D-Link DSP-W118 Smart Wi-Fi Plug – Yes, We Review A Plug!
D-Link DSP-W118 Smart Wi-Fi Plug
PAT PILCHER finds adding smarts to dumb appliances isn’t all that hard after all and it’s all thanks to a plug.
It’s no secret that this gadgety rascal loves smart homes. In fact, I’ve waxed ecstatic about it on Witchdoctor on several occasions. I’ve got Alexa in every room and being a lazy old git, I try to automate as much as possible.
Besides, saying “Alexa turn on the TV, change the channel to TV One,” and seeing the Skybox/TV power up and select the right inputs/audio and channel while the TV room Hue bulbs fade to a soft and warm tone feels like magic.
This is all great and well when you’ve got gadgets that are Alexa-compatible, but what about dumb appliances?
While the old saying goes, “you can never make stupid smart”, the folks at D-Link were clearly not listening. It turns out that they thought making a dumb appliance smart shouldn’t be too hard, and they came up with the DSP-W118 Smart Wi-Fi Plug. Turns out they were quite right.
You’d be forgiven for wondering just what all the fuss was about, let alone what the smart plug does. In a nutshell, it’s a Wi-Fi access point with added smarts and mains plug for connecting to a mains wall socket, with a socket for your appliance baked in. Plugging it into a power outlet, and then plugging a “dumb” device into it (such as a table lamp) means that in addition to gaining the ability to power the light on/off, you can also monitor just how much power it is consuming.
When it comes to controlling appliances connected to the smart plug, you get a tonne of options. They can be driven remotely using the D-Link IOS/Android app, or their operation can be scheduled. You can also apply additional smarts via the (IFTTT.com) app – this means you can set autonomous routines such as if the sunsets then switch on the lamp. Equally handy, you can use your voice thanks to Alexa and Google Home compatibility (“Alexa/Google turn on the lamp”).
With the mydlink app, you can also make use of geofencing (when my phone is within 50 metres of my home, switch on the lamp). It means I can leave home without worrying that I’ve left a connected appliance running, and best of all, geofencing also means that energy “vampire” appliances that consume power while in standby can be turned off when I’m away, and back on when I get home and actually want to use them.
Scheduling is a handy way of adding smarts as it can be set to turn an appliance on or off at off-peak times when energy prices are more affordable. It can also allow lights to turn on and off, which gives any would-be burglars the idea that I’m home when I’m not.
Then there’s the whole convenience thing. Every year I put up a Christmas tree. The wall plug I usually connect it to in the lounge is behind the sofa. This means that every time I want to switch it on/off I’ve got to move the sofa, which is about as much fun as stubbing my toe on a razor blade. My inner lazy bastard much prefers that the Xmas tree gets plugged into the D-Link smart plug, which is connected to the wall plug behind the sofa. That way I can simply say, “Alexa turn off the Xmas tree”. Perfect!
Another unexpectedly useful bonus is compatibility with the IFTTT.com service. This allows me to craft easy to create if-then scenarios that work with the smart plug. I can, for instance, create a script that goes something like this: If it’s after sunset (IFTTT knows when the sun sets at my location) but not yet 9pm, and the temperature is lower than X degrees (my Alexa Plus has a built-in digital thermometer), and my smartphone is within 10 metres of my property, then switch on the central heating – and that pesky Xmas tree.
Getting set up isn’t terribly difficult. After downloading the mydlink app, I created an account and gave it GPS access permission (which is needed for geofencing). I then made sure my phone was connected to the same Wi-Fi network that I wanted the plugs to connect to. From there a series of near idiot-proof menus guided me through the setup process in which the most complex part is adding a device name and room to the plug (so I can tell which appliance I am switching on or off and which room in the house it is). Once the setup process is complete, a green LED on the plug glows, and I am good to go. Total setup time is 15 minutes.
If that’s good, there’s got to be a catch, right? Well, yes, sort of. The Smart Plug modules are not small and at 58mm square by 44mm deep I found I was unable to put two smart plugs side by side on a double wall socket setup. It’s not a showstopper – you can, for instance, use a small extension cord or double plug adaptors to get around this issue, but it adds complexity to what should be a very simple solution.
The sheer versatility, convenience and elegance of D-Link’s smart plugs vastly outweigh this issue, however, and they’re an affordable and easy way to add smarts up almost any appliance.
Wi-Fi: 802.11n 2.4Ghz
Operating voltage: 240V, 10A (the DSP-W119 can be used with appliances that draw up to 2400W)
Voice support: Google Home/Alexa
Additional support: IFTTT.com, mydlink