Tips & Tricks

Introduction to Smart Plugs (and how to use them)

If you’ve never heard of a smart plug, you’re definitely missing out. After using a few around the house over the past few months, we’ve discovered what we like and don’t like about the product, as well as some creative ways to use them at home.

Let us help you figure out if smart plugs can work for you, and exactly how you can use them in your home in our introduction to smart plugs!

What is a smart plugs?

A smart plug is a plugin device that you can attach to your appliances and plug into wall outlets. It allows your phone to act as a remote to turn your appliances on and off. Instead of constantly walking to and from various places in your house to turn appliances on, you can simply do it right from your phone.

It’s easier to turn things on and off that are hard to access, like an awkwardly placed plug behind a dresser. We found it especially handy when turning on our product closeup lights. They are definitely “well-used”, and it takes them a few minutes to warm up. With the smart plug, we can remotely turn the lights on before we even need to use them so that they’re ready to go when we do.

Depending on which plugs you choose and how you configure your setup, you can even control devices outside of your home. We won’t be talking about types of plugs in this introduction, but if you’re wondering what the best HomeKit smart plugs are, check out our comparison tool. If you need more info on HomeKit, check out Apple’s official HomeKit page.

Pros and cons of smart plugs

The biggest benefit we saw when using a smart plug is the ability to remotely access and schedule your device. This means that you can save money on your power bill and increase safety, like turning off appliances that could be a fire hazard.

The biggest negative that we experienced was that you didn’t have to walk as much around the house. This might sound like a benefit to some, but when you’re a busy person who has limited time in the day, the little bit of exercise you do get is often from having to run around your home.

You might think the price of the smart plug, sitting around $50, would be a negative, but surprisingly, it pays itself off in 6 months by saving energy. It’s a small investment that’s definitely worth it.

How to use smart plugs in your living room

Using Smart Plugs in the living roomLet’s start in the most important room in the house – the living room. You likely spend a lot of time here, watching television and hanging with your family and friends. The first thing that might come to mind here would be using the smart plugs on lamps, and it could definitely come in handy for lamps that are in a hard to reach area. However, you could also use a smart light bulb, which is the same price and functionality but allows you to control the mood of a room with different colours.

Something that you definitely need a smart plug for is your entertainment system, like gaming consoles and DVD players that sit under your television. Every appliance in your home draws power even when it’s switched off. The phenomenon is called phantom power, and pairing appliances with a smart plug reduces how much money you waste on devices you don’t need on all the time.

When holiday season rolls around, you can even use smart plugs to schedule and turn on the hard to reach plug on your Christmas tree lights or even the lights outside.

How to use smart plugs in your bedroom and bathroom

Smart plugs can be used in your bedroom as well, and the scheduling aspect can be useful for turning things on and off when you’re sleeping or before you head to bed. For example, turning on a humidifier or fan is especially useful on hot days when you’re out of the house.

The biggest use for a smart plug in the bedroom or bathroom is anything that’s a potential fire hazard. If you, a family member or friend has ever accidentally left a hair appliance plugged in and left the house, you know how useful this could be. Plug a smart plug into your bathroom outlet and attach your hair curler or straightener. Even if you did turn it off, it can give you some piece of mind that your house won’t catch on fire when you leave.

If you thought our video and article was helpful, feel free to give our video a thumbs up on YouTube and check out this comparison for the iHome iSP8, iDevices Switch, and Elgato Eve Energy.

How to use smart plugs in your office

How to use smart plugs basementLike in the living room, using a smart plug in your office could save you a few bucks. By plugging it into your computer monitors and hard drives, you could remotely turn off everything for certain parts of the day. Getting rid of phantom power in your home is one of the useful benefits of smart plugs.

Similarly to your bedroom, you can have appliances in your office that get used seasonally. You might have a fan or humidifier that can be turned on before you have to start working in the office. You can set it to turn on at a certain time or turn it on while you’re heading home.

Something that we previously learned from playing around with smart sensors is the amount of volatile organic compounds a printer creates. By turning the printer off, the air quality in our basement office when from poor to excellent. To make this process easier, we attached a smart plug to the power cable to make sure we can turn it on and off every night without having to squeeze into a hard to reach space.

How to use smart plugs in your kitchen

How to use smart plugs in the kitchenThe kitchen is the most limiting rooms for smart plugs in the whole house. There isn’t many places we’d use the plugs in this room, except for on our slow cooker. This might ensure the food in the slow cooker doesn’t get too rubbery after it finishing cooking. A slow cooker will usually default to a warm setting which keeps cooking the food so you can use a smart plug to turn off the unit complete.

This might be dangerous, because you can’t leave the cooked food in the slow cooker for too long before it begins to spoil. It also isn’t a great idea to use the plug to turn on the slow cooker part way through the day because then you would have to leave raw food, sometimes including meat, in a slow cooker. It’s definitely an easy way to get food poisoning.

However, you can create an automation so that the moment you turn on an appliance in the bathroom, like your hair dryer, the water kettle in the kitchen turns on. You can also pre-load your toast and have the toaster automatically turn on so it’s fresh when you finish your hair. This might be a little more complicated, but definitely an interesting feature.

That’s our introduction to smart plugs. If this article was helpful, consider getting your products through our links to help with future videos. Every little bit helps as we’re not sponsored by any of the companies that we review products for.

Have any questions about our introduction to smart plugs? Please ask them below!

Introduction to smart plugs
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Introduction to smart plugs
Looking to turn your home "smart"? Start with with smart plugs! Let us show you how we've been using them in our homes!
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Smart Home Reviews Eh
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