Amazon just came out with a slew of new Echo and Alexa smart devices, including the new “Amazon Smart Plug,” which works with the Alexa app and Echo devices.
Their product page emphasizes that no smart home hub is required, and that it works with the Alexa app and home WiFi, but there’s also a box that says it’s compatible with my Echo Dot.
They say that you can schedule lights, fans, and appliances to turn on and off automatically, and it also allows for remote control when you’re away from home.
It’s compact, only taking up one outlet space. There’s an on/off button, and an LED indicator light. The Amazon Smart Plug can pass through up to 15A at 100-120VAC.
I won’t comment on the potential to use this with a 20A circuit. They say that it accepts an input of 15A, but what will happen if it’s connected to a 20A circuit and you have a high-powered tool that peaks above 15A?
They give a few examples of things you can use it for – a humidifier, lamp, electric kettle, fan, and Christmas tree lights.
“Alexa, turn on my worklight/fan/thingamajig.” I can see it being used for some things in a home workshop setting. Others? I’m hesitant.
It *might* be okay powering a dust collector or shop vacuum, but I’m more certain about using something like this for lights, fans, and maybe low-peaking ventilation fans or things like that. We’ll probably know for sure once the Smart Plug starts shipping in mid-October.
Inside the device, there’s probably a circuit board and a relay for turning the current flow on and off.
The beauty of this, in my opinion, is that it only costs $25, and does not require an Echo device or hub to work. It does require using the Alexa app on your iOS, Android, or Fire device, which might be frustrating if you have to leave Alexa voice control on all the time and take your phone out of your pocket to do anything. Because of that, an Echo device or Alexa device is probably ideal.
I recently ordered a wireless remote dust collector switch for my new Jet dust collector. It’s a well-reviewed model, but the $62 price tag stung. This Smart Plug would have been less, or only just a little more if I wanted to buy an Echo device to use it with. But can it handle the power load of a 15A dust collector? This hesitation makes me more confident with what I bought – a device designed specifically for use with a dust collector – than in experimenting to see if the Amazon Smart Plug can suit the application. If it can, though, that’ll open up its potential further.
The scheduling aspect seems like it could be useful, too, but I don’t know how that would come into play in a workshop setting. Maybe for things like air cleaners?
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Update: csroc brings up workshop noise in his comment, which gave me something else to think about. Even IF this works for something like a dust collector, how would you turn it off? Voice controls might work well, or at all, if there’s a loud motor or blower running. What would other types of workshop noise do to voice activation reliability?