Space heater and Smartthings smart plug

I have reads lots of posts and articles and YouTube videos on connecting a space heater to a smart plug. Some say never do this. Some say do it as long as you make sure you check the power requirements. Is there a definitive answer to the question of connecting a space heater to a smart plug?

I need supplemental heat in a bedroom. I connected a heater that draws 878W when turned on by a Smartthings Smart plug. I have a routine that monitors the outside temp and only turns on when below 40 degrees. The smart plug is rated for 1800W.

Am I safe here or should I just avoid connecting a heater to a smart plug? Or is it that I need a smart plug that is rated for higher current?

I, for one, would not risk giving you advice on something like this.

2 Likes

The definitive safety code answer in both the US and EU/UK is don’t do this. It’s not just about the amps, it’s about the fact that many space heaters are hot enough to start a fire if something is too close to them, and that’s not a good set up for Home Automation.

There are some that are specifically made to be safer. These are usually wall-mounted and have their own internal thermostats and overheating safety features. Because they are wall-mounted, it’s less likely that anything will be too close to them. Because they turn themselves off if they get too hot, they are less likely to cause a fire. And of course they can’t tip over because they are wall-mounted. These will have the intelligence built into the heater, and if they are UL or ETL listed, should be safe to use.

Most of the inexpensive ones that just sit on the floor will have guidance in their own user manual telling you not to use them unattended and only to plug them into a wall socket. There are a few of this type which are intended for home automation, but may still not be intended to be run except when you are right there in the room. So read the descriptions carefully. At a minimum, they should shut themselves off if they tip over or get too hot.

Here’s a good example of a wallmount design, which is UL compliant, has internal safety features, is “safe to run unattended“ according to the manufacturer, and can be combined with a specific smart plug.

The ones that work with Alexa can also get partial smartthings integration that way.

Econohome seems to be a good brand, they have many different wallmount variations with different features and different safety certifications. Some models even come with a paintable cover. Home Depot sells these in some locations.

If you really want a floorstanding model, Govee has some small ones designed for home automation, and which the manufacturer says can be run unattended. But you don’t use these with a smart plug, the smarts are built into the unit. Most should have tipover protection, and an overheat shut off. Again, you get partial integration through Alexa routines.



image

Personally, I prefer the wallmount design, but as a wheelchair user, I am very sensitive to fire safety issues.

And again, none of these are using just a regular smart plug. They are specifically designed for home automation with additional safety features.

4 Likes

Maybe it would be helpful if I discussed the type of heater. I am looking at this:

Not something that can easily catch fire. Also it will mostly be scheduled to run on a nighttime schedule when we are home and not scheduled to turn on when no one is home.

The space heater is not what catches fire – – it catches other things on fire.

That model’s design is unfortunately the kind you should not use with Home Automation.

From the manual:

This appliance gets very hot when in use. To pre- vent burns, do not touch hot surfaces with bare skin. use the handle when moving the appliance. Keep all flammable materials, such as furniture, pillows, bedding, paper, clothing, and curtains at least 3 feet (90 cm) from the front and top of the appliance, also avoid contact with the sides and back.

The following description would also apply to smart plugs. Again, from the DeLonghi manual:

Do not use this appliance with an extension cord or outlet strip. Connect the appliance directly to a suitable outlet…. The radiator must be connected to a properly polarized A/C 110/120 V household outlet in perfect working condition.

extreme caution is necessary whenever the heater is left operating unattended.

So the answer to your original question is no, don’t use that one with a smart plug.

It does have an internal thermostat to shut off if it gets too hot, but it doesn’t even have a tipover shut off.

Also, if you check the forum, you will find fairly frequent posts from people who had devices turned on randomly when they were not expecting them to be. Personally, I don’t connect anything to smartthings that would not be safe running for 24 hours unattended. :thinking:

Here’s one from this month:

you should also be aware that if you do use it with a smart plug that’s against the manufacturer instructions and if unfortunately there were a fire, your insurance might not cover damage because of that issue.

Fortunately, these days, there are multiple models available now designed for use with Home Automation, as I mentioned in my previous post. So again, to go back to your original question, if you choose one of those models, you should be fine, particularly if it is UL or ETL certified, as long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and precautions.

Otherwise, you can always contact the manufacturer of the heater you would like to use and ask them if there’s a way to use it with Alexa. Maybe they have a different model which would be more suitable for home automation.

2 Likes

Thanks all for the feedback. This was very helpful and I appreciate the effort put forth by this community.
Will take the advice and move forward.

2 Likes

One more option for a bedroom that I use myself, just in case it’s of any interest…

Most electric blankets have the same issue as most floorstanding space heaters: they just aren’t safe to add to a home automation system.

But Sunbeam in the US now has a heated mattress cover that works with Alexa. It’s relatively inexpensive, under $150 even for the king-size. It goes over the mattress and under the fitted sheet, so it stays flat and uncrumpled, which is the usual safety issue with electric blankets. It turns itself down after one hour if set to high unless you push a physical button on the controller, it has overheating safety shutoff’s. And for the king and queensize you can control the two sides of the mattress cover independently. Machine washable. Designed for safe remote operation.

Program heating ahead of time, or preheat bedding remotely, and have a perfectly heated, cozy bed waiting for you when you want it.

I’ve had one for over a year and really like it. I have it set to preheat about 30 minutes before I get into bed and turn itself off every night about 1 AM. If I get hot or cold during the night, I can adjust it with Alexa or its own app. It has eliminated the need at our house for any other supplemental heating on nights when we have the thermostat turned down to 66 but it gets unusually cold in a couple of the bedrooms.

Not everyone will like it, but it’s another home automation option That’s only been available for a year or two, so I wanted to mention it.

Integration with smartthings would be through an Alexa routine.

image

I purchased the Econohome wall mounted heater. It comes with a smart plug that seems kinda cheap and connects to google play and alexa and its own app. the plug is rated for 120VAC/15A/1800W/60HZ. I would prefer to use the SmartThings Smart plug. I have a 2018 version of the plug GP-U999SJVLDAA. It is rated 120VAC/15A/60HZ.
Can I just swap out the smart plug that came with the new heater with the SmartThings smart plug with no worries?