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Is there enough room in the crowded smart home market for Hubspace, The Home Depot’s newish platform for its house-brand smart lighting, outlets, light bulbs, and ceiling fans?
Maybe. Right now, I’m more worried about storage on my phone: The Hubspace app, downloaded as I auditioned the big-box retailer’s new Defiant smart outdoor plug, became the 14th brand-specific smart-home app wedged onto my home screen.
But there’s always room for another competent less-than-$20, smart outdoor plug to replace an aging, grinding, mechanical outlet timer. The Defiant plug ($18.97) has the obligatory Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control support, and its two outlets can be controlled independently, so you can run your deck lights and landscape lighting on separate schedules. The device also features IP64-rated protection dust and water; i.e., it’s impervious to dust and can withstand being sprayed with water. You’ll find a detailed explanation of IP codes at the preceding link.)
Contrary to its name, Home Depot’s Hubspace smart home ecosystem (now approaching 20 products within the company’s Commercial Electric, Defiant, EcoSmart, and Hampton Bay brands) does not depend a central hub–all you need is a smartphone or tablet, the Hubspace app (for Android or iOS), and a Wi-Fi network. Some smart home enthusiasts will be disappointed to learn, however, that Hubspace does not support IFTTT and it doesn’t support Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem, either. That could change down the road.
“We are not in the business of making a walled ecosystem,” says The Home Depot’s Nick Millette, who oversees the company’s smart home product development effort. “We want Hubspace customers to be able to control their Hubspace products using whatever platform is most convenient for them. We started with integrations to the Amazon and Google platforms because that is what we found to be the largest benefit to our customer base, but we are open to developing additional integrations in the future.”
Setting up Home Depot’s Defiant outdoor smart plug
If your phone can reach your home’s Wi-Fi network near an available outdoor outlet, you’ll have no trouble getting reliable service from the Defiant plug. You’ll need both a Bluetooth and 2.4GHz Wi-Fi connection to set it up. Just download the Hubspace app, create an account, and add your new device by scanning the QR code on the product. Next, link your Alexa and/or Google Assistant accounts to Hubspace. Unless the Defiant lives up to its name, you should be ready to plug in your landscape or pool lights within minutes.
Once you’ve created a “home” in the Hubspace app, you can divide that location into rooms and assign your Hubspace products to those room. You can also create additional homes, which will be useful if you also use Hubspace at a vacation home. That’s about the closest Hubspace gets to HomeKit.
Fortunately, Hubspace scheduling includes sunset/sunrise options–all too generic smart plugs only offer time-based scheduling. That means repeated visits to the product’s app to adjust on and off times as the seasons change. Hubspace can do better than simple sunrise-sunset, too; you can also schedule an event for anywhere from 30 minutes to four hours before or after sunrise or sunset.
The Defiant plug, rated at 15 amps, can safely accommodate up to 1,800 watts (15 amps multiplied by 120 volts). Unlike competing outdoor outdoor plugs from Wyze or iDevices, the Defiant cannot track energy usage. But do you really need to know it cost 3 cents to power your deck lights for 8 hours? If you’re connecting a small, energy-efficient pool pump, on the other hand, look for a smart outdoor plug with an energy-monitoring feature.
The all-black, plastic Defiant plug has a separate pushbutton on-off control for each outlet. A protective flip-out rubber cover protects them when not in use. And always use a smart outdoor plug with a protective cover over your home’s outlet.
The Home Depot Defiant lives outdoors
To give the Defiant outdoor plug a real-life test, I added a 33-foot run of LED string lights and an extension cord protective cover to illuminate a small side-entry deck at my house. Total cost, including the Defiant outdoor plug: About $40.
The smart plug faithfully turned on at sunset and three hours after sunset, as I requested and also followed Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands. Should you lose your Wi-Fi connection, Hubspace products revert to Bluetooth control, provided you’re within range. If you have either smart assistant, it makes sense to replace your old mechanical outdoor timer with a smart version. The Defiant smart outdoor plug costs about $6 more than the conventional Defiant 15-amp mechanical timer with a single outlet.
The Defiant plug wastes minimal energy on its own. With both outlets off, it consumed no more than 0.2 watts, as measured by a Watts Up? Pro portable power meter. With both outlets switched on, the meter recorded 1.3 watts.
Bottom line on the Home Depot Defiant outdoor smart plug
As is true for most smart home products that are part of a wider ecosystem, the best reason to buy the Defiant outdoor smart plug is if you already have or are planning to buy more Hubspace products. The Defiant has a very good feature set–including its weatherization, its independently controllable outlets, and its app that supports sunrise/sunset schedules. But you could say the same of the $18 dual-outlet Wyze Plug Outdoor (which does track energy consumption and has a dusk-to-dawn photo sensor) and the $25 TP-Link Kasa Smart model KP405, which can dim a dimmable load.
Best Prices Today: Home Depot Defiant 15-amp outdoor smart plug (model HPPA52CWB)
Kevin, a former consumer electronics columnist for The Chicago Tribune, writes about technology and health from his home on the Connecticut shoreline overlooking an osprey platform. Smart-home confession: He has two nightlights in his home connected to smart plugs.