@aleohansen this is a poor long term choice I believe. I’ve had a SmartThings automated home for over two years now. I don’t TELL my house to do stuff, or even think about it. It just DOES stuff I want it to do. I haven’t turned a light on manually in two years!* I still use 7 Alexa’s for impromptu voice control, but the house is truly smart.
*Except during the occasional internet outage in some cases.
@michaelahess It’s a pity the IoT has evolved into a 100% cloud reliant infrastructure. It seems some amount of local functionality should be available. If I’m within the same local network, lesser complex tasks should be handled locally. For example adjusting my thermostat using the manufacturers app could be accomplished without bouncing through Honeywell’s cloud server, but it’s not designed that way.
@a13z Because HomeKit is the system I’ve chosen to go with for my other things, and I want to avoid fragmentation. I prefer things that are both HomeKit AND Alexa compatible so that I can talk to my iPhone, watch, or Echo and just use whatever is more convenient at the time.
@a13z Because HomeKit is the system I’ve chosen to go with for my other things, and I want to avoid fragmentation. I prefer things that are both HomeKit AND Alexa compatible so that I can talk to my iPhone, watch, or Echo and just use whatever is more convenient at the time.
@michaelahess How is spending hundreds of dollars to let Amazon listen to all of your conversations make not flipping a light switch better?
I’ve said it before, but I have yet to see the reason for IoT devices. Light switches are pretty simple. Mechanical timers are very inexpensive. Large displays on refrigerators are just something to go wrong, and refrigerators that take pictures of your food are just ridiculous.
@Nitewatch SmartThings is independent of any of the “Assistants” running around out there. If you run your own local Home Assistant server, you can have a smart home and still be completely off the grid. Nobody would be listening to you binge watch TV.
My smart home is set up so the light switches still operate as switches and I still use them as such. I live in a rough area, so having the bedroom/bathroom/living room lights turn on and off when I am not there keeps the house safe. Find me a cheap mechanical timer that I can adjust daily and fits in/connects to my ceiling fan and maybe I will change my mind.
@Willijs3 actually, there are cheap electronic timers (with internal memory/clocks so they’re power outage smart, not IoT) that can do individual daily schedules to the times you set… or start with those schedules but randomize them 30-60 minutes either direction. We have them - for when we’re away traveling.
@ruouttaurmind I have controlled my smart devices when the internet has been out. I think the internet is only required to set them up. But once they are set up, you can control them if you’re on the same WiFi network.
@bradsour None of my IoT devices can be app controllable unless they can phone home. I can physically control my smart thermostat for example, and it will continue to function, but when my WAN connection goes down, app control is impossible. Same with the video doorbell, garage door opener, WiFi surveillance cameras, D-Link motion sensors and alarms… nearly everything is cloud dependent.
Technically “hub” type devices operate independently (Zigbee, Zwave, etc) but app control may still be cloud dependent based on the manufacturers implementation.
@Nitewatch The Echo has a dedicated chip that literally does nothing but wait for the action word. That is the only word it recognizes and only activates the rest of the device once that chip gives it permission.
Amazon is only listening to things you say when it is lit up. There’s no reason to believe they’re listening to you or even care what you’re saying in your home.
@TBoneZeOriginal but that means for the most part that you aren’t automating anything. Just replacing a physical action with a voice action, that’s still work. If you want to really simplify your life, automation is the only real way to do it. Simple timers are the Duplos of this world. I’m at the Technics level here, with a lot of MindStorm stuff thrown in. (Last two things are Lego references.
My house shuts off the water main if a leak is detected. Turns on all the lights, unlocks the doors, and shuts off the furnace/ac if a fire is detected. Turns on my engine block heater a few hours before work if the temp is low enough outside. Shuts off all vampire electric draw if a room is unused or we are sleeping. Opens my garage when I come home in either my car or bike, but not my truck or wife’s vehicles.
After spending about 2k on all this including the echo devices, I save an average of 40 bucks a month on my electric bill. And the convenience is easily worth the rest. Most of the critical features work locally without internet access as well. Some stuff doesn’t need the “IOT Cloud” that some folks here are concerned about. Only parts of my system are actually IOT.
I also get very pretty graphs of temps and power usage that quickly show me any anomalous activity. Kids leaving computers on. Doors remaining open, that kind of thing. It’s caused a massive shift in my families thinking about how to be more efficient and how to do things more conveniently for all.
Large displays on refrigerators are a horrible idea. The average life of a consumer phone or laptop is 2-3 years. A refrigerator lasts typically like 10. It isn’t going to be supported for more than 2 or 3. So what happens when (as happened to Samsung) Google changes their calendar API and the calendar on your “smart” fridge no longer works? Likewise the to-do list, shopping list, et al.
@michaelahess You’re assuming what I want to automate. I DO want everything voice activated. I don’t have lights that I need going off at specific times. But if I did, that’s why I like HomeKit. I can schedule automated tasks all day long. But my primary desire is to do things like “hey siri, goodnight” and everything turns off, the doors lock, the thermostat drops down a couple degrees, etc.
My house shuts off the water main if a leak is detected.
Wouldn’t it be more convenient to shut off the valve closest to the leak? If my guest toilet is leaking, I don’t want the water turned off to my last remaining toilet. If that valve is N/C and requires electricity to be open, then it’s drawing power all the time. If it’s N/O then I can see instances where the internet is down and it malfunctions when you need it the most.
Turns on all the lights, unlocks the doors, and shuts off the furnace/ac if a fire is detected.
Why not have it use a halon system to put the fire out instead? Seems you have a complex system so you could have gone the extra step to do it right.
Turns on my engine block heater a few hours before work if the temp is low enough outside.
How does it know what days you’re working and which you’re not. If you have to update a calendar, that seems like more work that flipping a switch. Does it account for holidays and days that you might have to go in late or early? What about a day when you’re home sick or have a doctor’s appointment? Last thing I want is to use any form of heater unnecessarily. Just one day of that working when it’s not needed would be enough to not use that system.
Shuts off all vampire electric draw if a room is unused or we are sleeping.
How does the system know you’re sleeping? I usually watch an hour of TV while I’m in bed. That would be a bummer for it to turn off the TV while I’m in the middle of a show. I’d also like my phone to charge even when I’m sleeping. Don’t want things like my microwave clock to be reset just to save a couple pennies in phantom power.
Sometimes it’s not good to automate everything. I don’t want something to know when I move around the room and then turn the lights on automatically or turn them off if I’m not moving. If I get up in the middle of the night, I don’t want a blinding light shining in my face or a light to wake up Mrs cengland0 while I’m just using the bathroom. I still like to make the decisions on when I want things on and off – in most cases. I do have a couple lights on timers and motion but not many. My patio light, for example, turns on if it detects motion and it’s at night. My gazebo light goes on at dusk and off at dawn to give the back yard some security lighting.
@cengland0 Water valves are expensive or very difficult to cleanly wire if using a bulk no/nc type Pi/Arduino integration. I cheaped out and said f it, one valve to rule them all. It’s not reliant on the Internet.
Halon, HAHAHAH, no. Don’t be silly. That would cost more than all my automation stuff combined.
IFTTT reads my work calendar, if there is an appointment (every day it seems) and the weather is crap, it turns it on. Then in the worst case (day off, lol sure, or I’m home sick) I either shut it off via the app or it turns off at 9 (or if the temp is above a threshold) anyway, so no great loss.
I use motion sensors, door sensors, and most importantly power meters. Any room of the house will have a higher power draw when someone is in it, either TV, computer, lights, etc. So I have complex automations that look at power draw, if only the bedroom is above a threshold, the entire house except that room will “sleep” after 30 minutes of no activity. Then when I go to bed, either shut off TV or lamp, another 10 minute delay and the bedroom goes to sleep.
SmartThings already has a pretty good system for detecting when things “calm down” to do that last bit, but it wasn’t good enough for me. Throwing in power metering was the single biggest improvement in being able to anticipate needs for the entire family automatically.
My Harmony Hubs, microwave, fridge, stove, etc don’t power down. Just things that don’t matter. Even my Roku’s shut down, they boot in about the time it takes to turn things on, have the receivers fire up, and me sit down. Though my microwave takes a 7 watt load just to display the time, which is unbelievably upsetting to me…
When the house goes into evening mode (based on sunset) all the lights automatically go to a much lower level. When the house is in night mode, most don’t come on by motion, just a lamp in the living room to light the way for example. The bathroom and upstairs hall are a special case. The hall comes on at 1% which is anything but blinding, then the bathroom comes on with an LED strip on low red. Enough to see by without any sting. After a minute or so of it ramping up, the overhead light comes on.
My toilet has a sensor…lights/fan all controlled based on taking a #2 or shower. If the AC/Heater is on, the vent fan stays on for a shorter period of time even.
What else ya got? I like sharing the absurdity of my system.
@michaelahess I have to say, you’re probably the only other person I met that has a system greater than my own. Every light in the house is able to be automated using scenes or individual tasks. But I don’t often use that ability. It is nice to go in the bed with the light on and then tell Alexa to turn off the light. I don’t need to get up to manually flip the switch on the wall near the door. Even the bathroom lights can be turned on remotely and dimmed.
I have motion sensors and leak detectors too. The leak detectors don’t do anything except notify at this time. I could connect them to a scene and turn on all the lights or a siren or something but a notification is sufficient and then I get to choose which action to take.
I have 10 cameras around the house to monitor what is going on. Surprisingly, I use them more often when I’m home than away. I hear a weird sound in my back yard, I look at the camera. I drive to the gym and cannot remember if I closed the garage door, I look at the camera.
An interesting note. I can control my garage door remotely. I have it send me an email if the garage opens and another when it closes. Different subject “Garage Opened” and “Garage Closed.” One annoying thing is that Alexa refuses to open the garage even though she knows it’s there. It took hours to figure that out. Apparently, Alexa for security reasons, will never open or unlock doors. Suppose someone could yell real loud through the window to the Echo, “Alexa, open the Garage” so they don’t allow that.
I even have my mailbox door wired. If someone opens the mailbox, I have a speaker that plays a musical tune and then flash a light. It’s a home-made arduino project. If I come home and that light is flashing, I know I probably received mail (or someone is trying to steal mail). If no mail, I’ll review the camera history but that’s never happened yet. Next part of that project will be to log the time and date that the mail box was opened and then closed. It’s not a necessity but there’s a small flaw in my system. I have it programmed to flash the light if it was opened but then if it’s opened a second time, I have no record of that. It’s only until I reset the flashing light that it will let me know of another instance of a mailbox penetration.
All of my irrigation valves are remotely controlled to by using a Rachio (you should look it up, you would love it). It forecasts the weather and, if it’s a good chance of rain in the future, it will cancel the watering of the lawn that day. Most irrigation systems only rely on past rain history using rain gauges. It’s also Alexa compatible and I can say “Alexa, tell Rachio to water the front lawn for 10 minutes.”
I have 6 of the Merkury switches that Meh sold before which can monitor energy usages too. I have them hooked up to devices I’m curious about monthly consumption such as the washing machine, entertainment system, office, audio amplifier, icicle lights, and my network wiring closet. It’s very enlightening to know that my networking takes significantly more energy than my washing machine and the audio amplifier takes 34 watts when it’s powered off.
My camera situation is pretty complex, but has some auto alerts. I also do the alerts for the garage door. I can open it with Alexa but it requires SmartThings and a fantastic app by one of the community members.
If you can think it, you can do it with ST and it’s various SmartApps. Absolute insanity what you can get into. I’m at an advanced level but not CLOSE to some of the folks in that community.
I like the concept, having just <s>finally succumbed to our robot overlords</s> gotten an echo dot for the holidays. Think I can reasonably daisychain this to the long yelllow power strip I have in the living room, and adding one to the travel bag.
(oddly, this is one of the few things I want 4 of rather than 3. one for the living room, one for our bedroom, one for a friend, and one for travel!)
@Woody1 Most times I don’t. But I have 2 battery packs I routinely charge, plus my Bluetooth earbuds and mine and my SO’s kindle and phones (total of 7 items that use this sort of charging). The odds that most of them could use charging at any given time makes it practical to keep a charger that can do them nearby at all places we may realize, oh shit, I should plug this in. And especially during the week, I don’t want to have to drag everything to one spot, so having his stuff charge next to his recliner and my stuff charge next to my side of the bed is more useful than it initially seems.
@Jamileigh17 I get it, but do you really want to turn on and off those chargers remotely? Most are smart chargers now and will not overcharge your device which would make turning on the outlet to charge again seem like a chore. What if you forget to turn the outlet back on or your WiFi cuts out in the off state?
@Woody1, @tsfisch, how about using it to address phantom power use? Plug your device chargers into this, then enable/disable the chargers as they’re actively in use?
I typically just unplug chargers when not actively in use, but something like this might do the trick. OTOH, the smart circuit itself will have an amount of power consumption which likely offsets the power savings.
Gonna guess this purpose might be splitting hairs due to most contemporary chargers being smart and not sucking much juice in standby… and the power strip itself, in order to be Alexa aware must have some phantom load.
I suppose if you have one of those huge piano keyboards with an old style 3 lb wall wart, it might be useful for phantom loads, but still, with the low cost of electricity, splitting hairs.
Not following this charge your devices via power strip use case.
Aren’t most mobile devices USB cable compatible?
Rather than messing with a bunch of individual device USB wall warts, we keep a couple 6-12 port Anker/RAVpower smart USB charger boxes in handy places… with various USB to Micro-USB/Lightning/FitBit, etc… cords left plugged in, ready to go.
if you have one of those huge piano keyboards with an old style 3 lb wall wart
Hmm… your comment just made me realise… my 15 year old Mitsu rear projection TV almost certainly has such a power supply (albeit internal), and my Dish Hoppa DVR is “always on”, constantly spinning the internal HDD and updating the programme guide. A few more home theater devices into the mix and I may have realised the only viable reason for an device like this to exist.
@Woody1@Jamileigh17 My MIL hooked her xmas tree up to Alexa, so that’s why I’m buying a couple for next year. I have one holiday-themed area of my home that I usually connect to timers. And being able to ask Alexa to turn it on/off will let me shorten the time I want to have the tree and miscellaneous items on. Plus the outlet is in a corner and a pain to get to to manually do it. I guess it is a pretty niche use. I’m sure I’ll think of other things for the rest of the year.
@grj not even close. Especially with older wall warts. A single energy saving device like this pulls less than most any I’ve vampire transformer let alone many. I have two zwave strips that are much better than these, both combined pull less than a watt.
@grj I hear ya, but I’m reasonably sure the constant-on Dish DVR with it’s always spinning hard drive consumes considerably more power than the solid state smart circuit in a smart outlet. Add in the TV’s 15 year old inefficient power supply and there’s likely considerable potential for reducing power consumption. In this case it would take years for that to equal the cost of the device, but there’s an advantage of carbon footprint reduction as well.
All that said, I’m still not a candidate for this thing. But it’s interesting to consider what viable uses such a device may serve.
If you’re really concerned about vampire electricity consumption, hopefully you already have one of these to prove it… (But be sure to multiply the vampire consumption times your electricity rate… likely between 5 - 14 cents per kWh. And include the delivery fee if they also base it on your consumption. Electricity is really cheap in small amounts.)
The “USB ports working as a unit, not individually” thing IS indeed useful, I say!
When it’s time for me to charge my four series 2 iWatches, I can use this thing to ensure that they all simultaneously power down once hitting 100% battery, so that all four of my iWatches conveniently die at the same time!
OR, I can buy four cheap, portable USB fans and tape them all together, using them as one large desk fan! It’ll fool my house guests into thinking that I can afford a desk fan, after spending all my savings on iWatches!
Thanks for this product FEATURE (certainly not bizarre and limited in any way), Merkury!
@theanthonyya I think I know the techy reason for controlling all 4 USB ports at once. There is one chip controlling all 4 ports. The chip can’t control power to different ports individually. It’s either all-on or all-off. To control 4 USB ports separately, you need 4 controller chips in the surge protector. That would raise the cost. I only “know” this because I researched this for a raspberry pi and it’s either all-on or all-off.
@dino2269 Forget? No, it’s called ‘repression’, a term I learned through the intensive psychotherapy I had to go through because of those. It left me with severe PTSD, and thanks for triggering me.
I gotta call to make an appointment now.
Reviews look kind of crappy. But I’m not sure if it’s due to user error or actual issue with the device, since most of the complains seem to center around “I can’t connect to this thing and nobody’s helping me for it.”
Model: MI-SW001-199 (Your mission, if you choose to accept it: Decipher this gobbledygook).
MI for Merkury Innovations obviously, S for Surge protector, W wifi enabled. 001 because 007 was taken but surprisingly 001 was available. 199 - 1 for color and 99 original list price. Got any opening meh? I think I will blend in your team seamlessly:-)
I’ll buy just about everything, and yet I cannot think of a single good reason to buy this?
I’ll bet I have over a hundred devices of some kind plugged in at the house and more power strips than I care to count. Just no reason I would want to turn off a bank of devices with this. Many of my servers are wasting power but I’d never turn them off or spin them up with a remote power strip. I could use a dozen or two single outlet IoT switches, but their drawback is I lose the ability to manually power them at the original power switch, button or knob. They need to create a 3- way IoT socket, but that won’t happen without the device also having a 3- way switch.
@Woody1 many good points. Also noted - several devices on Amazon mention you have to open ports on the router to remote IP addresses… not something I would entertain for any of my data stuff. Or anything else robust enough to become a zombie device, I guess. And “there are people” in my house who just want to switch a light on an off without talking to Alexa. Until the 3-way switch comes along, that ain’t happening!
Ok, I figured out what to do with this: plug Alexa in one outlet you name Alexa and Google in one named Google. You and a friend tell each to turn the other off, speaking at the same time. Whichever remains on wins! And plug lamps into the other two outlets…
I counted twelve hands in the write-up. Which of these is the most fitting?
<a id=‘dg85K-RiSs9BUsYwSir6aQ’ class=‘gie-single’ href=‘http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/165965584’ target=’_blank’ style=‘color:#a7a7a7;text-decoration:none;font-weight:normal !important;border:none;display:inline-block;’>Embed from Getty Images</a>
@AGentleman Wow! Seriously, that’s impressive. Granted I waste electricity, but my AC / furnace fan and gas water heater blows through $80/mo. minimum. The other $100/mo. is all on me. TV and treadmill probably uses $40 off that though.
@mehcuda67 No, normal power company, coal fired/nuclear feed. Granted it’s an apartment, so that helps a whole lot, but I do have a dishwasher, electric stove/oven, refrigerator, washer/dryer, tv, surround sound system, computer, cpap, and other small things. I did change out every light, including fridge and stove vent with cfl the day I moved in.
But I learned the secret. I carefully looked around my apartment for any open outlets, and made sure to plug something into them. That way the electricity won’t leak out.
@RedOak I do have solar. Many months, I generate more electricity than I use and there’s still a $22 charge. I consider that fee as a convenience of using them as a battery. I generate electricity in the day and put the excess on the grid. Then at night, I withdraw what I deposited earlier. I’m so close to getting a net zero electrical footprint. In 2 years, I have consumed a total of 3000kwh equaling about $330 in actual energy consumption while the monthly fees during that same period was $528. More in fees than actual electricity usage.
I consider that fee as a convenience of using them as a battery.
Yes. Grid-tied solar homes are not otherwise funding the utility grid even tho they are consuming electricity at non-solar times. That base portion has to fund the grid itself.
Several states where grid-tied solar homes have become very popular have actually increased that base fee portion (and/or reduced the solar-generated credit) over the past several years to recognize the utility’s shifting function.
I wouldn’t be investing in electricity utility companies at this point. Eventually battery technology will take another chunk out of their lunch.
@cengland0 Ouch. Yes, the flat fee here is much less than $22.
It’s not uncommon for me to see this on my bill.
Neighbor Comparison : Electricity
Efficient Neighbors : 233 kWh
All Neighbors : 353 kWh
You : 161 kWh
Would be nice for rebooting my stick computer and chromecast without reaching behind the tv. And I’m one of those few that turns off the power to the TV when it’s not being used. Would be great for a backlight on the TV as well.
I have to agree with @thisismyusername. A better price point for my use would be in the $9-11 range.
Use case: Vacation cottage - want to be able to set up a central location that can power lights / fans so the place look completely vacant and doesn’t feel stale when I arrive. This should fit the bill.
@accumulator Enover Individual/weekly + random 30-60 min shift timer. Internal memory for power outages. 15A/1800 watt. Works like a charm for that use case. Get a couple if you want multiple devices automated. $13.
@redwould Nope. That’s a KMC brand and not Merkury Innovations. Although it may be a similar functioning product, you shouldn’t compare prices of unlike brands. I wouldn’t compare an iPhone to a Xiaomi brand even though they both can do similar things.
Due to a former job, I worked with manufacturers and the buyers. I found out that a manufacturer will produce the same looking product and relabel it for several different brands. But what most people don’t realize is that the brands get to pick which features and quality they want in the product. You can take cheap electronic devices apart and notice that many IC chips and passives are not soldered on the board but the more expensive name brands have them there.
The buyer is able to specify Rubycon capacitors or some cheaper Chinese version. You can pick military specs or civilian specs.
Some cheaper brand products cut corners by removing features such as emi filters so your products do not interfere with other things in your house.
@cinoclav Even within the same brand can have differences. For example, the first set of Merkury Innovations switches monitored energy usage. Then, there was another one that looked exactly the same, used the same app, but didn’t have the energy usage feature hardware.
@mehvermore I use the Geeni app for previous items I bought on Meh and I’ve never received any spam from them. I also don’t remember giving my phone number but it’s possible so they have some way to text me if I forgot my password.
I’m more concerned about why the Redbox app needs access to my locally stored images.
I notoriously leave my office desk lights on in my basement. Almost every morning my wife politely reminds me that we do not own the electric company. While I politely reply that I bought it last night in monopoly so her comment is #Fakenews. This usually leads to a rebuttal of some sorts from her and I usually sleep on the couch at some point after leaving the lights on multiple days in a row. Perhaps this will solve the problem. If not it’s always a great stocking stuffer for next year.
Going to set this up in the basement to be able to control my Raspberry Pi’s and Whole Home Audio Amp. Sweet! I’ve been using the single outlet ones to feed a surge protector. This will allow me to go down to a single item and have finer control.
Should I contact the manufacturer if it arrives DOA? I’ve already purchased some smart home plugs and one arrived defective. They shipped out a new set, but curious as I’m sure the stats are likely that 1 in 10 may be defective.
I’ll likely use for indoor xmas lights. This last xmas I used a power strip plugged into a smart outlet and it wasn’t ideal. I also had 2 other smart outlets controlling lights/trees/etc in other rooms. This would allow me to turn the tree on, but not the laser lights projecting on the ceiling. I didn’t like being blinded by lasers walking through the living room. Sure looks pretty on the vaulted ceiling though. “Echo, turn on Christmas. Echo, turn OFF friggin’ lasers!”
One of these days, I need to buy a floor lamp that this will work with too.
I use the Geeni smart outlets that they sold a while ago and they work great for power cycling my cable modem or the computer that’s plugged into it. I was about to buy one of these off of Amazon. For once, an amehzing daily deal.
I’m a little late to post this but I would suggest passing. I bought a Mercury smart plug (not the powerstrip) and it only works while my phone is connected to wifi at home and the app is running on my phone. I was expecting it to be able to save the scheduling logic like a Belkin plug I bought previous. Maybe the powerstrip works differently? I hope so for your sake (for those who bought it)