The Tiny Office is great. But, at it’s core, it is a shed. And even though it’s well insulated it gains and loses heat quickly which means that during harsh San Diego winters, with lows nearing 40 degrees, you need a little heat. And during the summer you need a little A/C.
The problem? The office doesn’t have a thermostat. And the office is “way out there” when I’m in my nice cozy bed sleeping. That’s where the Wemo Mini Smart Plug comes in handy.
I can manually turn on the little heater or A/C with an app on my phone. Or I can use IFTTT to schedule it to turn on. Or, even more awesome, I can also use IFTTT to automate turning it on an off based on days of the week and outside temperature.
What Is It?
Here’s the official description:
- Control from anywhere. Plug in a WeMo Mini Smart Plug, download the free app, control your lights and appliances from your smartphone or tablet. Only needs Wi-Fi. No hub or subscription required.
- Compact size. WeMo Mini features a sleek new form-factor that allows you to stack two Mini Smart Plugs in the same outlet.
- Schedule automatically. Never come home to a dark house. Schedule the fan to turn on before you arrive. Sync lights and devices to sunrise, sunset, or pre-set times automatically.
- Randomize Lights. The Mini Smart Plug protects your home better than a mechanical timer. “Away Mode” will turn your lights on and off randomly to make it look like you’re home even when you’re not.
- Works with Alexa and Nest. Pair with Alexa and control your lights and appliances with your voice. Pair with Nest Thermostat and Nest can sync with WeMo for automatic control.
It’s a $35 gadget that allows you to turn stuff on or off with a smartphone… or completely automate based on anything that’s a trigger at IFTTT.
- It “just works.” You don’t need anything else, just the device, plug it in and connect it to your Wifi… literally installs in less than 5 minutes.
- Connects to IFTTT so you can automate just about anything. For instance, we’re starting a bunch of veggies from seed right now and I have one attached to my grow light. So the app automates turning the light on and off and also posts it’s activity on a private Twitter account I have set-up each time it turns on or off. By connecting it to IFTTT you can have it do all sorts of things. Let’s say you had it connected to a light in your bedroom. If your Nest Cam detected a person at your front door in the middle of the night it could flash the light on and off to alert you to the intruder, same with a Nest Protect or any number of other things.
- It’s portable. I could unplug it from one place and move it anywhere else in the house.
- It doesn’t require a hub like other devices.
- You can manually override turning the power on/off if your internet goes out. Just press the button.
- For the price I wish it plugged into both outlets and allowed you to control two devices separately.
- You’re installing an always on connection to your Wifi, it could be a security problem if you don’t keep the firmware updated. This has been a problem for WeMo in the past. I think the issue isn’t really that people will hack into your home and see when you turn your heater on… I think the bigger issue is that if you don’t keep up with updates it might be possible for hackers to turn your devices into slaves they can use for attacking other systems. The upside is in the 6 weeks I’ve been testing WeMo Mini Smart Plug the firmware has updated three times. That’s a good sign.
The Money Line
Is it worth $35? I think when you consider what one device does… sure, $35 to automate something is a bit on the gadget side of things, but for me it’s worth it to walk into a nice, cozy (or cool) office. The challenge is that at $35 per plug it’s just too expensive to talk about automating lots and lots of things in your house. I’m hopeful that as they get more popular that the price will come down and soon for $35 you’ll bet a lot more.