Whether you’re setting up a spooktacular Halloween display or a cozy Christmas scene, you really should grab a pack of smart plugs.
Why Are Smart Plugs Perfect for the Holidays?
Over the years, I have used a lot of different solutions for holiday lighting and accessories. Mechanical timers, digital timers, dawn-to-dusk sensors, timers with dusk sensors that run lights for X number of hours and then shut 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 shortcomings? If you’re particular about how your holiday lighting and accessories are configured (and how you control them), it’s a long list.
Long enough that it ultimately drove me towards switching over completely to smart plugs. In fact, between smart plugs and smart lights, you can cover just about every holiday decorating and lighting need.
So what’s wrong with traditional timers and plugs? Mechanical timers get out of sync if you lose power. Mechanical and digital timers are a huge pain to synchronize if that matters to you. Many timers are only 2-prong, which rules out using them for any holiday decorations with a ground pin. There are very few traditional timers that also have remote control via radio remote.
As a result, you’re stuck either just letting the timer run its course, not using a timer but using a plug with a manual remote, or crawling around under trees or behind decorations unplugging stuff if you want to turn. the lights off temporarily.
On top of that, you can’t easily set scenes or control your decorations. Whatever “scene” you engineer by fiddling with buttons and dials at the start of the season is the scene you’re stuck with unless you go out in the cold and fuss with all the timers again.
Kasa HS103 Smart Plugs
Who wants regular old lamp timers when smart plugs are this cheap and powerful?
Smart plugs not only solve every one of those problems but they introduce more flexibility and possibilities beyond what traditional timers are even capable of. In short, it just doesn’t make sense anymore to buy traditional timers.
As of this writing in October of 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, whats 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 outlet for $25. Again, given the flexibility you get by upgrading to smart plugs unless you had a pressing need to only use an offline analog solution, it just doesn’t make sense to use old tech.
Make the Most of Smart Plugs at the Holidays
While you could just use the app to set the timers and call it good, that’s not exactly taking full advantage of the flexibility that smart plugs offer.
Clearly, I’m an advocate for them, so let me run through some of the things you should do to make the most of smart plugs around the holidays.
Buy from the Same Company
While you can mix and match smart plugs as long as they are compatible with the greater smart home system you’re using, I highly recommend buying plugs from the same company for two simple reasons.
If you go with a company that has a well-developed product line and platform like Kasa does (my go-to smart plug company), you’re likely to have an overall smoother experience with fewer hiccups.
Further, you’ll be able to use the company’s app independently of your smart home platform and, in the case of Kasa, completely on its own without even having a smart home platform. The app is just that polished.
Take Advantage of Advanced Triggers
You can emulate a basic timer, and you can even emulate a dusk sensor by setting your smart plugs to turn on at sunset.
But you can also adjust that in ways that you couldn’t on a traditional timer. You can set the smart plugs to turn on X minutes ahead of dusk, for example, so your decorations are on during the transition period.
You can link smart plugs to external sensors like cameras or motion detectors. Perhaps not as useful at Christmas, but fun for automating Halloween decorations to work in a jump scare or two.
Create Scenes and Groups for Every Occasion
Just like with other smart home gear, you can group smart plugs together into scenes. This makes it easy to group together decorations, both inside and out, so you can custom tailor exactly how much holiday vibe you’re putting out or what stays on for what portion of the day.
For example, I usually have four “scene” layers active for any particular holiday. I have a scene for the outdoor lighting, a scene for the window lighting, a scene for the indoor lighting, and then an additional scene, or set of scenes, for the most active elements reserved for entertaining—the fog machine is for Halloween night and Halloween parties, for instance, and not activated with just the general holiday decorations.
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 up specific verbal triggers for things.
Sure, you could stick to just the basics like “Alexa, turn off the Christmas tree” to turn off the plug for the Christmas tree, or “Hey Google, turn on the decorations” to turn on all the plugs in your holiday decoration scenes.
But you can make verbal triggers anything you want, which gives you a lot of license. So at my house, if you want to shut down every Christmas decoration inside and out, you can say, “Hey Google, Christmas is canceled.”
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).