What are smart plugs? Possibilities and featured models

Smart plugs are versatile devices that allow us to control any device that we connect to them: a router, the heater, the heating … so that we can turn them on when we need them, even when we are not at home.

If they are already useful, when they are part of a domotic ecosystem to turn our house into a smart place like Google or Apple, the possibilities increase a lot.

Some initial issues

  • Compatibility: If you are buying an intelligent plug that is controlled through an app, it is essential that this application is compatible with the version of your operating system. In the market we will find that all work with iOS and Android.
  • Smart plugs require a ground connection, a security measure that exists by law in current buildings, but which you might lack in case you are in an old building.
  • The current that is tolerated by most smart plugs is 10 amps. Make sure your appliances and electrical appliances are compatible with this intensity, otherwise you will not be able to use them.
  • Beware of the design: some smart plugs are too bulky, blocking access to other surrounding elements such as another outlet or nearby switch. If it is your case, better choose a compact one or use an extension cord.
  • If you already have a virtual assistant at home or already have smart elements, make sure they are compatible with your ecosystem. Without going any further, most work with the Android and Google ecosystem, leaving the Apple ecosystem much more limited. Although home automation expansion is growing little by little, it is always better to check before making an investment that all gadgets “understand” each other.
  • All smart plugs that connect to WiFi work with 2.4 GHz band, typical of the routers of recent years. However, if you have a next-generation router, it can have a dual band that includes the 5GHz as well as the 2.4 GHz, so you will have to choose these devices to connect to the band with which they are compatible.

smart plugs

Characteristics of smart plugs

In addition to activating the passage of electrical current through the device, smart plugs have a number of features

  • “Away” mode: specially oriented to lamps, TV or music devices. This function turns them on and off randomly when you’re away to make it look like someone is at home.
  • Consumption monitoring: Some models control the electrical use, providing how much electricity has passed through them in a period of time, so that we can know how much a particular appliance consumes.
  • Voice control: using commands directed to virtual assistants such as Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant, we can turn on or off the smart plugs.
  • Connection with other devices: You can synchronize other smart devices so that they understand each other, such as Apple TV or smart speakers such as Google Home.
  • Conditional events: Increase the automation of your home through additional instructions through apps such as IFTTT, so that it allows the passage of current based on other factors such as location or a sensor.

But the fundamental function is to turn on and off the devices you have connected, something that can be done in three ways that will determine its complexity and additional functions.

Smart plugs with a timer

The simplest smart plugs are the programmable ones, which you can configure to operate only for a certain period of time, something useful for specific needs such as using the heater in the morning.

Garza analog electric programmer

smart plugs

  • PROS: easy to use, cheap, well-known brand, compact and robust.
  • CONS: Little flexibility when it comes to programming.

This solution is the simplest and cheapest that exists in the market of programmable plugs: it has a roulette that covers 24 hours a day with a tab every 15 minutes. You only have to lower the tabs at the time you want for the plug to work. The good thing is that it practically occupies the same as the switch itself, so it does not bother. With child protection and switch on / off. Maximum power Maximum power: 3.680W. 5.99 dollars on Amazon.

Orbegozo PG10 analog electric programmer

smart plugs

  • PROS: Easy to use, cheap, waterproof.
  • CONS: Little flexibility when programming, bulky.

Like the previous one, this analog programmable plug is intuitively programmed by simply pressing the tabs on which you want it to be operative. It is specially designed for outdoor, having IP44 protections that resist water. It is suitable for devices with up to 16 amps and a power of 3,500 Watts. 6.99 dollars on Amazon.

Smart plugs with a programmer

Another slightly more advanced option allows us to turn devices on and off automatically following different temporary patterns by means of adjustments with a calendar and a clock. For example, office lights could only be turned on Monday through Friday during business hours.

Digital electric programmer Orbegozo PG20

smart plugs

  • PROS: Easy to use, simple controls.
  • CONS: Bulky, limited programming.

With an LCD screen and 8 buttons, programming at different times depending on the day of the week is simple and precise. It supplies a power of up to 3600 Watts with a maximum intensity of 16 Amperes. On Amazon for 9.90 dollars.

Digital electric programmer Garza Mini Power

smart plugs

  • PROS: Easy to use, well-known brand, compact and robust.
  • CONS: Access to the screen and controls, limited programming.

A more elaborate step is the Garza Mini programmable plug, which has a small digital screen and 5 buttons to program it with up to 16 different daily programs throughout the 7 days of the week. It includes predefined programs for vacations, random ignitions and countdown.

Like the analog model of the same brand, it is quite compact, so it hardly occupies space, however its compact design also hinders access to programming by placing it at the top. The maximum power is 3680 W, allowing the passage of up to 16 amps: 16 A to 230 Volts. 12.95 dollars on Amazon.

Smart plugs through remote control

In this way, the turning on and off is chosen individually, either at the user’s discretion or because conditional parameters are met. Within this range we find control through a remote control, an app or voice control with virtual assistants. In order for smart plugs to work through applications, they need to connect to the router.

AUKEY pack 3 smart plugs

smart plugs

  • PROS: Easy to use, intuitive and comfortable.
  • CONS: They are bulky.

This pack of AUKEY consists of 3 controllable sockets through a remote control that works up to 30 meters away individually. With switch on and off devices. 14.99 dollars on Amazon.

Orbegozo PG30

smart plugs

  • PROS: Easy to use, intuitive and comfortable.
  • CONS: They are bulky

Control up to 3 plugs in your house with a single remote control from up to 30 meters away by disconnecting them from the current, so that stand by is avoided. It allows devices up to 16 amps with a maximum power of 3,600 Watts. 18.99 dollars.

Etekcity pack 5

smart plugs

  • PROS: Easy to use, intuitive and comfortable.
  • CONS: They are bulky and with a relatively low restricted amperage that restricts their use to certain appliances.

Etekcity has for sale a pack of 5 plugs to be able to control the electrical consumption of the intakes of our home by means of 2 remote controls that work with batteries whose reach is of 30 meters. With this pack it is possible to activate several devices just by pressing a button. The permitted electrical specifications are 10 amps of passage and up to 2,300 watts of power. 34.99 dollars on Amazon.

TP-Link HS100

smart plugs

  • PROS: Well-known brand, voice control and app, robust design
  • CONS: They are bulky

The TP-Link smart plug allows you to turn appliances on and off from anywhere as it is connected to the Wi-Fi home network at 2.4GHz. However, you can program using the KASA app intuitive way of Android or iOS. It has “out of home” mode, which turns on and off to deter potential thieves.

It supports assistants such as Alexa or Google Assistant, so that it can be controlled by voice. 19.99 dollars on Amazon without energy monitoring, but if you want to see how much you consume, the HS110 model is available for 38.99 dollars.

Xiaomi strip

smart plugs

  • PROS: Well-known brand, compact and useful design.
  • CONS: Consumption shown in yuan, control of the strip in a non-individualized global way.

The power strips are a very practical solution for an area in which we are going to connect various electrical appliances, such as an office. The Xiaomi Smart Socket is controlled through Wi-Fi at 2.4 GHz with the Mi Home app installed on the mobile, although it will be necessary to have the own brand’s Gateway, for 22.30 dollars on Aliexpress.

The price of this model of Xiaomi strip with 6 plugs and Dollarpean socket is 23.74 dollars on Aliexpress, although there are several models available with various configurations and even USB ports.

Also, Xiaomi has individual smart plugs compatible with Dollarpeans, with a price of 11.82 dollars in Gearbest.

Intelligent strip Meross Mss210

smart plugs

  • PROS: Cheap, versatile voice control and app, individual control of each plug.
  • CONS: Little known brand

With 3 plugs and 4 USB ports, this smart strip allows you to control the passage of electric current through your mobile phone (Android or iOS) thanks to its connectivity with the Wi-Fi network at 2.4 GHz. Compatible with Amazon Alexa, Assistant of Google and the IFTTT app. It allows to create operating programs. With protections to avoid overloads.

According to the manufacturer, the compatibility with Amazon Alexa V3, Samsung SmartThings and NEST will soon be implemented, as well as the random mode for when there is no one at home.

It supplies a 100-240V output with up to 16 amps for the plugs and 4 amps for the USB ports. With CE and RoHS certifications. 23.99 dollars on Amazon.

Belkin WeMO

smart plugs

  • PROS: Well-known brand, control by app.
  • CONS: It does not allow voice control, price.

Belkin has in its wide range of products with the WEMO range, a set of home automation accessories that include the WEMO plug, which connects to the Wi-Fi network of 2.4 GHz to be controlled from the app of the same name that you can install in your Android or iOS tablets or smartphones. Your app is pretty well designed, being very easy to use. It is compatible with the entire WEMO range, composed of other plugs, sensors, light bulbs and switches.

Although it costs 44.90 dollars on Amazon, there is an offer that includes the switch and a motion sensor for 35 dollars with which in addition to controlling the plug with the app, you can configure it to activate when someone in the room.

Pack 4 TECKIN plugs

smart plugs

  • PROS: Versatile and very functional, compact, price.
  • CONS: Limited power and amperage allowed.

A good way to turn your home into a smart home is this pack of 4 TECKIN plugs, which besides being programmable, are compatible with the Smart Life app (Android and iOS) to which they connect through the Wi-Fi network of 2.4 GHz, are controlled by voice with Alexa and Google Assistant and monitor the power consumption. They allow the connection of devices that consume a maximum of 2,200 watts at 10 amperes of intensity. They are so compact that the plugs are integrated into the wall. 47.99 dollars on Amazon.

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Roger Walker

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