Last Updated on June 7, 2020 by The Tutor
Budget Smart Plugs
Smart home technology has seen significant advances over the years. Over 20 years ago, the first smart home devices as we know them today began to arrive on the market. Today, we have smart plugs which can be a tremendous asset to any home.
What are Smart Plugs?
Smart plugs are affordable devices that can be used to automate lamps and other small electronic devices or appliances that are typically plugged into a standard outlet. Today’s smart plugs can be used with or without a hub and can be controlled with your smartphone, Alexa or Google Assistant.
How Do Smart Plugs Work?
A smart plug is an adapter that is plugged into a regular electrical wall socket. It allows you to remotely control a device or appliance plugged into the smart plug adapter through your mobile app on your smartphone. A stable WiFi connection is needed to make smart plugs work.
Smart plugs are a great option if you want to automate your regular appliances. Some smart plugs are equipped with advanced features like being able to monitor energy usage and make a report on how much energy it uses.
Smart plugs also allow you to program your appliances based on your schedule. With smart plugs, you can turn off your bedside lamp from a living room. You can also turn on your kitchen devices, like a coffee machine, even from your bedroom.
Benefits of Smart Plugs
Smart plugs are versatile and they generally useful for small regular devices. Other benefits of using these smart home devices include:
- Smart plugs allow you to automate regular appliances and devices in your home according to your personal preferences, making them more energy-efficient.
- They are convenient to use as they allow you to control your devices remotely.
- Some plugs have a feature called “away mode”, which simulates someone being at home while you are on vacation by randomly powering devices during a set schedule. This is a good way to scare off intruders.
- Some are able to connect through Alexa or Google Assistant.
- While most smart plugs are for indoor use, certain smart plugs that are designed specifically for outdoor use are also available.
- Smart plugs are generally cheap.
Things to Consider Before Buying Smart Plugs
Smart plugs can be extremely useful especially if you only want to automate a few devices. However, before you buy one, make sure to consider the following:
- While there are smart plug options that come with multiple outlets, some will allow you to plug one device at a time. A plug with multiple outlets let you plug multiple devices provided they are placed close to each other. You may need to buy several smart plugs if you want to automate multiple devices from different rooms.
- You need a stable internet connection to ensure your good smart plug performance.
- Most smart plugs may block adjacent outlets with their size and shape.
Communicating with Your Smart Plugs
The typical way to control your smart plug is with your smart phone, your Alexa device or from your Google Assistant. All of these will use the WIFI signal in your home.
Smart plugs can receive the signal with or without a hub. It is our preference to use devices that do not require a hub and instead just use the WIFI signal to connect directly to the smart plug. Since the plug is powered by the outlet, it can stay connected to your home network.
Once the smart plug has been synced with your mobile app, it can be controlled away from your home network using cellular technology. This allows you to control the plug from anywhere in the world.
Smart Plug Mobile Applications
All smart plugs will come with a free app that you can download to control the device. For example, in this article we will talk about the Gosund smart plug and Gosund has their own app that you can download from the app store.
We recommend using the Smart Life app for your smart plugs and any other smart device in your home. Virtually all of the smart plugs are compatible with the Smart Life app which is a convenient way to control all of your smart home devices without having to use a different app for each device.
How to Install a Smart Plug
Every smart plug will come with installation instructions. However, it seems that most smart plugs are installed this way:
- Install the smart plug application onto your smart phone
- Click the “add device” option
- Select the smart plug icon or choose the search for device option
- Press the button on your smart plug to activate it. You should see a fast blinking light
- Follow the steps on the application to finish your installation
If you run into trouble adding the smart plug, we recommend unplugging it and then starting from the beginning.
Smart Plug Scheduling
The primary benefit of having a smart plug is the ability to schedule when it will turn on or off. You can control them manually or set them to come on and off based upon a schedule that you control.
You can create schedules that can be the same or different for each day of the week. The plugs can be turned on or off multiple times per day depending upon your needs.
Setting a random schedule is a great way to program lights to come on and off while you are away giving the appearance that someone is in the house.
Cost of Smart Plugs
Smart plugs are one of the cheapest options to automate your small home devices. The cost of a smart plug depends on its type and brand. Generally, a single-socket smart plug will cost around $10, while multiple-socket smart plugs are available for $20 or more.
We took a look at some of the most popular smart plugs available on the market. This is a quick snapshot of those plugs, their compatibility and the average cost online. Below in the review we will let you know which ones we prefer for the money.
|Phone, Alexa, Google Home
|Phone, Alexa, Google Home
|Phone, Alexa, Echo, Google Home
|Phone, Alexa, Echo, Google Assistant
|Phone, Alexa, Echo, Google Home
|Phone, Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT
Smart Plugs Review
We reviewed three of the more popular plugs and found the following after using them for a few weeks:
- All three plugs perform virtually the same
- They can be used with the same Smart Life app
- They all are fairly easy to install and program
- They work on 2.4g, not 5.0g
- Their size only allows you to plug in one per outlet
Based upon the findings above, we are ranking these plugs in this order:
Good – MOKO – Check price on Amazon
Better – POWRUI – Check price on Amazon
Best – Gosund – Check price on Amazon
Alternative – We also like this version from Gosund. It allows you to use both outlets without the smart plug blocking the other one. As you can see in the picture below, it fits nicely. Click to check the price on Amazon.
This video will show you the plugs what we recommended above and how they work. These were tested over a few weeks and we believe they bring the best value while offering the same essential benefits that the more expensive smart plugs deliver.
Smart plugs are an excellent way to get started on adding smart technology to your home. At a minimum, they should replace your old timers and at the most you can have them controlling virtually anything that gets plugged into an outlet.
Smart Lighting – this article is an overview of all of the smart lighting options out there.
How to Choose the Right Light Bulb – Before you purchase any light bulbs, you should become educated on what your options are and how to shop for them.
Aging Well with Smart Technology – This article describes how smart technology is having a positive impact on the lives of the elderly.