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

T3 - - Home -

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.

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