Eve Energy Smart Plug Review: Privacy at a Premium

To stand out in today's smart plug market, vendors will need to look for new ways to differentiate themselves from the plethora of low-cost alternatives. One company, Eve Systems, hopes to do so by offering their Eve Energy Smart Plug that focuses on user privacy while utilizing cutting-edge technology.

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If you read our guide to the top 5 best Matter-compatible smart plugs, you'll know that we hail these modern marvels as being the "cornerstone of smart home automation". That's because of their ability to instantly make any "dumb" old appliance smart by adding convenient app and voice controls.

While there have been hundreds of smart plugs hitting the market over the years, the introduction of Matter has leveled the playing field when it comes to smart home compatibility. Whether you are team Apple, Google, or Alexa, you now only need to look for the Matter logo when purchasing a smart plug.

To stand out in today's smart plug market, vendors will need to look for new ways to differentiate themselves from the plethora of low-cost alternatives. One company, Eve Systems, hopes to do so by offering a smart plug that focuses on user privacy while utilizing cutting-edge technology.

I've been putting the Eve Energy Smart Plug through its paces in my home for some time now, and while its high $40 price and some limitations prevent it from being the best option for everyone, it still is the one that I turn to whenever I need to make something smart.

Eve Energy Design

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Being a smart plug, the Eve Energy follows a familiar footprint when it comes to design. Unboxing the Eve Energy reveals the all-white plastic smart plug, required documentation, and well, that's pretty much it.

While it isn't the slimmest option around, the Eve Energy is compact enough to allow for usage of the other receptacle in a standard North American outlet arrangement. Eve's design also allows for stacking two Energy plugs onto the same outlet, which while rare, is still a situation that you may come across.

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In addition to the single outlet on the front, the Eve Energy features an LED indicator that also acts as an on-device way to toggle its power state. The LED indicator light is adjustable, with the Eve app—available only on iOS for now—offering several brightness options as well as the ability to turn it off completely. 

Over on the left side of the plug, you'll find the all-important Matter code sticker which you'll need to scan to get it up and running with your smart home platform. The back of the Eve Energy yields specs and regulatory information, while the top sports the only visible on-device logo which keeps the entire packaging simple and clean.

Eve Energy Specs and Connectivity

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As previously mentioned, we are taking a look at the North American Eve Energy smart plug. This version of the Eve Energy features a single outlet capable of handling 120-volt electrical loads up to 15 amps, while in other parts of the world, you'll see support for 240-volts and amperage ranging from 11 to 13 amps max.

Regardless of the model, the Eve Energy smart plug is rated for indoor use only. The Eve Energy can operate safely between 0-35 degrees Celsius, but it doesn't have any weather or dust resistance ratings so you are on your own if you decide to place it outdoors.

Connectivity is what really sets Eve Energy apart from its competitors. Instead of clogging your home network with another Wi-Fi device, or requiring a proprietary Eve hub, the Eve Energy connects to smart home platforms via Thread.

Thread, if you haven't heard, is the latest and greatest wireless standard that uses mesh technology to create a robust smart home network. Through the mesh network, Thread promises speedier response times, and greater reliability over Bluetooth, as well as privacy benefits as Thread devices do not talk directly to the internet as you see with Wi-Fi.

Of course, the Eve Energy also supports Matter so it supports Apple Home, Google, Alexa, and SmartThings right out of the box. No downloading an update to enable compatibility here, it just works.

Eve Energy Setup

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Thanks to Matter-over-Thread support, pairing the Eve Energy to my smart home platform of choice–Apple Home—took just a couple of minutes. As with adding any Matter device to the Apple Home app, I loved how I only needed to plug the Eve Energy in and scan the included pairing code to connect it to my existing Thread network.

For testing purposes, I also went through the initial pairing process with the Google Home app. While it did have a few more setup screens, I am happy to report that the Eve Energy connected quickly to my Nest Wi-Fi Pro, which acts as my Google Matter Controller.

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Satisfied with the pairing process on the two platforms that I use in my home, I then proceeded to test out Matter's multi-admin feature. Multi-admin is the flagship feature of Matter, allowing seamless interoperability between all platforms—in theory.

Unfortunately, this is where I came across my first issue with the Eve Energy. For some reason, generating a pairing code from the Apple Home app and then attempting to use it in the Google Home app resulted in a generic 'pairing failed' message every time.

After several failed attempts over the course of an hour or so, I finally solved the problem by restarting all of the Thread Border Routers in my home. To be fair, the issue was most likely an issue with Thread and/or Matter and not the Eve Energy itself, but it is something to keep in mind if you plan to use Eve's plug with multiple platforms.

Eve Energy Performance and Automation

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Whether toggling it on or off via app, automation, or voice assistant, the Eve Energy smart plug performed admirably during testing. Commands sent to the Eve Energy over Thread were carried out pretty much instantly, and I did not come across any bouts of unresponsiveness which was quite impressive.

Although I did have to download the Eve app to use it, I was also impressed by the energy monitoring capabilities of the Eve Energy smart plug. I especially liked how the Eve app makes it easy to decipher energy usage through graphs, logs, and cost estimates based on the electrical rates that I entered through the Settings tab.

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However, the Eve app is only currently available through iOS. This, unfortunately, means that Android users will not have access to energy monitoring until either Eve releases an app on the Google Play store, or until the major platforms incorporate newly introduced Matter 1.3 features.

Another downside to energy monitoring is the lack of available automation options. Currently the Eve app and the Apple Home app lack energy-based triggers so I was not able to create an automation that turns off an appliance automatically when consumption stops.

Those limitations aside, I enjoyed using the Eve Energy during my initial testing so much that I now have deployed multiple units around my home. My household now relies on Eve Energy plugs to automate fans, lamps, and air fresheners, and since it extends my Thread network, I even use a few to ensure that every corner of my home is covered.

Eve Energy: Best for some, not all

Although the Eve Energy is my go-to solution when I need to make an older "dumb" appliance smart, it certainly isn't for everyone. If you value privacy, energy monitoring, or Thread, then it's hard to find anything better than the Eve Energy smart plug. 

Eve's smart plug works instantly right out of the box without signing up for yet another account, and its ability to extend Thread networks makes it a valuable asset in larger homes. Plus, the lack of a proprietary hub means that you won't need to worry about it not working in the future if Eve happens to shut down.

However, at $40, the plug's hefty price tag will instantly take it out of the running for most. And coupled with missing energy monitoring, or an Android app in general, makes the Eve Energy better suited for those in the Apple ecosystem—at least for now.