Tech review: TP-Link lights up home automation – Greater Milwaukee Today
I’ve had a little experience with TP-Link’s home automation products, and I’ve purchased several of its smart plugs for my home. This week I’ve been using two of the company’s new devices, the TP-Link Kasa Smart Light Strip and the Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Outdoor Plug.
I’ve been using various smart home products for the last five years or so, but in the last year I’ve changed the method for controlling my home automation devices.
If you’ve tried home automation, you know it can be challenging to make devices from different manufacturers work together.
I started out with a home automation hub from Wink.
The Wink hub did a good job of allowing the user to control devices from different companies with a common phone app and even allowed voice control through Google Home or Amazon Alexa devices.
Items like smart bulbs or smart plugs or even a smart thermostat have their own apps for control, but they can also connect to the Wink hub so you can set up things like automatically turning on lights in the house when you open the garage door.
Wink has evolved to a subscription model, so in order to use a Wink hub, you have to pay $4.99 per month.
I’m not against subscribing to a service I like, but my Wink experience was not problem-free, and after having to reboot the hub a little too often, I decided to look for alternatives. I found that most of my home automation devices also worked with Amazon’s Echo.
Kasa Smart Light Strip
I’ve had LED light strips for my under-cabinet lighting for a few years. I’m sorry to say I chose my lights based on price and not features — or quality.
The lights were OK, but I didn’t love them.
When I received the TP-Link Kasa Smart Light Strip ($59.99 from Amazon), I realized there is a big difference in how light strips are made.
The Smart Light Strip is 80 inches long, but it comes in two 40-inch sections that attach with a small plug.
The strip is about half an inch wide, and there are pairs of LEDs spaced out about an inch apart. Each pair has a color LED and a white LED. There are six pair of LEDs per zone on the strip, and each zone can show a different color.
The light can be set to any color you can imagine from millions of choices on a color wheel through the Kasa app.
You can set the strip to all one color, or you can set individual colors for each zone.
I set up the strip in my kitchen to be a warm white (you can set the color by temperature if you like from 2500K to 9000K). My preference is for a warm white light, so I chose 2700K, which matches the bulbs I have in my house.
The strip is controlled by the Kasa app. You load the app on your phone, then touch the plus sign to add a new device. Plug in the lights, choose the strip from the list of smart lights and the app will walk you through setting up the strip on your home’s Wi-Fi network.
Once you are connected, you give the strip a name and then you can start picking your colors.
The app lets you choose your own color(s) and save them as presets.
The app also has 14 presets of different lighting effects, including lightning, Christmas, rainbow and aurora. These effects are cute, and they might be fun at a party, but I want to use the strip for very nice and bright under-cabinet lighting.
The strip is covered with a clear, rubberized coating, and the length of the strip is customizable. You can cut the strip with scissors to suit the installation, but be aware that once you cut the strip, the piece you cut off is no longer usable. There are marks every five inches where you can cut.
The strip is backed with very strong 3M adhesive tape, and it was very easy to stick under my cabinets.
The plug has a 7-foot cable and attaches to a control box with a single button. The strip also attaches to the control box.
Once you have the light set to your liking, the button will turn the strip on or off. You can also control the lights through the app or you can load the Kasa app on your Alexa or Google Home device and control the strip with your voice.
The strip is expandable. You can buy 40-inch extension strips ($24.99) and extend the strip to up to 33 feet.
The Kasa Smart Light Strip is not cheap. You can find LED light strips online for under $20 (like the one I used), but when you unpack the Kasa strip, you can certainly see the difference in quality.
Pros: High quality, easy to set up, customizable scenes, voice control.
Bottom line: They cost more, but they work great and they’re built to last.
TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Outdoor Plug
I have a few Kasa indoor smart plugs in my house to control some lamps, but this is my first look at the Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Outdoor Plug ($29.96 from Amazon), which is actually two outlets.
It looks like a small extension cord with two plugs on it. Each outlet can be individually controlled.
The setup is done using the Kasa app. Touch the plus sign on the main screen and select smart plugs and then Outdoor Plug.
You’ll be taken through the steps to get the plug connected to your Wi-Fi, and then you’ll be asked to name the outlets.
Once the names are registered in the app (you can always change the names later), you can turn the power on and off through the app, via Alexa or Google voice or with buttons on top of the Outdoor Plug.
The app also lets you set up schedules to turn the power on and off anytime you like.
This is a great way to set up power for your Christmas lights outside.
The Outdoor Plug has a range of up to 300 feet. It has to remain in range of your Wi-Fi to receive commands.
The plug is splash- and dust-resistant, but I’d try to keep it off the ground.
The plugs work perfectly, and they respond to voice commands via Alexa every time.
Pros: Inexpensive, weather-resistant, two independent outlets.
Cons: Short power cord.
Bottom line: Easy to set up and program, and it works perfectly.
Published at Fri, 25 Sep 2020 12:40:00 +0000