Kasa Smart essential guide: What to know about TP-Link's connected home

Mi Kasa es tu Kasa

TP-Link Kasa Smart home guide
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When you think about TP-Link, you think about DSL modems, Wi-Fi range extenders, network switches, zzzzzzzzzzz... exactly.

But while its networking products are actually great for boosting the performance of your smart home, it's the Chinese company's Kasa Smart brand that's the more interesting aspect for us.

Kasa Smart is evolving and expanding all the time – there's way more to it than the smart plugs the branding initially launched on.

Read on for everything you need to know about TP-Link's Kasa Smart home ecosystem.

Kasa essential guide: What to know about TP-Link's smart home

Kasa Smart: What is it?

Essentially, Kasa is TP-Link's smart home ecosystem. It's important to note that it's not just a range of products, it's also a smart home app that ties all those products together so that they get along better.

For instance, Kasa can monitor the energy use in your home and tell you how much you're using and how you can be saving. This is pretty simple for TP-Link to do because it makes a series of smart plugs and switches that do exactly that.

There's also scheduling on its lights and plugs that will let you turn things on or off at certain times, which is pretty much table stakes these days. What's cooler is Away Mode, which you can activate when you're out for the night or on vacation. Kasa will automatically do things like randomly turn on the lights for a bit to make it seem like you're home. It's like psychological home security.

You can also set up Smart Actions on the Kasa app, to make set sequences that happen when triggered, although it will only work on Kasa's own devices.

The best part of Kasa is that it works with both Google Assistant and Alexa, so you don't just have to rely on your Kasa app to do everything. Just ask your preferred AI assistant.

One important distinction with Kasa: While the Kasa brand is alive and well, TP-Link also offers very different looking Wi-Fi cameras under regular TP-Link branding. But it's the Kasa Smart range we're focusing on here.

Kasa essential guide: What to know about TP-Link's smart home

Kasa Smart: Cloud storage with Kasa Care

TP-Link makes a range of smart cameras and these naturally need some cloud storage to safely retain some video footage should you need it. If you get a Kasa Smart cam, you'll automatically get 30 days of premium service. Once that 30 days is done, TP-Link will automatically switch you to free plan.

That free service gets you two days of cloud storage and up to 1GB of storage. It's available for up to three Kasa Smart cams. The next tier up is the Plus plan, which gets you 14 days of video clips and up to 14 GB of storage for $4 a month or $40 a year. You'll need a Plus plan for each camera.

Finally, there's the Premium plan, which gets you 30 days of footage and up to 30 GB of storage for $7 a month or $70 per year. Again, that is per camera. So if you have multiple cameras you'll need multiple plans. Kasa Care is currently live in the US but still in beta in the UK.

Kasa Smart: The devices

Kasa essential guide: What to know about TP-Link's smart home

Kasa Smart Cams

Every smart home ecosystem needs some sort of camera to keep an eye on things. Both the Kasa Cam and Kasa Cam Outdoor mostly do the same things, the latter obviously meant for putting outside.

Tested: Kasa Cam security camera review | Kasa Cam Outdoor review

They both provide 1080p footage, and the indoor variation comes with a 130-degree wide angle lens. Both of them work with Alexa and Google Assistant, and you can even watch your footage on your Echo Show or Google Smart Display if you want.

Like other smart cameras, activity zone support is here to let you know when there's a disturbance in a particular area either inside or outside. You'll also get notifications when it senses any movements or sounds – should you want those alerts, of course.

And if you want more control over motion tracking, patrol modes and what part of a room the camera's watching, the Kasa Spot Pan Tilt is your best bet.

Kasa's recently rolled out a couple of new cameras too. The Kasa Spot, a smaller indoor camera that should be less obvious while still offering 1080p, 130-degree shots and two-way audio to act as a potential intercom around your home.

Kasa Cam Outdoor
Kasa Cam Outdoor

TP-Link also has the Kasa Smart Wire-Free Camera launching sometime this year, with Full HD video, and built-in siren. You should be able to monitor anywhere and everywhere with Kasa Smart's indoor and outdoor wire-free camera.

Kasa essential guide: What to know about TP-Link's smart home

Kasa Smart Plugs

The bread and butter of the Kasa ecosystem, and the reason you may have heard of the Kasa brand in the first place, is its plugs. Kasa's smart plugs come in a variety of different styles and packages.

The Kasa Smart Plug Mini is a great starting point, allowing you to turn off devices in your home remotely, also using Alexa and Google Assistant – and again, they don't require hubs. They also come with Away Mode, so they can turn your lights on randomly to pretend you're home.

There's also the Lite, which is cheaper but is only made to power lite-duty devices under 12 AMPs.

Tested: TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini review

TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini
TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini

Neither come with energy monitoring. For that, you'll have to purchase the Kasa Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring. While this one isn't as conveniently shaped as the Mini, which will save you space by your wall outlet, this will let you know how much energy you're using. Like other Kasa plugs, it also comes with Away Mode.

There are also extension leads, and gang-plugs in the range as well; and the company also has also released an outdoor variant, the KP400, which is IP64 rated and costs $37.99 for a plug with two sockets.

Kasa essential guide: What to know about TP-Link's smart home

Kasa Smart Light Switches

There are two variations on the Kasa Light Switch. There's the regular switch, which just turns lights on or off, and then there's the dimmer. The dimmer lets you fade the lights on or off with a click, or you can double click to fade it even more gently (good for when your kid is going off to sleep).

As is becoming a habit with Kasa devices, the light switches also come with scheduling and Away Mode. There are also handy little LED indicators on the switches to let you know they're connected. Plus, they kind of light your way when it's dark.

Kasa Smart Light Switch
Kasa Smart Light Switch

The regular light switch will cost you $39.99 while the dimmer will set you back $59.99. Unlike other Kasa products, these will also work with Nest and Cortana, expanding your smart home compatibility game.

More exciting than these though is the Kasa Smart Light Switch with Voice Assistant, which will also launch later this year with Alexa or Google Assistant (TBC) built-in.

Kasa essential guide: What to know about TP-Link's smart home

Kasa Smart Bulbs

Buy now: Amazon | From $24.99,

TP-Link may not be the first name when you think of smart bulbs, but they do make a number of smart bulbs that don't require a hub. Plus, they're not that expensive, which will make it easy on your wallet.

It all starts with the tunable white bulb, which comes in at $24.99 and gives you a range of whites from soft white to bright daylight.

There's also Circadian Mode, which matches the light up to how the sun rises and sets. The idea is that the light will gently get brighter in the morning to wake you up, and gently fade away at night when you're trying to get to sleep.

Kasa also has the multicolor KL130 bulb, offering tunable whites, dimmable light and a wide range of color options on top. If you'd like to step up those lumens to 1,000, you can also opt for the LB230, which has all the same features but is brighter.

Kasa also has a lighting strip coming, too - the KL430, which should release this year, to let you augment any part of your home with atmospheric light.

There are a fair few smart bulb options from Kasa Smart, now, with more being added all the time, so it's becoming more of an option if you're looking to upgrade your lighting.

TAGGED    smart home

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