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

Mi Kasa es tu Kasa

TP-Link Kasa guide

Navigating the smart home world is sometimes like navigating a hundred little fiefdoms, each one paying homage to the big three smart assistants. There are the big players, like Samsung SmartThings and Works with Nest, and then there are the smaller players.

TP-Link tends to get noticed for its smart plugs, but its smart home product range is much more than that. In fact, its smart home platform has a name: Kasa.

Here's what you need to know about TP-Link's Kasa.

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

Kasa: 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 will 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 that will let you turn things on or off at certain times, which is about par the course in the smart home world. 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.

Because TP-Link also makes routers, Kasa incorporates a smart router and range extenders into the whole package. That smart router doubles as a smart home hub that will draw in both your Zigbee and Z-Wave devices. TP-Link's devices don't require hubs, so that hub is just so you can pair up all your other smart home 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 in the US, the UK does not have equivalents in a number of products. The Kasa Cams, for instance, are not available in the UK just yet. Instead, TP-Link offers very different looking Wi-Fi cameras under regular TP-Link branding.

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

Kasa: Cloud storage with Kasa Care

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

That free service gets you two days of cloud storage and up to 1 GB 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: The devices

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

Kasa Smart Home Router

$199.99, tplink.com | Amazon

Your smart home system needs a solid router, and TP-Link wants to fill that space with this gigabit dual-band AC1900 Wi-Fi router that's also a smart home. As previously mentioned, TP-Link's devices don't need a hub, but the Kasa Smart Home Router is a smart home hub with built-in Zigbee and Z-Wave support.

Looking somewhat like an alien spaceship, the Kasa Smart Home Router also has a touchscreen up at the top that lets you control both the router and other devices. Of course, you can heavily lean on the smart phone app, Alexa, or Google Assistant to get things done.

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

Kasa Smart Cams

From $109.99, tplink.com | Amazon

Every smart home ecosystem needs some sort of camera to keep an eye on things, and then it also needs an outdoor variation to make sure things are all good on the outside. Both the Kasa Cam and Kasa Cam Outdoor mostly do the same things.

They both provide 1080p footage, and the indoor variation comes at that 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 Lenovo 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 notifications, of course.

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

Kasa Smart Plugs

From $29.97, tplink.com | Amazon

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

The best deal is likely the Kasa Smart Plug Lite, which gives you two Kasa smart plugs for $49.99. They'll both allow 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.

They don't, however, come with energy monitoring. For that, you'll have to purchase the $29.97 Kasa Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring. While this one isn't as conveniently shaped as the Lite, 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.

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

Kasa Smart Light Switches

From $39.99, tplink.com | Amazon

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.

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.

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

Kasa Smart Bulbs

From $24.99, tplink.com | Amazon

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 LB120 bulb, which comes in at $24.99. It's the equivalent of a 60W bulb, and you'll get 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. There's also the LB130, which adds multicolour to the mix. If you'd like to step up those lumens to 1,000, you can also opt for the $49.99 LB230, which has all the same features but is brighter.

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

Kasa Range Extender+

From $59.99, tplink.com | Amazon

Sometimes to get a great internet connection throughout your home you're going to need some range extenders. Kasa has two of them, the $59.99 AC750 and the $89.99 AC1200. Quick note: While you can pick up the AC1200 in the UK, the AC750 is not available there yet.

They're pretty much simple range extenders, but the key thing here is that they've also got built-in smart plugs, which means you can also control your devices with them. So no need to fear, my fellow gadget fiends, you won't have to waste an outlet on a range extender.

TAGGED   smart home

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