Are you still looking for extreme-last-minute gift ideas? Or maybe you’re making a list of gifts you plan to buy with your holiday gift cards? Have you considered something that’s less-than elegant, less-than glamorous, but can still make a huge difference?
Consider a smart outlet.
“Oh COME ON! That’s like giving a toilet plunger or a whisk!”
Yeah, I thought so too. But it’s remarkable how practical and thoughtful a smart outlet can be. Don’t think “toilet plunger;” instead, think “French press” or “a Tile“.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let’s talk about the ConnectSense Smart Outlet that’s designed expressly for the Apple HomeKit and Siri Voice Control. Sorry, it doesn’t integrate with Amazon Alexa or Google Home…yet.
Bottom Line Up Front:
The ConnectSense Smart Outlet is easy to initially set up, easy to integrate with Apple HomeKit, and doesn’t require a separate control hub. However, it takes some sleuthing to get the programming working. Once you have a plan set up, you’re golden.
What’s in the Box
- One smart outlet, which has two 3-prong plugs and one USB female outlet
- One Quick Start Guide
- Apple HomeKit PIN card
Setting Up the Smart Outlet
This couldn’t be easier. As soon as you plug it in, you simply bring up the smart outlet on your iOS device and look for the “ConnectSense Outlet” under the “Set Up New Device” area. From here, choose your favorite network as the default for the outlet to connect.
Next, download the ConnectSense app from the Apple App Store. There’s no cost, and there’s no login/password requirement, for which I was quite pleased.
In the ConnectSense app, click the “+” in the upper right corner to add a device, and use the Apple HomeKit PIN that came on a separate card with the outlet to connect the device with the app. This pairs the outlet to the iOS device and once that’s done, you can continue setup.
Once the app can see the outlet, you can continue customizing the device. In our case, we were plugging in our magnificent A Christmas Story-inspired miniature leg lamp.
With the app, you can customize the name of the outlet. This is the name you’d want Siri to recognize. This was a no-brainer, we named one of the two outlets “Leg Lamp.”
Once the outlet is named, you can now use the app to control the item on the outlet, you can also hit the buttons on the side of the outlet itself to control the power, or else you can ask Siri the same way you’d ask Siri for directions, movie times, unit conversions, or today’s Bitcoin value against the US dollar.
Programming the Smart Outlet
Now that I have Siri and the app controlling our leg lamp, I decided to tinker with the programming a bit. I wanted to set up a daily on/off schedule. This wasn’t as intuitive to me, but then I realized it’s like the Kasa app, which we use to control to Christmas tree. You have to set up Scenes, and with these Scenes you tell the app which times to perform the actions in the scenes.
In the app, there are already many scenes in place, which tie to some of the things Siri expects to hear you say, including “Good morning,” “Good night,” and “Leave Home.” You can set up custom scenes, also, to tie the smart outlet to those words. I set up “Turn on” and “Turn off” which, when connected to our words “Leg Lamp”, makes for very simple Siri commands for the lamp.
To set up a timer-like capability, visit the “Rules” tab in the menu. This is where you can set a time for a certain “Scene” to take place. I did this for the Leg Lamp to turn on at 4 pm and turn off at 11 pm nightly.
I also own a TP-Link Smart Plug, which currently controls our Christmas tree. There are many similarities between the ConnectSense and TP-Link’s Kasa apps, including the “Scenes” setup, but, as with so many other Internet of Things (IoT) setups, there are allegiances to which home systems will control which items. As of now, our ConnectSense Smart Outlet is the only IoT device in our house that isn’t Alexa-enabled…but good news awaits! The company has announced that capability is coming in 2018.
The ConnectSense Smart Outlet retails for $59.95 and can be purchased directly through the ConnectSense website, or at Amazon, although stock is limited through the latter: Christmas delivery is no longer guaranteed.
GeekMom received a complimentary sample of the ConnectSense Smart Outlet for review purposes.