Smart plugs are making their rounds lately. So, I decided to share with you how they work, and more importantly, why they are a great addition to your home. I am sure you already know what smart plugs are, so let us dive into the technology right away.
What makes them smart?
Smart plugs are called so because they can be programmed. A smart plug is a socket that you plug in an electrical outlet. Instead of plugging your appliance directly into the wall socket, you plug it into the smart plug.
Basically, it is an adapter. But it is not just a basic adapter—it is one that uses the most modern technology that we know of today.
Like any other electrical device, you can turn it on or off. The thing is that they have chipboards that typical sockets do not have. These boards contain software that you can connect to either via Bluetooth or WiFi.
And as you know, anything that you can connect to the internet or to any mobile device is a “smart” device.
They are smart because they give you control even if you are not around. It is not like they will think on their own, but rather they can “take commands” and execute these commands.
If connected to a home network system like Alexa, you can even talk to Alexa and then Alexa will relay the information to the smart plug.
As you can see, the devices can “talk” to each other. Even if you are far from home, you can tell the smart plug what you want to do. As such, the likelihood of a fire occurring because of faulty wiring is low.
How do smart plugs work?
What smart plugs do is to convert to become a conduit between your appliance and the app on your hand. Let us say that you only have an ordinary toaster. It is not smart. Therefore, you cannot tell it what to do.
The problem with this is that if you left your home and you are unsure if you unplugged it or not, you have to come back home just to confirm it is not plugged or turned on.
Now, if your toaster was plugged into a smart plug, all you have to do is to launch the app, and then you turn off the smart plug. Once it is off, it is not going to transmit power to your toaster anymore.
Do they need Wifi and Home Network?
Yes, they do need Wifi, but some work with Bluetooth only. The difference in connectivity has something to do with the manufacturer and their target market.
As for the home network, it is not necessary. It is completely optional. The smart plug that is compatible with a home network does not have to be paired with Alexa or Google Home. What this means is that you can use them even if you do not have smart speakers.
To use the smart plug, you must download the app. All smart plugs have apps that you have to install. You need to create an account and pair the smart plug to the app.
Smart plugs of the same brand need only one app—you will control all the smart plugs from the same app.
Why should you use smart plugs?
Smart plugs make your home safe, and this is the primary reason why you have to use them. Apart from safety, there are many cool things you can do with it, and below are some:
- Control – you can control the TV usage of your kids. You can turn it off anytime you want and no matter where you are.
- Automation – you can program the plug to turn on and off some appliances and even lighting systems. For example, let us say you want your Halloween or Christmas decors to light up at any specific time. What you can do is to program the smart plug from your app to make this happen. Of course, the Christmas lights must be plugged into the smart plugs first.
- Turn on the lights even if you are away – if you are going away, burglars will start noticing that no one is around. Why? Because your lights are off. And if the lights are off, they know that nobody is at home. With smart plugs, you can connect night lamps and turn them on at night, giving the impression to burglars that someone is home. As such, they will hesitate to get inside.
- Cook while you are away – with a smart plug, you can connect an electric pot, which you can start cooking even while you are not home yet. For example, there are some foods that need to be marinated for a while and then boiled for hours. The most common device that you can use for this purpose is a slow cooker. You can turn it on via the smart plug before you leave the office. By the time you get home, it should be ready.
- Automatically turn off fan and AC – on most occasions, you have to wake up to turn off the fan or AC. It disturbs you, and then you feel like you did not have enough sleep. With a smart plug, you can schedule t turn off the fan or AC and your sleep will not be bothered.
As you can see, smart plugs are not just fancy devices. They help you become in control of your appliances.
Also, it is a lot cheaper to just buy a smart plug than to buy different smart appliances. Instead of buying a smart low-pressure cooker, just buy a smart plug and plug the appliance you want to be “smart” for that day.
Another thing I want to talk about is security. Faulty appliances are one of the leading causes of fire.
It is possible that the outlets are faulty, and it is also likely that the appliance is faulty. This is why we need to unplug appliances if we are not home.
The sad truth is that not all of us are diligent enough to do this. We keep on forgetting, and the worst thing that can happen is a fire. You will have liabilities financially, and it can even take lives.
The good thing about smart plugs is that you can control them n matter where you are. But I am only speaking for smart plus that are connected via WiFi, not Bluetooth ones.
Those that are powered by Bluetooth can only serve you for a few meters. Those that operate via WiFi will work no matter how far.
Of course, your smartphone must be connected to the internet, which should not be a problem in today’s society.
Summary: how do smart plugs work?
Smart plugs work by using Bluetooth or WiFi Technology. Embedded inside the plug is a chipset that has a software program. It is this program that communicates with the servers of the smart plug.
If these servers are down, there is no need to worry. The app itself contains data about your smart plug, and that app is on your mobile device. The smart plug will still work even if the manufacturer’s systems are down.