Smart Plug for Comfort and Energy Efficiency

Technology has come a long way in the last couple of decades and has really changed the way we think, act and live our lives. In the world of today, technology and gadgets take over the moment a human being is born – it would not be an exaggeration to say that the human-race succumbs to science and technology while being in-utero.

Starting in infancy, going into toddlerhood, early childhood years, pre-teen, teen years and then on to adulthood, our lives are dominated by ever-evolving electronic devices which are driven by the rapid pace in technological development. A new born baby listens to the soothing sounds of a lullaby played on a mobile as it lies in the bassinet. Gone are the days where mobiles were wound by key and made to play those soothing sounds for infants – vibrating, motorized bassinets equipped with electronic mobiles are now the norm. As the baby grows in to a toddler he or she starts using all kinds of electronic toys and devices – be it watching a show on portable DVD player from the car seat or leaning phonics and nursery rhymes from a toy computer. Most of the little kids these days, as they transition from their toddlerhood start using tablets and ebooks in lieu of board games, playing with friends and paperback books. Smart phones have become order of the day for pre-teens and teens, as social media dictate their day-today lifestyle and activities. A smartphone in the hand means the world is in your palms – why would they need anything else! A teen evolving in to an adult, forges ahead into his or her adulthood with the mindset that ownership of latest gadgets and technology are the ones that signify their place in the society. With the advent of artificial intelligence or AI, human to human interaction might easily be replaced altogether as smart robots come along to our aid in our everyday routine. Driverless cars will make lives so much easier. Every advancement in technology, while it has its own challenges in that it reduces human interaction and involvement in everyday routine, does make lives simpler and convenient. Especially advancement in the production of driverless cars is a boon to many people. People whose physical handicap might be limiting them from performing certain tasks will greatly benefit from these innovations. When technology helps reduce the work load of people they will have more time to focus on other important aspects in life.

The latest trend in innovation comes in the form of making everything “smart”. From smart devices to smart homes, every aspect of a smart device offers convenience to people and makes life simpler. A smart home is a home where all devices, appliances such as dishwasher, heating and cooling systems like air conditioner, lighting, computers, security devices like camera, alarm, home entertainment systems like video and audio systems are all connected to the network and can be controlled remotely. You can control the operation of the devices from another room in the house or even remotely via an app on your telephone. You can command Amazon’s digital assistant to turn on or off the appliances too.

The devices in a smart home can be controlled to follow a timed operation thereby making the home energy efficient. For example, if you would like to turn on the heating and cooling devices at specific times of the day rather than having them run all through the day, you could have an app control not only on/off timing but also the temperature of the house remotely. This would make the home energy efficient and help to cut down on the electricity bill significantly. Being able to control a home’s appliances remotely would immensely add to the comfort factor. For example, on an especially cold day, you could turn the heater on remotely via a computer or an app on the phone and set it to a comfortable temperature even before you arrive home. For those returning home from vacation in an inclement weather, their home would be welcoming despite the temperature/climate change outside. You can control your smart coffee maker to brew the perfect cup of coffee while you are still lazing in the bed on a sunday morning. How about commanding the window blinds to open or close when you need them to? Just with a voice command via Alexa or a phone app you can accomplish it. If you are out of town or out of the country you can check on the security status of your house with the smart app that controls your alarm system and security camera. Usually the smart devices can be controlled via phone, cell phone and internet. There are few types of communication protocols followed by smart systems when they communicate with each other such as X10, Z-wave, UPB etc. If the devices/home products follow the same communication protocol then they can talk to each other and expansion to other devices that follow the same protocol is cost efficient and an easier process. Many of the smart products can be retrofitted without much hassle. For example, if you want to add smart light switches that can be turned on and off with an app, home owners can do so without having to run extra wires.

Home monitoring systems that are smart offer valuable tools for parents who have kids at home. If your teen ager come home from school and you want to check on them to make sure everything ok, then you can access your home security camera from your phone or computer. The peace of mind that these smart systems offer, especially, if you want to check on kids inside your home and make sure are no intruders or strangers are lurking in your porch, is invaluable. When you are vacation, you can turn your lights on or off as and when you need to give the appearance as though someone is home. You can water your lawn and plants when you are away, as needed, by turning on the sprinkler system remotely or perhaps turn them off if it begins to rain. You can possibly do all this with an app remotely!

The best innovation yet in the process of making a home smart is the smart plug. Who would have thought, a decade ago, that a plug can be made smart and be used to turn appliances on or off? If you pair up your device with a smart plug with Wi Fi, you can control the device remotely from your phone or tablet. All your electronic devices and appliances can be turned on or off with the touch of a button. You can connect your smart plug with Amazon’s digital assistant – command Alexa to do your bidding. You can also hook up your smart plug with Google assistant and get it to fulfill the tasks without getting off from your seat or even lifting a finger. The voice command to those digital assistants will turn on or off you light, your entertainment systems like speakers, TVs etc. You can set up timers or schedules so the smart plug can operate devices by turning them on or off as needed, automatically. It would be a luxury to have the house set at the right temperature, the perfect lights turned on, the shades drawn on windows as you enter your home after a long day of work. Your home sweet (or should we say smart!) home will be able to welcome you, just the way you want, after you come back from your holidays. In winter, you need not wait for a few hours for the heater to heat up your home to the desired temperature after you arrive from a fabulous trip to Hawaii!

For just about 2.5 ounces in weight the benefits of smart plugs are very many. These smart plugs can be inserted in to the normal wall sockets and can be easily controlled with an app. The smart plug connects to your Wi Fi network, syncs with your smart phone through an app and you can turn on or off any device plugged in to the smart plug. Some of these have built in meters to monitor the consumption of energy. Some of the plugs are available as standalone units while other smart plugs work with a specific communication protocol that operate in tandem with a specific manufacturer’s ecosystem of smart devices. The smart plugs that work with a specific protocol are not as flexible to use as the stand alone devices but work very well when the home owner tries to build a smart home with unified smart home device solutions from a single manufacturer.

This is a great way to start building your smart home. Even if you do not have the budget to make you home entirely smart, you can start off by using these smart plugs and experience the benefits of a smart home – comfort, energy efficiency and cost savings.

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