DIY Technology Explained

12 Creative Uses for Smart Plugs That’ll Make You Want One

Christian Cawley Updated 25-11-2019

Smart plugs come in all shapes and sizes and at prices to suit all budgets. They’re also the most basic element of any smart home.


Forget internet connectivity, home networks and gadgets enabling remote management—smart plugs are where it starts.

Here’s everything you need to know about smart plugs and how they can help improve your smart home experience.

What Is a Smart Plug?

Smart plugs sit between an electrical outlet and the device you’re plugging in. Available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and specifications, they all possess a shared quality: remote control. This is typically achieved via Wi-Fi connectivity, although older devices use timers.

This enables you to set a plug to switch on or off, whenever you like.

Wi-Fi smart plugs (such as the Kasa Smart Plug range from TP-Link) can be accessed remotely via an app, or indirectly using IFTTT recipes The Ultimate IFTTT Guide: Use the Web's Most Powerful Tool Like a Pro If This Then That, also known as IFTTT is a free web-based service to get your apps and devices working together. Not sure how to build your applet? Follow along with this guide. Read More , creating an app-controlled outlet. Smart plugs are also compatible with Alexa (and Google Assistant) for added connectivity, making them ideal for any smart home project.


Kasa Smart WiFi Plug Mini by TP-Link Kasa Smart WiFi Plug Mini by TP-Link Buy Now On Amazon $11.99

1. Wake Up to Smart Plugs

What is the first thing you do in the morning? Perhaps you like to listen to the radio, or enjoy a cup of coffee? You might heat up a croissant with butter and jam on it, starting your day off with all three.

Instead of out of bed and risking barely-conscious accident, why not employ smart plugs to switch these on for you?

With less to concern you in the morning, you’ll be able to focus on getting yourself dressed and looking presentable. The benefits are multiplied if you have a family!


2. Enjoy Pre-Heated Hair Irons

Need to style your hair before stepping out? Why not preset your smart plugs to switch on at the optimum time?

A timer or time-based app can be used to remotely switch on the plug, letting your hair irons heat up.

It might take a couple of days to get right, but you should find those hair irons are ready to use when you pick them up.

3. Fool Opportunistic Burglars

A large proportion of burglaries are opportunistic crimes, committed by thieves too lazy to even bother committing to planning something.


But what can a smart plug do to help?

If you’re out or away from home for a few hours and concerned about crime in your area, why not employ smart plugs to control your lights?

Either a timer or an app can be used here. All you need to do to create the illusion of activity in your house is to tap a button on your smartphone to switch on a light! Similarly, you could switch on your TV as well.

Used in conjunction with a wireless home security camera The 5 Best Wireless Security Cameras for Your Home Frustrated by wired home security systems? These completely wireless security cameras are just what you need to cut the cord. Read More system, your property should be well protected.


4. Cook Dinner While You’re at Work

What other smart plug uses might you take advantage of while at work? How about getting dinner ready?

I’d personally recommend that you rely on a crock pot for a healthier and tastier result than a microwave. Just add the ingredients before you head to work. You can activate the crock pot remotely to ensure you have a very tasty meal to come home to.

Budget won’t stretch to a smart plug with Wi-Fi? Simply program your smart plug to switch on so that the meal will be ready when you get home.

5. Feed Your Pet While Working Late

Think you’re not going to be home on time to feed your cat or dog? It’s always hard leaving pets all day, but you wouldn’t want them to go hungry. While programmable, timed feeders are available, a pressure trigger feeder with a Wi-Fi smart plug is a good alternative.

After all, most nights you’re home to feed Fido. Having an automatic feeder connected to a Wi-Fi smart plug is a sensible backup.

6. Switch Off Your Tumble Dryer Overnight

Control your tumble dryer remotely with a smart plug

Tumble dryers have been proven to cause many house fires over the years. To avoid this, employ a smart plug programmed to switch off the tumble dryer after, say midnight.

You might even purchase a Nest Protect, using an IFTTT recipe to kill the dryer if any smoke is detected. This has the advantage of putting a stop to a potential fire before it ever ignites.

Alternatively, you might program the smart plug to switch on the tumble dryer only when electricity is cheaper to use.

7. Control Your Kids’ Consoles and TVs

The modern family household often features a children’s bedroom or playroom complete with a TV and game consoles. You might even have a PC too, preferably with family safety software installed The 8 Best Parental Control Apps for Windows Are you doing enough to protect your kids online? With the best parental control apps for Windows, you won't have to think twice. Read More . But what about the TV and console?

Well, smart plugs come to the rescue once again. Simply place between the appliance and the power outlet, setting the timer to shut down the devices when agreed.

Consider also opting for a smart plug app to manage time earned by your hardworking children on their game console. This creates an app-controlled outlet to remotely control the console. Just avoid shutting down before their game has been saved!

8. Remotely Recharge Device Batteries

Smart Plugs can charge your garden tools in readiness for use

You’re at work, and you notice what a stunning day it is outside. While, there is little you can do to enjoy it from the office, a smart plug can help.

By leaving it connected to your garden trimmer’s rechargeable battery, you could top it up mid-afternoon. By the time you pull into your driveway, it’s ready to use!

Similarly, you could use a Wi-Fi connected smart plug to charge your vacuum cleaner. This might prove useful if you discover that your family are dropping in, and you need to quickly tidy up. Or ensure your electric drill is charged up before you get home to build that IKEA wardrobe.

9. Keep Your Space Warm in Winter

Your den, man-cave, office, or private study area… Whatever you call your chill out space may get quite cold in the winter. This is especially true if your space is a shed, or an attic.

What you need is a way to heat it up before you get there. Why not plug an electric radiator into a smart plug, and remotely activate it to warm the room in advance? If the radiator isn’t set too high and you don’t leave it alone for too long, you should find yourself stepping into a nice, warm, and cozy space.

10. Save Money on Your Next Electronic Purchase

How much do your electrical appliances cost to run? One of the big draws about smart plugs is the ability to connect them to smart meters.

These devices can tell what is in use, and how often they’re active.

Smart meters can measure how much it costs to recharge a phone, tablet, or laptop. You can use this information to judge your electricity bill and choose a potentially more efficient device in the future!

And speaking of saving money with a smart product, you might want to consider investing in one of these smart sprinkler systems The 5 Best Smart Sprinkler Systems to Conserve Water and Cash A smart sprinkler system can help you save money and water. What's the best smart sprinkler system for your home? Read More .

11. Warm Your Bed Up Before Bedtime

Whatever the season, if there’s a cold spell or you live in cooler climes, an electric blanket is wise. It’s doubly important if you’re older and feel the cold more than you used to.

Electric blankets are clearly not the greenest devices, which is why it’s sensible to use a smart plug. With a timer or timed app program, you can instruct the electric blanket to switch on and heat the bed. Similarly, you can time the blanket to switch off before you make the journey to your bedroom.

After all, you don’t want your bed to be too warm!

12. Switch Everything Off When You Fall Asleep

We’ve already looked at the pitfalls of having appliances running while you’re asleep. But how can we ensure that they are switched off? What if we forget one of them?

Using a smartwatch or a fitness band is the way forward here. The Jawbone Up integrates with IFTTT and integrating this with a smart plug lets you shut down appliances automatically.

Your tumble dryer, TV, Blu-ray player, whatever—when you shut down for the night, they will too! You might also consider complementing them with some Wi-Fi light switches The 5 Best Wi-Fi Light Switches to Save You Time and Money Looking for a lighting solution to save money on your electric bill? Here are several great Wi-Fi light switches to consider. Read More .

12 Smart Plug Uses You Should Try!

By now you should have recognized the advantages of smart plugs. They’re multipurpose and can be used with almost any hardware.

To recap, we’ve looked at 12 creative ways to use smart plugs in your home:

  1. Prompt your tech to wake you up
  2. Pre-heat hair style devices
  3. Prevent burglars
  4. Start dinner while you’re at work
  5. Feed your pet while working late
  6. Switch off your tumble dryer
  7. Control children’s TV and console time
  8. Remotely recharge batteries
  9. Manage home heating
  10. Save money on purchases
  11. Warm your bed up
  12. Switch off appliances at night

Want more reasons to try smart plugs? Here’s how using smart plugs can make your life easier and safer 18 Ways Smart Plugs Will Make Your Life Easier and Safer Smart plugs are a cheap way to get started with smart home gadgets. Here are the best smart plugs and what you can use them for. Read More .

Related topics: DIY Project Ideas, Home Automation, Smart Home, Smart Plugs.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Mike
    November 29, 2019 at 9:19 pm

    What you have told everyone is that these smart plugs are capable of handling any load which As for example the coffee machine or a heater. These plugs are not rated for those kind of loads, your lucky if it’s rated for 6 amps. A coffee machine or heater draw 10 to 12 amps so your smart plugs can’t handle it!!! Check to see what the smart plugs are rated for before you purchase one. Trust me I’m a retired electrician.

  2. Nelson
    November 28, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    Never hear of pipes bursting because of hot water but it's not because I never heard of it that this is not a thing. However every time you turn off your water heater you're consuming more electricity to warm up the water again than if you maintain it at a higher temperature. So, higher electricity bills.

    • James Bruce
      November 28, 2019 at 4:19 pm

      I'm pretty sure that's a myth, and your hot water tank should be insulated anyway. Ours will maintain its temperature all day very efficiently.

  3. dragonmouth
    November 26, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    Instead of simply turning a devices on/off manually, you build a Rube Goldberg contraption to control it: buy a SmartPlug, download a control app for it, buy and use a Smartphone to run the app. How long does it take to flick a switch and how long does it take to run some app on your phone? Another example of "If you're a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail" philosophy. In addition, each Smart device (plug or otherwise) is another attack vector for bad actors.

    The price of convenience is privacy and security.

  4. E W
    December 28, 2018 at 8:28 am

    I plugged the water heater to a smart plug so we can turn on the hot water when desired. If left on 24/7; I heard of risks of pipes bursting. We tried a timer but we get frequent power outages so they messed up the timer. So far it’s great to easily turn on the hot water on demand.

  5. Greg
    October 20, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    The only realistic use that I can think of (that won't burn your house down) is to schedule a restart of your cable modem every night... I do that. It seems to work great, although a simple timer would work just as good.

    • Jerlho
      January 4, 2019 at 3:54 pm

      I've had a Wemo plug sitting around for a couple years, and I might do that - put it behind the power strip for my modem and router, which I also use as a charging station for various things. If I shut them off half the day when I'm sleeping or at work, it might even net a little power savings.

      • Duh
        March 24, 2019 at 11:55 pm

        If you shut off your router how will you turn it back on?

  6. Roberto F. Rodriguez
    February 21, 2018 at 2:09 am

    I am using mine with my garage door. Even though I have a remote control the smart plug turns off the motor and locks up the garage door. I am also using to turn on my attic lights since I have 2 entry points to the attic. I also use it with my CPAP unit instead of having to unplug it when I leave town. (Yes I have a smaller travel CPAP.)

    • Kes
      June 26, 2018 at 10:16 am

      All will be well until you have a power outage, even momentarily. When the power returns your socket will default to the 'ON' state.
      This is a major flaw with these devices yet to be addressed.
      It is annoying, wasteful and and potentially dangerous.

  7. Roberto F. Rodriguez
    February 21, 2018 at 2:02 am

    I am using a smart plug with my garage door opener even though I have a remote. When I leave town for a few days the smart plug locks up the garage door.

  8. annie
    February 17, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    Good idea re: the slow cooker but... it sounds like an invitation for food-borne illness. No foods that require refrigeration should be left out at room temp for more than 2 hours. If you want to soak dried beans for several hours and set the slow cooker to start later, that can work. Any raw ingredients such as meat or poultry should not be sitting out all day. Also cooked baked potatoes can also be a source of food poisoning when not refrigerated (I just learned this recently -- and they seem so benign!) So much for slow cooker potato soup! Dairy as well. If you like eating oatmeal for dinner, use the slow cooker and your smart plug but don't make plans that include having your ingredients sitting out for extended periods of time without cooking. That's not smart!

    • Peter Shaw
      March 20, 2019 at 9:03 am

      Surely the whole point of a slow cooker is that it can be filled , turned on and left all day giving a cooked meal on return in the evening. The food will be perfectly safe, there is no need for any smart devices and the slow cooker will automatically continue even if there is a temporary power outage.

  9. Rob M
    December 14, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    All of the Wi-Fi plugs I have integrate with my Amazon echo, so they are all voice command enabled. I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, at the other end of the house, I have lights along that path set in a group command, so I just mutter 'alexa all lights on' and the path is safely lit. Same command for off as I get back into bed.
    I care for elderly parents who use little technology, and to let them know I'm almost home, I used Ifttt to geofence my property, and now when my phone gets within 1 mile of home, the lamp in the living room comes on so they can welcome me lol.
    I keep my router and modem plugged into a Wi-Fi plug so it can be restarted (Or cut off entirely) by remote.
    I have a small space heater on a Wi-Fi plug with Ifttt Integrated into my weather underground reporting weather station, and if the inside temp goes below a certain temp, it comes on, above a certain temp it turns off or stays off.

    • Richard
      December 26, 2017 at 1:52 am

      Those are some great ideas! I bought a few for the family for Christmas and was looking for the best ideas for using them. These are a very good start!

  10. Yak
    November 24, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    Saw these on sale for 10 bucks today (black fri), came here to figure out what I would use it for (other than a light timer, of which I have 3 or 4 already). Not a single thing mentioned is feasible or of interest to me. I guess I'll save my $10. Thanks for confirming what I already suspected. lol

    I am, however, interested in a light switch with wifi capabilities for the timer aspect (wemo). I have a digital wall timer switch already (for my outdoor lights) which is programmed at the source and extremely difficult to fuss with (tiny buttons, tiny display, complicated programing), so one with wifi and a simple control from my smartphone would be great. Give me one of those for 10 bucks (not $40-$60).

  11. Kylan Sherwood
    November 21, 2017 at 6:45 am

    By far the dumbest article I've had the displeasure of reading. I see the plugs are on sale for black Friday...I thought to myself...what could these possibly be used for other then a light? And for that convenience I could get a timer for much cheaper. So I read this drivel. Where to leave bread sitting on a toaster overnight?. You have a microwave that just works when plugged in?, I mean some old ones had a mechanical timer sure but it didn't rely on electricity to function so it still would be off long before you turned it on as they were only good for short periods. So let me get this straight the people buying these things don't have keurigs/tassimos with built in timers they bought the $20 coffee maker so they could buy the $30+ smart plug, note keurigs and tassimos require a button push as well as power to operate...ok I'll buy the bit about old school irons with analog might burn down your house from preheating it without checking it first (defeats the purpose) but it might just save you from burning house down if you think you may have forgot to unplug it half way to work and remotely shut it down... Your dryer doesn't use a standard 110 that dumb idea is out...but you will use it to power on/off electrical devices?. Brilliant... Computers and electrical peripherals love that kinda stuff... they don't....not at all... Do you get paid to write this nonsensical b.s or just to lazy or stupid to think it through for yourself?... I take what the box tells me the product does...I type it in my own words...make up random stuff and...spell check then post

    • Chris
      November 28, 2017 at 9:06 pm

      How rude.

    • Sara, no H
      December 10, 2017 at 5:57 pm

      ^^What he said.

      To the writer..
      I mean, how lazy can one be to not turn their own curling iron on in the morning? Mine gets to 360° in 30 seconds. If you're that short on time, don't curl your hair. Geez. Or, if you can't trust yourself to turn something off, you should probably have parental supervision. Better yet, ask your mom for a smart plug for Christmas, I'm sure she'll think it's genius seeing as she clearly failed to teach you how to turn things off when you're finished using them.

      I think the smartest idea, as well as the dumbest idea, for these plugs is the bit about shutting off power to your dryer. They suck a lot of energy, yes. They're also not compatible to the product. So.. good tryyy?
      *face palm*

    • yupppers
      July 17, 2018 at 5:22 pm

      Totally agree with Kylan. This is a long article that if you THINK a bit, you realize what a pointless waste of money this tech is.

    • Me
      September 10, 2018 at 8:21 am

      Thanks for saying everything I wanted to without having to type it ? .. useless technology really.

    • Owen
      December 7, 2018 at 4:30 pm

      Yes! exactly what i was thinking, charge the vacuum if your guests are coming over, you gotta be kidding. This is absolute crap. Only useful thing is for lights and your internet modem so you don't have to manually unplug it.

    • Dina Janke
      February 27, 2019 at 6:50 pm

      Your an ass.

      • Earl E. Vogel
        December 27, 2019 at 5:44 pm


  12. pedro
    September 28, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    smart plugs can't be used to turn on/off dryers! Ever look at the plug? its 240V style. how can a smart plug turn on a TV ? you physically have to turn it on with the remote... also smart plugs are not recommended to turn on IRONs! or anything that can burn down your house!

    • Gary Gemmell
      October 8, 2017 at 11:08 pm

      Smart plugs are generally rated at 10A so cant be used to control high power devices such as ovens, heaters, tumble dryers that use more than 2400 watts!

      Even at 2000 watts i would be wary of actually setting the smart plug on fire and burning down your house before you get home!

      Smart plugs are great for low amperage devices but also rememeber they can use quite a lot of power sucking your electricity costs even when they are never used - fill your house with 10 or more and you coul dbe using 40 watts and more!

  13. Gina
    August 20, 2017 at 11:06 pm

    It would be really helpful for the appliances at your bach. You can make sure everything has been turned off (or left on in the case of your bait freezer) after your family has stayed and left. Now I just need a bach...

  14. SuperDad
    December 27, 2016 at 5:16 am

    I use mine to scare the hell out of my boys when they misbehave in their room

  15. Leah
    March 12, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    We used to have a timer on a lamp in the upstairs hallway. It would turn on at dark so we could see walking around the hall and it gave the illusion that we were home when we weren't. It broke and we haven't replaced it, but this article makes me interested to do it.

    • NYHusker
      November 13, 2017 at 2:59 pm

      The best part is, many of the apps let you location based sunrise/sunset so as the days get shorter, the lamp comes on of my very favorite parts vs manual lamp timers...

      • yupppers
        July 17, 2018 at 5:24 pm

        You know light sensors are cheap and have been around for many decades. No wifi connections needed. Some tech addresses problems in over-complicated ways.

  16. Monty_Python
    March 11, 2016 at 9:34 am

    ... i don't know how insurance companies in the US handle this, but if you have electrical appliances and especially a stove running and something happens nobody but yourself will be ending up paying for the damage. In the extreme case of a house burning down, that's just incredibly stupid.

    And preparing a meal?
    This only works for heating up a prepared meal (because chopping/ preparing/ cooking pasta sauce, etc. still has to be done by you before) and is not faster than coming home, turning on your stove - then change clothes, prepare the dinner table, pour whatever you'll drink with it - when you're done with that, the food is done as well.

    • Christian Cawley
      March 11, 2016 at 1:25 pm

      This is why we only suggested a crock pot (also known as a slow cooker) as these devices are typically left on during the day.

      • Thomas?
        June 23, 2017 at 3:34 pm

        There is nothing smart about any of these ideas. It's just fancy remote control. There is no logic or dicision making by the equipment.

      • Mike Summers
        December 19, 2017 at 7:32 am

        So... You're going to leave unprepared food out in a room temperature Crock Pot until you're ready to remotely turn it on while you're at work?

        • Vjijon
          January 11, 2018 at 7:28 pm

          Plus my crock pot requires a button being pressed as well as being plugged in. Same goes for coffee maker, etc.

  17. Ross
    March 10, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    I use mine to turn my hatred blanket on for 15 minutes before bedtime. Lovely during the winter!

    • JJ
      March 10, 2016 at 5:56 pm

      What heated blanket are you using? I've actually looked into this and not been able to find a blanket that is power on, heat on without a controller.

      • Ross
        March 10, 2016 at 9:15 pm

        Just a normal one with a slider on it. It's on all the time so the control socket turns it on and off.

    • Christian Cawley
      March 10, 2016 at 8:58 pm

      Personally speaking, my own blanket is lovely.

  18. Sarah Justine
    March 10, 2016 at 2:12 pm