38 Useful Things You Can Do with a Smart Plug

This is the ultimate guide to uses for your new smart plug, and even don’t own one, this is the list to make you want one
Smart Plug Uses
Published: 10th Feb 2020
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By SHN Team

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Searching for an answer? Here's our table of contents: 

1) What is a Smart Plug?

2) Do Smart Plugs Need WiFi?

3) Can Smart Plugs be used outside?

4) Get the most out of your Smart Plug

5) Which devices work best with smart plugs?

6) Smart Plug Uses in the Home

          a) Device Charging 

          b) Radios 

          c) Wi-Fi Routers 

          d) Dehumidifiers & Humidifiers 

          e) Air Purifiers 

          f) Hidden Outlets 

          g) Saving Electricity 

8) Smart plug uses in the kitchen/utility room

          a) Crockpot / Slow Cooker 

          b) Kettle & Coffee Maker 

          c) Waffle Maker 

          d) Microwaves 

          e) Pet Feeder 

          f) Tumble Dryer 

          g) Hands-Free 

9) Smart plug uses in the living room/dining room/reception room

          a) Entertainment Systems 

          b) Air Conditioner 

          c) Lamps 

          d) Fish Tank Lights 

          e) Christmas Decorations 

10) Smart plug uses in the bedroom

          a) Fans 

          b) Electric blankets 

          c) Hair Straighteners & Curling Irons 

          d) Bedroom Lamps 

11) Smart plug uses in the kids' bedroom

          a) TVs & Games Consoles 

          b) Night Light 

12) Smart plug uses in the yard/garden

          a) Lawn Sprinklers 

          b) Irrigation & Plant Watering 

          c) Pool Pumps 

          d) Garden Lighting 

          e) Greenhouse Accessories 

13) Smart plug uses in the workshop/garage/shed

          a) Tool Charging 

          b) Electric Heaters 

14) Smart plug uses in the office

          a) Office Computers 

15) Creative Uses For Smart Plugs

          a) Deter burglars by making it look like someone's home 

          b) Novelty Doorbell 

          c) Fun Weather Notifications 

          d) Motion Enabled Lights 

          e) Switch Power Off When You Leave The House 

 

What is a Smart Plug?

Smart plugs are an essential item in any smart home. These small devices are easy to use and incredibly versatile since they can be used with almost any plug-in device. Smart plugs are also affordable, costing on average between $8 and $40 each.

To use a smart plug, you plug it into a standard wall outlet and follow some simple setup procedures, such as installing a mobile app and connecting the device to your home WiFi.

From then on, you will be able to turn on/off remotely any device that is plugged into the smart plug using a mobile app. Other benefits include the ability to schedule and automate, use hands-free voice commands, and lower your electricity bill.

Smart plugs stand out due to their ability to give users more control over ‘dumb’ devices, effectively bridging the gap between old and new, making them part of your smart home.

Some of the leading smart plugs and their corresponding brands in 2020 include:

Do Smart Plugs Need WiFi?

Most smart plugs require a Wifi (2.4GHz) connection to work, but Bluetooth smart plugs, such as the Revogi Bluetooth Smart Plug, are also available as an alternative.

Can Smart Plugs be used outside?

Outdoor smart plugs are available for those who want to use smart plugs in the garden or other outdoor areas. Outdoor smart plugs are usually bigger, but more durable and waterproof. A top example of an outdoor smart plug would be the TECKIN Outdoor Wi-Fi Outlet.

What is a Smart Power Strip?

A smart power strip works much the same as a smart plug, except that a smart power strip has multiple outlets that can be controlled and monitored individually rather than a single outlet. A smart power strip is also the more economical option when you have a lot of devices to plug-in, saving you both money and wall outlets.

Get the most out of your Smart Plug

To get the most out of your smart plugs you will want to explore using IFTTT and a virtual assistant, such as Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, etc:

  • IFTTT -  IFTTT is a free platform that lets you connect different apps, services, devices, and use them together in ‘Applets.’ Through Applets, you’re able to do new things that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. For example, you could have an Applet that turns on your smart plug at sunrise, by connecting your smart plug and the Weather Underground service on IFTTT.
  • Virtual Assistants - Most smart plugs are compatible with virtual assistants which can give you hands-free voice control. For example, if you pair your smart plug with Alexa and have an Echo device, you would be able to use custom voice commands such as “Alexa, turn on kitchen smart plug” to control it.

Which devices work best with smart plugs?

Smart plugs work particularly well with devices that have an on/off switch that can be kept in the ‘on’ position. This will allow the device to turn on as soon as it receives power, which you can control remotely with a smart plug.

For example, a kettle with the switch turned on will begin boiling as soon as it receives power. Whereas, some devices may go into standby mode when they receive power and still require you to press a button each time to turn them on.

Smart Plug Uses in the Home

Since you now understand what smart plugs are and the benefits they can bring, you are probably wondering where it’s best to use them. In this section, we’ll cover the best smart plug uses for every part of the home, be it the kitchen, garden, bedroom etc.

But before we get to that, here are seven great smart plug uses that work well anywhere in the home.

Device Charging

We charge our mobiles, tablets, laptops, and other devices at home on a daily basis, often overnight while we sleep. However, we also know that overcharging devices can cause damage and shorten battery life. Using smart plugs in combination with your chargers allows you to set the amount of charging time needed, removing the risks associated with overcharging while also saving electricity.

Radios

Smart plugs can be scheduled to turn on and off at specific times. This means you can set a smart plug to turn on your radio just before your favorite shows begin, ensuring that you’ll never miss them. Also, if you like to listen to the radio in the morning with a cup of coffee, you could automate both of these tasks as part of a morning routine using IFTTT or a smart home assistant like Alexa. We explain how to use your coffee maker with a smart plug further down in this article.

Wi-Fi Routers

Wi-Fi routers are prone to crashing when problems occur such as IP conflicts or overheating, causing your internet connection to go down temporarily. While this can be annoying, usually these problems are easily fixed by rebooting your router. A smart plug makes this even easier by allowing you to turn on/off your router remotely, which is especially helpful if it’s kept somewhere hard to reach. BUT, in order for this to work, you will need to use a Bluetooth smart plug, such as Eve Energy, rather than a Wi-Fi smart plug which will not work if your connection is down.

Dehumidifiers & Humidifiers

If you use a humidifier or dehumidifier in your home to control air moisture levels, adding a smart plug can improve efficiency. With a smart plug, you can schedule when you want your humidifier or dehumidifier to turn on/off as well as control it remotely. Also, if you have a smart device that monitors the humidity in your home, such as the ecobee SmartThermostat, then you can use an IFTTT applet to turn on your smart plug when humidity reaches a certain level.

Useful IFTTT applets:

Turn on WeMo Smart Plug when humidity is low

Turn off WeMo Smart Plug when humidity is high

Switch on SmartLife Plug according to Switchbot humidity sensor status

Air Purifiers

Pollution is a problem in many parts of the world, with airborne particles affecting people’s health or triggering allergies. Air purifiers can keep the air quality in your home at a safe level, and a smart plug can help you automate this process. A simple idea would be to use a smart plug to turn on your air purifier twice per day automatically. Or, if you have an air quality monitor at home, such as Awair, you could create an IFTTT applet that would turn on your smart plug, and therefore your air purifier, if the air becomes unhealthy.

Hidden Outlets

In every home there is always at least one wall outlet that is difficult to access. They could be hidden behind heavy furniture like wardrobes, couches, and beds, or in other hard to reach areas of the home. Controlling these sockets is a challenge, with homeowners often leaving them always ‘on’ with a device plugged in for convenience, which will be increasing their electricity bill. A smart plug enables you to easily control these outlets remotely by using a mobile application or voice commands.

Saving Electricity

Standby power, also known as vampire power, can account for up to 10% of your electricity bill. The term refers to devices that draw power while in standby mode, with the biggest offenders being:

  • Computers, Laptops, & Printers
  • Kitchen appliances like Microwaves & Coffee Machines.
  • TVs, Stereos, DVD players, & Games-Consoles
  • Heaters & ACs

By using smart plugs with the most energy-hungry devices, you can cut your electricity bill and help reduce CO2 emissions. While smart plugs do still use some power themselves, the amount is negligible in comparison to those listed above. This makes smart plugs a smart investment since the initial cost to buy them should be recovered within a year through the savings made.

Smart plug uses in the kitchen/utility room

Crockpot / Slow Cooker

The great thing about slow cookers is that you can fill them up before heading out, and then return home later to a delicious cooked meal that is ready to go. However, for those who seek perfection, or for recipes that require a specific cooking time, a smart plug gives you much greater flexibility. When a slow cooker is used with a smart plug, you can control exactly when and for how long you want to cook, no matter where you are.

Kettle & Coffee Maker

Are you someone who likes to wake up and have a tea or coffee each morning? If so, a smart plug can get your kettle boiling or coffee maker making before you even get out of bed. Simply fill up your kettle or coffee maker the night before, and then turn them on remotely with your smartphone or a voice command when you wake up. You could even automate this by setting the smart plug to turn on at a specific time. Either way, the result is a cup of joe ready to go as soon as you need it.

Useful IFTTT applets:

D-Link: Turn the coffee machine on at sunrise

Waffle Maker

The key to perfectly cooked waffles is a properly heated waffle maker. That means you will need to preheat the waffle iron for about 5-10 minutes before cooking. With a smart plug, you can get your waffle maker heating up without having to go to the kitchen. And if you eat waffles on a regular basis, you can even set a schedule so it starts heating up automatically.

Microwaves

When microwaves have finished cooking they often make an annoying, constant beeping sound to let you know. A smart plug allows you to stop this remotely. Also, microwaves are one of the biggest power users while in standby. Use a smart plug to easily turn off your microwave when it’s not in use to avoid wasting electricity.

Pet Feeder

While most automatic pet feeders are programmable, unless it’s a smart pet feeder you will not be able to control it remotely. By plugging the power adapter into a smart plug, you will be able to turn the pet feeder on/off remotely as needed. This will ensure your pet always gets the correct amount of food.

Tumble Dryer

Tumble dryers are potentially dangerous if left unattended, with the risk of causing house fires. A smart plug allows you to turn the dryer off remotely if you forget before leaving the house, or want to give your clothes some extra time to dry. You could also schedule the smart plug to only turn on when electricity rates are lower.

Hands-Free

There’ll be times when your hands are either full or messy while cooking in the kitchen. By utilizing smart plugs and a voice assistant such as Alexa or Google Assistant, you can get the kettle boiling, induction hob turned on/off, microwave turned on/off, and more without using your hands.

Smart plug uses in the living room/dining room/reception room

Entertainment Systems

Every living room has a TV and/or other entertainment devices such as DVD players, set-top boxes, and sound systems. Usually, all the wiring and plugs are hidden somewhere out of view, and possibly hard to reach. This creates the temptation to leave these devices always on in standby mode even when they’re not being used. A smart plug or smart power strip removes this temptation, allowing you to turn off these devices easily or automatically when they’re not needed.

Air Conditioner

A smart plug allows you to turn on your air conditioner remotely, meaning you can get the house at a nice cool temperature before you arrive home on a hot day. It can also help you run your AC more economically, as you will be able to turn it off remotely when you’re out of the house or in another room.

Lamps

In the evening or while watching a movie, it can be much cozier with a lamp on rather than the main lights. By using a smart plug and a smart home assistant such as Alexa, you can turn the lamp on/off with a voice command or mobile app.

Fish Tank Lights

Fish tank lights can illuminate the colors of your fish and regulate the fish’s eating and sleeping patterns. A smart plug can be used to automatically turn off the lights at night and on in the morning, simulating their natural environment.

Christmas Decorations

Clambering under the Christmas tree to turn the lights on and off each day can be a pain. Automating your festive lights with smart plugs offers the most convenient solution. You could even use an IFTTT applet to turn off your Christmas lights when you leave the house, using the location data from your phone. And when Christmas is over, you’ll easily be able to make use of your smart plugs elsewhere in the home.

Useful IFTTT Applets:

When I get home, turn the christmas tree lights on

Smart plug uses in the bedroom

Fans

When it’s hot, the cool breeze from a fan can help you get to sleep. But if you often wake up later in the night because you’ve become too cool from the fan, then a smart plug could be a good solution for you. Simply schedule the smart plug to power your fan for a few hours while you get to sleep and then have it turn off automatically.

Electric blankets

While an electric blanket on a cold winter's night is a great way to keep you snug, you may not want to keep it on all night. Rather than waking up in a sweat in the middle of the night, use a smart plug to schedule how long the electric blanket stays on for beforehand.

Hair Straighteners & Curling Irons

Have you ever left the house wondering if you left your hair straighteners or curling iron on? Often this results in having to rush back home to check due to the potential risk of a fire starting. If you use your hair irons with smart plugs, you will be able to check and turn them off remotely, improving home safety.

Bedroom Lamps

If the alarm clock alone is not enough to get you up in the morning, you could set a smart plug to turn on your lamp at the same time. Also, if you wake up in the night needing the bathroom, with the lamp out of reach, you will be able to turn it on remotely without having to clamber around the room in the dark.

Smart plug uses in the kids’ bedroom

TVs & Games Consoles

Kids love watching TV and playing computer games. In fact, at times it can be a challenge to get them to stop. By using a smart plug, you can schedule the exact amount of time kids are able to use these devices, and make sure everything is turned off by bedtime.

Night Light

Night lights can provide a source of comfort for kids who are afraid of the dark. A smart plug will allow you to schedule when a night light turns on and off.

Smart plug uses in the yard/garden

Lawn Sprinklers

While most sprinklers come with a timer and other functionality, using a smart plug can still increase the control you have over it. A smart plug will allow you to turn on/off your sprinkler at anytime, meaning that if you see it starting to rain, you can turn it off remotely to save water.

Irrigation & Plant Watering

If you have a plant watering system that utilizes a plug-in water pump and a drip irrigation kit, you can automate the system by using a smart plug. Plug the water pump into a smart plug, and then schedule when and how long you want it to run. This will turn your watering system into a self-watering system that you will be able to control anytime and from anywhere.

Useful IFTTT Applets:

Turn on your D-Link Plug when irrigation starts

Pool Pumps

A pumping system is important as it keeps your pool chlorinated and clears debris. However, running a pool pump constantly is not usually necessary, so, by utilizing a smart plug you can schedule when and how long it runs for. This can also help you conserve electricity which will lower your bill.

Garden Lighting

Lighting can really transform a garden at night, turning it into a usable space and adding aesthetic appeal. However, you may not want the lights always on, so by utilizing a smart plug you can turn them on/off remotely when needed, or schedule them to come on at specific times.

Greenhouse Accessories

If you use any devices in your greenhouse, such as a heater or LED grow lights, a smart plug will allow you to automate their use and control them remotely. This is especially helpful when you are away from home and worried about maintaining the health of your plants.

Smart plug uses in the workshop/garage/shed

Tool Charging

Many power tools, such as drills and hedge trimmers, can be cordless with rechargeable batteries. By using a smart plug, you are able to set the amount of time each tool will charge for, allowing you to avoid overcharging and wasting electricity.

Electric Heaters

Having to work in a freezing cold workshop while you are waiting for the heaters to warm up the space is not ideal. Smart plugs allow you to get the heaters turned on remotely, so you can arrive at a nice warm workshop and get started with your projects.

Smart plug uses in the office

Office Computers

A desktop computer or laptop is a staple in any office, and depending on the kind of work you do, you may also have multiple monitors, a printer, a speaker system, and more. All of these items will draw power while in standby mode, which is costing you money.

A good solution here is to use a smart power strip, such as the Kasa Smart WiFi Power Strip by TP-Link, to handle all of your office equipment. This will allow you to turn off all the devices remotely when they’re not being used. You could also use a standard power strip plugged into a smart plug. But if you do this, make sure the devices plugged into the power strip do not draw more power than the smart plug can handle.

Creative Uses For Smart Plugs

Deter burglars by making it look like someone's home

By connecting lamps around the home to smart plugs, you will be able to automatically have them turn on/off while you are away, creating the illusion that someone is home. This should help to deter any would-be burglars from attempting to break-in while you’re not there.

Novelty Doorbell

If you have a smart doorbell, such as Ring Video Doorbell, you can use an IFTTT Applet to turn on and then off your smart plug when the doorbell rings. For example, you could plug Christmas lights into the smart plug and hang them around the front door which will flash on temporarily when the doorbell is rung, creating a nice effect for visitors.

Useful IFTTT Applet:

If Ring doorbell rings, turn off and on WeMo smart plug

Fun Weather Notifications

If you are really hoping it will snow this year, and want to know right away if it does, a smart plug could provide a fun solution. By using a combination of a smart plug, a lamp, free Weather Underground data, and IFTTT, you could have your lamp blink a set number of times when it snows. To do this, you’ll need to create an IFTTT Applet that tells your smart plug to turn on/off repeatedly when Weather Underground data states that it is snowing in your area.

Motion Enabled Lights

If you have motion detectors in your home, such as those that come with the Ring Alarm Home Security System, you could create an IFTTT applet that automatically turns on a smart plug when motion is detected. This means you could have a hall lamp automatically turn on if a bedroom door is opened at night, making a midnight trip to the bathroom a lot easier. Another example would be using it to frighten off burglars by having various lamps turn on if motion is detected at night.

Useful IFTTT Applet:

Turn on WeMo Smart Plug When Ring Detects Motion at Night

Switch Power Off When You Leave The House

By connecting a smart plug and the location data from your phone in an IFTTT Applet, you can have the smart plug turn on/off automatically when you leave or enter an area. There are many potential use cases for this, but some examples would include having the AC or your Christmas lights turn on and off automatically.

Useful IFTTT Applets:

Turn your plug off when you leave home

Turn on your D-Link Smart Plug When you arrive at a place

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