Here you will find some of the best ideas for smart plugs. This article covers a list containing both common, and unique uses.
If you have bought a smart plug, or been given one, you could be wondering what you can do with it.
You may also be thinking of purchasing one and it could be that you are questioning if the product itself will be useful enough.
These ideas may help you in any of those situations. Smart plugs are useful for any home, not just smart homes.
List of the best smart plug uses
Here is a list of what I think could be useful to a variety of different individuals. Some uses are unique, and others are aimed at everyday users. Either way, I think its a handy list!
You will soon see that they can be used for many different things. Not only to have better control over everything but also to provide you with valuable information. If used correctly, they could also help you save on your power bill.
1. Home office equipment
I like to shut off my home office equipment while I am at work. This ensures all of the devices in standby are powered off, and not wasting power.
Some examples of items that are commonly in standby include:
- Computers and computer monitors
- Printers, scanners or multi-function devices
- Desktop speakers
- UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply)
The same holds true for my entertainment system in my living room.
2. For home theater systems
This is a smart plug usage that is related to the last idea.
If you enjoy an audio system with booming bass and have neighbors or family members that live in close proximity to you, this might help.
Hook one up to your sub-woofer of your home entertainment audio system.
This way, during certain hours, you can have it turn off automatically.
So if you are playing games or watching a movie, your neighbors do not experience droning bass at inappropriate hours.
Some examples of other appliances in your living room that could use power in standby:
- Gaming consoles
- Set-top boxes
- Streaming devices
- Media Extenders
Depending on how geeky you are, you might have lots of devices that could potentially waste power in standby mode.
A smart power strip would be an easier way to control multiple devices in an area like this.
3. To improve safety
Use it with all products that have heater elements. Such as woman’s hair gadgets and nail equipment. A clothing iron is another example.
My wife always wonders if she remembered to turn the iron off after leaving the house.
Now you can make sure all of these devices have been shut off. Simply use an app on your phone to turn them off.
Other devices that create heat or draw lots of power when used:
- Space heaters
- Curling tongs
- Electric blankets
- Counter-top or portable ovens and hot plates
Out of the list of smart plug uses, this one is aimed to help improve your safety at home when used with these, or other similar appliances.
4. Kitchen appliances
The slow cooker works magically with one of these. It’s a good way to keep up quality meals even if you are really busy.
My slow cooker does not have a timer built into it. So it is perfect to start it about midday so your meal isn’t overcooked by the time you arrive home.
I like to make sure the meat is defrosted first, then I leave it in the fridge overnight in a marinade.
In the morning I quickly put the meat into the cooker before I leave for work. This way the meat gets to about room temperature by the time the cooker kicks on.
Another kitchen appliance could be your coffee maker. Have your coffee and water preloaded in your coffee maker and have it turn on automatically first thing in the morning.
Go straight to your kitchen after waking up and enjoy a hot cup of your favorite morning beverage.
5. Power Monitoring
I also run my refrigerator and other freezers off a smart outlet. This way I can tell if they are running efficiently.
Keep an eye on their power consumption. If they start drawing excessive power, it is time to get them checked out.
It is just a way for me to avoid potential refrigerator failures and keep an eye on my power bill.
This idea can be applied to many other appliances or devices to make sure they are drawing the correct amount of power.
Try it with anything around the house, from your coffee maker to the TV. Compare what they are using with the manufacturer’s specifications.
So, if you are suffering from a slightly higher than normal power bill, you could use one to find the cause.
Just make sure that the model you choose comes with a power monitoring feature.
6. Control hard to access outlets
This is can avoid some frustration in your life. If you have one of those ‘awkward to get to’ power points, this will solve that problem. It’s actually the perfect job for it.
Control those annoying outlets from your smartphone. No more crouching into weird positions ever again.
Some possible difficult sockets to get to:
- Under or behind the bottom of staircases
- Behind storage equipment like boxes or containers that are stacked.
- Under or behind desks
- Behind drawers or cabinets
- Behind bookshelves
- Wall sockets installed close to the ceiling or in high places
7. Use smart plugs to control older devices
Maybe you have a lamp with an ordinary bulb and it’s difficult to replace with a smart light bulb.
Lights that are hard to convert into smart lights can still be controlled on and off with this method.
Another example would be something that does not have a power switch of its own. It can enable you to control it with ease.
Some examples of lamps that cannot be fitted with a smart bulb:
- Sealed bulb lamps
- Low voltage lamps (12V for example). Most of the time they have an external power supply.
- Small fluorescent tube lamps
8. Power up computers with remote access
If you are like me and work from a computer all day and sometimes forget to complete a specific task, this may help you.
Setup your work computer to startup automatically when power is turned on, this can be done from a single bios setting. You will also need remote access set up. After that, you’re ready to go.
Power up your smart outlet using your smartphone and gain access to your computer remotely.
Yes, you can leave the computer powered on all the time, but that uses power. This way you can turn it on when you want and get that job done, without having to travel back to the office.
After you are done, simply turn it off remotely and power it off.
This is most certainly a handy example from the list of smart plug uses.
- Powering up of media servers in a non-local location.
- Hardware shut down and power up where software restarts aren’t available or when systems have frozen.
9. Charging cycles for rarely used batteries
This is for batteries that are used in various vehicles etc. that don’t run all the time.
This is also true for possessions that don’t have their own charging capabilities. For instance, a boat battery.
After your trip out on the water, hook it up to your trickle charger in your garage which is plugged into a smart plug. Then you have yourself an ability to keep the battery charging at the intervals that you want.
Simply setup up a daily or weekly schedule to maintain the charging on the battery. The next time you need to take your boat out, your battery is ready to go.
The same method could be used for a car or bike that stands during a short period in the year or another car perhaps. I always think it is a fantastic idea to keep a battery operational, rather than storing it.
Some examples of battery maintenance include:
- Quad bikes
- Jet Ski’s
10. Internet availability control
Some people like to turn off their modem or router during the day while no one is home, or at night when they sleep. This is fine if you do not need to control anything over WiFi.
So a timer schedule using your smart plug can be set in the device to facilitate your needs.
It is definitely something I would only do under specific circumstances, as everybody’s situation and lifestyle are different.
11. Faster access to slow starting devices
Another option is about powering up your media server so it’s ready when you need it. I have mine turned off during the day.
When I come home from work, it is already powered on for me and all my media is ready for me to use when I walk through the door.
The same technique can be applied to other stuff that takes a few minutes to start up.
12. Fish tank lighting control
If you are someone that is into fish and has a collection of fish tanks, especially with some custom lighting, this might be useful.
You can have them showcase your pretty specimens at the times you choose, without having to turn on a series of switches.
In this case, I would recommend smart power strips that have multiple outlets on one device. The individual power sockets can be controlled independently.
13. Temperature regulation using an old freezer
If you are a beer brewing person, you might like this one. I have an old chest freezer that I have set up on one that turns my freezer on and off in intervals. I can then maintain an excellent brewing temperature for my beer.
My thoughts are to someday take it a bit further. I could get a thermometer hooked up to a micro-controller that gives it information on whether to turn on or off.
This will lower the number of temperature fluctuations. I wonder what other things people would need to be kept at specific temperatures?
This is not one the most common uses for smart plugs, but useful for those into doing some home brewing on a budget.
14. Safer battery maintenance for power tools
If you are anything like me, then you have many battery chargers for all the battery-powered tools. I find myself sometimes wondering about the safety around running all those chargers in my garage all the time.
Some of my cheaper or older ones, don’t have great auto shut off features when the battery has charged fully.
You can have them turn off at intervals of your choice, to more safely regulate charging times for your tool’s batteries.
15. Automate your Christmas lights
Plug your Christmas lights into one and now you can control them on a schedule of your choice. So even if you are away on holiday for a short period, you can have them come on for everyone to enjoy.
They operate all kinds of lights, so you don’t have to be concerned if your lights are old or new, or even of a specific type.
16. Digital signage control
This is a bonus tip that is most likely to be aimed at business owners. If you have an open sign for your business, it’s great to be able to control it whenever you need to.
Sometimes with my kind of business, for example, there is no one around on the premises. On those days, simply pull out your mobile and power it off.
This could be true for other business signs like special hours or vacancies. I’m sure there are many more uses for smart plugs to control a sign.
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In conclusion to the list of smart plug uses
Other uses include operating plug-in air conditioners, heat pumps or heaters. The same can be applied to desk and floor standing fans.
You can have them turn on by setting up a timer schedule or you can turn them on from your smartphone when you leave your place of work. You will arrive home to a more comfortable living space.
I would caution that you be extremely careful when it comes to portable heating products like space heaters. I only recommend having them turn on when you are 100% certain that no other items are within the safety radius of its operation.
This way you can arrive home with the optimum cooling or heating in action.
There are other smart plug uses that involve using other electronic components like relays for example.
In our post on WiFi garage door openers, under the section “How does a smart garage door controller work?”, I mention about using one as a garage door opener. There is a link to a how-to video in case you want to get creative.
You aren’t limited to controlling smart plugs just with an app, you can also use a voice command through Alexa or Google Home to turn your smart plugs on or off.
I hope you found at least one of our uses for smart plugs to be helpful.
Marlo is currently working full time as a professional computer programmer, electronics engineer and computer technician. Besides having a great passion for computers, he is fascinated by smart homes of the future.