When you think of smart homes, what comes to mind? Thermostats, speakers, doorbells, lighting and TVs are common smart devices that make your life easier, but some can also make it safer.
A smart home surveillance system can deter criminals and help police catch them in the act if they attempt a break-in. You can monitor your home, belongings and pets while away. While there are many benefits, smart home devices are vulnerable to hackers. Tap or click here for tips on locking down your smart home cameras.
There’s another more humble smart home device that you should be using. A smart plug lets you control virtually any device plugged into it, no matter where you are. It even works with “dumb” devices.
Make anything smart
Smart plugs sit between a power socket and anything that plugs into the wall. With that done, you can control that device with an app on your phone from home or anywhere.
There are endless uses for smart plugs, and we put together some suggestions to get you started.
1. Set timers for when you’re home or away
A smart plug can help with security. Just plug a few lamps into these nifty gadgets and set a timer to turn them on or off when you’re not home. And when you are around, you can set a schedule for the lights. For example, have them come on when you arrive home from work.
2. Cut down on your kids’ screen time
Are your kids staying up late watching TV or playing video games? Use a smart plug to set a schedule when the TV and gaming console turn on or off.
3. Regulate your temperature
Do you sleep with the fan on or enjoy a cozy heated blanket? Use a smart plug to turn it off automatically after you fall asleep.
4. Safety backup
Do you ever leave your house and wonder if you left the coffee pot on? Even worse, did you forget to unplug the curling iron? If they’re connected to a smart plug, you can always turn them off no matter where you are.
5. Stop overcharging your gadgets
As we’ve previously reported, keeping your smartphone plugged in for too long shortens the battery’s life. Of course, we understand that bedtime is a convenient time to charge your phone, so what happens when you fall asleep?
Use a smart plug to avoid overcharging your phone, tablet and laptop. Just set a schedule for the charger to shut off at a specific time overnight.
Setting up your smart plugs
The best smart plug is one that works with the voice assistants you already use, such as Alexa, Google or Siri.
As an example, here’s how to set up a smart plug through the Alexa App:
- Insert the smart plug into a wall socket and ensure it’s in pairing mode.
- Open the Alexa app and tap on Devices, then the plus + icon.
- Tap Add Device to go to the Setup page.
- Tap Plug to open a list of smart plug brands supported by Alexa.
- Choose your plug’s brand and follow the onscreen instructions, which will include downloading your smart plug manufacturer’s app.
- Open the Alexa app and go to the skills store and search for your smart plug’s skill or open your smart plug’s setup page and tap Next.
- Tap Enable to Use and follow the onscreen instructions.
Go here for instructions on setting up your smart plug with the Google Home app.
Go here for instructions on setting up your smart plug with Siri.
If you don’t currently have smart plugs, here is a wide selection from Amazon.
You may also like: How to build a smart home at any budget
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Promising review: "Got this smart plug so I can remotely turn appliances/lights on and off in an Alzheimer's patient's home. I can remotely make sure things are off by simply turning them on/off in the Amazon Alexa app - super simple to use and really helps me out."
Promising review: "I bought a lamp and plugged it into the wall; however, the outlet is slightly out of reach. with this smart plug, I could just ask Alexa turn on light and it turns on. Fantastic!"
Promising review: "Nice compact unit, working well so far. It would certainly be easy to install two of these in one wall outlet, as is clearly the intent."
Promising review: "Up and running with app and Alexa in ten minutes. Only plug on market that actually fits into an outdoor outlet straight on."