Wednesday, March 6, 2019

TP-Link HS110 Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring

The room was ominously dark except for one lone spotlight shining down on the subject.

"Where are your rebel friends NOW?" the interrogator asked as he entered into sight. He was toying with the subject. He knew that the question would be unanswered. Conversely, the subject knew that there would be no help arriving. There would be no escape.

The interrogator looked at his clip board and read menacingly from it. "Samsung. Model #WA52M8650AW. They say you have high efficiency. They say you have achieved Energy Star rating. We shall see if that distinction has truly been earned". The interrogator gleefully called out to an unseen assistant. "Attach the device....".
TP-Link HS110 Smart Plug

Live with any smart home deployment long enough and you'll begin to wonder if you're actually saving any energy by using smart devices. Think about that long enough and you may even begin to wonder how much energy your various appliances draw on average. If you're keen on monitoring energy usage on specific electronic devices, then there are a fair amount of smart plugs on the market that offer energy monitoring capabilities. I went with the TP-Link HS110 Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring. It should cost you around $15 depending on where you buy it from.

I'm in a fairly poor position to evaluate smarthome energy consumption in my house because I have no benchmark to compare my current consumption to. I had a number of smart bulbs installed the moment I moved into the house and had the Nest thermostat put in soon after. Still, the installation of smart home devices has fed my desire to compile and analyze data. Also, I thought it would be interesting to monitor the energy consumption related to the running of my washing machine, so I attached the TP-Link HS110 Smart Plug to it upon getting it out of the box.

Of course, the plug also allows you to turn itself on and off just like any other smart plug does, but I'm not using that function in relation to the washing machine just yet. I'm not even sure why I'd want the ability to turn my washing machine on and off remotely. Perhaps if I wanted to have a load started before I got home from work so that it wouldn't be sitting in the washing machine all day growing mildew.

The TP-Link HS110 Smart Plug uses the KASA app to interact directly with the device. You can link KASA to Google Home and control the on/off toggle. However, if you want to check current energy consumption or if you want to get a report of past consumption, you'll have to go through the KASA app. That seems to be par for the course for that sort of thing. For example, I can set the temperature on Nest thermostat via Google Home, but if I want to access any historical functions, I'll have to go through the Nest app.

So, what good is an energy monitoring smart plug if you don't have the desire to track energy usage? Well, in my case, my laundry room is located at the far end of my house and my bedroom is located at the opposite end. If I'm in my bedroom when the washing machine buzzer goes off, I won't be able to hear it, thus potentially inconveniencing any of the other residents in the house who are waiting to wash their clothes. Thanks to the magic of IFTTT, I could create a custom routine to set an alert to notify me when "current power" drops under, say, 500 watts. I know what you're thinking: I can just make a mental note to keep better track of when I expect my washing load to be done. But, with the TP-Link HS110 Smart Plug and IFTTT, I don't have to.

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