The outlet has to be one of the most boring parts of the home. Oh sure, if you put a butter knife or a finger in there, things get pretty exciting. (Um, don’t do that.) However, it’s an otherwise essential eyesore.
While we haven’t found a way to make outlets look prettier, there are several ways to make them more high-tech. Lately, we’ve been seeing a lot of “smart outlets.” A smart outlet can easily replace any existing outlet, but adds in remote control over anything that’s plugged in. So whether there’s a lamp or a waffle iron plugged in, you should be able to control that device from anywhere in the world via a smartphone, tablet or other web-enabled device.
If you’re the type of person who always leaves lights (or waffle irons) on, having this type of remote control may allow you to save a little on your electric bill. Even better, it provides peace of mind. Users can check on the status of devices from anywhere, as well as activate lights and other appliances as a security measure. That means you never have to come into a dark house or appear to have an empty house when you’re out of town.
The most impressive thing about smart outlets, though? They’re so darn affordable. Let’s take a peek at four smart outlets currently available.
WeMo Insight Switch
This WiFi-enabled option only has one outlet, but it does a lot with that one outlet. Of course, it allows you to turn devices on and off from afar, as well as program rules, schedules and customized notifications. It can even monitor whatever is plugged in and send info about that energy hog to your smartphone or tablet. Want to know if the kids are playing video games after school? One outlet is all you need. It also works with everything in the WeMo ecosystem, so you can tie multiple devices together. For instance, when motion is detected, the WeMo Insight Switch can turn on lights and more.
For More Information: Belkin Wemo
Ankuoo NEO WiFi Smart Switch
Like all of the other smart outlets on our list, this one adds in remote control, so you can turn appliances and lights on and off from your living room, bedroom, driveway, office, or anywhere else. However, it also features scheduling, a countdown timer, and an Anti-Theft measure that will turn lights on and off whenever you’re out of town. Just download the iOS or Android app, plug in the NEO, and follow the on-screen prompts to connect the device to your home network. Within minutes, you’ll have remote control over whatever is plugged in.
For More Information: Ankuoo
Insteon On/Off Outlet
The hook on these smart outlets is that just one can control two lamps or appliances. Yes, both outlets can be independently and remotely controlled. However, to make that remote magic, you’ll need the $40 Insteon Hub. The On/Off Outlet is tamper-resistant, so little fingers won’t get into the mix. It also has dual-band technology, up to a 15A maximum controllable load for high-current devices, and LoadSense technology. It even has options for scheduling, alerts, scenes, and more. Insteon is selling a standard version in white, but for an extra $5, you can get it in almond, light almond, ivory, black, brown and grey.
MSRP: $59.99 to $64.99
For More Information: Insteon
The ThinkEco modlet (or modern outlet) can cut the power to electronics based on a personalized schedule. It even has web-based software, so you can peek in, track savings, and adjust those power schedules accordingly. You can also control devices on the fly, whether through a web browser or the modlet’s iOS and Android apps. Designed to fit into any standard 120V/15A outlet, the modlet has two sockets, each of which has individual minute-level power measurement and can be controlled remotely. Even better is that after two weeks, the software will start to get the hang of how you use certain devices and recommend ways to reduce your energy waste—which you can enable with a simple “click.” Other features include built-in surge protection, schedule templates for common applications, an override function, and the option to download energy use data for further analysis.
MSRP: Starts at $50
For More Information: ThinkEco