A person powers on a smart plug.
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Plug In, Power Smart

How Do Smart Plugs Work? — A Beginner's Guide To Automating Energy Savings

Kimberly Hutchings
December 5, 2023

When it comes to smart home technology, the smart plug is something of a magician.

Sitting as an extension between your standard electrical socket and device, these small but mighty pieces of tech use your home's Wi-Fi network to connect traditional electronics (like your toaster, kettle, or video game console) to smart devices (like your phone or tablet), essentially transforming any old electronic with an on/off switch into a smart one.

The smart tech is surprisingly simple, all it does is start or stop the flow of electricity to whatever is plugged into it. The real game-changing factor is that you don’t have to physically plug in or unplug anything each time you want to toggle it on or off, the whole thing is controlled from the palm of your hand, or better yet, set in advance to smoothly run your home efficiently.

They provide an affordable opportunity to enhance the functionality of your devices, offer more control and insight over the habits and routines you rely on day to day, and can help automate your energy-saving efforts, making it easy to cut back on consumption — plus, they're totally user-friendly, even for the smart tech newbie!

Let's take a look at three of the fundamental features you'll find in most standard smart plugs.

The Features Of A Smart Plug

Remote Access

Ever left the house and wondered, "Wait, did I unplug my curling iron?" With a smart plug, you can consider that worry gone! Smart plugs allow you to control your devices through an app on your phone or tablet, so you can check on various outlets throughout the day, switching power on and off whenever needed, whether at home or on the go.

Timers and Scheduling

Smart plugs also allow you to set timers and build schedules and routines that suit your lifestyle. You can set time constraints that ensure devices are off while you sleep at night or when you're at work during the day and build schedules that streamline your daily routines, saving energy along the way.

PRO TIP! Consider using the scheduling features of your smart plug to automate your life (and maximize your energy savings). For instance, if you work from home, you could have your work equipment shut down between 5:00 pm and 9:00 am or have your coffee machine power on first thing in the morning to start preparing your daily brew. Disconnecting these devices when they're not in use is a great way to dial back on wasted vampire energy (that slow drain of power that occurs when electronics are sitting idly) without losing out on the convenience of having your devices ready when you need them.

Energy Monitoring

Many smart plugs also come with energy-monitoring capabilities that allow you to track the consumption of connected devices. They can provide insight into your daily patterns and help you better understand which devices are making the most significant impact on your energy bill. You might be surprised where you have energy vampires lurking!

PRO TIP! Kickstart your energy-saving efforts with a simple home energy audit. If you only have a few smart plugs, consider rotating them around the house for a week or two before settling on where they'll stay. You can get a bigger picture of which devices are causing the biggest energy drain and use those insights to create a long-term plan that maximizes your smart plug's energy-saving features.

Setting Up Your First Smart Plug

As we mentioned earlier, one of the best things about smart plugs is that they're an excellent option for smart tech newbies. Here's a quick rundown of how to set up your first smart plug device (although we always recommend checking out the instructions provided by the manufacturer as well).

How To Install A Smart Plug

  • Plug your smart plug into your chosen outlet.
  • Press the button on your smart plug to turn it on.
  • On your phone or tablet, download the smart plug's associated app.
  • Once you've installed the app, press and hold the power button on your smart plug for a few seconds to place it into pairing mode.
  • Follow the instructions on your app to complete the pairing process and voilá! You're all set up and ready to plug in your (newly) smart device — easy as 1, 2, 3.

PRO TIP! Connect your smart plug to your OhmConnect account to automatically participate in OhmHours. It's a simple way to set it and forget it while enjoying all the benefits of saving energy and earning rewards at the same time!

OhmConnect's Smart Plug Picks for 2023

Ready to get your home smart plug equipped? Here are a few of our favorite models for 2023!

Kasa Wi-Fi Plug HS110

OhmConnect Compatible? Yes

Here's why we love it…

  • Remote access allows you to control your enabled devices from where you want through the free Kasa app.
  • Scheduling functionality allows you to set automatic routines, including an away mode for when you're off on vacation.
  • Energy monitoring features allow you to view real-time and historical data on the power consumption of your electronics.
  • Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control capability.

OhmPlug Smart Plug

OhmConnect Compatible? Yes

Here's why we love it…

  • Easy to control via any smart device, whether at home or on the go, through the family-friendly OhmConnect app.
  • Scheduling functionality and timers allow you to build device routines that suit your lifestyle.
  • Energy monitoring settings allow you to monitor your home's energy-hog devices and get a better sense of where you can maximize energy savings.
  • Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control capability.

Kasa Wi-Fi Plug Mini HS105

OhmConnect Compatible? Yes

Here's why we love it…

  • Remote access allows you to schedule and control your enabled devices while you're on the move through the free Kasa app.
  • Away Mode allows you to switch lights on and off periodically while you're out of the house to create the illusion that someone is home.
  • The compact design is configured to fit standard power outlets without blocking neighboring sockets.
  • Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control capability.

VOCOlinc SmartBar Wi-Fi Plug

OhmConnect Compatible? Yes

Here's why we love it…

  • Control your devices both at home and on the go through any smart device via the VOCOlinc app.
  • Create schedules, set timers, and group devices to create routines that suit your needs and lifestyle habits.
  • Space-saving design allows you to insert these smart plugs into standard dual socket outlets without worrying they'll block the socket above or below.
  • Compatible with Apple HomeKit's Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant for voice control capability.
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