Smart plugs, like power cords and cable adapters, lack the sexiness of other smart home products. After all, they’re just… plugs. Nonetheless, they’re still beneficial and definitely worthy of adding to your home automation plans. As boring as they may seem initially, smart plugs can make your life easier, save you time and money, and give you added peace of mind, depending on your situation or setup.
In this article, you’ll learn about a few of the ways to use smart plugs. By the end you’ll hopefully never underestimate the power of a smart plug ever again!
What Is a Smart Plug?
As we’ve previously noted, smart plugs are devices that go into ordinary electrical outlets. Because it also contains an outlet, smart plugs are also considered outlet extensions. Instead of plugging your toaster or lamp into the wall, you connect your appliances to the smart plug.
What makes a smart plug intelligent is that you can control it remotely using a mobile app. Through apps or hubs, smart plugs are also compatible with other smart home devices, which allows you to use tools such as IFTTT and Stringify to combine tasks. For example, you could program a lamp to turn on whenever the doorbell rings or when someone enters the kitchen in your home.
Great Smart Plugs to Try
There are a lot of smart plugs on the market with an average selling price of around $50. One of my favorites continues to be the TP-Link Smart Plug, which is available for under $30.
Once set up, the TP-Link Smart Plug can help you easily manage your home electronics and appliances anytime, anywhere. To get started, just insert the plug into your wall outlet. Next, download the free Kasa app from the App Store or Google Play Store and follow the directions to connect the plug to your home network.
The best thing about the TP-Link Smart Plug? It doesn’t require a separate hub like other smart home products. You just need Wi-Fi in your home to access all of the product’s functionality.
Other popular smart plugs on the market include $35 Wemo Mini Smart Plug, the $37 iHome Control Smart Plug, and $50 Etekcity Wireless Remote Control Electrical Outlet Switch.
18 Ways to Use Smart Plugs in Your Everyday Life
Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can use smart plugs in your home, divided into five categories: security and safety, convenience, energy conservation, kid-friendly, and a few creative uses as well! Which of these will benefit you the most?
Using Smart Plugs for Security and Safety
1. Space heaters can make rooms in your home toasty rather quickly. Unfortunately, some space heaters aren’t energy efficient. Use smart plugs to control when these appliances are on. Setting up a schedule will not only keep you warm but will help cut down on your energy usage.
2. Turn your lights on and off remotely or create a lighting schedule. With this solution, your home will look like it’s occupied — even if you’re thousands of miles away.
3. Morning chaos is the norm in many households. Instead of worrying that you left the curling iron on (again), turn it off remotely. You can also use a smart plug to turn the curling iron on each weekday morning at a particular time, so it’s ready for you.
Using Smart Plugs for Convenience
4. Rather than rushing home to prepare your dinner, fire up your slow cooker from your office. This way, dinner is waiting when you arrive home from work.
Bonus: Worried the slow cooker isn’t working properly? You could also set up a home security camera next to it for added peace of mind.
5. Time for tea or coffee? Simply use your home automation app to schedule your kettle or coffee maker to turn on before you get out of bed in the morning.
6. When the cold weather sets in, you might need a humidifier in your bedroom. You can use your home automation app and your smart plugs to ensure it turns on every evening before you head for bed. The same process would also work for a dehumidifier in the warmer months!
7. Does your family like pancakes or fresh waffles in the morning? Start the griddle as soon as you wake up using your smartphone, so it’s hot when you’re ready to make your breakfast.
8. Do you sometimes find yourself sleeping through an alarm clock? Use a smart plug to turn your lights on automatically too. The combination of your alarm clock plus lights, might help you wake up easier.
Using Smart Plugs to Conserve Energy
9. Air conditioners and central air have become commonplace in many homes. However, ceiling fans are also important in keeping cool since they can circulate the air around your home. You guessed it, use a smart plug to schedule times when the fans are on.
10. About those air conditioners. Yes, you can control them remotely when they’re attached to a smart plug — but do your research and be sure that your smart plug can support the power draw of your appliance!
11. Some smart plugs on the market have now added an energy control feature. The one on the TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug analyzes a device’s real-time and historical power consumption. The data is then shared in an easy-to-understand format on the app. Using this data, you can get a better idea of how much energy you use in your home. Better still, you can find out which devices are using the most energy, and adjust your usage accordingly.
Using Smart Plugs With Your Children
12. All kids deserve a little break before doing homework each day. But when playtime is over, use your smart plug to switch off the TV or gaming console.
13. Want to take it a step further? You could always plug your router into a smart plug, giving you the power to turn internet access off at any time from your smart phone. Or, you could choose to schedule it so that the internet is only online during set hours.
14. Some kids need night lights or sound machines at night. It’s easy to automate these devices using your smartphone, ensuring you never forget to turn them on before leaving your child’s room.
15. If you’re worried about family members making their way to the bathroom in the dark, consider using an IFTTT integration to turn on a nightlight or lamp plugged into a smart plug when motion is detected in the hallway or if a door is opened.
Creative Uses for Smart Plugs
16. Are you the type of person that obsesses over outside lights during the holidays? Use smart plugs to turn these lights on/off with ease. You can schedule them to turn on and off at set times, or even automate a pattern — which could be especially effective for a spooky Hallowe’en surprise!
17. With a little bit of planning, smart plugs can also be used to control lawn and irrigation systems in your home — especially effective if you want them to stay watered on a schedule while you are on vacation.
18. Radios work very well with smart plugs. Schedule them to turn on/off at set times so you never forget to tune in to your favorite programs!
Bonus: Want something to show off to your friends? Check out the video below, where the user asks Siri to start a popcorn maker using their Apple HomeKit Smart Plug.
For a price tag that’s a lot lower than many other smart gadgets, smart plugs can revolutionize the way that you use your existing electronics and gadgets. These ideas are really just the beginning — there’s no limit to what you can accomplish with this single device!
What are your favorite ways to use smart plugs? Let us know using the comments below.