Smart Modular Outlets from Swidget
There are approximately 40 billion outlets installed in North America and about 80 installed in our own house. Of those 80 outlets, we’ve probably replaced a dozen or so already, with both Z-Wave and Wi-Fi based in-wall smart outlets to control various lights and other devices in our smart home.
Affiliate Disclosure: This page contains links that may earn us a commission from the Amazon.com affiliate advertising program. We received the Swidget Outlet and Inserts as part of this review. Opinions and conclusions are our own.
When we first started buying smart switches and outlets, they were pretty bulky and some of the early ones didn’t fit very well in the existing socket. As technology evolved, the smart in-wall switch and outlet designs improved and we added more and more to our house.
In almost every case, replacing the switches and outlets gives you so much more control than adding a smart light bulb. And replacing the whole outlet looks a lot nicer than just putting in a plug-in wall wart.
The Swidget Platform
Swidget hopes to make more of our outlets smart to help customize our home with their modular Swidget outlets.
The Swidget platform starts with a 15AMP configurable smart outlet. The outlet can be installed using the existing wiring in your home, just like a standard outlet, with a gap in the middle to add a Swidget insert. With a Wi-Fi or Z-Wave-based Swidget module you can control anything plugged into the bottom outlet, using either the included Swidget App, or your compatible Z-Wave smart home hub.
Flexibility for the Future
Today in our home we have a mixture of both types of outlets and switches. We like Z-Wave for the extra control and reliability, but Wi-Fi is much easier to set up and use, especially with a smart speaker. With Swidget, you don’t have to choose one or the other forever – you could get started with Wi-Fi and switch to Z-Wave later, without having to replace the entire outlet. This is great if you are not ready to make a huge time commitment to your smart home (yet).
Both the Swidget Z-Wave and Wi-Fi controlled outlets also track power usage. This works fine for Wi-Fi controlled outlets with the Swidget App, but the Z-Wave controlled outlets need a hub which supports this function. We haven’t been able to use power monitoring on either Wink or SmartThings so far, but we expect future updates to their driver for SmartThings to correct this.
To make the Swidget outlets even more useful, the Swidget inserts offer other functions. You can get a USB charging insert to charge your phone, a guide light to turn your outlet into an LED night light, or a power out insert that will stay lit when it senses a power outage. You can combine these three with Z-Wave or Wi-Fi to add control, or just buy the basic insert if you don’t need the control on that outlet.
Thanks to Swidget, we tested a couple of these inserts using Wi-Fi – the Guide Light and the Power Out Light. We also tested the USB Charger insert which did not have either Z-Wave or Wi-Fi connectivity. The Outlets and Inserts were solid and easy to install. To see the entire installation, check out our YouTube Video.
The Guide Light works like a nightlight, turning on when the lights are low, and the Power Out light will keep a light on for around an hour after a power failure according to Swidget. We tested the Power Out light by shutting down the outlet from the breaker panel, but we we didn’t wait an hour to see if it stayed lit.
The USB charger works just fine. Today it only includes one USB A port. We’d love to see a version that includes USB C.
As a smart home consumer, we’re not sure why you would buy a Swidget outlet today without either Z-Wave or Wi-Fi. If you just need to add a USB Charger to an outlet you’d be better off buying a dedicated outlet with 2 USB charger ports. Home builders and technology pros may want to equip new homes with Swidget outlets so they can have a platform to connect to in the future. And if Swidget really catches on, the price of the outlets should come down.
Adding sensors to make things smarter
We are most excited about the potential for Swidget sensor inserts. As we got more sophisticated and started playing with the extra control of a smart home hub, we added motion sensors around the house to trigger different lights or groups of lights. Motion sensors in the laundry room, the bathroom, the shower and the closet all turn the lights on when we come in and turn them off after a certain time. We have plenty of motion sensors as well as window and door sensors that trigger things around the house, and for the most part everything just works without us thinking about it.
The problem with motion or any type of sensor is that it uses batteries, and eventually those batteries will die. Depending on the sensor and your smart home system, you may get a warning before they die so you can change the batteries, or one day, it may just stop working. If you have a dozen rooms in your house and you want motion sensors in all of them, that’s a dozen sensors that will all eventually stop working, and probably not all at the same time.
Sensors have the potential to give us lots of information about our home and really help us make it smarter. Beyond simple motion sensors, temperature and humidity sensors could help us dial in our heating and cooling in every room, light sensors can automatically trigger lights at dusk or dawn. Up until now, there hasn’t been a really easy way to add sensors around the house without batteries, but with the Swidget platform, installing a sensor will be as easy as switching an insert.
Swidget already has several new products planned to come out this winter: Swidget inserts with temperature/humidity sensors and motion sensors, a Wi-Fi video camera Swidget insert, and a Swidget Dimmer Switch. The Dimmer Switch puts the Swidget inserts higher on the wall which will certainly help with camera, temperature and motion sensor performance. With both switches and outlets on the Swidget platform, we are excited about the potential for lots of different options to control our smart home. You can learn more about Swidget and their plans in our video from CEDIA.
If you’re in the market for smart outlets and switches for your smart home, we’d encourage you to take a look at Swidget. It’s a great way to take advantage of all those outlets and switches to add more functionality to your home, now and in the future.