26 January 2015

REVIEW: Smappee

The smarter home.

Smart home gadgets don't just have to be flashy, impressive things with which to show off to your neighbours; they can also save you money while helping the environment. In our ongoing quest to make Test Pit Towers the most modern and connected house this side of Silicon Valley, we add yet another bit of tech - one that keeps an eye on all the others - the Smappee.

Anyone who has dabbled with home energy monitors might be familiar with the principle of Smappee. Essentially the unit connects around your home's electricity supply cable and monitors how much power is being used. Unlike conventional monitors however, Smappee is being driven by quite impressive software which will work out for itself what household appliance is being used and how much of a drain it is. And, of course, as this is a connected gadget, Smappee will then notify you via the smartphone app, allowing you to see just what is costing you a fortune in electricity.

The Smappee itself is rather an odd looking thing, with a thick white plastic casing and black surrounds. That casing will glow softly when Smappee is active making it look quite attractive as smarthome products go and defiantly something you wouldn't be embarrassed about mounting on your wall. Included also in the box is the connector wire, which simply locks around the electricity cables (so no dangerous wiring needed) and also a Comfort Plug; a wirelessly controlled plug socket go-between to help switch things off.

Set up and installation really was a breeze, with the included manual being very clear about where to attached the connector. There is no need to turn off your electricity and all you need is access to your fuse box (so no problem if you live in a flat). Once set up and switched on, you basically sit back for a good while and let Smappee learn your home. It will monitor the electricity use and work out for itself what appliance is what, as you use them. Without you telling it that you're about to have a nice cuppa, Smappee will know that the sudden spike in the energy used is the kettle. It's all very impressive and we were happy to see (via the app - available for both Android and iOS) that it had correctly identified every electrical gadget in our house after just a day.

The great thing about this is that you can then see what is using lots of electricity and, if you are able to, switch it off. Altogether it made us more energy conscious as it was a simple job of opening the app and actually seeing, live, what was happening. Smappee claim that because of this your energy bills will be, on average, 12% less than before you installed one. Based on the average annual electricity costs in the UK, that means your Smappee will pay for itself in just two years.

And for those truly interested in how Smappee will integrate with the rest of your connect home gadgets, it is fully IFTTT compatible. There are some great recipes already available for it, including getting your Hue light bulbs to flash red when there is a sudden surge of electrical use. Nice.

So although it might not be a motion-detecting, night-vision capturing, gesture-controlled wonder gadget, Smappee is actually a lot more use than most other smart home tech.


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