What Are “Smart Plugs” and How Can They Help?

The Internet of Things has brought a wave of very useful and helpful gadgets, followed closely by an even larger wave of very questionable gadgets. From cruddy security measures to devices becoming smart “just because,” not everything within the IoT space is gold.

One gadget that people may not gel well with are smart plugs. Yes, that’s right; the world of IoT can make your plug sockets intelligent! While the idea of a smart plug may seem silly on the surface, you can find a lot of interesting functionality from them if you take a closer look at what they can do.

Are smart plugs a handy addition to the IoT world, or are they just another flash in the pan?

Why Make Plugs Smart?

Why are plugs becoming smart in the first place? The sockets in our home are doing a good job as-is, so why are we making them more complicated and technical?

Things become a little more understandable when you realise that smart plugs enable “dumb devices” to become smart. Smart plugs provide a means of controlling the power to specific gadgets or furniture that don’t already have an Internet connection.

Different models of smart plugs have different features, but they mostly share the same functionalities. For instance, you can turn the plug on and off via an app and set a timer to automatically toggle it without your intervention. Ever wish that your antique lamp would automatically turn on or off by itself? A smart plug “makes it smart” by controlling the power supply to it.

Why Use Smart Plugs?

That sounds great and all, but plug timers can also control a socket’s power without needing any fancy gadgetry. What can smart plugs do that a regular plug timer can’t?

The answer lies with the fact that a smart plug can communicate with other devices. Want to turn on that lamp via an app? Just boot up your phone and switch it on from your chair — and maybe adjust its schedule while it’s open. You can even get Alexa-compatible smart plugs that give you voice control over a plug socket!

You can tell if smart plugs are for you by how you reacted to that last paragraph. If the idea of toggling your plug sockets with a voice command makes you giddy, they’re the perfect companion. If it makes you roll your eyes and question where technology is going, perhaps stick with timer plugs instead!

Not for Everyone

If the concept of toggling a plug via an Alexa smart plug doesn’t fill you with curiosity, the price point certainly won’t. The most inhibiting part of smart plugs is how much they go for, typically selling around the $30 price point for a single plug.

Again, if you feel resistance to this idea, you can safely sit this wave of IoT out and use already-existing solutions to achieve the same goal. If you’re already digging into your wallet to smarten up your plug sockets, you won’t be disappointed!

Plugging Smart Plugs

Smart plugs are either the best thing since sliced bread or a useless toy, depending on what you want from your smart home. Regardless of your thoughts on them, now you know what they are and why they have a use in the IoT space.

What do you think? Are smart plugs handy gadgets or a waste of technology? Let us know below!

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

One comment

  1. I am waiting for the IoT devices that are thought-controlled. Much more convenient, much more secure and much more private. Using a smartphone or a control console is just too inconvenient.

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