When most people hear smart plugs they think of indoor use. However smart plugs can also be used outdoors. In this guide, we would see the kind of smart plugs that can be used outdoors. If that is something that interests you, you should read through this guide keenly.
What is an outdoor smart plug?
Outdoor smart plugs allow you to remotely control any device connected to them. After downloading the application on your smartphone, you can use it to turn the plug on and off. Some outdoor smart plugs are compatible with Alexa, Cortana, or Google Assistant. Smart plugs need a strong Wi-Fi connection to work efficiently. With this device in your garden, backyard, or patio, you do not have to manually turn your appliances on or off.
An outdoor smart plug is the easiest way to turn your ordinary appliances and devices into ‘smart’ ones. Put a smart plug into any of your outdoor sockets.
You must download the app first. You can plug any device or appliance in that smart plug and control it via your smartphone by comfortably sitting indoors.
Is There a Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Smart Plugs?
In terms of functionality, indoor and outdoor smart plugs work in exactly the same way.
They make a dumb outlet smart by allowing you to control it through an app, your voice assistant, or as part of a larger smart home ecosystem.
The major difference between indoor and outdoor smart plugs is that those made for outdoor use have been designed specially to protect internal components from weather.
That’s not to say they only protect against the rain. They provide protection against many different weather conditions including vast changes in temperature as well as varying humidity.
You’ll also find that a lot of outdoor smart plugs have a protective shell and come with a bracket that allows you to secure the plug in place against a wall.
This bracket can come in handy as it allows you to position the plug in such a way that it is protected that little bit more. The recommendation is to have the outlets facing down where they won’t be as exposed to the rain.
Installing your smart plug against the wall using the bracket is not only very simple to do but makes for a much cleaner, better-looking setup whilst also making it more secure and providing additional protection.
It may well be physically possible to connect an indoor smart plug to an outlet outside; however, this is definitely not recommended. You may think it works for a short while before inevitably failing due to it not being designed to withstand the weather.
Can Outdoor Smart Plugs Be Voice Controlled?
Most outdoor smart plugs can be voice-controlled and are compatible with the likes of Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri.
They are used solely with your voice assistant or can be integrated into a larger smart home ecosystem where a hub is used to control all your smart devices.
Once the smart plug is paired with your voice assistant, it is really easy to voice control it. You could have the plug power on some outdoor lights or a stereo system from the comfort of the indoors.
Types of outdoor smart plugs?
The main thing that defines the types of outdoor smart plugs is their multiple features. The different types include:
Virtual assistant and Wi-Fi compatible
This type requires a secure and stable Wi-Fi connection to function efficiently. With this plug in your outdoor sockets, you can control your devices by giving commands over Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. You can also control your appliances by using the particular outdoor smart plug app on your smartphone. All the outlets in this device are connected, and they do not work independently.
Some outdoor smart plugs come with day and night sensors and remote control. They usually have two to three outlets and allow you to control the devices plugged into them by pushing the buttons on their remote control from the inside. Their remote controls work within a ten feet distance from the plug. Usually, these outdoor smart plugs are easily compatible with LED, CFL, and incandescent lights. These types of outdoor smart plugs are not compatible with Wi-Fi.
Who is an outdoor smart plug suitable for, and what benefits does it bring?
Outdoor smart plugs are ideal for people who live in large houses and villas. It allows them to control appliances remotely by voice command or through smartphone apps. It is also helpful for people who physically struggle to walk to their backyards or porches just to turn devices on or off due to a bad knee or back.
If you tend to forget to turn off your backyard lights, you can schedule the timer from the app settings and let the outdoor smart plug handle the rest.
Outdoor smart plugs have multiple benefits. They are energy-efficient, and they reduce manual labor. Moreover, they are easily compatible with several wireless technologies and are easy to use.
Do Outdoor Smart Plugs Need Special Wiring?
Outdoor smart plugs don’t require any special wiring; they are exactly the same as those designed for indoor use whilst having a rugged exterior designed to protect against the weather.
When it comes to installing an outdoor smart plug, you simply need to plug it into an outlet just as you would inside.
Make sure the accompanying app is installed and your voice assistant can see it to interact with you when you’re away. The only time you may need to perform some additional setup is if you are choosing to connect it to your smart home’s hub.
Are Smart Plugs Waterproof?
Even smart plugs that have designed for outdoor use are not waterproof, but they are considered weatherproof.
You may be wondering what exactly the difference is between waterproof and weatherproof devices. There is actually a very distinct difference between the two.
Waterproof devices have been designed to be submerged underwater and essentially don’t let any water in or out.
Weatherproof devices are resistant to the effects of bad weather like rain and hail but have not been designed to be submerged underwater.
By knowing this distinction between the two, it is easy to see why manufacturers will design their products to be weatherproof but not go to the extent of making them waterproof.
If it isn’t clear through the product description whether a smart plug is weatherproof or waterproof, have a look at its IP rating. Those that have been rated IP7 can be submerged underwater and are therefore considered waterproof.
IP rating stands for International Protection Rating and is used to describe the level of protection a device has against both solid objects and various forms of moisture.
The first digit describes the degree of protection against solid objects whereas the second digit describes the level of protection against moisture.
If either of the digits has been replaced with an X, this indicates that it has not been rated for that particular specification.
That’s not to say it offers zero protection; just that it hasn’t been tested and officially confirmed to be protected.
Buyer’s Guide For Outdoor Smart Plugs
Now that you are familiar with different types of outdoor smart plugs, let’s dive into the buyer’s guide for the best plug. Here are some features you should not miss:
Voice assistant compatibility
Most outdoor smart plugs are compatible with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. You might find it difficult to find an outdoor smart plug compatible with Apple’s Siri, but that is not impossible. Even if you have Google Home or Amazon Echo, you can easily control the attached devices or appliances.
Power consumption and limitation
Smart plugs consume energy when they are on standby, but they are still better than other plugs in terms of overall energy efficiency. Talking about power consumption and limitations, it is recommended not to plug in any appliance that requires more power.
Most outdoor smart plugs are only designed to handle only 100 watts, which is adequate for a small light fixture or a coffee maker. However, connecting a washing machine to it would be problematic.
The maximum watt capacity is printed on the boxes of all outdoor smart plugs. In case you expect your outdoor smart plug to draw more power, check the box carefully.
When considering your pick, you should pay attention to the design as well. Some are made to fit one plug, while some can fit two or three. In some designs, one plug is smart, while the second one is a pass-through plug. You must choose carefully depending on your needs.
Sometimes, these smart plugs are a bit chunky and occupy the space of two sockets on the wall. If you want to control more devices while using only one smart outlet, you should consider outdoor smart strips.
One additional feature of outdoor smart plugs is energy monitoring. This feature allows you to easily track power consumption through your smartphone app. With this, you can be energy-efficient and turn off appliances that are not in use.
To conclude, When choosing a smart plug for use outside, just remember to make sure that it has received an IP rating to show it has been thoroughly tested and confirmed for outdoor use. You should also consider what you are planning on using the smart plug for and whether it is compatible with your existing smart home devices before making your final decision.