If you are thinking of installing smart plugs in your home, you may be wondering if smart plugs use electricity when turned off?
The short answer is yes.
And the reason for that is that even when your appliance is turned off, the smart plug has to stay connected to your WiFi network (that’s because it needs to know when to turn the appliance on again).
But the amount of electricity used by smart plugs in standby mode is minimal. And it is more than made up for by the energy they save.
Let’s look at this in more detail.
- Do Smart Plugs Use Electricity When Turned Off?
- How much power does a smart plug use?
- Do smart plugs use electricity in standby mode?
- Can smart plugs save energy?
- How to optimize your smart plugs’ energy consumption
- Can smart plugs save you money?
- Seven Best Energy Saving Smart Plugs
- Related Questions
- Related Articles
Do Smart Plugs Use Electricity When Turned Off?
To answer this question, we need to look at how smart plugs use electricity.
Here are 5 key facts:
How much power does a smart plug use?
Smart plugs don’t use much electricity, especially when compared with other devices in your home. The average smart plug consumes 1 to 2 watts of electricity. That’s about as much as one tiny Christmas light.
Or about 8.76 kilowatts of electricity per year. To put that in perspective, the average household in the US consumes 28.9 kilowatts per day.
These figures assume your smart plugs are connected to your house via Wi-Fi. But if your smart plug connects via the ZigBee or Z-Wave standards, it will be using even less electricity.
Something else to think about is that all your appliances are using small amounts of power even when they are not switched on. This is called ‘standby load’ or ‘phantom power’. It’s a small amount for each device but it adds up, especially when you consider that the average house has 40 appliances plugged into wall sockets.
By turning your appliances off except when you need them, smart plugs can dramatically reduce this kind of electricity wastage.
So what about when smart outlets are in standby mode – do they also use phantom power?
Do smart plugs use electricity in standby mode?
Smart plugs are never really ‘off’ – they have to remain connected to your home’s Wi-Fi system.
That’s because they need to check in with your smart hub or app throughout the day. When a smart plug is sending electricity to an appliance it is on and when it’s not sending power to a device, it’s in standby mode.
That means that your smart plug is never completely off. But in standby mode, your smart plug uses tiny amounts of electricity. And don’t forget, your smart plug is also saving electricity by preventing other household devices from being in standby mode.
How much power your smart plugs consume in standby mode will depend on what protocol they use to connect with your home. Here are figures for smart plug energy consumption in standby mode for the three main smarthome protocols:
- WiFi: 1.0 – 2.0 Watts
- ZigBee: 0.3 – 0.6 Watts
- Z-Wave: 0.3 – 0.5 Watts
Can smart plugs save energy?
Smart plugs were not designed to save energy – instead, their purpose is to turn things on and off without you having to be at home.
But having said that, smart outlets can save you energy. There are two main ways smart plugs can save you energy:
By tracking energy usage. Smart plugs can make you more aware of how much power your home is using. And that in itself can help you conserve energy.
By scheduling shutdowns. Devices that don’t need to be switched on when no one is at home, such as printers, computers, TVs, etc, can be automatically turned off according to a schedule you set. This reduces the ‘phantom’ load you get from having dozens of appliances on standby throughout the day.
How to optimize your smart plugs’ energy consumption
Here are five ways you can use smart plugs to optimize your energy savings.
Identify energy-hungry devices. Use a smart outlet to see how much energy an appliance is using over a 24-hour period. If you don’t have a smart plug for every appliance, use the same smart plug and move it around from one appliance to the next.
Save on lights. Use smart outlets together with motion sensors to automatically switch off lights as you move from one room to another.
Device chargers. Instead of having your phone charging all night, use a smart plug to turn off the charger after 2 or 3 hours. That way you save power and increase the lifespan of the battery (having your phone plugged into a charger after it is fully charged reduces the battery’s lifespan).
Reduce standby power consumption. Many of your household appliances are only needed at certain times of the day. Examples are heaters and ACs, laptops, desktop computers, Wi-Fi modems, TVs, set-top boxes, DVD players, game consoles, printers and scanners, phone chargers, microwaves, blenders, dishwashers, clothes washers, and clothes dryers. By setting these devices to turn off when no one is at home, you’ll reduce your electric bill by reducing ‘phantom load’ (the electricity your appliances use when in standby mode).
Christmas tree lights. Use a smart outlet to turn on your Christmas tree lights in the late afternoon and turn them off late at night.
Can smart plugs save you money?
By using smart outlets to turn off appliances when you’re not using them, you can save on wasted ‘standby’ power consumption. When coupled with motion sensors, you can use smart plugs to switch off lights when no one’s in the room.
And by connecting your phone charger to a smart plug, you can save money from phantom load as well as making your phone batteries last longer.
Do smart plugs use electricity when turned off?
Smart plugs must remain connected to your house so they are never really “off.” When smart plugs are not sending power to an appliance, they are in standby mode. That means they will still be consuming power, though in tiny amounts.
But compare that with the energy you can save by having smart plugs turn off appliances you aren’t using.
In a nutshell – the small amounts of power that smart plugs consume are made up for by the energy they can save.
Seven Best Energy Saving Smart Plugs
Emporia smart plug
- The Emporia app is focused on energy monitoring
- Monitors electricity use 24/7
- Collects energy data every second
- See connected devices and their on/off status along with how much energy they are currently using
- See a graph of your plug/appliance energy use over time
- Prioritize Emporia devices to automatically turn off if you approach a set peak energy demand goal
- Set devices to automatically consume excess solar energy
Image credit: Emporia
Kasa Smart Plug Mini with Energy Monitoring
- Monitor your connected devices’ real-time energy consumption
- Learn which ones use the most power
- Reduce unnecessary energy loss
- Lower your electric bills with the Schedule and Timer
- Talks to the Sense whole house energy monitor
Image credit: Kasa Smart
Meross Smart Plug WiFi Outlet with Energy Monitor
- See the status of connected devices anytime
- Track real-time and historical power consumption of any device plugged into the smart plug
- See the status of connected devices from anywhere
- For any device, see energy usage for the past week, past month, and all time (as a graph)
Image credit: Meross
Satechi Dual Smart Outlet with Real-Time Power Monitoring
- Real-time monitoring of your devices’ power consumption over time
- Monitors and tracks how much power each device plugged into it is using
- Get a clear idea of how much energy a fan, heater, light, or other product is using up
- Cost over time metrics
Image credit: Satechi
Eve Energy Strip
- Tracks power consumption and the projected costs of your electricity use at home
- See how much power the appliance is consuming
- Keeps a record of how much power has been consumed
- Shows you the projected annual cost of powering this appliance based on these consumption figures and your electricity rate
Image credit: Eve Home
ConnectSense Smart Outlet 2
- Monitor energy usage for your plug-in devices
- monitor real-time energy consumption from your iOS or Android device
- see how much energy your plug-in devices are consuming
- Helps you make intelligent choices about how you use them and saving money in the process.
- Dual-outlet smart plug: monitors energy usage for both outlets
Image credit: Connect Sense
Tenda SP3 Smart Wi-Fi Plug
- Tracks your home’s power consumption
- Set timers and schedules to help prevent unnecessary power usage
- View and track your home’s power usage month by month
- Identify patterns and spikes in energy usage
Image credit: Tenda
What is a smart plug?
Put simply, a smart plug – also known as a smart outlet – is a way to automate your home.
Smart plugs are basically switches that you plug in between the wall socket and the appliance. They turn your appliances on and off. When connected to a smart home platform, they allow you to schedule your appliances to turn on and off at set times.
Another way to put it is that smart plugs turn ‘dumb’ devices into ‘smart’ devices.
Your smart plugs use your home’s Wi-Fi to communicate with an app on your phone so that you can program and control your appliances even when you’re away from home.
How do smart plugs work?
Smart plugs or smart outlets integrate with smart home hubs, such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Samsung SmartThings, so that you can control everything in your house from a central point. With most smart home hubs, you’ll even be able to use voice commands to turn your appliances on and off.
Smart outlets allow you to schedule your appliances to turn on and off at particular times of the day and certain days of the week.
Some smart plugs go even further and collect information about how much energy your appliances are consuming.
There are many brands of smart plugs, such as Kasa Smart, Connect Sense, Emporia, Wyze, Wemo, Eve, Samsung, TP Link, Ring, Amazon, Lutron Caseta, and Teckin. Some brands of smart plugs also have their own proprietary smart hubs and apps, such as Google Nest, Amazon Echo, Apple HomeKit, and Samsung SmartThings.
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