Choosing a connected outlet: 10 points to consider

You have surely taken the plunge to "Home automation" of your interior with connected lighting and you may even have helped yourself with our tutorial dedicated to choice of connected bulbs. But in general, the connectivity madness wins you over from your first device set up. So, the next logical step is connected socket. We have seen with light bulbs that there are a number of things to take into account for a successful purchase and this is all the more true with sockets. These devices are not trivial, a bad choice can jeopardize the security of your installation and the equipment connected to it. To avoid setting the house on fire, but we do not guarantee anything, here are the 10 points to take into account for a wise choice.

1 - Choose the right plug for the right connected socket

A connected socket is peculiar in the sense that it is both male and female. It will indeed fit into the female socket of your wall outlet and you will insert a male plug into it. So there are two ways to go wrong.

First of all, in France we mainly use recessed female type E sockets, but also F. E types have a grounding pin while it is done via two metal tabs, at the top and bottom, for the F types.

So be careful to choose your connected plug according to its male part. If you are using an E type plug, you will need a type E male part which will have a hole to allow the insertion of the pin.

If you have female F type sockets, you can use either male F sockets (with two metal strips at the top and bottom for grounding) or a male type E plug. There will be no grounding, which can be a real problem in the event of faulty insulation of an electrical device.

However, in order not to be mistaken, prefer male plugs type E / F or Schuko. They are both E and F, that is, there is a location for the type E grounding terminal and metal tabs for the type F grounding.

We speak knowingly because several times we have not been able to test sockets coming from China because the manufacturers are not aware of our type E and send us type F plugs ...

An F type male plug will not fit into a French E wall outlet.

2 - Choose the right plug connected for the right plug

This is the counterpart of our first point, but for the plugs that you will insert into your connected socket, in the female part. Are you still following?

There are indeed female parts of type E or F. The conclusions are therefore the same as before. However, in this case the impact is less because most current electrical devices have Schuko plugs, which fit over everything. That is to say that you can at the same time put them on female parts E or F. But look anyway, for the sake of conscience, the male plug of what you want to connect, it would be a shame that your connected socket type E prevents you from plugging in an appliance with a plug without inserting the earthing pin ...

3 - To do what?

By this: what do you want to plug in? There is an important notion to take into account, it is the amperage or A. Each plug connected is given for a certain number of amps. Knowing that the wall outlets, except for ovens and hobs, are 16A, you will find connected outlets generally ranging from 10 to 16 A.

It is therefore important to know what you can plug into it. If it's to plug in a single device, that wasn't a problem. However, you need to know what amperes (A) correspond to in terms of power, in watts (W). This is done simply by multiplying the number of amps by the voltage of your network (let's take 220 V). So the formula is:

Watts = Amps x 220 V

If you buy a 10A connected socket, you can connect a device with a maximum of 2200 W. For 16 A, it will be 3520 W. Take the example of an electric heater that you want to control with a connected socket, the versions high-end easily arrive between 2000 and 2500W. So go on a 16A outlet for more security. Because if you overload your outlet, you will damage your device or generate a surge which in the best case will cut your network and in the worst case will set fire.

4 - A connected power strip?

The connected multiple sockets have a big advantage, that of being able to come and connect several devices without having to mount a strip not connected to a connected outlet. We cannot tell you enough, multiple sockets are not intended to serve as a hub for other multi-sockets in cascades. There are all kinds of them, but they generally have two distinct parts:

  • Female sockets
  • USB sockets (however, there are a few models of standard plugs with one or two USB sockets).

You are free to choose: 3, 4, 6 or even 8 sockets and 2 or 4 USB. But watch out for the amperage! What we explained to you in point 3 is all the more true because there, you will have to combine the powers or amperages of the different devices that you will connect to it.

For example, you want to put in it a 300W gaming tower computer, two 2W LC screens and an inkjet printer that consumes 30W in use, that makes you 25W, so a 385A goes a long way. For a full home theater you can be on 10W. But if possible, still prefer 500A multiple sockets. Because if you start to put air conditioning, air fresheners or other, it will glass go up.

The advantage of multiple sockets, even mini ones with 2 female sockets, is that generally each socket can be controlled individually via an application and by voice. Each to be renamed. The USB, on the other hand, can be controlled as a whole.

5 - Simple or sophisticated?

Another question to ask yourself, do you want a simple or sophisticated grip?
In all cases, you will be able to determine the times for switching on and off (sockets by sockets in the event of a multi). This is a basic function of connected sockets. Even if they are connected, there is also in all cases a small physical ON / OFF button to take over in the event of a Wi-Fi failure. However, in the case of multiple sockets, this button is almost exclusively general and not take by take.
Where brands are going to really stand out is with options like overload and surge protection. Very interesting in the event of a thunderstorm. But the one that is used a lot is consumption monitoring. Your plug will give you live electrical consumption of the devices connected to it, a monthly consumption, annual ... It is very good for people wanting to follow their budget closely. However, this option is far from being generalized, even within the same brand. The Konyks Priska + Mini offers it, as well as certain plugs from the Meross brand for the most efficient, even if this is tending to become more democratic.

Consumption monitoring by Konyks and Meross
Consumption monitoring by Konyks and Meross

Others also make night lights, which can be nice for a hallway or a child's room (panamalar, GBlife, maxcio…), The light being controllable directly, like a light bulb.

Others have USB ports, which work even when the outlet is turned off.

6 - Indoor or outdoor?

Want an outlet for your home or for plugging in outdoor devices like a pool pump, spa or lighting? In addition to paying attention to its amperage, in this case look at its protection index or IP.

The IP will inform you of the plug's ability to resist dust, humidity or real rain. It is an international standard of the IEC (international electrotechnical commission) which is in fact the amalgam of 2 indices: the first number concerns protection against solids and the second against liquids. If there is an X for one of the two, then there is no protection.

So if you want to leave your socket connected to the outside, in the rain, go on a IP 44 minimum, but if it rains a lot or it is often in heavy rain, an IP 45 is no worse.

7- The shape

Be careful when buying, some connected sockets are big, very big… and ugly, very ugly. These are in particular the first generations even if in the novelties there are also errors of taste (the most striking example is the taking ofAmazon, which completely missed its marketing study by giving us a connected brick).

So take a look at how much space you have, especially for single indoor sockets. If you have little space behind a piece of furniture or on the side of your installation, you will have to use relatively small sockets such as the Priska + Mini ou Priska + Mini from Konyks or the Teckin connected sockets et Grefic, there are more and more compact models.

If your outlet is hidden, its visual aspect will not disturb you too much, but if on the other hand it is clearly visible, you might as well avoid having a shapeless block. Manufacturers have made efforts and some are doing better than others like TP-Link, Konyks, Kogeek, Meross ... Even if in the end, the visual aspect is subjective from one user to another, it is above all the size that will have to be taken into account. So take a good look at the dimensions before your purchase.

8 - The type of internet connectivity

As with light bulbs, your sockets must be connected to the Internet to be controllable via an application and / or by voice.

There are two main possibilities:

  • WIFI connection : most popular and cheapest connectivity. The jacks are generally only compatible with the 2,4 GHz band. Be careful, during installation, to connect to this frequency if your box is both 2,4 and 5 GHz. The concern is that your network will quickly become saturated. You may therefore need to invest in a Wi-Fi mesh system to try to regain available speed.
  • ZigBee connection: it is a particular type of network that will require a dedicated Hub. This bridge will connect to your Wi-Fi network and it is on this Hub that you will connect the sockets. This will avoid saturating your Wi-Fi. Be careful, you have to buy a bridge and not all ZigBee sockets are compatible with all bridges. The most famous brand is Philips Hue which also makes outlets even if it is more famous for its bulbs. There are other Philips Hue compatible brands like Ledvance, Innr… If you have a Echo Show 2, Echo Plus or Echo Studio, there is a built-in ZigBee bridge compatible with Hue. However, these outlets are fewer and more expensive than Wi-Fi outlets.

Sockets can be both ZigBee or Wi-Fi and also controllable with a radio frequency remote control like LSCs Smart Connect or the Philips Hue. But it is rarer.

9 - The application to control it

The versatility of the app is something to take into account. Avoid as much as possible having 3 or 4 applications to control your takes. Most Wi-Fi connected products can be controlled with Smart Life or Tuya. This avoids creating several accounts and ultimately mixing up names, products ... or simply managing too many applications. In addition, there is a skill Smart Life for Alexa which means that they are controllable by voice. However, some brands have their own non-bypassable app like Meross, Ewelink for Sonoff, Kaza for TP-Link or bypass like Konyks, LSC Smart Connect… which can be replaced by Smart Life.

For ZigBee sockets, they will be compatible with the application of the manufacturer of the Hub used (Philips, Lightify, Tradfi ... or Alexa), but there are recognitions in some cases like Philips Hue and Amazon Echo. And for a take, whether you use the Hue app or go straight through Alexa, there is not much difference for standard use.

In any case, for a brand you do not know, make sure that the application is available and that the Skill is also present on the French store in order to use it with Alexa.

10 - A built-in socket?

A bit like the wall switches that are finally arriving here (without neutral), there are starting to be built-in connected sockets on the market. They are still very rare and often too deep for our recessed boxes.

There is an alternative with boxes which come to be placed behind the socket, in the flush-mounting box. Here again, there may be a real lack of space in order to be able to put your socket back in place. Be aware, however, that if it is possible in your home, you can put a switch like Sonoff, for an switch Meross or Loratap which will directly control your wall socket with the same possibilities as a connected socket.

These 10 things to consider will allow you, we are sure, to be up to date with everything there is to know about connected outlets. The purchase of a plug is not trivial, so we advise you to stay on products with the CE marking and for which you have all the information (amperages, IP). A visual is also necessary to make sure that there will be no connection problem. If you have any doubts, go your way. Also avoid the first prices because if a bulb breaks, it is not too serious, but if a plug fails, the consequences will surely be different.
Did i choose Alexa or did she choose me? Let's say that as a beta tester, it's a bit of both! And I do not regret having met our favorite assistant nor this adventure undertaken with Alexien Modo. Technophile, self-taught and loving popularization, I try to make our common passion easy to access!