’s more? I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet: A smart plug will only cost you at least ₱225. The prices only get higher if you’re after more established brands, planning to connect them to more high-powered devices like aircons, or are looking for other upgraded features. At its most basic form, however, you’ll already be able to reap a lot of benefits!
The benefits you get out of using smart plugs
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s delve a little deeper into the technology of smart plugs. Here are some important things to know about them:
- You can connect them to apps like SmartLife, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Google Assistant.
- Your appliances don’t have to be smart devices to work with your smart plugs. The plugs will actually transform them into smart devices! (That means you don’t have to spend a ton to swap out your regular devices for smart ones, either.)
- They’re actually affordable! To reiterate, one smart plug will set you back only as low as ₱225. Budget smart home, here we come.
- Once your smart plugs are connected to your desired app over your WiFi network, you’ll be able to control your devices regardless of where you are — whether you’re just another room away or you’re miles from home.
- With smart plugs, voice control is possible, too. You can connect them to voice assistant hubs like Amazon Echo Dot, Google Home, and more!
- In addition to your basic on/off functions, they also have schedule and timer features. For example, you can set your lamp to turn off at a specific time every night, and even schedule your fan and coffee maker to turn on every morning without you having to get out of bed. (Are you sold yet?)
- Smart plugs can also help you save a significant amount of electrical power and in turn lower your electricity expenses; some smart plugs can even monitor how much energy your devices use. Fun fact: The power that your devices use when they’re simply on standby actually makes up about 10% of your monthly bill.
- Not only will using a smart plug help you save money — by regularly scheduling “off” time for more of your devices, you’ll also be helping decrease CO2 emissions!
Of course, smart plugs have their own limitations, too. Here are a few things to consider before investing into a whole bunch:
- Smart plugs will only be effective with devices that have mechanical on/off switches. To be able to turn it on and off with your smartphone, the device’s switch must always be turned on. So, take note that you won’t be able to turn on your laptop or TV with a smart plug.
- Regular smart plugs aren’t recommended for devices like aircons. For this, you’ll have to find ones designed specifically for aircons, which are available for an additional cost.
- The average smart plug comes with three prongs, so you’ll need to connect it to an adaptor. Alternatively, you can also look for a two-pronged version like this smart PH plug from a local brand — although, it is a bit pricier.
- Most, if not all, smart plugs require a 2.4Ghz WiFi frequency. We’ll skip all the tech jargon; the point is, you can’t connect one to your mobile data if it’s your sole Internet source.
- It goes without saying, but let us list it anyway: If your WiFi connection is down, your smart plugs won’t work!
At the end of the day, though, we find that these limitations aren’t enough to discourage us from embracing smart plugs — especially when it means we can get a lot of things done with just a few taps on our smartphones!
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While you won’t be able to fully automate your home with smart plugs alone, investing in them will definitely help cut down costs if your end goal is a 100% smart home. If you’re just after controlling a few devices with your mobile phone, though, then a smart plug is absolutely worth purchasing. And hey, we aren’t encouraging laziness — just energy-saving. Wink wink!
Featured image credit: zhudifeng via Canva Pro