Whether you’re putting together a spectacular Halloween display or a cozy Christmas scene, you really should buy a smart plug bundle.
Why are smart plugs perfect for the holidays?
Over the years I have used much of different solutions for Christmas lighting and accessories. Mechanical timers, digital timers, dusk-to-dawn sensors, dusk-sensing timers that turn lights on for X hours and then turn off, you name it.
And while all of these various timers and tools worked well enough for many tasks, they all had a variety of shortcomings. What kind of deficiencies? If you’re particularly interested in how party lighting and fixtures are set up (and how you control them), the list is long.
Long enough that it finally took me to switch completely to smart plugs. In fact, between smart plugs and smart lights, you can cover almost all your Christmas lighting and decorating needs.
So what’s wrong with traditional timers and plugs? Mechanical timers go out of sync if you lose power. Mechanical and digital timers are a big deal to sync up if that matters to you. Many timers are only 2-pronged, which rules out using them for Christmas decorations with a ground pin. There are very few traditional timers that also have remote control via radio control.
As a result, you’re stuck just letting the timer run its course, not using a timer but using a plug with a handheld remote, or crawling under trees or behind decorations unplugging things if you want to turn. the lights are temporarily turned off.
On top of that, you can’t easily set scenes or control your decorations. Whatever “scene” you design by fiddling with buttons and dials at the start of the season is the scene you’ll be stuck in, unless you go out in the cold and go back to worrying about all the timers.
Smart plugs not only solve each of those problems, but also introduce more flexibility and possibilities beyond what traditional timers are capable of. In short, it no longer makes sense to buy traditional timers.
As of this writing in October 2022, you can buy a two-pack of traditional digital timers for $18 or you can buy a two-pack of Kasa smart plugs for $18. Why pay the same amount for less functionality? (If you’re buying Kasa Smart Plugs, by the way, grab a 4-pack, it’s the best deal.)
Kasa Outdoor Smart Plug
With two independently controlled smart outlets and an IP64 weather rating, what’s not to love about this outdoor smart plug?
The same goes for outdoor timers. You can pick up a two-outlet digital timer for $24 or you can pick up Kasa’s two-outlet outdoor smart plug for $25. Again, given the flexibility you get by upgrading to smart plugs unless you have a pressing need to using only an offline analog solution, it just doesn’t make sense to use old technology.
Make the most of smart plugs at parties
While you can use the app to set timers and call it good, that’s not exactly taking full advantage of the flexibility that smart plugs offer.
Clearly, I’m a fan of them, so let me go over some of the things you need to do to get the most out of smart plugs while on vacation.
Purchase from the same company
While you can mix and match smart plugs as long as they’re compatible with the large smart home system you’re using, I recommend buying plugs from the same company for two simple reasons.
If you choose a company that has a well-developed product line and platform like Kasa (my favorite smart plug company), you’ll likely have a smoother and less hiccup overall experience.
Plus, you’ll be able to use the company’s app independently of your smart home platform and, in Kasa’s case, entirely on its own without even having a smart home platform. The app is that polished.
Take advantage of advanced triggers
You can emulate a basic timer and you can even emulate a twilight sensor by setting your smart plugs to turn on at sunset.
But you can also adjust that in ways you couldn’t on a traditional timer. You can set smart plugs to turn on X minutes before sunset, for example, so your decorations are on during the transition period.
You can link smart plugs to external sensors like cameras or motion detectors. It may not be as useful around Christmas, but it’s fun to automate Halloween decorations to get them up and running in a fright or two.
Create Scenes and Groups for Every Occasion
As with other smart home equipment, you can group smart plugs into scenes. This makes it easy to group decorations together, both inside and out, so you can customize exactly how much festive atmosphere you’re bringing out or what stays on for what part of the day.
For example, I usually have four “scene” layers active for any particular holiday. I have a scene for exterior lighting, a scene for window lighting, a scene for interior lighting, and then an additional scene, or set of scenes, for the more active elements reserved for entertainment: the fog machine is for Halloween night. and Halloween parties, for example, and are not activated by general Christmas decorations alone.
Custom verbal command triggers are fun
If you’re using your smart plugs with a smart home assistant like Alexa or Google Assistant, it’s fun to set specific verbal triggers for things.
Sure, you can stick to the basics like “Alexa, turn off the Christmas tree” to turn off the Christmas tree plug, or “Hey Google, turn on the decorations” to turn on all the plugs in your Christmas decoration scenes. .
But you can do verbal triggers however you want, which gives you a lot of license. So in my house, if you want to shut down all the Christmas decorations inside and out, you can say, “Ok Google, Christmas is cancelled.”
That’s not necessarily a hard-hitting productivity hack for your smart plugs, but it’s a lot of fun, especially if you have kids (or are just a kid at heart).