When it comes to home automation, you can do all sorts of things. Newer appliances and the like can have the smarts built in, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tiptoe into this world of seeing what’s going on, particularly when it comes to energy consumption. The simplest way to do it would be with a smart plug, such as the Emporia Smart Plug, which we’ve been checking out.

Now, we should clarify – while the Emporia Smart Plug can do some stuff on the internet (and you can control it from your phone), you’re not tying this into a bunch of different lights and the like to set a scene, or have it act because you’ve started up movie time. So, what is it that you do with these?

If you look through the Emporia catalog, you’ll see that they’re all about monitoring energy consumption, from small items like these plugs, to kits that actually get installed in your circuit breaker box to monitor whole-house consumption. These plugs, of course, track the energy usage flowing through them. It could be useful if you’re trying to track down something that’s just drinking more than it’s fair share of electrons, or watching when something maybe spikes throughout the day.

For our setup, we’ve kept things pretty simple, actually. We’ve got some LED string lights that we use to light up a room, and then we’ve got a floor lamp (also with an LED bulb) that I used to have connected to a “dumb” timer to kick on/off in the mornings and evenings. Well, wouldn’t you know it, the Emporia Smart Plug can also do things on a schedule. For this, I manually setup the times to turn on and turn off, but you can also have it so certain things only kick in when your utility is in off-peak hours. So, definitely nice controls there.

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The great thing about using a Emporia Smart Plug as a timer for turning a lamp on and off is the simplicity. Some timers I’ve had, if you want to turn something on off cycle, you have to press things exactly the right order, or the schedule won’t take back over. Not so with the Emporia, from my experience. And even turning things on (or off) is a cinch – you’ve got a button on the left side of the plug to press, or you can do it from your phone. And if you’re setup with Google or Alexa voice assistants, you can use those as well.

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Doing it from the phone is nice, as I’ll turn on lights in the room when we pull up in the driveway at night, to get some extra light going as we’re walking into the house. The button is great as well, as it’s simple for the kids to use. With the string lights, they were having to plug those in (or unplug them); with the Emporia, now there’s none of the messing with that. Just use the button, and they’re on their way.

While it’s interesting to see the graphs of power consumption, for our use the two plugs I’ve got installed have been pretty static – the power consumption of LEDs doesn’t fluctuate, it’s just a matter of how long things are on. Though, it is nice that I can see just how little it costs me (after I had entered my utility rate) to run those lights during the day (but let it be known, this does not remove your Dad ability to grumble about people leaving lights on all over).

For those interested in keeping an eye on power consumption, stepping into something like the Emporia Smart Plug is a fairly inexpensive prospect – $12 for a single, $21 for a two-pack, or $35 for a four-pack (the 2- and 4-packs have discounts at the moment getting them to that pricing). Past that, if you’re looking for any sort of timer configurations, or even the ability to control outlets remotely, again, you’re in good stead here. As with any electrical device, make sure you’re not trying to overload it by drawing too much power (full specs are below). These plugs are wide, but their sizing is such that you can easily have two of these plugged into a standard double-outlet configuration. I’ve liked using these, and am thinking about where else in the house I want to be able to control outlets. You can check out the plugs, as well as their other offerings, directly over at emporiaenergy.com

Tech Specs from Emporia

  • WiFi: 2.4 GHz 802.11b/g/n
  • Max Power: 1800W @ 120V
  • Max Peak Load (1hr/day): 15A
  • Max Continuous Load: 10A
  • Frequency: 50-60Hz
  • Power Consumption: ~1W
  • FCC ID: 2AKBP-X10S
  • Certification: ETL certified by Intertek 5015249
  • Dimensions: 3.3″ x 1.5″ x 1.1″ (84mm x 38mm x 29mm)
  • Works With: Google, Alexa

By Patrick Kansa

A big data developer and leader with a penchant for gadgets, books, watches and beverages. You can find my work on WristWatchReview, Knapsack.News, and Slushpile. If you're on Twitter and/or Instagram, you'll find me there as @PatrickWatches.

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