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The Pros and Cons of Smart Outlets

Thursday, November 10th, 2016 by | Filed Under: Hardware & Peripherals, Smartphones
 
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There are new smart devices every day, but that doesn’t mean they’re all right for you. Smart outlets, for instance, make energy management easier and more convenient by allowing you to remotely control—often through an app on your smartphone—any device that plugs into an outlet.

Some smart outlets work with all sorts of devices, from cellphones to kitchen appliances, while others support only one device, like a lamp or coffee pot. As with anything, smart outlets have downsides, so thoroughly consider the pros and cons before deciding if a smart outlet is right for you.

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Pros of Smart Outlets

Save Power

Idle load electricity accounts for 23% of the average American’s power bill. This happens because some devices use the same amount of power whether they are in use, in standby mode, or off. With a smart outlet, you can save energy—and money— by easily turning off multiple outlets at once when you’re not using them.

Control Lighting

Along with remotely turning lights on and off, some smart outlets provide light bulb dimmers. If you want the dining room lights on a little lower for your dinner party, you can dim them from your smartphone without moving from the table.

Offer Remote Management

You can control smart outlets remotely from anywhere in the home, and you can access many smart outlets through apps from anywhere on your smart device. If you rush out the door and forget to turn off the lights, you can switch them off with your phone when you get to work.

smart-outlet-control

Provide Convenience

Rather than walking up and down stairs to turn off all the lights before you go to bed, you can control all the devices you connect to smart outlets at once. If you use a nightlight in the hall, you can turn it on from bed.

Cons of Smart Outlets

Install Permanently

Like traditional outlets, smart outlets are hardware that has to be installed in a wall. Once you install your smart outlet, it won’t be easy to move.

There are smart plugs that plug into traditional electrical outlets and can be controlled by an app. Buying one or two of these could be a good way to test the features of a smart outlet without making a permanent committment.

Don’t Support Hardwired Devices

If you have devices that are already installed and hardwired in your home—like ceiling light fixtures—they likely can’t be plugged into your smart outlet. To control these wirelessly, you may want to look into smart lightbulbs or light switches.

Can Be Expensive

Smart outlets range from $40 to $80, which can seem expensive if you’re not used to buying smart devices. However, you may be able to save this same amount on your power bill every month.

Fall Prey to Hackers

Smart outlets are accessed over Wi-Fi, which means they are vulnerable to hacking. However, keeping your smart outlets up to date, following smart cyber security practices, and protecting your Wi-Fi network can help guard your smart outlets against hackers.

If you manually manage your home electronics easily or don’t have many devices plugged in, you may not need a smart outlet. However, if you live in a large residence and have several devices constantly drawing power, smart outlets can help reduce the amount of electricity you pay for and do not use. Think about how many devices you plug in to determine what kind of outlet will help your household save the most energy and time.

~ Sarah Brown

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