OK, recently I wrote about how I automated my outside patio lights with a pair of Smart Outlets from VOCOlinc. That worked out so well for me, I decided to add one more type of smart device: a smart light socket.
This would allow me to automate the process of turning on the lamp in my home office, it's kind of difficult to turn on, based on the location of the lamp. I also thought it could be useful for experimenting with ceiling can lights and the ability to control them individually, or as a group. This could be nice if you have a room with can lights on different switches and you would like to mix and match the lights, rather than how they are hard-wired.
Again, like the smart outlets, I picked some devices that support Apple HomeKit. The ones I settled on I found at Amazon under the name iHaper:
They came nicely packaged as a set of two. They support up to 25W LED or CFL bulbs.
Like the smart outlets, they require a 802.11 b/g/n WiFi network at 2.4GHz. No 5GHz WiFi chips in these devices.
These setup identically to the smart outlets. Screw them into a lamp, turn it on, scan the QR code on your Home App and add the device. It really doesn't get much simpler than that.
This time I decided to do some power usage tests with the Smart Light Socket and a lightbulb. I grabbed a 9 watt LED bulb, plugged it into the lamp without the smart socket, and tested the power draw with a Kill-A-Watt (these things are really nice to have one around the house. You can test Christmas Lights to see how much power you have on multiple strands, or you can test your tankless water heater to size up a UPS power supply for it).
This is the Kill-A-Watt EZ that I use:
After I tested the LED lamp without the Smart Socket, I plugged in the socket to test what the normal power draw will be with it on. You have to remember: these devices are on 24/7, so you don't want them to consume too much power when the light is not in use. Here are my results:
As you can see in the chart above, the Smart Socket has a very low load while turned on but no light is in use.
Pros of the Smart Socket:
- Very easy to install and setup, works well with other HomeKit devices
- Low power usage when in idle mode (no light on)
- Manual on/off switch when you don't have your mobile device to turn it on
- Decent price
- Does not use the "cloud" for any communications at all (except for firmware updates through the app)
Cons of the Smart Socket:
- It adds a bit of height to the lamp bulb. It is just over 2" of additional height added, which might not work with some lamps (see photo below!)
- The application from iHaper is so-so ok to use. You need it for updating the firmware and the app is buggy where it thinks the firmware has not been upgraded when it was.
- The default state on power up is to turn the light on. If you lose power, when it comes back on this light will also be turned on automatically.
Security Posture of the Smart Socket
Like the other IoT devices I have added to the home, I placed these into their own security domain with filters for outbound Internet access. These sockets did not send any packets out of the local network on power-up at all. If you recall, the other VOCOlinc smart outlets did request a network time updated when they first turned on.
The only Internet traffic these performed was during the firmware update. This update that you trigger from their iHaper app, has the socket go out to a server in Hong Kong to download the latest firmware.
Next up I may have to try this with ceiling can lights and see if it works ok when adding the extra length to the bulb. Those might stick out too far from the ceiling to make them usable.
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