integrating a smart plug with your smart home
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Of course, you can use a smart plug system and the manufacturer’s app to control your smart plugs, and the lights, appliances, and devices you plug into them. But it’s even better to integrate your smart plug with the rest of your home automation system, for comprehensive control and optimal convenience.
Using smart plugs enables convenient voice commands for your home devices, so you can have Alexa or Siri take care of things for you. But these plugs also extends the capabilities of what your home automation devices can do, and how they can work together. Choosing the best smart plug for Alexa will add bags more value and features for you to control with your voice via your virtual assistant in your smart, connected home.
How do Smart Plugs Work with Alexa?
Connecting your smart plug to Alexa not only connects it to your Echo and enables Alexa to control the device, but it also means that you can potentially use your smart plug with other Alexa-compatible devices like the Dash Wand or the Fire TV Stick.
Before buying a smart plug for Alexa:
- Make sure that the smart plug is compatible with Alexa. Check the manufacturer’s product description, and, if applicable, user reviews to make sure
- Make sure you are getting a high-quality product. Be mindful of fake reviews, and check reviews for:
- The smart plug itself
- The app that controls the smart plug
- The Amazon skill associated with the app
- Check your home Wi-Fi network. Most smart plugs will only operate on 2.4 GHz home Wi-Fi connections, and the plug will need to be on the same network as your Amazon Echo. If you need to re-configure your home Wi-Fi to be on 2.4 and re-add your Amazon devices, it’s best to do this ahead of time so you don’t waste time. Modifying your home network after you have added smart plugs means that the plugs will need to be rediscovered and re-added
After buying a smart plug for Alexa:
- Plug in the plug and turn it on
- Download the plug’s app
- Use the app to identify the plug, name it, and join it to your home Wi-Fi network
- Use Alexa to find the associated Amazon skill, which is usually named after the app, not the device
- Add the skill to Alexa
You should now be able to use Alexa to control the device connected to your smart plug.
How do Smart Plugs Work with HomeKit?
HomeKit is a suite of products and services you can access and control with your iOS devices. HomeKit connected devices can be controlled comprehensively using Siri. As with most Apple products, the technology is proprietary and prefers devices manufactured by Apple, but there are HomeKit-compatible third-party smart plugs on the market.
To set up a HomeKit enabled smart plug, you will:
- Purchase the smart plug and plug it into an outlet
- Use the manufacturer’s app to connect it to your home Wi-Fi network (if it’s not an Apple manufactured device)
- Using your iOS device, choose the “Home” app, which is installed by default on iOS X and later
- Select “add an accessory”
- The Home app will then scan your Wi-Fi network for new connected devices, and list them on your screen
- When the Home app finds the plug, you will be asked to enter an 8 digit code that is either on the plug itself or on its packaging
- When the code is accepted, your Home app will be paired with your plug, allowing you to use the Home app or Siri to control the connected device
Within the Home app, you can set up different rooms in your house and configure device settings within that room to different scenes and settings, allowing you to change multiple devices at once.
Using an Apple Home Pod, you can also add situational home automation features. These advanced features trigger the smart plug only in certain, pre-determined situations, which might be:
- Your location. For example, house lights could come on when you pull into your driveway
- A different device changes state. For example, a smart plug controlling a TV backlight could be set to turn off when the TV is turned off
- A sensor detects a change. For example, exterior lights could be triggered by a motion sensor
How do Smart Plugs Work with Google Home?
Setting up your smart plugs to work with Google Assistant and Google Home is much like setting them up for Alexa, and, in fact, most smart plugs that work for Alexa will also work with Google.
In order to use smart plugs with Google Home, you will:
- Purchase a compatible smart plug and plug it in
- Using the manufacturer’s app, connect the plug to your home Wi-Fi network
- Open the Google Home app
- In the “devices” tab, tap “add”
- Select the type of device you are adding, and then allow Google Home to scan for the device
- Once the device is identified and paired, you are ready to operate your smart plug with Google Home and Google Assistant
Also, within the Google Home app, you will be able to rename your smart plug with a nickname, and then assign the device to a room. Giving your plugs specific names like “bedside reading lamp” or “kitchen coffeemaker” not only makes voice control easier, but it allows Google Home to control multiple devices at once in whole-room settings. You can create custom scenes, like “movie night in the den” or “party on the deck,” and assign specific settings for light, sound, and other connected devices, to change the mood all at once.
Smart plugs are inexpensive, easy to operate, and add robust features and capabilities to your home automation system, no matter what system you use. They are a powerful, versatile way to customize your lifestyle and save time and energy in the process. Make your Amazon Alexa system even more useful and convenient by upgrading to smart plugs and automate your home today.
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