Meross Wi-Fi Smart Plug review: A low-cost way into HomeKit automation

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 4
People who want to get started with home automation and HomeKit are spoiled for choice when it comes to devices to buy for their smart home. Devices such as video doorbells, air purifiers, and lights are all available to purchase and install to make a person's life easier.




Those who don't necessarily want to go all-in on HomeKit will most likely gravitate towards the more obvious and seemingly easy-to-use devices, namely lights and smart plugs. This makes sense, as they can be acquired with very little outlay and can easily be added or removed from a home setup without too much trouble.

Naturally, anyone going down the route of smart plugs may search Amazon and find many outlets to choose from, sometimes at a meager cost. The Meross Smart Wi-Fi Plug is one example of what you can buy at the cheaper end of the range.

Small and simple

The Smart Wi-Fi Plug is a reasonably compact offering, measuring 2.6 inches by 2.6 inches by 2.3 inches, including the prongs that go into the outlet. The version being tested is for UK outlets, but variants exist for US, EU, Australian, and French outlets.

While small, the plug is slightly too large to be ideal for extension cables, as the relatively close together outlet positions make it hard to fit something in beside the smart plug, though it is possible. For wall-mounted outlets, where there's typically more space between each outlet, it's okay.

This plug is model number MSS210, but Meross does sell alternative versions. The MSS110 is a slimmer version that will fit onto an extension cord without inter-plug space issues.

The button on the top pulls double duty as the indicator for the smart plug.
The button on the top pulls double duty as the indicator for the smart plug.


The main interaction point is the button on the top, which can be pressed to turn the smart plug on and off manually. It is pretty flush with the rest of the case.

The button also houses two LEDs, which can flash amber and green to show if it is initializing, updating, connecting to Wi-Fi, or is allowing power to flow through to connected devices.

On the face of the plug, a warning label advises it can work with devices up to 13A for this version. Depending on the regionalized version, the plug can handle between up to 10A to 16A at most, but it ultimately reminds us that the smart plug can't be used with hefty appliances like a washing machine.

While regulatory information is on the base and the left-hand side, the right is home to the HomeKit sticker. Showing the scannable code, the documentation also includes a section specifically for sticking the HomeKit sticker to, instead of leaving it exposed on the plug itself.

Setup and Usage

For a cheap HomeKit-enabled smart plug, the actual setup process is quite simple, as it's the usual process of adding an accessory via the Home app. There's no need to use a manufacturer's specific app, as you just scan or enter the code, make sure it's plugged in, and go through the final configuration in Home.

One of the stipulations is to have access to a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network, which the vast majority of HomeKit users will have available to use. It won't work on a 5G Wi-Fi network.

The HomeKit sticker on the side of the smart plug is removable.
The HomeKit sticker on the side of the smart plug is removable.


After the reasonably quick setup, it becomes immediately usable in HomeKit. Since it's a basic smart plug, you can turn it on and off remotely, set it up within scenes and with automation and other usual HomeKit applications.

The response time for requests to turn on and off is relatively quick, with a lag of around a second before the state changes.

The companion app

While you don't strictly need to use the companion Meross app, it is available if you require it. This largely falls into the spectrum of Android users if you want it to work with Amazon Alexa, the Google Assistant, or SmartThings.

You can control it from the app if you want, with it offering familiar scenes and routines, though you will probably just use the Home app for that. Set up is arguably more straightforward, as you don't have to enter the code into the app.

The Account section helps you with the integration to the other smart services and the option to check for firmware updates. For such a simple device, this seems unlikely to benefit from such updates, though the chance to do so is always there.

The Meross companion app is functional, but not required for HomeKit.
The Meross companion app is functional, but not required for HomeKit.


There are also social media links to the manufacturer and a "Savvy User" section that provides a way to buy more of the company's smart goods.

Since you can get all the functionality you want from the smart plug in HomeKit alone, there's very little need to use the companion app if you're only using Apple's ecosystem. It's safe to ignore the app in that case, especially if you want to keep your personal data more private without having to sign up for an account.

Basic, but good value

Smart plugs are pretty easy to understand devices and are a reasonable entry point for building a smart home setup. It's safe to say the Meross Smart Wi-Fi Plug certainly falls into the category of easy-to-use and simple by design.

If you are concerned about having enough space beside the smart plug to plug more devices into outlets, there is a risk that it may block your way in some cases. Other models may be a lot smaller, even one that Meross itself produces, but it's certainly not as large a smart plug as some others on the market.

The companion app may be a privacy and upselling worry for some, but it's only really a problem if you need to use it. Sure, if you need to use it with Android devices, you have to use the app, but those needing it only for HomeKit can deal without it.

If you want a cheap and cheerful smart plug to get started with an Apple-based smart home, it's hard not to recommend the Meross Smart Wi-Fi Plug.

Pros
  • Good value
  • Simple to set up and use
  • Fairly compact
  • Inoffensive design
  • Chunky button on the top
  • Works without companion app
Cons
  • Still big enough to block some neighboring outlets
  • Sales attempts via optional companion app
  • Prongs won't fold down

Rating: 4 out of 5

Where to buy

The U.S. version of the Meross Smart Wi-Fi Plug is available on Amazon, priced at $14.99 for one, $29.99 for three, or $37.99 for four (all three pack sizes have clippable coupon discounts at press time).

The U.K. version reviewed is also available from Amazon UK, priced at 12.99 ($18.07) including VAT.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    The US version linked doesn't support HomeKit
    edited August 4 watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 13
    bfranksbfranks Posts: 19member
    The US version linked doesn't support HomeKit
    The UK version has HomeKit support straight out of the box. I think the older version didn’t have HomeKit support, i am not sure if it’s a simple firmware update you need or just to make sure you have the newest model. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 13
    iOS_Guy80iOS_Guy80 Posts: 543member
    The Philips hue smart plug works so well with the Phillips hue lighting system and app.
  • Reply 4 of 13
    bwallsbwalls Posts: 10unconfirmed, member
    There is a page on the US Amazon site that features Homekit compatibility for what seems to be the same model, but costs about $10 more for a four pack after an $7 discount coupon. Apparently one is the mss110 and the other is mss110hk?

    https://www.amazon.com/meross-Smart-Plug-HomeKit-Pack/dp/B084JHJBQT?ref_=ast_sto_dp&th=1
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 13
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,082member
    My experience with HomeKit is terrible. I keep losing connection and getting "No response" way too often with both Eve and Meross devices. Please do not recommend home automation products unless those devices are Thread-enabled which in theory should address those common problems since Thread-enabled plugged devices function as routers and can quickly "heal" in a Thread network.  






  • Reply 6 of 13
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,591member
    netrox said:
    My experience with HomeKit is terrible. I keep losing connection and getting "No response" way too often with both Eve and Meross devices. Please do not recommend home automation products unless those devices are Thread-enabled which in theory should address those common problems since Thread-enabled plugged devices function as routers and can quickly "heal" in a Thread network.  
    I get the same problems as you, but I don't think the problem is with "HomeKit" per se, but with the Zigbee network used by the Philips Hue Bridge. It's possible to change the Zigbee channel used by that Bridge, which changes the number of problems I get, but never eliminates them. I have come to the same conclusion as you, that perhaps the only way to get reliability is to get Thread-enabled devices. Right now the Thread devices that I want to get are out of stock at every outlet that normally sells them so I'm holding off purchase in case a new model is imminent.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 13
    netrox said:
    My experience with HomeKit is terrible. I keep losing connection and getting "No response" way too often with both Eve and Meross devices. Please do not recommend home automation products unless those devices are Thread-enabled which in theory should address those common problems since Thread-enabled plugged devices function as routers and can quickly "heal" in a Thread network.  
    I get the same problems as you, but I don't think the problem is with "HomeKit" per se, but with the Zigbee network used by the Philips Hue Bridge. It's possible to change the Zigbee channel used by that Bridge, which changes the number of problems I get, but never eliminates them. I have come to the same conclusion as you, that perhaps the only way to get reliability is to get Thread-enabled devices. Right now the Thread devices that I want to get are out of stock at every outlet that normally sells them so I'm holding off purchase in case a new model is imminent.
    Agree with both of these comments...  I'm actively now swapping out all of our non-Thread devices a couple each month.  Hue is generally a good option otherwise, but I personally made a decision at the beginning of the year that I was done with any manufacturer that required the use of their own hub.

    The change is easy for lighting with the Nanoleaf Essentials bulbs (fingers crossed for E14 and B12 versions soon), but the only Thread option for smart plugs is the expensive Eve Energy with extra smart features I don't need or want to pay for. 

    So that brings us to Wi-Fi smart plugs and the Meross being reviewed - I bought the UK four pack but wish I had just spent the extra for the Eves.  These seem to be poorly shielded as they have the most unreliable Wi-Fi connection of any product I have ever bought!  Even the slightest source of interference within a couple of feet, such as a power brick, USB hub, tiny goldfish bowl pump - and they fail to function within hours of being turned on.  For reference, the Wemo mini smart plugs we have are nowhere near as sensitive to interference and only moderately more expensive when both are purchased separately, but even these will still drop out once a week or so, proving Thread is the only way forward IMO.

    The Meross smart strip is a different story and I've been very happy with it, but I personally would pass of their Wi-Fi smart plugs.

     


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 13
    For balance, I have had 4 of these for many months and they work very well. Response is normally in a fraction of a second even on a remote light connected via a wifi extender. £12 on Amazon. Watch out you don’t buy the none HomeKit version.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 13
    looplessloopless Posts: 222member
    I have at least four of the meross Wi-Fi smart plugs and two of their external weatherproof plugs and they all work perfectly reliably and have never given me any issues when used from HomeKit. Highly recommended And give me less trouble than my hue accessories and my iHome ones. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 13
    Thank you Loopless and AppleInsideruser,

    Maybe I’ve just been unlucky, then - As I said, my other Meross products haven’t any similar connection issues like with these plugs. 

    Oh well.  Thanks again. 
    appleinsideruserwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 13
    Thank you Loopless and AppleInsideruser,

    Maybe I’ve just been unlucky, then - As I said, my other Meross products haven’t any similar connection issues like with these plugs. 

    Oh well.  Thanks again. 
    It sounds like you have a challenging RF environment that the Meross is not good at coping with. It’s hard to make radio equipment work close to other noisy devices, so your experience is worth bearing in mind for others. Mine are in free air so are not bothered by nearby interference. 
  • Reply 12 of 13
    netrox said:
    My experience with HomeKit is terrible. I keep losing connection and getting "No response" way too often with both Eve and Meross devices. Please do not recommend home automation products unless those devices are Thread-enabled which in theory should address those common problems since Thread-enabled plugged devices function as routers and can quickly "heal" in a Thread network.  

    Thread-enabled devices are not based on based on 802.11n/802.11ac/802/11ax Wifi networks. They would use their own wireless network protocols such has Z-wave or Zigbee, etc.  Normally They have a bridge device that hooks on to your Standard Wifi.  If your experience has been terrible then your wifi network is not robust enough especially on the 2.4ghz wifi network since most wifi IOT devices uses 2.4ghz 802.11n currently and 2.4ghz is a crowded Wifi Band.

    To solve most IOT drops and other wifi issues I suggested getting a used Ruckus R510/R610 AP and flash it to Ruckus Unleashed firmware.  What makes Ruckus so special is their unique antenna designs which adaptive to each wifi client.  A used Ruckus R610 can't be bought used on ebay for about $99-$150. 

    Note Ruckus is a enterprise grade Wifi AP and has one of the best wifi antenna designs in the Wifi industry.  Anyway, I'm an IT consultant and specialize in Wifi Deployments for Small business, small schools and high end homes.  A used Ruckus is quite affordable and will solve most IOT wifi issues.  To understand more about Ruckus Adaptive antenna system. Check out this video.



    Note: Used Ruckus APs are more affordable in the US. Outside of the US it's a lot more expensive. 
  • Reply 13 of 13
    To my surprise and delight I found out that if I assigned a fixed IP address to my Hue Hub from my router, this has resolved all my "No response" issues for about a month. I still have a bad taste in my mouth from all the Hue/HomeKit problems I've had over the years, so I'm still inclined to switch to Thread devices. However since Apple has a big even on Sept 14, I won't be buying any products because announcements at the event may change the direction I want to move in.
    appleinsideruser
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