When it comes to Smart Power, there are two main camps to choose from: Smart Plugs, or Smart Sockets. This roughly breaks down to the difference between a plug-and-play option or a hardwired one. Of course, in both cases you’re able to control your devices remotely; through an app or voice command. You can set routines, schedules, and even IFTTT (if this, then that) automations that let you expand the benefits of a customised smart home. However, much like in our Smart Bulb vs Smart Light Switch breakdown, there are benefits and drawbacks for either option for Smart Power control. To help you decide what you need, we’ve broken down the pros and cons of Smart Plugs and Smart Sockets below.
What is a Smart Plug?
A Smart Plug (or Plug-in) acts as an intermediary device between socket and appliance - rather than making the appliance inherently smart, you’re adding the “smart” in. Since this is a plug-and-play device, it allows a lot of flexibility as you can move it around the house, as needed, to find the ideal place for it. This makes it a great device for those who are new to the world of smart home; you’re able to experiment with appliances and placements to make sure it works best for you without having to commit to a wired install.
Smart Plugs are also a great temporary solution as they’re quicker and easier to get up and running: simply plug in, set up in the app, and go! Many plug-in devices on the market don’t even require a hub; just a strong WiFi network- but of course, it’s difficult to achieve reliable WiFi reception everywhere in your home without boosters or meshing. That’s a topic for a separate discussion!
However, one key consideration is the size of the plug itself. A lot of these plug-in type devices on the market today are quite chunky and will stick out from the wall a considerable amount. This factor can potentially make it difficult to fit behind a cabinet or entertainment unit, and doesn’t make for a visibly discreet smart solution.
What is a Smart Socket?
Smart Sockets take out the middleman to give you a seamless smart integration without needing to add anything in between socket and appliance. As this solution requires you to replace your current sockets, it can be quite a considered install, but it gives you a cleaner, more aesthetically pleasing finish overall. More than just a polished look, Smart Sockets are a great option for those who want to be more conscious of their energy usage. The best Smart Sockets in the market today include energy monitoring, which can be viewed in the app. For those who are interested in their environmental impact, an installed socket is the best choice for identifying and keeping an eye on energy hungry appliances.
Lastly, Smart Sockets can also be the safer option of the two - especially for those with small children. While you have the ability to “lock” both the socket and the plug, it’s fairly easy for a toddler to be able to pull a Smart Plug out and still get to the active socket beneath. Smart Sockets, on the other hand, cut off power at the source - making them safer for little fingers and protecting against fires. Wired-in electrical accessories like sockets are subject to strict safety regulations and have to pass more testing requirements than plug-in type devices. Within the topic of safety & security, Lightwave Smart Sockets in particular can be configured to send a notification to your mobile phone if a device gets unplugged (TV, gaming console, HiFi system, etc), or an appliance starts to pull too much power (fridge, freezer, washer/dryer, hair straighteners). We aren’t aware of any other Smart Socket or Plug available today that is able to do this.
Which one is best for you?
Being a brand that produces Smart Sockets, we are naturally biased towards them, but we understand that Smart Plugs have an important role to play in the market (they were after all, some of the top selling products in our first-generation Connect Series range). Plug-and-play devices are always a great option for getting started with smart home technology and figuring out what you want to get out of your device. For people looking for more control over their devices and energy consumption a Smart Socket is certainly the way to go. Not to mention, a cleaner and more discreet finish that can integrate seamlessly with the rest of your home is always a bonus, an installed solution like a Smart Socket is the way to go.