ConnectSense Smart Outlet helps you control and monitor how the power in your home is used.
One of the things I dislike during the holidays is turning the Christmas tree lights on and off. After the tree is decorated and presents are stashed underneath, it can become very difficult to plug and unplug the tree lights. I can’t tell you how many times I stumbled over my own feet trying to turn on the lights. This is one reason I love the insurance of smart outlets into the connected home space.
While I’ve had the opportunity to test out a couple of different kinds of smart outlets, I am particularly fond of the ConnectSense Smart Outlet. It works with Apple HomeKit and has a very simple installation process. The ConnectSense Smart Outlet makes it possible for you to control certain non-smart devices with Siri. For example, say you have a lamp that is not WiFi capable and neither is its bulb. You could plug the ConnectSense Smart Outlet into the wall and then the lamp into Smart Outlet. You could then control the power signal to the object from your phone, or through Siri. This type of option is particularly useful for Christmas-time when you want to do things like turn your lights on and off. Saying, “Siri, turn off the Christmas tree,” to your phone is very liberating.
Control over non-smart devices isn’t the only feature the ConnectSense Smart Outlet offers. Users can also monitor how long devices have been on and set timers for the outlets. Plus, you can remotely access your Smart Outlet through an Apple TV. This option allows you to check the status of your plugged-in devices and turn them on and off as will.
One of the features that really stands out for me on the Smart Outlet over its competitors is that there are two outlets. Some of the other outlet devices I’ve tried out only have one outlet and some even cover up the second port on the wall outlet, which, of course, renders it useless. The ConnectSense Smart Outlet has two power outlets, with a 120 VAC, 60 Hz power input. There is also a standard USB Port located on the side of the Smart Outlet that allows you to charge your mobile devices without taking up a power outlet.
Set-up is very, very easy. When you open the box, there is a short, concise quick start guide for the outlet. There are four steps to go through before you are able to use your Smart Outlet freely. First step is to plug in the outlet. Second, you connect it to your WiFi network. This can be done by either going directly into your Settings on your iPhone, or you can use the ConnectSense app. Once it’s connected to your WiFi network, you go through some set-up steps in the app to label the outlet and set which room its in. Then, you can start using it.
Now, I do want to point out a small glitch we had during set-up. At first, while we were testing the Smart Outlet, it would not connect to our WiFi network. This was odd since we had numerous other smart products connected and we hadn’t had any issues with getting those connected. We discovered, quite by accident, that we had created a Double NAT network.
A Double NAT network is where multiple routers on a network are doing the same network translation. We had an Apple TimeCapsule connected to a Motorola cable modem and both had NAT enabled. This was not something we intended when we established our WiFi network. But, as we quickly discovered, this Double NAT made it impossible for the Smart Outlet to connect properly. Once this setting was eliminated, the outlet connected and was operational within less than 2 minutes of being plugged into the wall.
I bring this up because I did not find any documentation on this issue while I was experiencing it. If you have a Smart Outlet and it won’t connect to your network – the issue I had was that it would act like it was connecting, but would lock up the app – check to see if you have a Double NAT scenario.
The ConnectSense Smart Outlet is a wonderful addition to our home automation tools. It makes regular, everyday activities, just a little bit smarter. The Smart Outlet retails for $79.95.
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