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Smart Plugs: the underdog of the smart home

The buzz about smart homes these days seems to revolve around fancy AI personal assistants, multicolored LED lightbulbs, and doorbells that have cameras built into them. While all of this is cutting-edge, there is one gadget that often gets overlooked and is the versatile underdog of the smart home: the smart power plug.

Smart plugs are internet-connected power sockets that plug into a standard wall outlet. Some are even sized for the larger 240v plugs found behind driers and stoves. The electronic device being controlled is plugged directly into the smart plug so it can be turned on and off remotely. Smart plugs are inexpensive at about $10-$20 and come in dozens of different brands and form factors. Typically, they require a wi-fi signal and an app installed on your smartphone to function. They seem like simple enough devices, but once you dive into the features found in a smart plug you see their untapped versatility.


Smart Plugs can schedule multiple daily on/off times to easily automate a device that previously required frequent plugging/unplugging. Instead of an analog plug timer that will inevitably fall out of time, use a smart plug that stays on schedule week after week, even through daylight saving time changes and power outages.

Physical Button

This one seems silly at first (why have a physical button on a device meant to be controlled remotely) but being able to add a physical button in an easy to reach place to a device that does not currently have one is surprisingly convenient. Pressing a button is faster and easier than fiddling around with a plug and it avoids wear and tear on your outlets. As a bonus, pressing the button does not override the set schedule, so you can turn on a device early and it will still turn off at the scheduled time.

Energy Monitoring

To easily monitor the energy use of a device, you used to have to use an analog energy monitoring gadget like a kill-o-watt. Now a connected smart plug will monitor the energy consumption of the device that is plugged into it. If you know the kWh use of a particular device, you can multiply it by your energy rate and know how much it is costing on your energy bill.

Night Light

Another feature that seems like it would be superfluous is the built-in night light, but have you ever tried to plug in something in the dark? Having a programable night light on your outlets adds safety and convenience to an already versatile device.

Power Protection

Some Smart Plugs let you limit the amout of power that flows through them letting you create a virtual breaker. If you are using a light-duty extension cord that can only handle 1200 watts of power, for example, you can set the Smart Plug to turn off when it reaches that power level preventing the extension cord from being overloaded.

Voice Activation

The killer app for smart plugs. Many can be synced with a digital personal assistant like Alexa or Siri and activated with a voice command. “OK, Google. Turn on the Christmas Lights.”

The next time you are in the electronics aisle at your local store take a look at these neat little devices. They help you save time, mental capacity, energy, and money. And get creative with them! Tag Craighead Electric Cooperative on social media with your most creative use for smart plugs. 

Timer plus night light plus on-off switch equals a smart plug

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