For years SwitchBot got away without having a smart plug in their ecosystem. Having an army of small robots turning stuff on and off definitely postponed the need of having a smart outlet in the ecosystem, but they can only avoid it for so long. SwitchBot Bot is great for automating obscure devices, but some things have to be delegated to more mundane devices. This changes now (at least over the pond in the USA) as SwitchBot brings SwitchBot Plug Mini to their product line.
It’s not just a regular smart socket – it’s a power meter too.
SwitchBot Plug Mini
I’m in a pickle, as being UK-based, my testing requires two US2UK adapters. One to plug the SwitchBot Plug Mini into the mains (it’s 240V tolerant) and one to plug any UK plugs I have completely destroyed one of the features of the SwitchBot Plug Mini – its size. Designed for the US market, the smart plug takes very little space and will accommodate the multi-socket outlets in the vertical stacking orientation.
It’s rated for 15A and 1875W of resistive load, it should smart up most of your light home appliances. The power button on its side assures easy access to manual switching. There isn’t much to say about the plug, so let’s talk about what’s really cool about it.
I will iterate again, I love Bluetooth pairing. It’s fast, error-free and it just works. After a couple of seconds, I had SwitchBot Plug Mini connected to my network. Once connected, the device will register in the SwitchBot cloud without the need for a SwitchBot hub.
As the SwitchBot Plug Mini is Bluetooth and HomeKit enabled, you have plenty of options to use the plug via a local connection only. I’m yet to test the HomeKit – but I consistently refuse to get an iPhone just to tell you all: “it works”. I have the faith in SwitchBot’s ability to deliver in that department.
Apart from schedules, timers and delayed state changes we have also control over the indicator light (useful for anyone annoyed with random lights at night) and Mistouch Prevention – an option that will require extra confirmation in your app before you can toggle the state of the plug. Sounds like they watched my 2FA in NodeRED tutorial, as I have a software-based solution for these things too! Other than that, the plug is easy to use, fast and responsive.
Associated skills work well and Alexa and Google Home toggle the plug quickly. Sadly, neither of them is equipped to read the power meter data over the smart speaker. You will need to open the SwitchBot app to get that.
The following data is stored in the cloud and available:
- Energy (kWh)
- Power on duration (HH:MM)
- Power (W)
- Current (A)
- Voltage (V)
- Yesterday’s Consumption (kWh)
Unfortunately, the usage data is available either as live reading or historical usage displayed for each day. I’d like to see power usage curves with more frequent updates, so I can monitor connected devices closely. I have submitted this as feedback, and I hope to see changes in the app soon. Until then, you can use SwitchBot API to extract the live data from SwitchBot Plug Mini and use it with Grafana and InfluxDB to plot the charts to your liking.
That was the first issue, and the second one – everyone outside of the USA will have to wait for the plug to be available in their preferred form factor. That means weeks if not months before I get my hands on the UK’s version of this affordable plug.
Power Meter but smarter
Turning things on and off can be interesting, but as the SwitchBot ecosystem can act upon power conditions, SwitchBot Plug Mini can be transformed into something much cooler. I have a dumb washing machine, which thanks to an inline power monitor can notify me when the washing is done. The whole system is very accurate, and robust, but takes some skill to deploy.
With SwitchBot Plug Mini, you could either monitor peak consumption or ask the app to issue a notification on your phone when the appliance’s power consumption drops to zero to send you a reminder. It won’t be as fault-proof and polished as my project but is less cumbersome to make.
The ability to act on power consumption levels is welcomed, especially now, when electricity prices are high and we all should be more aware of our consumption.
Shop for Switchbot
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While my SwitchBot Plug Mini is a bit useless in the UK, anyone in the US can buy them now and enjoy new functionality in their SwitchBot ecosystem. At $11.99 it’s one of the least expensive smart plugs with a power meter, which anyone looking to smart up their house will appreciate. After all, it’s nice to get a nice product without spending a fortune! Let me know what you think in this Reddit thread.
🆓📈💵 – See the transparency note for details.