Kill the power with your voice
I have a passion for smart home technology. I’ve been working with devices off and on for the past few years and I’ve loved to see the market grow and expand into new realms of smart products. That said, there is one product I never thought I would need to be smart — a power strip. When you think about it, a power strip is one of those devices that you plug in and forget about it. I have several throughout my home that connects all my entertainment devices together and because they are hidden behind furniture, I never see them after they are installed. So, why would I need a power strip to talk to my iPhone or my Amazon Echo Dot? Surprisingly enough, I have found a lot of uses for a smart strip in my home and fortunately, Geeni’s Surge is a wonderful smart WiFi surge protector.
The Surge is a 4 x 4 power outlet and USB port power strip with 900J surge protection. The device allows you to take control and manage power better in your home. Can you use it without connecting to WiFi? Yes, but why would you want to? To connect through WiFi, you need to plug the power strip into a power outlet and then use the app (iOS or Android) to connect to your home WiFi network. The Surge is compatible with 2.4 GHz and standard 802.11 b/g/n networks. The power strip is compatible with Amazon’s Alexa, but not HomeKit. So, while you can use voice control to manage the device, you can’t say, “Hey, Siri.” This wasn’t a big road block for me because I have Amazon Echo Dot’s strategically placed in my home to make it that much easier to control my smart home devices.
So, now that you know a little bit about the product, let’s go back to that original question of why. Surprisingly enough, I did find quite a few uses for the Surge. For one thing, if you don’t have light bulbs that are controlled by your network (like Philips Hue bulbs), you can plug lamps into it and then say, “Alexa, turn on the lamp.” And the pre-programmed outlet will turn on. This is just one possible use for the power strip. I actually mounted my Surge on the wall above my desk so that I could use it to charge up devices or power products I’m reviewing. I love the flexibility of being able to use one outlet at a time or just powering the USB ports. It’s a great power management tool as well as a smart home device.
The Surge gave me an unexpected present of a pain-free setup and installation. I mounted it to our wall using Command Adhesive strips and then connected to our WiFi. I did receive one error message on the first try, but the second attempt was successful and I’ve not had any connection problems since. When you go to setup the WiFi connection, you have two options — manually by connecting to the Surge as a hotspot, or automatically. Fortunately, the automatic way worked for me. I have had some products where that fails completely, but the Surge was strong and connecting was super easy. Programming the Skill in Alexa was a breeze, too. The hardest part is remembering the commands. I tried to keep it as simple a possible. For example —
“Alexa, turn on Switch 1.”
“Alexa, turn on USB 1.”
“Alexa, turn on the Geeni.”
So far, the Surge is working very well with the iOS app and with Alexa. I haven’t had an issue once while using voice commands or pressing buttons via the app. The Surge has bright blue LED’s that light up next to each outlet showing you if an outlet is on and receiving power. It’s got a standard on/off/reset button on the bottom if a power surge was to happen.
Being able to speak out to my Echo and say, “Alexa, turn off Switch 1,” is wonderful. Using the command, “Alexa, turn off Geeni,” to kill all power to the power switch from anywhere in my house is also very nice. I don’t like leaving devices charging overnight if I can help it. You can call me lazy you all you want, but for someone who has an incredibly hard time falling asleep, being able to just lay in bed and tell my Echo Dot to turn it off is great.
There may be some naysayers out there who think that this product isn’t really needed in a smart home. I would definitely play advocate for including this in your smart home plan because it works and works well, the Surge gives you a valuable power management tool, and it’s a very capable surge protector even without the smart technology. A few months ago when I was rewiring some devices, I had to purchase a couple of larger power strips and found that the ones with USB ports included a range in price from $29-$50. The Surge comes in around $40 so it’s actually cost competitive with other standard power strips. I am actually a huge fan of the Surge now and hope to include another in my home sometime soon.
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