Smart wall plugs are one of my personal favorites when it comes creating the optimal smart home ecosystem. They are essentially the only smart device that can bridge the gap between smart devices and regular ones. From a security perceptive they can replace light timers and switches and help you make it look like someone’s home all the time.
If you don’t know anything about smart devices and smart home ecosystems I strongly recommend that you read my article South Africa’s top 5 smart home LED light bulbs. I think smart light bulbs are the simplest, most affordable and most interesting way to start your smart home ecosystem.
What does a smart plug do?
Smart plugs are simply adaptors that can be plugged into regular power sockets that will allow you to remotely turn it on and off using your smart phone or a smart hub. If you use your smart phone you can use either a dedicated app created by the device’s manufacturer or your iOS or Android Home apps and personal assistants.
You can also use Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa to control your smart plug. You can even schedule an appliance to turn on and off at set times of the day according to a schedule you input into your mobile device.
How do smart plugs work?
Smart wall plugs are either WiFi or Bluetooth enabled which allows the device to be switched on and off remotely. You can use your phone to communicate with the device and tell it when to switch and when to switch off. You can even set a daily and weekly schedule that will switch the plug on and off without any further input from you.
Why you should get a smart plug
In terms of safety and security, the main reason would be to switch lights and appliances on and off to make it appear that someone is home when you are away. It completely replaces the need to set up light timers or switch timers which are outdated and do not have the multifunctional capabilities that a smart plug does.
In addition to the safety considerations, smart plugs are versatile, can help you reduce energy consumption, will save you time and effort and are really cool.
Where to buy a smart plug in South Africa
The best place to buy a smart plug in South Africa is online, it’s cheap, secure and offers you more product options. You can visit almost any DIY and home improvement online retailer and you will find a range of smart wall plugs for sale. If you’re more of a physical shopper you Builders Warehouse, Game, Makro, and HiFi Corp are great options to buy wall plugs and other smart devices.
10 things you can use a smart plug for
- Use it to replace old light timers with a version you can control from wherever you are in the world and keep your home safe from burglary
- Use smart plugs to turn appliances like a TV or radio on and off to make it seem like someone is home all the time
- Use smart plugs to ensure that when you’re out late you come home to a lit-up, warm and welcoming home
- Use a smart plug to reduce electricity consumption and save
- Some smart plugs can monitor electrical output, this is great for those who want to reduce electrical costs
- Let your smart plug switch on a heater, fan or aircon unit just before you get home so you can enjoy the perfect temperature
- Use it to switch lights and appliances that have sockets in difficult to reach places on and off either by voice command or by using the appliances app
- Add the plugs to your smart home ecosystem and improve it overall by automating lights, radios, printers, screens, heaters and other appliances that have no “smart” version yet
- Manage your kid’s use of the internet, how much TV they watch and video game time
- Make sure you’ve switched off your heater, fan, hair flatiron or curler or any other potentially dangerous appliance, even after you’ve left your home
7 safety precautions when using smart plugs
- ALWAYS read your user guide, even if you don’t intend to follow the recommended set up and usage instructions. There may be information that applies to this specific smart plug and not to others that you’ve perhaps made use of in the past.
- Ensure that the plug is fully and properly plugged into your wall socket.
- Ensure that the wall socket and the area around it is clean and dry.
- Ensure you know what the various LED status indicator lights mean.
- You should not use a smart plug outdoors, unless the one purchased has been designed for outdoor usage.
- Ensure the appliance you plug into your smart plug does not exceed the recommended power usage. Most smart plugs will automatically turn off when power limits are exceeded. If this happens, you should remove appliances one by one to see which is causing the issue.
- Do not use a physically damaged, burnt or altered smart plug.