Smart Plug devices aren’t anything new. In fact, they’re some of the oldest Home Automation technology there is. However, TP Link’s WiFi Smart Plug is a bit different than the others. While it looks and functions similar, certain elements begin to set this one away from the competition. I’ll touch on those as the review progresses.
To get started with the TP Link Smart Plug, all you have to do is download the free Kasa app. You’ve got your choice of what you’d like to do next. If you only wish to have control of your devices locally (while at home) then you can bypass account registration. However, remote control/cloud access actually isn’t possible at all unless you register an account. As with most smart home gadgets that have some element of cloud access, you will have to register your account and then verify it online. That process should take you about 5 minutes or so. Unlike some of the more intrusive signups, you’re only asked for an email and password.
Installation is a snap
I’m not even that sure about why I would talk about installing the device when it’s literally a matter of plugging it in, but here we are. Installation is as simple as plugging it into the wall and then following instructions to add the device sync’d up to your home network. This follows a similar pattern to most other home automation WiFi enabled devices in that it creates a local network for you to access to transmit your own network details over to register.
One important detail I should outline here is that the device only connects to 2.4GHz networks. It doesn’t have any connectivity options for 5G networks and won’t show them at all in your dropdowns when trying to synchronize it all together. Apple users should also be aware that there is no native iPad Kasa app. Be sure to select “iPhone only” apps from the store and download from there. You can use it there without issue. To demonstrate proof of this (and so that you, my reader and viewer are not squinting at the screen,) the install video shows the app running on an iPad.
After this, you’ll be asked where you’ve plugged your device in and give it a “more friendly” nickname as well. On my install video, you’ll see that I started hooking up Christmas lights with the intent of putting those on a local or nightly timer. You’ll have to keep your Smart Plug indoors though as it isn’t rated or regarded for weather and I’m sure that here in the rainy Pacific Northwest, sticking it outside would short it in a matter of hours. Needless to say I’ll have an extension cord running to the inside for this one.
Uses for your smart plug
Finding uses for a smart plug shouldn’t be too difficult. With the holidays around the corner, everybody likes to put their trees on timers nowadays. My wife bought the biggest Christmas tree I’ve ever seen last year. It’s 9 feet tall and takes up an entire 1/3rd of our living room. Since we have bookshelves on one end, it makes it a bit difficult to walk around it to go and flip the tree lights on. Guess what I’m going to hook the tree up to this year and turn on and off with my phone? On my video, you’ll see that I started the holiday process early.
Whenever my mother in law visits, she will also fall asleep on the couch reading and often leaves the reading lamp next to her on. With this Smart Plug, I can just flip open the Kasa app and shut the light off for her so that she can sleep without 60 watts blaring down on her face.
You may also be on your way home and want the house smelling nice for guests to arrive later. Rather than scrambling home, you can hook up that fragrance diffuser to a Smart Plug and set it to start as you leave work or on its own once you arrive home so that you can worry about tidying up or whatever else you want to do.
There is also the element of security that the smart plug provides for you. Since you can control it remotely and set away functions and schedules no matter where you are in the world, you can modify the time your lights come on and off to make it seem as though somebody is home. With those of you lucky snowbirds that are gone for half the year, you no longer have to have your friends and family messing with your light timers as the daylight hours change. Just open the Kasa app yourself and tinker with your settings. Do keep in mind, however, that you need to have enabled the remote control function and for that you must register and confirm an email address.
Manage your energy consumption
One of the more interesting features that the TP Link Smart Plug brings to the table is the fact that it comes with energy management and consumption statistics rolling for the day, week and last month. You will also see your average wattage usage and how long you’ve been using the stuff plugged into your smart plug that day. It’s a tidy and effective way to keep things managed and in a roundabout way to see if the device you’ve plugged in is still working (if you’re away from the house) or whether you’ve got to get someone over to the house to change a light bulb or see what’s wrong.
Overall, I found this to be a much more enticing option than some of the competitors out there. While the pioneering Belkin WeMo switch has some similar functions, I thought the energy savings and consumption monitoring element of the TP Link Smart Plug was a more inviting option to an energy nut like me. It’s also a little less bulky than the WeMo switch which was a bit of a beast and couldn’t keep a clean and steady internet connection. No matter where I situated these plugs, I had no problem with connectivity. On my video, you’ll see what I have one in the master bedroom which is the farthest point of our home from our router and range extender. No issues at all.
You have a couple different options if you’d like to bring the TP Link Smart Plug home. You can buy a single one if you think that you’re just going to need just the one. However, if you need more than one, save on time and packaging and buy in multi-packs. Best Buy is the exclusive home of the Smart Plug Two Pack and the easiest way to get your hands on a few of these.
All you need is something to plug in and about 5 minutes. The TP Link Smart Plug (and the Best Buy Exclusive 2 Pack) is now available at Best Buy.