turn your dumb home into a smart palace
make your hous e cleverer than an MIT profess or for a lot less : add smart plugs
There are plenty of other, more exciting smart home gadgets out there, T3 will happily admit. But none can beat the humble smart plug when it comes to price, ease of installation, and how much of a difference it can make when you start using it.
Smart plugs have been around for yonks, and Belkin was there right at the beginning. Its current, and top-of-the-line, plug – the Belkin Wemo Insight Switch – is a mini marvel. Plug it into a spare electrical socket and when you attach an electrical device on top of that, you instantly make it smart, no matter whether it’s a TV, lamp or a kettle. You can even attach a power strip to it, enabling you to make a bunch of electricals smart at once.
With Wi-Fi on board, Belkin’s plug effectively gives your electricals a boost, adding internet connectivity to anything that you attach to it. Via Belkin’s Wemo app, you can then see that electrical device attached to the plug on your smartphone, which means you can control what it does no matter where you are – just by tapping a button on your screen. It also means you can set up simple schedules, so that your devices come on at pre-set times of the day, or create rules that make your electricals turn on or off based on other events. For example, you could get your electricals to turn on and soon as you walk through the door, and vice versa.
The Wemo app works with a variety of third-party services, including IFTTT.com, Nest and – most importantly – Amazon Alexa, so you can add your smarter electricals to your repetoire of voice commands.
Belkin’s plug also has another trick up its sleeve: the ability to monitor any of the electricals attached to it. Within the app, just tap on the plug and a drop-down menu will reveal some useful data for the energyobsessed, such as how often the plug is used each day, how much is costing to power each month and its average power draw. You can even export data from the last 30 months, if you want to get really geeky.
The Belkin Wemo Insight Switch costs £49.99, or £39.99 without energy monitoring.