Smart plugs and why?

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  • Smart plugs and why?

    I feel like I'm missing out not having WiFi enabled Smart plugs, but maybe it's a case of not knowing what the possibilities are.

    We basically live in a rental house so I have nothing in my small shop to automate. Almost all the lights are switch controlled and not plugged in.

    The only thing I've been able to come up with are plugs for the ISP provided modem and the new coffee maker with no timer. The modem likes to be power cycled ever couple of days or the network starts to drag. Maybe put one on there and add a timer function? I'm only considering that over a regular plug in timer because the power cycle can happen faster (I'm assuming).

    Since this neighborhood is gated and the house is a lot more secure than in the US, I feel no need to set lights on a timer to trick people into thinking we're not away.

    What else am I missing out on?

  • #2
    I have google home and Alexa assistants in the office, bedroom, living room and kitchen and garage

    I have in the house
    • bedroom nightstand lights,
    • living room torch light (stand)
    • Nest Thermostat
    • Display case (entry) lighting
    In the shop:
    • shop vac (on hose swapped between miter saw and router and jointer
    • dust collector (on table saw)
    • Air compressor
    • Ceiling lights (with a wall smart switch)
    • Shop lights (fan and 7 4-foot light fixtures)
    In the garage both lights and the air compressor are on a single group I can turn on and off with a single command. The vac and DC I don't leave running but turn on and off at the beginning and end of specific operations.

    When I am snuggled comfy in bed I can by voice (without so much as lifting my arm or rolling over) check the time, check the temperature and set the thermostat, turn on the room lighting, and shut off the garage if I think I left anything on. Also set alarms, check calendar and ask questions that might be bothering me. And even check my amazon shipments.

    I set the display case lighting in the entry to give some entry lighting without using the bright overhead lights. on at sunset and off at midnight as well as commandable any time I want to show it off.

    I have not "smarted" the four main overhead lights Outdoor, Kitchen, breakfast room and den that we use all the time; three of them are on two-way switches and I don't feel like spending the expense and wiring pain for those (sort of undetermined).

    The torch light control we use a lot as its the light for TV and evening relaxation and also lights my desktop desk.

    The shop, I like it a lot although I have to speak loudly and distinctly when the vac or DC is running. I can shut it down from the house or even bed if I think I left it on.

    So there is a place for these things to be useful... plugs are so simple, under $10 and simple to use. Make sure you get ones both Alexa and Google home compatible.
    One nice thing is you can schedule lights for time or events such as sunset.

    On the downside, every once in a long while a plug will get disconnected from the network and cant be found and I have to unplug and plug it back in (another reason I haven't gotten smart wall switches)

    In the pantry and master closet I have motion sensor bulbs. I had a motion sensor socket but found it took 4 watts standby power all the time to control a 10 watt bulb.

    Clearly you can live without them, but some home automation is very convenient.
    Last edited by LCHIEN; 08-23-2021, 07:53 PM.
    Loring in Katy, TX USA
    If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
    BT3 FAQ - https://www.sawdustzone.org/forum/di...sked-questions

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    • #3
      I got a free Google Home when I bought my phone a few years ago. I only have it setup to play the news and weather in the morning. On my phone, asking Google a question by speech to text is pretty good, and the regular web search engine is great. However, I can ask Home the same question that I just typed and it will respond "I can't answer that question right now." (or something like it). I would be happy if it didn't say the answers but instead send the search results to my phone which it will do for recipes.

      Anyway, right now I think I'll be fine without any additional automation. We'll see what happens in a year when I'm back in my own house.

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      • #4
        Our Alexa freaked my wife out when we started getting adds and Utube demos on our iPads and iPhones about products related to our conversations when we were near Alexa. She unplugged it.

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        • #5
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          • #6
            I have done the Smart Home update. Mostly for security reasons, however, I am cannot state this strongly enough. I do NOT use WiFi enabled smart devices with the exception of my Echo devices for voice integration. And cameras as other protocol cams are more or less non existent.

            I am on a recent model Hubitat hub, running a mix of Zigbee, and latest version Zwave controllers, including light, and fan controllers.

            WIth my security set, should an alarm be triggered I have 6 100db sirens that will trigger, and all lights that are visible through the windows, or exterior to the house will turn on 100%, plus I have 2 exterior strobes.

            I have listeners for breaking glass, and smoke / fire alarms,

            My ceiling fans automatically adjust speed based on room occupancy and temperature.

            My thermostat adjusts on schedule with overrides for occupancy, which means most of the time since WFH started...

            I can walk into a room and depending on the time of day be greeted by lights at a given intensity, so for example at 2:00 A.M. if I had too much iced tea with dinner the night before, I won't blind myself or wake up my wife by fumbling for light switches heading, or overly bright ilghts going to the bathroom.

            Simply put, I don;t remember the last time I flipped a light switch.

            Now the downsides.

            Mostly the system isn't super smart and can NOT tell the difference between the people and the dog moving around the house... So he tends to trigger lights in the kitchen in the middle of the night.

            I have a combination of IFTTT, Hubitat, and Alexa routines that do various things, bring up the news, record TV shows, control lights etc...

            Pending updates to the system are completing integration in the rooms not yet upgraded, meaning 2 more ceiling fans, and 6 more light switches. I want to eliminate the smart bulbs in favor of switches FWIW, and I need my HVAC updated with separate zones, so we can reduce power usage for heating / cooling the master suite at night, let the rest of the house get a touch warmer, or cooler depending...

            I started out with an Iris by Lowes system, that went defunct, then with a SmartThings / ADT system, which of course went defunct again. I went with Hubitat to be able to reuse existing hardware, and have a MUCH lower chance of having a big company decide to drop the one line I was relying on. FWIW, Samsung is getting out of the Smartthings hardware business, rather licensing their designs and protocols to third parties. Hard pass...

            If there is any interest here, I can go into more detail on my hardware and software setup thought process, and I would be more than willing to share my automations.


            On the rental house thing, IF you want to automate, you are going to need smart bulbs, not switches.

            I know the market is moving, FAST toward WiFi enabled devices, but honestly, I just don't trust WiFi enough to do everything home automation needs to do. And if you shop around knowing what to look for, you can get a super cheap bargain on decommissioned Zigbee and Zwave stuff.

            The most problematic items I have had to deal with so far are the ceiling fan / light controllers. They are Hampton Bay, once set up they are great, but setting them up was a painful process I do NOT want to repeat any time soon.
            Last edited by dbhost; 11-13-2021, 11:52 PM.
            Please like and subscribe to my YouTube channel. Please check out and subscribe to my Workshop Blog.

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            • #7
              Still liking my shop controlled by digital voice assistants.
              Except when I lose internet Its really hard to use my shop. The smart switches have on-off buttons on them but they are on the ceiling outlet or buried behind stuff so its hard to use.
              Loring in Katy, TX USA
              If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
              BT3 FAQ - https://www.sawdustzone.org/forum/di...sked-questions

              Comment


              • #8
                I bought two Gosund smart plugs. One is for the coffee maker and the other is for the cable modem.

                The coffee maker works flawlessly if we actually remember to prep it the night before which 98% of the time we don't do.

                I planned to power cycle the modem every couple of days and the software works to switch it off but without internet, the plug won't switch back on. Oh well.

                Anyway, lackluster use right now and I'll see if other opportunities exist later.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by atgcpaul View Post
                  ...

                  I planned to power cycle the modem every couple of days and the software works to switch it off but without internet, the plug won't switch back on. Oh well.

                  ...
                  haha, the "gotcha". What I call the great god of unintended consequences.

                  Well, I found these not cheap but does what you want:

                  https://www.amazon.com/Router-Reset-...7BXTB67Z&psc=1

                  https://www.amazon.com/ConnectSense-...8TN1QGJ3&psc=1

                  https://www.amazon.com/NetReset-Digi.../dp/B01FY1PFLS


                  Last edited by LCHIEN; 11-12-2021, 11:26 PM.
                  Loring in Katy, TX USA
                  If your only tool is a hammer, you tend to treat all problems as if they were nails.
                  BT3 FAQ - https://www.sawdustzone.org/forum/di...sked-questions

                  Comment


                  • atgcpaul
                    atgcpaul commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I should have done KISS--just a simple plug in wall timer. But now I'm sick of all of these gadgets I have building up that I'll just stick to my "God given tools" (as my grandmother used to say)--my fingers.

                • #10
                  After over four decades in the IT profession, I fear I am burned out on a lot of technology. I do have a well functioning WiFi system that requires very little attention. My BIL has done his home and barn over in this WiFi stuff and all he does is fiddle with it and complain about poor support for it and he has an industrial electronics background. A lot of this stuff seems like an answer in search of a question to me.
                  Jim Frye
                  The Nut in the Cellar.
                  ”Sawdust Is Man Glitter”

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Jim, I am still an early adopter to new technology, but for some reason that I can't quite figure out, there are some things that I just instinctively wait before trying. The Ring type video door bells, smart TVs (even though we have 2 - wife's idea.) smart plugs, smart appliances, - or items that need integration to a single wifi system - I have stayed away from. We had a wireless video doorbell when we were in Japan, but for some reason they are complicated and subscription over here (I hate subscription services), in addition to being "Iffy" in their reviews.
                    Hank Lee

                    Experience is what you get when you don't get what you wanted!

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                    • #12
                      Originally posted by LCHIEN View Post
                      Still liking my shop controlled by digital voice assistants.
                      Except when I lose internet Its really hard to use my shop. The smart switches have on-off buttons on them but they are on the ceiling outlet or buried behind stuff so its hard to use.

                      That is in no small part of why I went with Hubitat. As long as the hub itself is up, and I have local WiFi, I can control the system, and automations all run as expected.. Although Alexa integration goes if my internet goes down...
                      Please like and subscribe to my YouTube channel. Please check out and subscribe to my Workshop Blog.

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                      • #13
                        I have "cut the cord" for TV viewing. We have 6 TVs in the house and they all had cable interfaces. I replaced four of them with 4K Firestiks and the other two rarely used sets in guest bedrooms got OTA electronic antennas. We increased the broadband to unlimited data, but it was already at 100 mbps. Total monthly savings even with addon apps. was $150. The WiFi is a combination modem/router with another router bridged to the m/r. Total number of WiFi devices on the network is 4 TVs, 2 tablets, 1PC, & 2 phones. No buffering or range issues.
                        Jim Frye
                        The Nut in the Cellar.
                        ”Sawdust Is Man Glitter”

                        Comment


                        • #14
                          Originally posted by Jim Frye View Post
                          I have "cut the cord" for TV viewing. We have 6 TVs in the house and they all had cable interfaces. I replaced four of them with 4K Firestiks and the other two rarely used sets in guest bedrooms got OTA electronic antennas. We increased the broadband to unlimited data, but it was already at 100 mbps. Total monthly savings even with addon apps. was $150. The WiFi is a combination modem/router with another router bridged to the m/r. Total number of WiFi devices on the network is 4 TVs, 2 tablets, 1PC, & 2 phones. No buffering or range issues.
                          I went wired, but I had the house previously wired with Cat 6 cable when it was first introduced, so just prior to widespread adoption of WiFi.

                          My broadband is used for work, so we spend the extra to get the gig internet.

                          We have 4 TVs, none of which are 4K, 1 is a Fire Edition TV, and I have 3 FireTV sticks, as mentioned in the what did you do today thread, I also have a splitter and coax through the house, and an OTA antenna on the roof. The biggest TV in the house at this point is a 46" 1080 that we bought at a company closeout sale for next to nothing, but it lacks the proper remote. I need to order one...

                          Since I am on Xfinity cable, I use Xfinity stream to get most of my local channels anyway, so there really sin't a lot of reason to use the OTA antenna any more, but it DOES flake out less than the Xfinity app...
                          Please like and subscribe to my YouTube channel. Please check out and subscribe to my Workshop Blog.

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