ConnectSense Smart Outlet (review)

It all seems like a distant memory now, but the ConnectSense Smart Outlet was the very first HomeKit device I purchased, and in essence it opened a whole new world of possibilities to me and many other people, not to mention putting a massive dent in my wallet and credit card! And here we are today, taking a more in-depth look back at this smart object, to assess it, and how things have or haven’t changed with smart plugs generally.

We’re in an age where packaging can and does make a difference, not only to the ‘saleability’ of a product, but also whether you get it delivered in one piece, and on this point ConnectSense do an adequate job. The product is on the front, there are some basic details on what it does, and some specs on the side and back. The box itself is sturdy enough, so all is in order.

The product itself is protected adequately enough, and is held in place, which is good to know. Aside from the device, you get a small manual, a card asking for you to review the product, and a card with the first of two instances of the HomeKit Code. The manual itself is quite straightforward, but a little on the basic side, which also seems to neglect mentioning how you can reset the device if it comes to it. A bit of an oversight, but I was able to find that information out on their website.

Looking at the smart plug, the first impression is that this is quite large, and for good reason, as it’s designed to totally cover a two socket outlet, essentially replacing it. So whilst this device does block the unused outlet, you get that back with the two outlets on the device, although as you’re using two outlets from one wall outlet, essentially, you can’t go too far in terms of what it’s powering, which is limited to 1440W. Along with the two sockets, you have a wi-fi connection indicator and a small LED light in the corner, along with two separate LEDs, one for each socket, which I’ll mention in a bit. The rear is just the one set of pins (suitable for N. America) along with the other instance of the Homekit Code. Seeing as this code is inaccessible when this is plugged in and ready to be added, so the code on the provided card is essential.

If a smart plug is going to work with ‘regular folk’, then it’s going to need physical switches too. Thankfully most (if not all) do, and this one comes with two individual buttons to turn each separate outlet on or off. Not to be outdone on the usefulness scale of things, ConnectSense have included a USB port to charge your phone etc. so as not to use up one of the smart plugs unnecessarily. It’s powerful enough for an iPad, so it’s a welcome addition.

In addition to the previously mentioned wi-fi and connection indicators, each of the outlets have a blue linear LED indicting whether an outlet is on or off. In the ConnectSense app, you can adjust the brightness of these LEDs or even keep them off.

The final part of this is, how does it appear to HomeKit, and of course does it work, and work well? The device itself appears as two separate outlets, so you get two tiles or devices appear in the Home app, and other 3rd party apps, so they can be separately controlled, unlike the iDevices Outdoor Switch which also has two outlets, but appears as only one device. Even though these are treated as separate devices, they can only be assigned to one room together, which is sort of obvious.

The ConnectSense app isn’t something I really bother with, but it does all you to monitor energy usage, and of course allows for firmware updates, so it’s good to keep around even if it’s not your daily driver as such.

As for the device in day-to-day usage, I would say that I did have an initial issue in the beginning, which then led me on the path of trying to find out how to reset the device, which as I mentioned before, isn’t mentioned at all in the sparse manual. As it’s been behaving ever since (very reliably indeed) I’m not 100% on this, but I recall that pressing and holding both physical switches down until the blue LEDs flash, resets the device for re-pairing. It has been very solid in all this time though, so I really can’t complain about the one instance. The device is on the large side though, but in fairness, it’s really only about as big as putting two standard single smart plugs together in one box, say the Koogeek P2, as an example, but if you have a single outlet to plug it into, it does add value with the two pins, not to mention the useful USB port.

In conclusion, while it’s a pretty old device now, and I believe they may be coming out with a 2nd gen version, if you can pick this up for a reasonable price, then it’s worth a look. The design is no frills, which can have it’s advantages, and it certainly feels sturdy enough, from the body of the device, unto the physical buttons, so I would say its a good workhorse of a device.

  • Specifications:
    HomeKit requires an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch with iOS 8.1 or later.
    Controlling HomeKit–enabled accessories away from home requires an Apple TV (3rd generation or later) with Apple TV software 7.0 or later and an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 8.1 or later.
  • Features:
    120V AC, 60Hz power input
    2 power outlets
    1440 W resistive
  • More info:
    https://www.connectsense.com/smart-outlet

Simon T Bramley

Editor - Musician, graphic designer and HomeKit aficionado, living in Taipei, Taiwan.

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