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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Smart Home Beginner’s guide: What are smart plugs and how do they work?

A smart plug is an easy and low-cost way to make your regular home appliances, devices and lighting into smart home devices.

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi | Updated: November 25, 2020 7:51:03 am
smart plugs, amazon smart plug, realme smart plug, what are smart plugs, how do smart plugs work, use of smart plugs in homeSetting up a smart home doesn't cost a fortune. That's where smart plug comes in. (Image credit: Amazon)

The market for the smart home is growing fast, although the cost is still a barrier for some to make their homes connected. But one smart home gadget that has grown in popularity over the last few months is a smart plug, a small adapter that can be plugged into a regular electrical wall outlet and can be connected to a Wi-Fi network. It may not be a fancy device to show off but it’s the most basic device needed to make a connected home. But what makes smart plugs intelligent and how do they work? Let’s find out.

What is a smart plug?

A smart plug is seen as the foundation to set up a so-called smart home. All you need to do is to plug the smart plug into an outlet and then connect it to your Wi-Fi network through the compatible app on your smartphone or tablet. Once connected, simply plug an appliance like a lamp or a fan, into your smart plug and then control the appliance either through the app or your voice.

smart plugs, amazon smart plug, realme smart plug, what are smart plugs, how do smart plugs work, use of smart plugs in home A smart plug is the easiest way to make your home appliances or devices smart. (Image credit: Amazon)

How does a smart plug work?

The idea behind a smart plug is to convert regular devices and appliances into your home “intelligent”. They need stable Wi-Fi and don’t require a hub. Most smart plugs come with a companion app that can be easily downloaded from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Smart plugs may seem slightly bulky, but they immediately blend with the interior of your home.

smart plugs, amazon smart plug, realme smart plug, what are smart plugs, how do smart plugs work, use of smart plugs in home Smart plugs can cost you between Rs 800 and Rs 3000, depending on the brand and features. (Image credit: Realme)

What are the advantages of a smart plug?

As we have mentioned earlier, smart plugs make your “dumb” devices and appliances smarter at a very nominal cost. The possibilities are endless with smart plugs. Turn the lights off without getting out of bed, control your heater from another room, or schedule your coffee machine even if you get out of bed in the morning.

smart plugs, amazon smart plug, realme smart plug, what are smart plugs, how do smart plugs work, use of smart plugs in home Smart plugs support Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or both. (Image credit: Shruti Dhapola/Indian Express)

Does a smart plug support voice assistants?

It depends. A lot of smart plugs do support popular voice assistants like Google Assistant and Alexa but some don’t come with Alexa and Google Assistant either. So before you buy the smart plug, make sure you see the plug can be connected to Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant. Voice-controlled assistants like Google’s Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa make it easy to control smart home devices by speaking simple commands like “Hey Google, turn on the light.” Though each of the voice assistants has its pros and cons.

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Things to consider before you choose a smart plug

#Smart plugs are designed to be used for indoor and outdoor purposed. Before purchasing a smart plug, make sure you go through all the features, because smart plugs for indoor use cannot be used for outdoor lights.

#Buy a smart plug that supports Wi-Fi. Having a Wi-Fi-enabled smart plug is easy to set up without any learning curve and does not need any additional hub.

#Most commonly available smart plugs only support Alexa and Google Assistant. However, if you are into the Apple ecosystem and want Siri to turn off the coffee machine or lights, buy a smart plug that is compatible with HomeKit and your Apple devices. The problem is that there are very few smart plugs available in the market that work with Apple HomeKit.

#Choose a smart plug that lets you set a schedule for turning devices and appliances on or off at specific times.

#Not every device is compatible with a smart plug. It depends on the watts a device use, so select the plug accordingly.

smart plugs, amazon smart plug, realme smart plug, what are smart plugs, how do smart plugs work, use of smart plugs in home A smart plug gives you the ability to control and manage the devices, appliances and lights. (Image credit: TP Link)

How much does a smart plug cost?

If you use Alexa frequently, the Amazon smart plug is a great option. Any device that you plug into an Amazon smart plug can be turned on and off using the Alexa app on your iPhone or Android, smartphone. But there are a bunch of smart plugs that are equally capable. Take for instance, Realme’s smart plug, which costs a mere Rs 799. The Wi-Fi smart plug not only has five-layer safety protection but is compatible with both Alexa and Google Assistant voice assistants. TP-Link’s HS100 Wi-Fi smart plug is another good option, though it is priced at Rs 1399.

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