What is a Smart Plug?
What Is a Smart Plug?
In simplest terms, a smart plug is a device similar to an outlet extension plugged into any standard power outlet. By connecting your appliances (such as coffee machines, televisions, cable boxes, etc.) into them, you can turn them on and off through your smartphone or tablet no matter where you are. Not only that, you can even set scheduled times for when your devices turn on and off. Essentially, it can make non-smart devices into smart devices by acting as a go-between.
What Is Smart Technology?
When people talk about “smart technology”, what they’re referring to is anything that can be considered “Self-Monitoring Analysis And Reporting Technology” (SMART). This means a device that can monitor itself and report to its user if there’s any problems with its hard drive or operations. While this may seem rather mundane, it’s actually a critical development in automation and one of the most useful features we have in creating more complex and independent computer programs.
In more conventional terms, though, the “smart” prefix is typically applied to any somewhat intelligent and interactive device that can connect to the internet. As technology advanced, so did smart devices. This advancement is what enabled them to rise to the level of omnipresence they occupy today in no small part because of their convenience and intuitive features. While smart devices are not necessarily better than non-smart devices, they’ve grown at such a rate as to eclipse most other forms of technology. There’s a smart device for almost everything these days, connecting us and our technology in ways never before thought possible.
How Does a Smart Plug Work?
A smart plug is easy to use with any existing WiFi network in your home. Connecting your smart plug to your home network allows it to sync with a special app made by its developer, giving you remote control over every appliance connected through it. Additionally, you can set your smart plugs to respond to voice commands by connecting them through digital personal assistant devices like Alexa or Google Assistant, adding an extra level of convenience to your daily life.
What Could You Use Smart Plugs For?
While the main use for a smart plug appears to be its convenience, there are many practical applications for this technology, as well. For instance, some smart plugs come with power monitoring technology, helping you track your power usage and adjust your habits to save money. Some models are even designed as small extensions cords for your outlets, helping regulate your energy usage while providing extra length to your power cables.
In addition, smart plugs allow you to control your appliances from anywhere as long as you have your smartphone with you. This can be a helpful home security measure, allowing you to turn lights, televisions, or other devices on and off while you aren’t home to give the appearance that you’re still there. Some smart plugs can be connected to home security systems, allowing you to activate appliances like lamps if an alarm is triggered. There are even models designed to be installed into a house’s electrical systems, allowing you to control hardwired appliances with your phone.
Potential Problems With Smart Plugs
Like all new technology, smart plugs are susceptible to growing pains as their developers work to make them more reliable and efficient. One issue users face from time to time is unresponsiveness from their smart plugs, with either their app, digital assistant, or WiFi network unable to locate their plug. Dropped signals, as well, are an issue even for those with strong router signals. Luckily, most manufacturers provide a dedicated support line for you to contact in the event you’re facing issues, making it easy to troubleshoot the problems your device has and find quick solutions.
It’s also important to note that smart plugs will likely turn off by themselves if they receive a firmware update. While this is likely not a large problem as simply turning them back on after they shutdown will fix the issue, it is still something to be conscious of especially if you plan to use them on a schedule. Luckily, even when turned off or unplugged, any settings you’ve created for your smart plug will still be saved once it is turned back on.
Where Can You Buy Smart Plugs?
Many online retailers have smart plugs available for sale with the cheapest typically selling for around $30 each. Amazon.com is one option with several different brands available for sale on their website. Electronics stores like Best Buy will usually carry them either online or in-store, as well. You can buy many directly from the manufacturer, too, giving you multiple options to compare prices, warranties, and different features.
Given all the helpful features smart plugs can provide, you may wish to consider upgrading your home with them in the near future. Smart plugs can help you conserve power, save money, and protect your home, as well as provide unheard of convenience to your daily life. While problems occasionally arise related to performance and reliability, these issues are uncommon and simply part of breaking in a new piece of technology. With many brand options in addition to a multitude of vendors, you can be sure to find the right kind of smart plug to fit your needs.