I’ve been on the Amazon bandwagon for a long time. I love to have any excuse to not to leave the house, and well, Amazon quite literally delivers on that.
I was gifted the Amazon Echo at Christmas and lately I’ve been curious about what else it can do beyond play music, make lists, and answer my random queries. It’s great as it is, but I know there is much more to it, so I embarked on a budget-friendly quest to turn my disconnected home into a “smart home” using the Echo and other devices that integrate with it.
My first foray into the “smart home” market was with a handful of the TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plugs. I picked up one as a daily deal on Amazon a couple of weeks ago. It arrived quickly and I un-boxed and plugged in the unit immediately.
Wi-Fi Smart Plugs allow you to control power from electrical outlets remotely in your home or even from anywhere in the world that you have an internet connection.
The first thing I had to do was download the Kasa mobile app on Android. This is the TP-Link app that helps to configure and control these devices. The setup process is pretty simple. Just fire up the app, tell it what you are setting up, give it your wi-fi credentials, and it does the rest.
You’re given the option to name the new wi-fi smart plug and select an icon for it so that’s nice. You also have the option to allow the wi-fi smart plug to be controlled when you’re not home vs only when you’re home and on your local wi-fi network.
Within 5-10 minutes of receiving the package I was in business and started playing with the remote features. I checked out the app and saw that there were timer modes and scheduling as well.
The literal and figurative light bulbs were going off and I realized all of the purposes this could serve to make my life a little simpler. I could remotely control household lights, electronics, the outdoor Christmas lights (with suitable and safe placement), the Christmas tree, plus being able to mimic natural household lighting conditions when I’m away from home.
Still, this doesn’t cover my primary reason for getting these specific smart plugs: integration with Amazon Alexa voice control.
The setup instructions for allowing Alexa to control your TP-Link plugs is pretty simple. You can enable remote control on the devices you want Alexa to have access to, then use your Alexa app to ‘discover’ those devices on the same network. You can then ask Alexa to turn on/off those devices by name or group them in the Alexa app and have Alexa turn off groups of smart devices at the same time.
Me: “Alexa, turn off the Living Room”
After hearing that I bought 4 more of them.
There is room for improvement, though, but it is a pretty minimal gripe. The actual hardware is clunky when plugged in and obstructs anything but very slim plugs being plugged in adjacent to it. You have to really force it if you want two things plugged in at the same time when one of these is in your outlet. The TP-Link HS100 Smart Plugs really are entry-level devices, so my needs are not complex and I can live with “less than perfect”.
I was pretty skeptical about how easy and ‘smart’ this would be…but I think I might just be building out my smart(er) home sooner than expected.
Note: I was not compensated in any way for this review. These are my own thoughts, experiences, and opinions.