All smart plugs vary in different aspects. Picking the first smart plug you find could therefore have dire consequences, especially when it comes to electrical loading! For that reason, this article helps you discover how to choose a smart plug that’s perfect for your needs! Uncover precisely what to look for when choosing a smart plug below in this simple to follow article. Plus, some hot tips are included!
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How to choose a smart plug
When choosing a smart plug, it will need to have the necessary number of plugs to match the socket and the device that is being plugged into the smart plug. The load that the smart plug can tolerate will also need to be capable to handle the device. If you intend to integrate the smart plug with your voice assistant device, e.g., Alexa, Google, they will need to be compatible. If the smart plug is being plugged into a dual socket and you want to use the other socket, opting for a mini smart plug can minimize blocking an adjacent outlet. The cost of a smart plug varies between $7.75 – $39.95. Fortunately, this price can often be offset by the energy savings it makes.
As you can see from above, there is more to the plug than you might think. What’s more, when considering electrical devices which pose a fire risk, caution should always be taken. Read on to gain a deeper insight into the 9 key components to look for in a perfect smart plug!
A study has shown that smart plugs can save between 1 – 4.58% energy per year, equivalent to about a month of electricity! Source
How to choose a smart plug?
1. Compatibility with plug
The number of plug prongs will vary between the countries that you buy the smart plug from. The smart plug will need to match the socket that it’s being plugged into as well as the device that is being plugged into the smart plug.
If purchasing your smart plug from abroad, you should verify that the smart plug has the correct number of pins for the socket.
The US usually require a 2-prong plug (Type A) but you’ll also find a 3-prong plug (Type B). Europe generally require a 3-prong plug (Type G).
2. Compatibility with voice assistants
If you have the likes of Alexa or Google voice assistants, having them compatible with your smart plug can often make a lot of sense in terms of making your life easier.
While the majority of smart plugs are compatible with both Google assistant and Amazon Alexa, (such as the one I recommend below) it is worth adding it to your checklist.
For instance, the Amazon smart plug will only work with Amazon Alexa.
To add to that, some smart plugs require a smart home hub to properly function. If you own one, it’s not a problem.
But if you don’t, you either need to purchase a smart home hub or consider another smart plug.
Recommended Product: Kasa Smart Plug Works with Alexa, Echo, Google Home (link on Amazon)
3. Power load that smart plug can tolerate
The number of amps that a smart plug can handle differs between countries, namely US, Europe and China. Consequently, when purchasing a smart plug, you should verify that the voltage meets the minimum requirements of the country you use it in.
The US requires 15A while Europe require 13A.
Generally, this won’t be a limiting factor with small appliances such as:
The power load will need to be evaluated if you are using the smart plug on heavy appliances, such as:
- Washing machines
Choosing a smart power strip with a surge protector will add an extra layer of protection.
Tip: If using a smart plug power strip, check that the appliances doesn’t overload the power strip.
4. Size of smart plug
Smart plugs usually take up more space than a standard socket. A large smart plug can end up blocking an adjacent outlet.
Space can also become an issue if you have a socket in an already tight space. You’re going to have a socket with a smart plug connected and also a device plug connected to the smart plug.
For instance, if it’s beside a bed, it could mean that you have to move the bed to plug the smart plug and the device plug into it.
You can purchase compact smart plugs to accommodate a small space. However, it is usually at the cost of less features.
If you want a smart plug with all the features, you’ll have to settle for a thicker smart plug.
5. Smart plug programming capabilities
Smart plugs have varying levels of sophistication when it comes to how much they can be programmed. Some apps will have vacation or away modes. These enable you to have lights, TVs, radios etc. to turn on and off to make it appear as if someone is at home.
The number of settings that each smart plug can handle will vary too.
Some smart apps have modes which can trigger certain actions based on the mode. For instance, a movie scene schedule could dim the lights and turn on the TV.
The app interface of most smart plugs is relatively straight forward. However, if there are too many settings and you are not comfortable with apps, then it could be programmed wrong.
Incorrect smart plug programming could ultimately lead to safety risks.
All smart plugs can act as timers, so you set a time for devices to come on and off. With that feature, you can program devices and appliances to run to make your day more efficient.
6. Smart plug Wi-Fi compatibility
Some smart plugs provide specifications relating to what Wi-Fi they support. For instance, some smart plugs only support a frequency of 2.4G as opposed to 5G.
You should therefore check your Wi-Fi network band either in the properties section while you’re connected on your phone or laptop.
Alternatively, it should be included in the paperwork you received when you purchased the Wi-Fi.
7. Share smart plug control
Shared management of a smart plugs means that other people in your home or office can also control the settings to the smart plug from their app.
If this function is something you feel would be helpful or even essential, then check the smart plug spec to confirm if it has it.
If it’s not a feature that’s built into the smart plug, it tends to be the case that you’ll need a hub to share the device.
As you can imagine, this has an elevated level of convenience to it. After all, we don’t lock up existing plugs around the house.
8. Price of smart plug
Smart plugs are more expensive than standard plug. Single outlet smart plugs have a price range from approximately $7.75 – $39.95. Fortunately, they often come in multi-packs which helps to minimize the costs.
Smart plugs power strips cost around $19.99 – $99.64.
What’s worth remembering is that if you use the smart plug correctly and on worthy devices, you should be able to offset the cost.
Ultimately, you could be in a money surplus status after a few months or a year, depending on usage and the energy load of the device.
Tip: Consider opting for smart sockets instead to facilitate control over more devices., such as the Kasa Smart Plug Power Strip (link on Amazon).
9. Displays power consumption
Some of the more sophisticated smart plugs have an app feature which displays the energy consumption of a device. This can be an extremely valuable feature. It enables you to see and become more aware of how much energy your devices use and how much it could be costing you to run them.
In turn, this can lead to you making more conscious decisions about what devices to use and how often to use them.
It could also help you identify appliances that are energy inefficient. This may even spur you on to purchase a more efficient appliance!
Smart plugs have many similarities, however, the little intricacies that they all have can be a deciding factor in if they are a match for your needs. Without a doubt, choosing a smart plug that’s electrically capable of tolerating the devices you plug it into is key.
That along with the other smart plug buyers guide tips will ensure that you pick the perfect smart plug first time around.
If you would like to further enhance your knowledge on other accessories, I have written some articles worth a look.
Here are some other useful articles I wrote that you should go check out:
- Essential work at home gadgets – 5 must-haves!
- 7 benefits of an ergonomic mouse – With expert tips & FAQs!
- Home Office Gifts For Him -12 Unique Ideas To Impress!