When Smart Plugs Are a Bad Idea
One of the fastest-growing segments of the home automation market is the smart plug. In this blog, we want to explain what a smart plug is, where best to use them and when they might be making life more complicated rather than easier.
What is a smart plug?
I am not sure what you were doing age 16, but Ameer Sami may have you beaten. At that tender age, Ameer, according to digitaltrends.com, was inventing something called the smart wall outlet. As smart home consultants typically call them today, a smart wall outlet or a smart plug, allows you to use a mobile device or an internet-connected system to turn an electrical plug on or off. Ameer says he invented it because his mom constantly nagged him when he'd forgotten to turn off the lights. Today he's chief engineer of a company called Ottomate.
Also, today, there are hundreds if not thousands of smart plugs on the market. They are available as individual plugs, double plugs, power strips, and external use. They are probably available in many different colors too. Whichever you use, they all do the same thing, and that's turn a 110V switch on or off depending on an app, remote control, smart speaker or a preprogrammed cycle. When we used incandescent light bulbs, a smart plug was a very economical approach, saving up to 50% of the power use. That could be real money. In a world of LED lights, the savings are not as good, but the conveniences are the same.
Where should you use or not use a smart plug?
We found a website that included an article on the 10 awesome things you can do with a smart plug to give you some fun ideas. But here are some quick ones:
- turn on or off devices with the sunrise or sunset
- bless someone with little mobility more control of their life
- create a security system while you are away
- limit the time a machine is running to save money
- activate your Instapot when you are on the way home
Maybe the best approach is to ask yourself: Do I do this often, and can I automate it?
When you connect a device to a smart plug, you should follow manufacturer warnings and common sense. With a device that draws large amounts of electricity, like air conditioners, you should be careful. You do not want sparks or surges to take your systems down. When putting an intelligent plug on the internet, you should also know that unsecured networks might give people access to your devices. It's probably not a massive issue if it's a light in the hall but more problematic if it's a device connected to a critical piece of your home infrastructure.
A better way in a luxury home?
If you live in a luxury home, then chances are you have a Home Automation Control platform like Control4, Crestron, Elan, Lutron, or Savant helping you manage your home. If you do, each of these suppliers has intelligent plug options and gadgets that can fit easily into their systems. Some of these need programming into the system, and others are pretty easy to add.
Of course, the real answer for these systems is to have programs or scenes created that integrate many of your home systems. Maybe a security scene that arms the alarm turns light on and off and closes shades. At BRAVAS, we specialize in designing these scenes and combining all the control elements to make living in your home easy and convenient. Our automated home consultants would love to help you if you need it.