It used to be that any electric or electronic device plugged in at home, or in the office, could only be controlled individually—users had to turn them on or off themselves, usually with a manual switch. It sounds a little harsh perhaps, but in the age of smart technology, we often refer to these devices as ‘dumb.’
These days, though, homes and offices—and the devices in them—are getting smart.
Smart devices are appliances and gadgets that are connected to the internet, allowing users to control, program and monitor them easily—from anywhere in the world!
That sounds pretty cool—but it’s a common perception that equipping a home or office with smart devices has got to be pricey and probably not worth the investment. It’s time to think again. Your customers certainly don’t need to spend a lot of money to start enjoying the benefits of smart living.
For an affordable price tag in your utility’s marketplace, smart plugs can set your customers on the right path—by revolutionizing the way they use their existing electronics.
As long as it has the right load rating, a small-but-mighty WiFi-connected smart plug can turn almost any dumb appliance into a smart one—adding voice control, power monitoring and lots of other handy controls to your customers’ ordinary electronics.
How does a consumer use a smart plug?
Getting started with smart plugs really couldn’t be simpler. First, the smart plug can be inserted into a normal wall outlet. Next, the user downloads the appropriate app for that smart plug model onto their phone and follows the directions to connect the plug to their WiFi network.
Some smart plugs communicate via a central control hub, but most (including Simply Conserve smart plugs!) work directly with a 2.4 GHz WiFi connection and don't need a hub, which makes them super-easy to install and connect.
Then, all that’s left to do is plug a device into the smart plug—and start controlling it from your smartphone.
What can smart plugs do?
A smart plug is like a ‘gatekeeper’ between a power outlet and an appliance. So, at the most basic level, a smart plug can be used to simply turn the plugged-in appliance on and off remotely, by controlling whether power reaches the appliance or not.
See how our very own Alyssa uses her smart plug:
Many smart plug models, though, allow users to get much more sophisticated, with schedules that turn appliances on and off at set times and on specific days. So, a computer monitor could be scheduled to automatically power down at night and at weekends, or a battery charger could be programmed to switch off after a certain time.
Some smart plugs have an ‘away mode’ program that powers on and off to simulate activity inside a home, which is useful for lamps or TVs when homeowners are away on vacation.
Plugs can even be connected with voice assistants like Google Home or Amazon Alexa, so users can turn on things like music speakers, or the AC, or their coffee machine – just by talking to them!
And when smart plugs are integrated in a smart-home platform, users can use tools like IFTTT to program routines that automatically perform multiple actions based on certain conditions. For example, with the right sensors in place, a lamp could be programmed to turn on whenever the doorbell rings, or switch on a space heater as soon as someone enters a room.
Another key feature of many smart plugs is that they collect energy data for the connected appliance—so users can monitor its power draw, usage time and operating cost using the smartphone app. They might even be able to set a power usage cap—so when the limit has been reached, it triggers an alert or the appliance gets turned off.
You can also offer your customers water- and weather-resistant smart plugs that plug into existing outdoor power sockets. These are perfect for patio appliances, holiday lights, fountains and even sprinklers and greenhouse watering systems—they could be combined with a moisture detector so that the smart plug turns on the water supply only when necessary.
One thing that determines how quickly a new technology catches on is whether people immediately and intuitively understand what problem it solves. In this case, once customers have had a taste of their amazing functionality, they’re sure to fall in love with smart plugs—and want to dig deeper into all kinds of smart-home technology!
To add smart plugs to your marketplace, start shopping today!