Smart Outlet Options

When it comes to smart outlets, you have a few different choices.  You could go for a cleaner look and get an in-wall outlet that replaces your traditional outlet.  That requires some re-wiring and you need to make sure that your junction boxes are large enough to hold the smart outlet.  This is a problem that I unfortunately ran into.  The other option is to get a smart outlet that plugs into your standard outlet and allows you to plug your lamp, or whatever you want, back into it.

I chose the latter, but let’s look at both options.

Full Outlet Replacement

GE ZWave Outlets

GE’s Z-Wave outlets seem to work pretty well.  They replace the whole outlet in your wall and provide a much cleaner look.  The install is pretty straight forward.  You simply kill the power, swap wires, and reinstall the new outlet.

These outlets require a hub, such as Samsung’s SmartThings.  This hub is what will connect to Amazon Echo or Google Home.

Be careful when you purchase these.  GE has a version that is Bluetooth only.  That works well with phones, but might not work with your hub.

As I mentioned earlier, these do require a larger than normal junction box.  Most houses are OK, but these didn’t work in my sunroom because the junction box was too small and I can’t install a larger one.

Leviton

This is the Lowe’s brand smart outlets.  I had a run with these and while the install was the same as the GE outlet, I had problems with my led lights.  Setup was straight forward and it’s similar to the others in that it requires a hub.  When it was off, though, my lights still flickered randomly.  I ended up returning it for a Belkin WeMo smart outlet, which I’ll talk about in a minute.

Belkin WeMo Switch

Belkin WeMo Switch with lamp plugged in

So far, the Belkin WeMo Switch is my favorite smart outlet.  It is extremely simple to set up, their app works well, they integrate directly with Alexa and they don’t require a hub.  You really can’t go wrong here.  By not requiring a hub, you are saving yourself $100 or so.

I currently have 2 versions of these in use.  The other version is the Belkin WeMo Insight Switch.  This operates just like the regular Belkin WeMo Switch, but it also reports back electricity usage.

Screenshot of WeMo energy usage app

That could come in pretty handy in the long run, but you do pay $10 more.

All of my other outlets are the regular Belkin WeMo Switch.  They provide simple on-off functionality.

Something to consider with these is they take up more space than a regular in-wall outlet, so make sure you can accommodate that.

TPLink Smart Plug

The TPLink Smart Plug is another smart outlet that comes highly recommended.   I have a friend who has these in his smart home intertwined with the WeMo outlets and he has no issues.  They are similar to the WeMo outlets in that they don’t need a hub.

Others

I mentioned in another article that I had outlets that just didn’t work.  I’m not going to bother mentioning them here since I might’ve had one-off bad experiences.  I will say that based off my experimentation, you get what you pay for.  There’s a reason some are $20 and some are $40-$50.  I’d suggest you experiment yourself to see what works for you.

Read nextHow to Set Up the Belkin WeMo Switch with Amazon Echo

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4 Responses

  1. ScoutinVT says:

    I have 3 WeMo devices: 1 light switch, an outlet Switch and an Insight Switch. I got them all a month apart, when I thought I wanted to avoid paying for a hub. I also chose it because I saw reasonably-good reviews. I figured that, since I’m technically-inclined, I wouldn’t have the troubles that others reported.

    But I’ve found getting them connected initially is very flaky and it’s taken multiple tries for each of them, requiring a device reset each time.

    Connecting to my WiFi network has been the toughest part, though I also find them very slow setting up their own WiFi to enable this connection, taking up to 5 minutes to show up each time. Since each device took 3-8 tries to complete, that’s a lot of frustration and wasted time. I have two locked WiFi connections, but the iPhone app didn’t recognize the password entry properly the first time for any of the WeMos. The iPhone app is also very finicky at identifying a new device, and it also doesn’t allow you to change WiFi networks.

    I also have an Amazon Echo that uses my WiFi, but it managed to get the WiFi password directly from my phone, so I didn’t need to re-enter it. Why can’t the WeMos do that?

    The original outlet switch was working pretty solidly for a few weeks, but was offline for a while last night. Now the other two are offline and only the original is seen by the iPhone app. I just contacted Support, though I don’t have high hopes.

  1. January 28, 2017

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