The fabled smart home as a building that responds your needs as they arise is still somewhat legendary and will likely remain so until the technology can be built into the fabric of the structure. Regardless there are many practical ways where the new technology can be used on a practical basis. For example, my living room uses a combination of overhead, wall and table lighting and in the past, I would have need to turn on lights at four different places in the room every evening. With smart technology, one of the lights comes on as dusk falls and the others will come on as someone enters the room.
For simple automation like this, one solution might involve smart bulbs such as those from Philips Hue or LIFX, but for floor standing or table lights, a good alternative is to add a smart plug which will do the on-off switching for you. It’s a pass through type device, so no re-wiring is need. Plug the smart plug into the wall socket and then the lamp plug into the smart plug.
And for the purposes of demonstration, here we have the Meross WiFi smart plug with Apple HomeKit support. This is a new iteration of Meross’ smart plug which now supports Apple HomeKit in addition working to working on Android phones via an app – look for HK on the end of the model name (MSS210HK) to be assured of HomeKit support. There’s integration with voice assistants including Amazon Alex and Google Home and the smart plug will work with Samsung SmartThings, which is great if you want to get into more complex automation later on.
As indicated by the name, this is a WiFi smart plug and connects up to any g/n 2.4 GHz WiFi network, which is what the vast majority of people have at home. No Z-Wave, ZigBee or hubs required here. The Meross plug comes in a fairly plain cardboard box and there’s just the smart plug itself plus two small leaflets…and I mean small. A magnifying glass might be required for those with less than ideal eyesight.
As the photographs show, this is the UK variant but it’s available to suit the wiring standards of many countries, including USA. The smart plug is white and plainly styled with just three notable features. One, it’s quite a big plug, so you may struggle to get another plug in to a neighbouring socket: best to check your socket positions. Two, there’s an on-off button with indicator light on the top, which is very handy if you need to switch the plug manually. Three, there’s a HomeKit QR logo and code stuck to the side of the socket, which brings us neatly onto Apple’s Home app.
Apple have made it extremely easy to add devices into the smart home solution. Using the Apple Home app, it’s simply a case of hitting “+” to add a device and then using the iPhone or iPad’s camera to scan the QR code. After a bit of chuntering between the iPad and the Meross, say, 30 seconds, the smart plug is setup within the Home app. Tapping the plug icon in the app turns the smart plug on and off in the real world. Job done and you can easily incorporate the plug into any of routines, scenes etc of the Home app.
Update 29th October 2020 – Thanks to a discussion on my YouTube channel, I’ve been alerted to the problem that if you don’t want to use Apple Home and would rather use the Meross app on Apple devices, it doesn’t actually seem to be possible to do it. The Meross app automatically redirects the setup to Apple Home. This works fine, except that if you want to use the smart plug with Alexa, the Meross skill doesn’t see any devices.
Android users aren’t left out from using the Meross smart plug, though the process is a little less straightforward. The first steps are to download the app from the Google Play store and then sign-up with a username and password. Adding a device through the Meross app starts with picking the type of device and there’s an initial negotiation between the smartphone and the smart plug which broadly concludes with you having to pick the WiFi network and supply the passcode. It’s not as slick as the Home setup but gets the job done. The Meross app offers direct control of the smart plug; scenes, which allow for setting multiple devices at once; and routines for turning devices on and off according to a schedule.
I was also able to easily setup the smart plug with both Alexa and Samsung’s Smart Things. For Alexa, open Amazon’s app and search for the Meross skill. Enable the skill and enter the username and password for the Meross system. Alexa will then search for new devices, which I find is a bit hit or miss, but eventually you’ll see the Meross smart plug in the list of devices. For me Alexa couldn’t find the smart plug initially, but it was magically there after restarting the app. I was then able to say, “Alexa, turn on living room lamp” and sure enough, the smart plug switched.
Integration with SmartThings was very similar but worked flawlessly in terms of adding and seeing the device straightaway.
Pricewise, the Meross smart plug with HomeKit comes in at GB£16.99 on Amazon.co.uk, which is competitively priced on its own, but note that if you don’t need HomeKit, you can get two Meross smart plugs for the same price. For a bit of extra discount, use the code O3ML85W5 at Amazon.co.uk which should be valid up to the end of August on both single and double packs.
The main takeaway for the Meross WiFi smart plug with HomeKit support is how easy it is to get setup on Apple, Android, Alexa and SmartThings. I was able to do all of these in less than ten minutes – if you don’t believe me check out the video below. The only downside I can find is the plug itself is fairly chunky.
Thanks to Meross for supplying the WiFi Smart Plug for review. The discount code provided above is not a referral code.