best smart switch app home automation


The smart home revolution is well underway, but there’s still no shortage of ‘dumb’ tech in our homes, from older appliances to modern gadgets that simply don’t include smart support. That’s where smart plugs come in, letting you remotely control the power supply to your devices and give them basic smart features.

We’ve rounded up some of the market leaders and tested them out, to help make sure you buy the best.

What is a smart plug?

Basically it’s a switch that you plug into a power socket, and then plug another device into so you can control it via an app on your smartphone or tablet over Wi-Fi, or with voice controls through Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri.

With the best smart plugs you can set schedules, monitor energy usage and find out which devices are used most often and when. Armed with such data you can start saving on your home’s domestic electricity usage. Sounds interesting, but is it really useful?

The not-very-smart traditional power timer switch is pretty handy at switching things like lights, kettles and fish tanks on at set times or intervals. You can buy an analogue timer switch for under a fiver, or get a fancy digital one for a few pounds more. 

The ‘smart’ switch is more capable, linking with a smartphone app for device control wherever you are with an internet connection. Say you stay out longer than you were expecting to (“Go on, just one more pint”) and really want a light on inside your house to pretend you’re home. With a dumb-ish switch you’re stuffed. With a smart switch you’re only dumb if you let your phone battery run out.

Tap the app, select the smart switch you’re after, and turn on the light. Bingo.

The only caveat is that it will only be useful for devices that can be left in the ‘on’ position, then switched on or off by controlling the power from the mains. Anything that requires you to still press an additional button on the device won’t turn just because you’ve turned on the mains outlet, so a smart plug socket won’t be any help.

If you want to find out more, we’ve rounded up the top 10 things you can do with a smart plug.

Energy monitoring

One of the more appealing functions of smart switches is energy use and cost monitoring. Not all switches offer this feature, but many do. Devices are often left on standby when not in use for large parts of the day, and standby use accounts for around up to 16 percent of the average electricity bill, reckons energy gadget maker Efergy. With a smart switch you can dramatically cut down on this wasted Standby time. Efergy’s Ego smart socket is especially clever at cutting back on Standby time.

And there’s enough on offer to save you time and effort, too, in the day. Fill your kettle or coffee maker in the morning, and turn it on via the app when you get out of bed so that it has boiled by the time you get to your kitchen. This might sound a very lazy use of technology, but it’s a daily time saver – if you remember to fill the kettle the night before!

The ability to turn devices on and off via Wi-Fi from afar, plus on various timed schedules, is useful. Seeing the energy usage and costs of various devices could help you save money, and some switches can even monitor multiple devices on a single power strip.

Prices

Smart switches start at around £15/$15, and rise to around £55/$55, so they’re not yet so cheap you can buy one for every appliance. But for those you really want to control from afar, it can be worth the outlay.

If you’re hoping to pick up some more smart home tech, take a look at our guide to all the best smart home devices, then look at our round-up of the best smart home deals to make sure you’re smart about your spending too.

Tapo P100 Mini Smart Wi-Fi Socket

TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug

TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug

D-Link Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug

D-Link Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug

Energenie MiHome WiFi Smart Plug

Energenie MiHome WiFi Smart Plug

D-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug

D-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug

Efergy Ego Smart Wi-Fi Switch

Efergy Ego Smart Socket

Eve Energy

Energy

LightwaveRF Smart Socket

Lightwave RF Smart Socket

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