Kid asks Einstein picture "Home Automation Outlets or Smart Plugs?"

5 Times Home Automation Outlets Are Worse Than Smart Plugs

In Home Automation by Jody2 Comments

Don’t you hate making a decision and buying something just to realize that there was an easier or better way to do the same job?

We’re going to make sure you don’t make the same mistake when you automate powered devices in your home.

To do that, we’ll review 5 cases where a plug-in module is a better approach than installing an outlet.

What the heck are home automation outlets and why do I need one?

For those that are already lost, I’m sure you can think of plug in devices and appliances around the house that would benefit from automation. Here are a few ideas:

  • Lamps that come on at dusk and go off when you head to bed
  • Phone chargers that only need to be on a few hours and could be turned off to save energy
  • Turning on off your wireless router when you leave the house for security reasons
  • Automate lamps so it looks like you’re home even when you’re on vacation

You can see a full list of automation ideas if you’re still struggling to find something that piques your interest.

As long as it involves things that plug in, you can use home automation outlets to control them!

The choice is:

  1. Do I remove the old outlet and wire in a new one?
  2. Do I just plug a smart module into my existing outlet?

I know, some of you are wondering why you would ever want to do electrical work when there’s a quicker solution, but there ARE limitations that you need to keep in mind.

Have an idea what you want?

Click the button to open our comparison page in a new tab. It will help you review smart outlet protocols, prices, and features all in one place.

Find your outlets and plugs

5 Times Smart Plugs are Better Than Smart Outlets

Manufacturers call plug-in modules a variety of things.  But, for the sake of our discussion, I’ll just be calling them “smart plugs” since they plug into your existing outlets and offer smart features.

Let’s take a look at when you don’t want to use a smart outlet:

1. You Aren’t Sure Which Device You Want to Automate

This might be too obvious, but let’s say that you read through our article about home automation ideas or automating your day and saw several things that would be nice to implement.

Or perhaps you caught a showcase from a couple using SmartThings to control their greenhouse to use some ideas from.

Maybe the ideas sound great, but you’re not sure if it’ll really be a convenience or not.

Well, the advantage of a plug-in module like the WiFi-connected Belkin WeMo is that you can throw it onto any outlet, try it out, and then move it next week if you decide you could put it to better use somewhere else.

2. You Have a Move In Your Future

This, of course, is related to the reasoning behind #1 above.  The duration will be different for each person that reads this.  But, I think it goes without saying that you don’t want to wire in 5 smart outlets and then try to take them with you when you move out in 6 months.

Maybe you’ll consider abandoning that investment if your move has to happen quickly after you loose a job.

A plug-in module is a great way to avoid that dilemma.

3. You Can’t Wire in a New Outlet Safely

If you don’t have a basic understanding of electricity and feel comfortable stripping wires and putting on wire nuts then a smart outlet is not for you. Now granted, wiring in an outlet for a box that has a neutral is about as simple as it gets.

But, I appreciate that some people just aren’t DIY types, and the cost of an electrician just does not make sense for installing 1-2 outlets. So, go ahead and pick up a plug-in switch instead. Once you decide you love home automation, you can always hire the electrician later.

4. You Live in a Second Home During Part of the Year

I understand the argument that if you have two homes, you can afford buying twice the number of outlets you would need to outfit your first home.  But, many people are wealthy precisely because they live frugally.  And, buying houses that go up in value is easier for them than buying electronics that do not.

I know, who knows anybody like that, right!?!

At any rate, it’s obviously a lot easier to yank a few plug-in modules and pack them over to your second home for a few months to make your life easier.

Of course, don’t forget to leave an outlet behind to automate your lights as a burglary deterrent.

5. Your Wife Rearranges Rooms Like Fat Girls Try New Diets

I’m a blessed man on this front, but many of you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.  Just because that lamp is in that spot today, doesn’t mean it will be in the future.

Do you really want to add moving outlets to the work of moving furniture?

Didn’t think so.

Appreciate the advice? Pay it forward!

See anything I missed?  Let me know in the comments.

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