Smart Home

The Automated Outlet: What Can Smart Outlets Really Accomplish?

Nancy Messieh 29-06-2016

Are you on the fence about buying a smart plug Which Smart Plug Is the Best One for You? Even if you aren't into the whole smart home automation trend, you really should get yourself a few smart plugs. They're one of the easiest smart home products to use. Read More ? Think they’re good for just turning lights on and off remotely or on a schedule? If you still need some convincing, it’s worth bearing in mind just how much you can do with these small gadgets.


In addition to saving on energy Save Energy and Money With These Smart Home Devices One of the biggest benefits of a smart home is the energy saving technologies available. As well as saving money, you’ll also be pushing toward a more sustainable, convenient living situation. Read More  and smartening your lights Save Energy and Money With These Smart Home Devices One of the biggest benefits of a smart home is the energy saving technologies available. As well as saving money, you’ll also be pushing toward a more sustainable, convenient living situation. Read More , you can toggle power switches based on your location, movement, or even based on a specific sports game starting on TV. Here are seven creative and useful ways you can make smart outlets work for you.

Prepare for the Weather

With more and more unpredictable weather, wouldn’t it be great to be prepared for it? With smart outlets there are quite a few ways you can be prepared for any kind of weather. Using the Weather channel on IFTTT and your choice of smart outlet, you can turn on an extra lamp or two automatically to light up a room when dark clouds bring rain. You can take this a step further with the Belkin WeMo Switch 3 Ways The Belkin WeMo Can "Smarten" Your Regular Household Lamps We took the time to look at the possibilities for turning your regular household lamps into smart lamps. Read More , you can trigger the lights to blink when it starts to rain.


If the temperature rises over a certain level, you can use the IFTTT automation service to turn on a fan plugged into a smart outlet. You could create a reverse recipe, where if the temperature drops below a certain number, turn the fan off. If it dips, you can turn on a space heater using a smart plug.

Smart outlets supported by IFTTT include the Wemo Switch and the D-Link Smart WiFi Plug.


Activate Switches with Motion

There are many more scenarios where you can use a smart outlet to turn on your lights automatically. Some of them will require additional gadgetry, but the automation makes it worthwhile – and it will eventually pay for itself in saved energy. Rather than have the lights come on automatically at a certain time of day, why not have them turn on based on movement?

If you place a SmartSense Open Closed Sensor on your bedroom door, you can connect it to a hallway light, allowing it to turn on automatically. If you’re getting up early in the morning and it’s still dark outside, this is a great way to avoid stubbed toes as you stumble to the light switch.

The reverse can also be applied using these kinds of motion sensors. If you place a sensor on your window, you can automatically turn off the air conditioning when someone opens a window.



Some of these sensors, including the SmartSense Sensor Open Closed Sensor, can also double as temperature sensors, meaning this is another way you can automatically turn on a fan or heater based on a change in temperature.

Motion sensors can also be paired with a plug for your coffee machine. When you get up in the morning and open your bedroom door, your coffee machine can automatically turn on. Any other appliances you might need to turn on first thing in the morning can also be activated this way.

Turn Things On As You Wake Up

If you don’t have a motion sensor, there are other gadgets you might already have that you can pair with a smart outlet. If you have a Jawbone UP, as you wake up, the Jawbone can let your coffee machine or space heater know you’re awake. Conversely, you can use the Jawbone to turn things off as you turn in for the night.

Use it With Voice Commands

If you have the Amazon Echo Remote, you can use a voice command using the remote to get things going. You can get more out of a smart outlet and your Amazon Echo by using it for hard to reach switches or outlets. Connecting the Echo to a hard to reach smart plug means you can use voice commands to turn gadgets or appliances on and off. This will especially come in handy during the holidays, making it possible to turn Christmas lights on and off.


Don’t have an Amazon Echo? You can still use voice commands with an Incipio CommandKit Wireless Smart Outlet and an iPhone running at least iOS 8, to turn gadgets or lights on and off. With the Incipio outlet you can use voice commands to turn your TV on or off.


With the Incipio outlet you can use voice commands to control your TV, or better yet, use the smart outlet to automatically turn off the TV when it’s your kids’ bedtime.

Geofence Your Appliances and Lights

If you don’t have any of the gadgets listed above, you can still get quite a bit out of your smart outlet using just your smart phone. Using location awareness, you can automatically turn on the heat or AC in your home when you’re within a certain distance of home. You could also use this feature to turn on porch lights at night as you drive up your driveway.


Use With a Water Sensor

Pairing the smart outlet with a water sensor can also prevent some serious accidents. If you use a portable dishwasher or portable washing machine you can detect water leaks by placing a water sensor Install a Smart Valve and Stop Your Basement from Flooding What if you could prevent home flooding or water damage by installing a single piece of equipment? I am, of course, talking about smart water valves. Read More underneath the appliance. If the sensor detects a leak, it can automatically turn off the appliance.


Get Notifications

With a combination of IFTTT and the Belkin WeMo Switch you can toggle items on and off. This comes in handy with lights connected to the WeMo. There’s a huge variety of triggers on IFTTT that you can use with this feature. It can serve as a silent notification when you receive an email, or are mentioned on Twitter, or when there’s a change to your selected stocks, or even when an ESPN game is starting on TV.

A Few Extras

Here are a few extra interesting IFTTT recipes and gadgets that will come in handy with your smart plugs.

With an email and a D-Link Smart Plug, you can remotely turn your lights on.

IFTTT Recipe: Email Lights On connects gmail to d-link-smart-plug

With a Ring Video Doorbell, you can turn on the lights, or toggle them on and off, when someone rings the bell or there’s motion at the door.

IFTTT Recipe: Toggle the lights on/off when there is motion at my door connects ring to wemo-light-switch

A main reason for using a smart outlet is to conserve energy, so why not automatically turn a plug off after it’s consumed a certain amount of energy?

IFTTT Recipe: Turn a device off after its energy costs more than $__.__ in a day connects wemo-insight-switch to wemo-insight-switch

With the ResetPlug, you can monitor your WiFi and remotely reset your Internet connection.

What creative uses can you think of for smart outlets? Let us know in the comments. 

Image Credit: woman waking up by Africa Studio via Shutterstock

Related topics: Home Automation, Smart Plugs, Smart Sensor.

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