D-Link has come out with its second Wi-Fi smart plug, a device that lets you automate outlets around your home. Compared to the other devices on the market, this latest D-Link offering is very competitive, so take a look if you have been wanting some light home automation.
What is a Wi-Fi Smart Plug?
A Wi-Fi smart plug is a small, card-sized device that plugs into an everyday electrical outlet and turns it into a Wi-Fi controlled outlet. The plug comes with a socket you can still plug devices into the outlet. Now, however, the flow of electricity can be controlled remotely via your wireless network. Download the appropriate app to your phone or tablet, and you can turn the plugged-in device on and off at will without messing around with old-fashioned switches or hard-to-reach buttons.
Of course, this sort of setup has a few requirements. The smart plug works best with simple devices like lamps, which often need to be left in the “on” position so the plug can accurately control the flow of electricity. They work with the three-pronged, grounded outlets, not the two pronged outlets, which may limit your accessibility a bit..
D-Link’s Latest Plug Model
D-Link has actually tried a smart outlet device before, with its DSP-W215 model that sells for $50 and allows you to chart the energy use of plugged-in appliances. This newer model, the DSP-W110, sells for only $40 and is a nimbler, more efficient system that eschews some of the energy management features of the older model to create an simpler experience.
With the new model, you buy the smart plug and then download the free app that comes with it, called Mydlink. Then plug that plug into the right socket and press the Wi-Fi setup button. From there, you visit your Mydlink app and let it search for the device. The smart plug then guides you through the setup process to connect it to your network and have it sense any devices that you plug into it. Once all connections have been established, you can start tinkering with the settings.
Like most smart devices, the D-Link plug allows you to turn devices on and off remotely, and check to see if you accidentally left anything on when at work or on vacation. It can also let you create simple schedules to turn devices on and off at specific times and notify you when the switch has been flipped.
Ideal Devices and Setups
D-Link has several ideas about how to best use its new smart plug, which is designed primarily for the middle class of home devices. Heavier appliances need special, incompatible electrical connections, and more complex systems with multiple settings (think microwaves, radio, computers, etc.) are not really possibilities, either. The unit is not designed to work outside, so outdoor spotlights are also out of the question.
This leaves you with a number of simple on/off devices around the home or office. You can hook one of the smart plugs up to your TV and tell it to turn off at a specific time each night. Or you can attach it to some hard-to-reach alcove lamps and control them easily without any gymnastics. If you have a simple space heater, you can use the app to control it remotely and set up schedules, too. Depending on your set-up, you may also be able to control fans and even simple speaker systems.
Alright, Should You Buy It?
The D-Link DSP-W110 is not the only plug on the market – notably, Belkin’s WeMo Switch is a very similar device. When it comes to the details, both apps do the same things in the same ways, albeit with different interfaces (which are worth taking a look at if you prefer one app over the other). However, D-Link’s new model is price competitive, since the Switch comes in at $50 and the D-Link plug is only $40.
You also have to consider how much use you would get out of these plugs. If you do not have much use for remote control of lamps, TVs or heaters, it may not be worth your investment. Additionally, make sure you have enough room for the sizable plug on your outlets and power strips before buying, because these devices do take up extra room.