Voltson 15A Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug Hands-On ReviewBy - 10/13/2018
The Etekcity Voltson Wi-Fi Smart Outlet, which I tested a couple of months ago, isn’t perfect. However, it has proven itself reliable, and I’ve come to enjoy it, which is why I was psyched when Etekcity offered to send me their newest plug for testing, the 15A Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug. Is it a worthy addition to the Voltson family of smart outlets? Let’s find out.
It’s Mostly The Same
I have to warn you that if you’ve read my Voltson Wi-Fi Smart Outlet review, you already know pretty much everything about Voltson Mini. If that’s the case, I suggest you skip ahead to the next section, which explains the differences between Voltson Mini and the Voltson Wi-Fi Smart Outlet. But if it’s your first time hearing about Voltson, this section will give you a rundown of all of its features.
You can set up Etekcity Voltson Mini using the VeSync app; the same app used to set up Wi-Fi Smart Outlet. You can use either the Smart Setup, which automatically discovers the device you’re trying to connect, or the APN mode, which requires that you connect your phone to the smart outlet’s Wi-Fi before inputting your router’s Wi-Fi password.
Take note that in previous app updates, Etekcity added support for new smart products (smart scale & smart switch) to the VeSync app. So now you have to select the product you want to add from the list. The devices listed under Smart Outlet include the Voltson Wi-Fi Smart Outlet US/Canada version, Voltson Mini, and Voltson Wi-Fi Smart Outlet EU version.
Controlling & Automating Volston Mini
Voltson Mini’s most basic feature lets you switch the outlet on and off using the physical power button on the side of the outlet or the on/off button on VeSync’s homepage.
Besides manually switching on Mini, you can program it to follow a schedule or a countdown timer. The schedule feature is my personal favorite because it allows you to get creative. The basic schedule format requires a start time with a corresponding action (On or Off) and an end time. Whatever you program the outlet to do at the start of the schedule, it will do the opposite when the schedule ends. You can also set a start time with a corresponding action with no end time. For example, if you set it to turn on at 6 PM with no end time, it will remain on until you manually turn it off.
The countdown timer also proves to be a useful feature. It lets you create a countdown timer that performs the action (On or Off) of your choice when the countdown reaches zero. For example, I can set my bedside lamp to turn off 2 hours after I go to bed. All I need to do is start the timer using the Vesync app right after I tuck myself in.
Volston Mini also offers a security feature called Away Mode. The idea is to randomly turn your appliances on and off to make it seem like you’re home while you’re away. Simply set an Away Schedule (the time you’ll leave, the time you’ll come back, and how often this schedule repeats) and your smart outlet will randomly switch itself on and off with an average interval of 30 minutes. Take note that the Away Mode is configured per smart outlet. You have to set the feature on every smart outlet you want to participate. Also, only activate Away Mode on low-power appliances that you feel confident leaving unattended.
Finally, using the VeSync app, you can monitor your energy consumption (measured in kilowatt-hours), limit an appliance’s energy consumption by setting a usage cost threshold, or protect your appliances from energy surges using Abnormal Power Protection.
Works With Alexa, Google Assistant & IFTTT
Voltson’s integration with Alexa and Google Assistant lets you control your smart outlets using your voice. I’ve used Voltson with Alexa since day one, and it’s never failed me. And although I haven’t used Voltson with Google Assistant for long, most user reviews claim that the integration is just as reliable. My only complaint is that the VeSync Skill for both voice assistants is too simple. The Skills don’t let you do anything beyond turning your smart outlets on and off with the sound of your voice.
On the other hand, the IFTTT integration is newer. IFTTT is an app that lets you create automation rules (Applets) where you can set a trigger and an action. If used as a trigger, you can program an Applet to execute when the state of a selected Voltson outlet changes. For example, when your smart outlet turns on. If used as an action, you can program VeSync to change the status of (turn on or turn off) the selected smart outlet.
Voltson Mini vs. Voltson Wi-Fi Smart Outlet
All of the Smart Outlet’s features are present in Etekcity’s Voltson Mini, but they’re not identical.
The first difference is the size. As you’ve probably already guessed, Voltson Mini is smaller. However, calling it “mini” is a bit of a stretch. It’s actually bulkier than the original Voltson outlet. The difference is that it takes up less space on your wall outlet. It’s designed so that it doesn’t cover the socket above or below where it’s plugged in.
The second difference is that Mini has a night light. The light is found on the underside of the smart outlet, and it gives off a soft orange glow.
What I like about it is that you can control it separately from Mini. The night light can stay on even if you turn off your smart outlet. However, you can only control the night light via the app. There is no physical button. The good news here is that it’s equipped with a forward-facing ambient light sensor. The night light automatically dims and brightens depending on the amount of ambient light present. If the room it’s in is bright enough, it will even turn off to conserve energy.
You can also create a schedule specifically for the night light. While creating a schedule, you can specify whether it’s for the smart outlet or its night light. The night light also appears as a separate device to Alexa and Google Assistant, which means you can ask your Echo or Google Home to turn on the night light without affecting power to whatever you have plugged into your smart outlet.
Once again, I’m pleased with Etekcity. I like my Voltson Wi-Fi Smart Outlet, and I love the idea of a space-saving “mini” version with a built-in nightlight. However, as I said in my first Voltson smart outlet review, its necessity is still in question. With three Wi-Fi smart outlets connected to my router (plus other Wi-Fi connected smart devices), I’m starting to feel a little bit of congestion in my network. If this continues, I’ll have to unplug some of my Wi-Fi devices. Quite frankly, my Voltson smart outlets will probably be the first to go as I could transition to Z-Wave smart outlets.
As for you, if your router can support a few more Wi-Fi devices, then go for it. It’s a decent and reliable smart outlet, and I give it my seal of approval. If you’d rather not congest your Wi-Fi network, however, Z-Wave or Zigbee smart outlets that connect to a hub will better suit your needs.
Voltson Mini is available on Amazon for $29.98, which is more than you’ll play for a pack of two Voltson Wi-Fi Smart Outlets which sell for $26.98. That said, my suggestion is that you purchase the original Voltron outlet for single-tier wall outlets and Voltson Mini for multi-socket outlets.