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With the number of devices we all have at home, it would end up being expensive to get a smart plug for each individual device. This got me thinking about whether smart plugs work with power strips, and whether they are safe to use together?
Smart plugs will work with power strips. You can safely plug a power strip into a smart plug providing the devices connected do not exceed the total wattage of the smart plug. It is also possible to do the opposite and safely plug a smart plug into a power strip.
I did some research into various smart plugs and power strips to find out what their total wattage is whilst also finding that smart power strips now exist and could replace individual smart plugs altogether.
Can You Plug a Power Strip Into a Smart Plug?
You can safely plug a power strip into a smart plug providing you follow the guidance around the total wattage that the smart plug can handle.
Many people will already have a power strip plugged into a smart plug with no issues whatsoever. This is a simple and inexpensive way of allowing you to power on or off several devices at the same through an app or a voice command.
The first thing you want to do before plugging a power strip into your smart plug is to find out the maximum wattage that your model of plug can handle.
Two ways of doing this would be to read the manual that came with your plug or check on the manufacturer’s website. It should be easy to spot with the plug’s specifications page.
I had a look at 10 different smart plugs from different manufacturers to find out their total wattage. Hopefully, this will give you a general idea of what a smart plug can handle.
|IKEA Smart Plug
|BN-LINK Smart Plug
|Teckin Smart Plug
|TCP Smart Plug
|Hive Active Plug
|Wyze Smart Plug
You’ll notice that the maximum wattage of some smart plugs varies quite a bit. This is because the table features smart plugs from around the world where the voltage is different.
For example, in the United States 120V is used whereas in the UK it is 240V.
As you’ll soon find out below, the voltage does affect the total wattage, hence the substantial difference.
When it comes to deciding which devices should be plugged into the power strip itself, you need to use a bit of common sense.
Having several space heaters, which require a considerable number of watts, plugged into the power strip probably isn’t the best idea.
One may be fine, but you must also consider the other devices plugged in.
Providing the wattage of each device that is plugged in to the power strip is within the maximum wattage that the smart plug can handle, you’re good.
It may sound silly having to add up the wattage of each device, but I feel it is worth the small amount of time it would take and make sure your smart plug will be able to cope with the load.
Exceeding the maximum wattage of the plug could result in it burning out and even becoming a potential fire hazard.
Can You Plug a Smart Plug Into a Power Strip?
You can also do the reverse and safely plug a smart plug into a power strip. This time you need to stay within the wattage specifications of the power strip itself.
This setup tends to not be used very often given how smart plugs can be quite bulky and cover up the neighboring outlets, rendering them useless.
More commonly, the smart plug will be plugged directly into a wall outlet and then have a power strip connected to it as we talked about above.
Even though this isn’t common practice, I had a look at several different power strips to get a general idea of the total wattage they can handle.
|Belkin 12 Outlet Surge Protector
|GE 6 Outlet Surge Protector
|Amazon Basics 12 Outlet Surge Protector
|APC 12 Outlet Surge Protector
|Stanley 9 Outlet Surge Protector
If you do decide to go down this route, just remember that the wattage of every device plugged into the power strip, including the smart plug and the device connected to the plug, is within the maximum wattage that the power strip can handle.
Wattage, Volts, and Amps Explained
Electricity is described by three terms: wattage, volts, and amps. You will see all three referenced on any electrical device.
A volt is a unit of potential energy and tells you how much energy a unit of current will provide.
An ampere (amp) is a unit of current and tells you how many electrons flow per second.
Watts are a unit of power and tell you how much energy is being used per unit time. The wattage is calculated by multiplying the voltage by the ampere.
In the case of making sure you don’t go over the maximum wattage that a smart plug or power strip can handle, you don’t really need to worry too much about the voltage and the amps.
The wattage is what is most important and what you should be looking out for before plugging all of your devices in.
What About Surge Protectors?
Surge protectors work in the same way as a regular power strip but with the added bonus that they also protect all of the devices connected should there be a power spike.
They are designed to suppress the additional power generated during the spike and prevent it from reaching each individual device.
If your devices were plugged into a regular power strip when a power spike occurs, you may find that irreversible damage is caused, and your devices are now fried.
Power spikes can be the result of several different scenarios including issues with electrical circuits, power outages, and on occasion, a direct lightning strike.
It is a good idea to make sure your most valuable electrical devices are always plugged into a surge protector and leave your less valuable, more inexpensive devices for the regular power strip.
Surge protectors don’t cost a great deal more than a power strip and can be worth their weight in gold in protecting your devices should a power spike occur.
When comparing different power strips, those that are surge protected will often be clearly advertised, but if not, you will likely find those that are cost more.
Regular power strips tend to cost no more than $10 depending on the number of outlets, whereas the surge protectors will cost between $10 and $20.
What About Smart Power Strips?
Smart power strips do exist, combining smart plug technology and a power strip into a single device.
They allow you to control each individual outlet through the accompanying app or through a voice command as well as having other additional features.
They can be quite expensive compared with plugging a power strip into a single smart plug, but they do offer more functionality.
If you plug a power strip into a smart plug, you can only power on and off all of the connected devices at the same time, whereas the smart power strip allows you to decide which individual device to power on or off and when.
A Wi-Fi connection is needed to make sure of the smart features, but it will work as a regular power strip too if you didn’t have a connection for whatever reason.
I’m not really sure why you wouldn’t want to make use of the smart features, though. It would end up being a very expensive power strip if you didn’t.
If you have several devices that you want to be able to power on and off remotely but not necessarily at the same time, it could be worth considering one of these smart power strips.