ConnectSense may not be the first brand you think of when you think of smart home products but the company sent us its smart In-Wall Outlet for review and it's definitely worth considering.
The ConnectSense In-Wall Outlet comes in two flavors. There's a 15 Amp or 20 Amp design to choose from depending on your home or business needs. Those start out at $79.95 for the 15 Amp variant covered in this review and pack in features far beyond what might be expected of an in-wall outlet of any stripe.
Not only does ConnectSense In-Wall Outlet let users control their plugs with Apple's Siri, Amazon Alexa, or Google's Assistant. The device enables users to have lag-free real-time usage data read, sorted, and organized. So it's a money-saving tool. Additionally, ConnectSense has packed in features like touch controls, NFC for connecting, and lights for all the status needs you could want.
It placed all of that in an outlet design that blends almost seamlessly with other plugs. And it built the device to stand up to abuse the same as well. Installing the plug is straightforward, with guides on the back of the device — as shown in pictures below — making the process easier.
All of that jointly makes this plug both a joy to use and install, easily earning it an Editor's Choice award. That also makes it an exceptionally obvious choice for buyers who need or want this type of solution.
What's the hardware and design like? It's all but invisible
When I first received my ConnectSense In-Wall Outlet review unit, I was initially shocked by how much it appeared like a normal outlet. From a distance, it's all but indistinguishable aside from its two active blue LED lights. Those show up only when the plugs are turned on. Turned off, there's little to no difference between this plug and any other.
That's a positive thing since, at $79.95 for the 15 Amp version and $99.95 for the 20 Amp variant, I wasn't in a hurry to replace the other outlets in my home immediately. Instead, I focused on putting the In-Wall Outlet where it would serve its most useful purpose. And it seamlessly blended in like any standard outlet rather than drawing too much attention.
The ConnectSense In-Wall Outlet also came with a standard square outlet cover, complete with fasteners.
Aside from looking like a standard plug, once the Wi-Fi symbol-bearing sticker is removed, this plug feels about the same quality. That is to say, it feels extremely sturdy.
As with any in-wall outlet, this isn't going to be waterproof or anything of the sort. Since that's not really an expectation here, it isn't going to be an issue at all.
But the brackets, poly/plastics body materials, and all of the hardware feel like it will last at least as long as its less smart counterparts. The ConnectSense In-Wall Outlet should last for years and years to come, provided none of its internal components go out. Each plug fits as snugly as would be wanted, so longevity there wouldn't be an issue most likely.
Installation of ConnectSense In-Wall is easy if you know what you're doing
Just as with the looks of this device and with pretty much everything else, installing the ConnectSense smart In-Wall Outlet for this review was surprisingly like installing a normal plug. In fact, it's identical. The biggest caveat is that this is a square-shaped plug and slightly thicker from front-to-back than is normal. So, as I discovered, it's going to stand forward a little when placed into older, smaller in-wall outlet boxes.
Aside from that, it's simply a matter of killing power to the old outlet via a breaker — or to the wall in question for fresh home installs. Then, after removing the old outlet, the spots on the new outlet are marked with which wire goes where. Those get plugged in or wrapped and then tightened down. The power gets turned back on and it's ready to go.
For those who aren't comfortable with installing in-wall outlets, any professional will be able to install this at no extra cost. It's a good idea to take a picture of the numbers along the edge of the hardware though. Those may be needed to finish installation on the smart home side of things for some users.
Once installed, there are several ways to set it up. First, for iOS and Apple HomeKit users, the system can be installed on a network simply by scanning the 3D code on the back of the manual from the ConnectSense app. Android and iOS users can also tap through with NFC, although that method didn't work for the older handset used in this review of the ConnectSense In-Wall Outlet.
Finally, there is an eight-digit code on that abovementioned code that can be input if needed. That's followed by inputting a four-digit code on the side of the plug as mentioned above. Once connected, the app controls the plug or the plug itself has touch buttons to activate or deactivate the individual plugs.
First and foremost, this is a plug with smart integration
Of course, the big question here is how this functions as a plug. The primary function of the ConnectSense In-Wall Outlet, as my review revealed, is to act as an outlet. On that front, it works spectacularly, as expected. With some extras.
The app allows direct control of the outlets on an individual basis. In fact, the ConnectSense app starts by asking where the plug is installed. It also inquires about what will typically be plugged into each socket. Then it shows switches that can be slid to toggle the switch off and on.
In my case, a "holiday tree" was the plugged-in item for the 15A plug I received. 20A plugs are also available. So the application showed a tree with decorations and the toggle. It only shows the plugged-in icon when the plug is in use. Otherwise, it shows an empty socket.
ConnectSense designed its In-Wall Outlet with user-set schedules that can be set and run remotely via the app once it is plugged in, turned on, and connected. So the device never actually forced me to manually turn it on. I simply set the app to do it around the time night sets and let it do its work on a daily basis.
That's useful. It helps my lights come on at random-seeming intervals so that it looks as though I'm home when I'm not, for example. Better still, ConnectSense is fully compatible with Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant. So, once connected, the device is easily controllable via voice.
The more plugs you install, the more money you could save
Money-saving with the ConnectSense In-Wall Outlet is going to come down to several factors but it is by far the most prominent feature here. And the more outlets are replaced with ConnectSense In-Wall Outlet, the more money you'll save.
That's because this outlet lets you track, in real-time, how much energy each plug is using. That provides an opportunity, with more outlets installed, to really check in on usage regularly. The app also splits things on both an individual and a collective basis between daily, monthly, weekly, and yearly usage. That's per individual plug and better still, I never noticed a bit of lag or disconnections.
Taken collectively, that means that more things plugged into one of these mean more opportunities to see where exactly your money is going. ConnectSense says the figures are accurate to 0.1-percent. The numbers the app provides by dollar amount seem to be slightly off. They were too high in my case and are likely based on a wider area's average.
The kicker, though, is that more outlets here only means more control over usage and electricity use. The app allows home, room, and what's plugged in to be identified by the user. So users have more control over how much they spend and what their appliances or devices are using. That makes it easier to conserve energy and lower the bills. With more outlets in use, it's even easier to do that.
What about other special features
In addition to voice control and app management of the plugs, there are also three touch zones on the plug itself that help deactivate or activate the individual sockets or reset the device. Now that sounds counterintuitive since, at that point, I could have just reached down and unplugged the thing. But that turns out not to be the case.
The touch zones perform multiple functions, including rebooting if things go awry with a three-tap and hold on the fourth directly between the two clearly-marked power icons on the plug. More importantly, I found it much easier during my review of the ConnectSense In-Wall Outlet to just double-tap the touch zone for either socket when I needed it off.
That was particularly useful when the app was on a device I'd left in another room. And it saved me having to plug in and unplug the gadgets, which turned out to be quite time-saving. There wasn't any lag in its performance either, aside from the usual voice-control latency seen in all smart home devices. So the plugs respond quickly when needed. The one drawback to that is that the toggles in the app actually need to be slid instead of tapped. That's different from how most Android toggles work and threw me off for a few days, so it's worth noting.
After unplugging the Christmas tree, for instance, I'd ordinarily need to dig around the tree skirt for the cable and then find the end. Then I'd need to plug the end into the socket after orienting it. Done every day for weeks, that time adds up.
With ConnectSense In-Wall Outlet, during my review, I only had to reach down and double-tap. A quiet click and a blue light blinked out just a moment later, and the decorative tree had been turned off for the day.
Aside from that convenience, the lights each serve a distinct purpose too. There's an indicator light for each plug, noting whether it's off or on. Both are blue. The LED to indicate taps is also blue.
Finally, ConnectSense included an RBG LED on the left-hand side. That indicates the status of the plug. It shows whether the outlet is connected, for instance, or if something's gone wrong. The light acts as a guide through a reboot or to reset the device if that's needed too. I had no need to do that at all during my review but it is an easy process too.
But is ConnectSense In-Wall Outlet really worth its somewhat steep entry point?
The question of whether or not the ConnectSense In-Wall Outlet is worth the money depends on several factors. But that doesn't mean it's not an easy decision.
If you're looking to save a few bucks on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis, this device will do that. And it will do it for one of the more costly, difficult to accurately manage home bills — electricity.
Even at its somewhat expensive-seeming price point, ConnectSense In-Wall Outlet is a device that could genuinely pay for itself within just a few months. That says quite a lot about a device that could as easily otherwise be viewed as just a glorified wall plug.
For anybody interested in saving money or concerned about their impact on the environment, there's a similar story to be told. This device will help with that.
It will also keep working even if Wi-Fi goes out — although that means no more voice controls or monitoring. That's true even if it requires more direct interaction to turn off or on. So it isn't entirely wi-fi dependant after installation.
Installation is another area this shines. I have installed many plugs over the years and this was no more difficult to install than any normal plug. The key difference is that its rear covering is slightly longer than most others. It will still fit in place of the overwhelming majority of standard plugs.
For those who just want a plug that's smart, it'll fit that need too, making it versatile for a burgeoning smart home or business.