Smappee transforms boring appliances into smart devices | Digitized House

Smappee transforms boring appliances into smart devices

Ever wonder how much energy your abode is using right now? Monitors like Smappee can tell you in a flash.

Everybody wastes at least a little bit of electrical energy in their home, but how can you eliminate that waste if you don’t know where it’s coming from? Well, with Smappee, you can.

The company offers a range of whole-home energy monitors, smart plugs, and an app that enable you to monitor, measure, and control your energy usage, even when you’re not at home.

The products

Smappee offers five different energy monitors:

  • Smappee Energy is ideal for the average household and costs $249.
  • Smappee Solar is specially designed for homes with solar panels but also includes the features that Smappee Energy does. It costs $349.
  • Smappee Gas and Water monitors your gas and water use and checks for leaks. It costs $149.
  • Smappee Plus is more sophisticated and designed for homes with solar panels, electric cars, and other advanced energy features. 
  • Smappee Pro is designed for businesses and can be used across multiple sites.

These monitors, except for the gas and water version, are compatible with Smappee Comfort Plugs and Smappee Switch, a new, more advanced smart plug.

The Smappee Plus energy monitor connects to your home's main electrical panel with a snap-on connector, and enables whole-home energy data collection. This mid-range model also breaks out how energy is produced by solar panels and how much your electric vehicle is consuming. Image: Smappee.
The Smappee Plus energy monitor connects to your home’s main electrical panel with a snap-on connector, and enables whole-home energy data collection. It also breaks out how much energy is produced by rooftop solar panels and tells you much power your electric vehicle consumes when it’s plugged in. Image: Smappee.

Smappee energy monitors come with a Comfort Plug, which you can use to control specific appliances remotely. You can also buy more Comfort Plugs in a pack of three for $54.99 or a six-pack for $89.99.

You can also use the Smappee Switch, which costs $129, to control appliances remotely and measure the energy use of the devices you plug into them.

You can use these monitors with the Smappee smartphone app, which is free. The app allows you to view your energy data and control the appliances you’ve connected to a Smappee smart plug.

How does it work?

The Smappee energy monitor attaches to your main electrical panel wiring with a small clamp-on sensor called a current transformer (CT). From there, it will use nonintrusive load monitoring (NILM) technology to attempt to identify all your appliances and measure the amount of energy they’re using. One cautionary note: As the initial installation of Smappee may require going inside your main electrical panel, that is work that should be done only by a licensed electrical professional.

It measures the current used by appliances through the detection of magnetic fields, which some competing products do as well. Smappee then identifies the device by its unique electronic signature. Smappee is continually checking your energy usage and takes more than 4,000 measurements each second.

The approach that Smappee takes is unique because it doesn’t require you to use a smart plug for every device in your home in order to track energy usage. Such a system could theoretically be 100 percent accurate in measuring energy consumption, but could also be prohibitively expensive. Smappee’s system is affordable but currently can only detect about 80 percent of a user’s appliances. It can’t pick up anything that’s less than 40 watts and has trouble identifying individual devices if many of them get turned on at the same time.

The company compares its technology to the song-identifying app Shazam. If in a room where multiple songs are playing, the Shazam app could only pick up the loudest song. In a situation with numerous devices, Smappee will pick up the ones using the most energy.

If you want to increase the accuracy of your energy monitor, you can invest in more smart plugs or use additional Smappee current clamps to submeter appliances, a feature that’s relatively unique to Smappee. These CT sensors are ideal for monitoring individual circuits in the home dedicated to things like electric car charging stations or heat pumps that may be hard to identify.

You also need to train Smappee on which energy signature goes with which device. When it first picks up an appliance, you need to name it so you can recognize it. It can’t guess what a device is yet, but the company is reportedly building a database of energy signatures so it can do so in the future.

What are the features?

The Smappee app is what you will use to see your energy consumption data. It provides you with an overview of your energy usage and also breaks it down by day, week, month, and year. It also gives you information on your electricity costs and projections for future use.

The app will let you see how much energy individual appliances use and can alert you when something turns on or off.

A holistic gateway to your home's energy data, the Smappee app runs on smartphones, tablets, and web browsers and gives real-time and historical statistics. Image: Smappee.
A holistic gateway to your home’s energy data, the Smappee app runs on smartphones, tablets, and web browsers and gives real-time and historical statistics. Image: Smappee.

Smappee’s smart plugs offer a lot of additional functionality and can essentially turn any appliance into a smart device. Once they are installed, you can use the Smappee app to turn the devices plugged into them on and off. 

You can also use Smappee’s smart plugs to set up more advanced smart home functionality. For instance, you can set up a geofence around your home that causes your TV to turn off when you leave. 

One of several smart plugs offered by the company, the Smappee Switch connects inline between your wall outlet and device and alerts you to standby energy usage. The device can be switched on and off through the Smappee app. Image: Smappee.
One of several smart plugs offered by the company, the Smappee Switch connects inline between your wall outlet and device and alerts you to standby energy usage. The device can be switched on and off through the Smappee app. Image: Smappee.

Smappee is also compatible with various smart home platforms, voice assistants and other systems, including Nest, Amazon Alexa, IFTTT, and more. 

How is it different?

If you’re looking to monitor your energy usage and make your home smarter, you have a growing number of options in today’s market. The push to make homes greener, smarter, and more energy-efficient is intensifying. Homes that achieve a goal of zero net energy (ZNE) or near-ZNE are becoming more commonplace.

Smappee’s affordability and the degree of customization it allows makes it stand out as a strong choice for this genre of smart tech. Although it may not be 100 percent accurate, it’s a more appealing option for most homeowners than a disparate system of individual monitors and smart plugs would be, and you can rest assured that the Smappee team is working on a host of improvements and new features.

More about this topic:

10 smart Works with Nest gadgets that go easy on your budget
Infographic: Energy Efficient Home | The Basics
5 energy efficiency tips for connected homes
Connected garages just got smarter: ChargePoint brings Amazon Alexa to EV charging
More from Digitized House | Guide to the Connected Home

Kayla Matthews
Senior Contributing Writer
Kayla Matthews is a technology journalist and productivity blogger. She is a senior writer for MakeUseOf and the owner and editor of her tech productivity blog, Productivity Bytes. You can read more by Kayla at Inc.com, VentureBeat, DMN, and more.

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