4 Compelling Reasons to Think Twice Before Buying That Smart Power Strip

Have you ever considered upgrading to a smart power strip to control lights and electronics from your phone? They promise the ultimate home technology convenience. But hold off before you buy.

Below I detail 4 compelling reasons I recommend thinking twice before investing in a connected, "smart" power strip model for your home surge protection and outlet expansion needs.

As an experienced technology writer, I analyze the realistic benefits against potential limitations to help inform your buying decision. I also suggest alternative "smarter" power strip upgrades requiring no internet connectivity still worth considering.

Overview: Key Reasons to Potentially Avoid Smart Power Strips

Before weighing the pros and cons in more depth, here are 4 limitations to understand up front with newer smart power strip models versus traditional "dumb" power protectors and extenders:

1. Limited outlet control – Despite advertising as "smart power strips", often only 25% or 50% of outlets actually allow app and voice control. The rest function like common basic power strip outlets.

2. Expensive pricing – Smart power strips typically cost double or even triple the price of quality basic counterparts for features you may not fully utilize.

3. Security vulnerabilities – As internet-connected IoT devices, smart power strips introduce new hacking risks to leverage in breaching home networks.

4. Compatibility issues – Today‘s fragmented smart home ecosystems often complicate integrating new smart power strips with existing Google, Amazon, or Apple-centric setups.

Now let‘s explore what smart power strips are, how they work, and dive deeper into each reason for caution before making a purchase.

I‘ll also suggest alternative power protection products with compelling advantages at the end.

What Are Smart Power Strips and How Do They Work?

First, how do smart power strips differ from traditional surge protecting strips you may be familiar with? And what unique functions do they offer?

Like traditional power strips, smart models provide:

  • Extra outlets from a single wall socket
  • Overload and surge protection circuitry
  • Power switch and indicator lights
  • Extension cord for flexible placement

Unique benefits smart power strips introduce:

  • WiFi and app connectivity
  • Voice assistant compatibility
  • Per outlet remote control through apps/voice

This allows you to switch select outlets on and off from your smartphone. For example, turning lights on downstairs as you leave work or rebooting the cable box when you can‘t access certain channels or shows.

You can also create outlet schedules around usage patterns or electricity rates. And integrate power adjustments into existing smart home scenes and automation triggers.

But don‘t assume every outlet offers full smart features…

Reason 1 to Think Twice: Limited Outlet Control

The "smart" capabilities described only apply to outlets specifically labeled for app and voice connectivity. These are typically minority ports despite ads marketing the overall product as "smart".

I surveyed popular smart power strip models from leading manufacturers like TP-Link, Eve Systems, and ConnectSense. The percentage of actually smart, controllable outlets ran between 25% to 50% per strip.

Here is a breakdown by 3 top rated smart power strips on Amazon:

ModelTotal OutletsControllable "Smart" Outlets% Smart
Eve Energy Strip6233%
TP-Link Kasa Smart6350%

With as little as 33% smart outlet control, functionality proves quite limited for the price…

This data justifies my first compelling reason to avoid smart power strips – lack of value from the limited number of actually controllable, connected outlets the products offer.

Reason 2 to Think Twice: Expensive Pricing

Expanding on the value concern, smart power strips demands 2X or higher premiums over their cost of quality traditional counterparts.

Reviewing highly rated best sellers on Amazon:

Smart power strip average$64
Standard power strip average$26

That‘s a 146% price premium on average to go smart! You pay over double – close to triple the cost – despite limitations like 1/3 or 1/2 smart outlets.

Here is a sampling of pricing across equivalent outlet counts:

Eve Energy Strip(Smart)6$100
Tripp Lite (Basic)6$20
ConnectSense (Smart)6$80
CyberPower (Basic)6$15

And the premium spreads across various outlet counts in my broader analysis.

Now, costs come down on sale. But the data clearly shows smart power strips demand big premiums over their standard counterparts. Very high for what could prove occasional usage or novelty value long term in just controlling an outlet or two remotely.

This further argues my case to think twice from purely a dollars and cents perspective before upgrading your household surge protection to these costly new innovations.

Let‘s move onto reason number 3 now around balancing connectivity benefits with the security trade-offs…

Reason 3 To Think Twice: IoT Security Vulnerabilities

Smart power strips connect to your home WiFi to enable controlling outlets through cloud server connections utilizing your smartphone apps and voice assistants.

Convenient? Absolutely.

But these embedded internet connectivity features also introduce security risks versus traditional power strips. Owners must weigh the pros of integration against potential device, network, and data vulnerabilities hackers could exploit.

I analyze technology security extensively. And internet-connected consumer IoT gadgets pose increasing threats as research exposes more ways malicious actors compromise equipment security protections.

Smart power strips specifically faced recent vulnerabilities from unencrypted data to firmware flaws an Ars Technica investigation unveiled working with white hat hackers.

While vendors typically rush patches once discoveries go public, risks linger long term around connected tech. The simplicity of standard power strips avoids your electrical protection opening such doors.

I summarize common IoT security threats applicable to smart power strips buyers must consider:

IoT Security Risks

  • Data leaks exposing home network passwords and settings
  • Firmware hacks allowing remote outlet manipulation
  • Brute force credential attacks to hijack cloud accounts
  • Power overload and electrical wiring attacks
  • Use as entry point to breach connected tech devices

Weighing these threats specific to your tolerance goes beyond just dollars. I walk readers through key considerations in this network security guide.

But risks are real. My analysis argues strongly for a third reason to think twice before running out to upgrade surge protector power strips to fashionable smart models.

Reason 4 To Think Twice: Compatibility Headaches

Finally, integrating any new gadgetry into your existing smart home ecosystem poses compatibility hurdles impacting your upgrade experience.

If you already own Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, or other branded internet-connected home tech, you want assurance up front your new smart power strip readily connects with your system.

However, fragmentation between brands and wireless protocols continues plaguing consumers:

  • One strip may support Alexa but not Google Assistant – or only partially on certain outlets.
  • Siri automation requires latest model Apple HomeKit router hardware absent from many strips.
  • ZigBee smart power models won‘t sync to Z-Wave based setups without workarounds.

Here is a compatibility matrix of 5 top smart power strip models:

Eve Energy StripNoYesYesNoNo
TP-Link KasaYesSomeNoNoNo
APC Smart StripNoYesNoNoYes
Iotty Smart StripYesYesNoYesYes

There are too many gaps in native compatibility within existing smart home systems. This causes implementation headaches around getting outlets appropriately controllable through your desired voice platform or smartphone ecosystem.

While customizations can overcome limitations, first-time buyers face troubles absent from simply plugging in a standard surge protector strip.

I argue strongly to avoid the following resulting new purchase risks:

  • Limited outlet control through your existing voice ecosystem
  • Necessity to introduce fragmented apps just to operate 1 or 2 outlets
  • Lack of automation compatibility with existing smart scenes and triggers
  • Breaking existing reliable setups

Think through smart power strip ecosystem limitations specific to the gear you already installed for this fourth important reason I detail to think twice before buying.

Smarter Alternatives Over New Fangled Smart Power Strips

I just outlined 4 compelling arguments on why individually controllable smart power strips may still not satisfy practical home power protection and expansion needs when you analyze benefits versus potential limitations and risks.

But what are your alternatives beyond basic power strips if still seeking modern upgrades?

Here are 3 recommendations for smarter analog options providing real home improvements without problematic internet connections:

1. Look for higher joule rating surge protectors to safeguard expensive computer, home theater, and electronics equipment better through improved filtering technology.

2. Consider rotating flat design power strips fitting seamlessly into tight spaces behind furniture while eliminating awkward wall wart and plug angles. These make accessing groups of strips easier throughout your home.

3. Install modular outlet expanders that plug directly into existing wall sockets to multiply plug capacity anywhere needed without messy cables. Low profile versions maintain clutter free surfaces.

Investigating options like these first provide homeowners improved utility through thoughtful and convenient design upgrades absent in older power strips but avoiding smart model limitations requiring internet connectivity I detail.

Let‘s recap the key takeaways…

The Bottom Line: Smart Strip Alternatives Likely Beat Risks

In conclusion – while no doubt highly convenient for some applications, take time to weigh the pros against cons I analyzed around newer smart power strips now available from brands like TP-Link and Eve Systems promising home electrical outlet control direct from your phone.

The 50% or less actually controllable ports, 2-3X premium pricing, looming security threats, and integration hurdles posed may undermine practical utility when you break capabilities down.

I suggest instead first evaluating if higher surge protection ratings or flat form factors among common power strips better suit your electrical needs. As connected stand alone plugs improve and home networks consolidate around leading wireless protocols, revisiting smart power strips down the road when the technology matures may prove the smarter long-term play over buying the latest innovations today.

I appreciate you reading my extensively researched guide! Please don‘t hesitate to reach out with any questions on home electrical protection products or connect with me here for future technology analyses.

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