What Is a Smart Plug? 4 Ways to Use Them Around the Home

What Is a Smart Plug? 4 Ways to Use Them Around the Home


Here's why you might want to upgrade your basic plugs with the latest technology.

While the demand for smart homes is rising, cost is still a barrier. However, some devices can help you enjoy the benefits of smart technology without the trouble of a complete overhaul. A smart plug is a great example.

This innovative device transforms any standard outlet into a smart outlet. It is an affordable way to turn everyday appliances, devices, and systems, such as lighting, coffee makers, TVs, and stereos, into smart home devices. Here is a guide to smart plugs and ways to use them.

What Is a Smart Plug?

A smart plug—sometimes called a smart outlet or smart switch—is a small adapter or device that turns a standard outlet into a smart one. With it, you can use a remote control to adjust the power supply to whatever is plugged into it. For example, with a smart plug, you can switch lights on and off from wherever you are.

Standard features of a smart plug include:

  • Scheduling and timer functions: Smart plugs allow users to create customized and automated schedules for their devices. Some plugs also offer timer functions for temporary on and off cycles.
  • Smartphone app: Most smart plugs come with a combined smartphone app that you can download from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
  • Voice control: Most smart plugs have features for easy integration with voice assistants, such as Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri. This integration allows hands-free control for added convenience.
  • Wi-Fi connectivity: Connecting the smart plug to your home Wi-Fi network enables remote control and access via smartphone apps or voice assistants.

How Smart Plugs Work

A smart plug converts regular items to "intelligent" ones. All you need to do is plug it into a standard electric outlet and connect it to the home Wi-Fi network using an app on your smartphone or tablet. Once connected, you can control appliances plugged into the outlet through the app or voice commands. However, smart plugs don't work with all appliances.

Types of Smart Plugs

Several types of smart plugs are on the market, differing in design, features, and size. Some of the common types include:

  • Basic smart plugs: These entry-level smart plugs offer essential features like Wi-Fi connectivity, smartphone app control, and voice command compatibility. They are typically affordable and easy to set up.
  • Energy-monitoring smart plugs: Besides the essentials, these smart plugs have energy-monitoring capabilities that allow users to track the power consumption of connected appliances. This feature helps users identify and eliminate power guzzlers, thus reducing energy waste and monthly energy bills.
  • Outdoor smart plugs: Outdoor smart plugs are weatherproof. They often come with durable casing and enhanced connectivity range. These smart plugs are ideal for outdoor appliances, such as walkway lighting and sprinkler systems.
  • Power strip smart plugs: These multi-outlet smart plugs offer several smart-controlled sockets in a single device. Some also include USB charging ports for added convenience.

Ways to Use Smart Plugs in Your Home

There are many ways to use smart plugs around the home.

Enhance Security

Keeping exterior lights on is a visual deterrent for bulgars. However, keeping them on all day is not cost-effective. Many smart plugs come with features that allow you to schedule the times various appliances and systems, including lighting, turn on and off.

Manage Energy

Some smart plugs have built-in energy management tools that track how much energy each device or appliance uses. Energy usage tracking helps individuals identify and eliminate power guzzlers.

Upgrade Routines

Use smart devices to upgrade your morning or waking up routine: Smart plugs enable a person to sync their alarm clock with the bedside lamp and stereo so that as soon as the alarm goes off, the bedside lamp turns on, and music plays from the stereo, motivating the person to get out of the bed and start the day. If coffee is part of your day, a smart plug automatically starts brewing a pot as you get out of bed—if you remember to fill the coffeemaker with grounds and water the night before.

Control Devices

Smart plugs give you control over many of your devices, including some air conditioners, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and heaters. You can turn them on when you are about to return home to ensure you are greeted by the right temperature when you arrive. Also, you can switch them off when you leave to conserve energy, especially during trips away.

Benefits of Smart Plugs

Chief among the benefits of smart plugs is convenience. They allow users to remote control or voice control their devices, which enables them to turn them on and off, set schedules, and monitor energy usage from anywhere, eliminating the need to operate the switches manually.

Users can optimize energy usage with smart plugs. Scheduling powering on/off of devices reduces standby power consumption. At the same time, energy monitoring provides insights into power usage patterns, enabling users to identify and eliminate energy-wasting behaviors.

Smart plugs make home automation possible by integrating seamlessly with other smart devices and platforms within the home. Homeowners can use smart plugs with existing smart home ecosystems to create custom automation routines, such as switching lights on when motion is detected or adjusting thermostat settings based on occupancy, enhancing overall comfort and security.

Smart plugs also offer safety benefits. Users can monitor and control devices remotely, reducing the risk of accidents or hazards caused by forgotten appliances. For example, users can remotely turn off irons or space heaters left on accidentally, mitigating fire risks. Additionally, some smart plugs offer overload protection features to prevent damage to connected appliances and ensure electrical safety.



  • All photos used in this blogpost are sourced from the internet, and the rights belong to their respective owners
  • Allen, Nafeesah. “What Is a Smart Plug? 4 Ways to Use Them Around the Home.” Better Homes & Gardens, 21 Feb. 2024, www.bhg.com/what-is-a-smart-plug-8584732
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