Meet the Smart Plugs Making the Great Outdoors Even Greater
Most smart tech these days seems to be interior-focused, designed to make the inside of our homes even more efficient, manageable, cozy, safe, or fun.
And don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that I use an app to fire up my oven and roast my pre-prepared veggies before I even leave work, but I can’t help but feel that exteriors have been a little neglected by the smart home revolution.
What if we wanted to schedule a twinkling sequence of yard path lights to come on at dusk, or access our pool pump remotely to prepare for a dip later in the day? Normal smart plugs have the necessary “brains” to make it happen but don’t fare well exposed to the elements.
Well, there aren’t as many available but I’m happy to report that outdoor smart plugs do exist, and after considerable research, I’m confident that I’ve amassed your top 5 options in this article.
Best Outdoor Smart Plugs — Reviews
Best Overall — WYZE WLPPO1-1 Outdoor Smart Plug
Despite the compact design, this magnificent Wyze outdoor smart plug brings two outlets to the table, but not just any outlets. They’re independently controlled, meaning you can have your hot tub and pathway light plugged in at the same time, with separate operating schedules.
The outlets can, of course, be controlled via the Wyze companion or Alexa app, but what’s special about this outdoor smart plug is that each outlet has an on-unit button for easy operation if you’ve misplaced your phone.
When you rediscover your cell phone, the app offers plenty of automatization options, but the integrated daylight sensor on the plug trumps them all — it uses ambient lighting as a cue to switch on or off.
For instance, you may want your twinkly string lights to turn on automatically when it gets dark, transforming your yard into a party space.
The plug is in line with the cable, which can make closing the cover of your wall outlet difficult, but that’s a small price to pay for such an articulate device.
- Dual Outlets — Turns one outlet into two.
- Articulate Controls — Independent control of two devices.
- On-Unit Controls — You don’t always need your phone.
- Light Sensor — Can follow ambient light cues.
- IP64 — Highly water-resistant.
- Inline Plug — Blocks wall outlet cover.
Best for Scheduling — Kasa Smart Outdoor Smart Plug KP400
The KP400 is quite large, but the bulk gives it some very impressive physical qualities. For one, it boasts an IP rating of 64, which means it’s more than capable of rolling with the punches in your backyard, whatever the weatherman predicts.
The size also means you get a second outlet, which can be controlled independently, paving the way for some intricate automation.
But it’s the Kasa app that really sets this outdoor smart plug aside from the rest. You can implement timings for each individual outlet, set up sunrise and sunset activation/deactivation, and, most impressively of all, custom offsets, meaning you can program it to turn on a set time before or after sunrise or sunset.
Compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, SmartThings, and IFTTT, you should have no problem incorporating it in established smart networks, but one thing to note is that the app doesn’t offer two-factor authentication.
- Dual Outlets — It’s a twofer!
- Independent Outlet Control — 2 devices, 2 schedules.
- Advanced Automation — Best automation options on the market.
- Compatibility — Works with most smart home systems.
- IP64 — Super weather-resistant.
- Security — No 2-factor authentication.
Best for Lots of Devices — PowrUI Outdoor Smart Plug
Featuring four outlets, this PowrUI creation is the ultimate outdoor smart plug for those who go BIG come Christmastime. It’ll power your reindeer lights, Santa lights, snowman lights, ….whatever you’re into, all at once!
It’s really quite a clever design. Instead of trying to stuff all four outlets into a single unit, they’re found on the ends of four short extension cables, keeping the form factor nice and lean.
Each outlet can be controlled independently, so whether you like to turn your lights on gradually, section by section, or all at once in an explosion of Yuletide spirit, this plug can make it happen.
However, individual control is only possible via the companion app, as the plug itself has just one button: a master off switch.
Thankfully the app itself is more thoughtfully designed, but the programmable options aren’t as advanced as, say, the Wyze plug. You can create basic schedules, but nothing so advanced as sunrise/sunset automation.
- 4 Outlets — Power it all!
- Compact Design — Not too bulky.
- Independent Outlet Control — Set individual timings for each device using the app.
- Well-Designed App — Super easy to use.
- Automation — Pretty limited options.
- On-Unit Controls — Only a universal off button.
Best for Outdoor Lighting — Treatlife Outdoor Smart Plug
Sometimes, it’s not how many outlets you have, but what you can do with them that counts, and this is precisely the approach Treatlife has taken with their outdoor smart plug offering.
It may only have a single outlet, but it has a built-in dimmer function, giving you precision control over your outdoor lighting.
The app is just as detail-oriented as the core design, unlocking complex options such as sunrise and sunset automation. Grouping is another cool feature, enabling you to control multiple Treatlife plugs as one.
You don’t need a control hub to set it up. Just plug it in, download the app, then follow instructions. If I had my way, the IP rating would be a little higher than 44, which isn’t to say it’s not capable of surviving outside, but I’d perhaps bring it in if there was any extreme weather forecast, just to be safe.
- Dimmer Function — Precise 1–100% dimmer control.
- Lots of Automation Options — Not offsets, but it does have dusk/dawn features.
- Grouping — Combine and operate them as one.
- Single Outlet — Powers one device only.
- IP44 — Still technically weatherproof, but only just.
Premium Option — Lutron PD-15OUT-BL Outdoor Smart Plug
The price tag on the PD-15OUT-BL smart plug is enough to send most running for the hills, but if you’re in the market for luxury (as far as plugs go, anyway), then it’s worth your attention.
Crafted from polycarbonate, which is both more flexible and impact resistant than ABS (the typical outdoor smart plug material), the body of the PD-15OUT-BL is rugged, streamlined, and can be wall-mounted. What’s more, it has an IP rating of 66, which means it can handle extreme weather conditions without breaking a sweat.
Using ClearConnect technology to form wireless bonds with the Lutron app, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, and many more, it’s far more secure than a plug that uses Wi-Fi exclusively. However, this does mean you’ll need a Smart Bridge.
The app offers some pretty fleshed-out automation protocols, but what truly gives this plug an edge is the geofencing capabilities that can sense when you’re nearly home, and use your proximity as a cue to fire your device up.
- Polycarbonate Construction — Basically indestructible.
- IP66 — Again…indestructible.
- Geofencing — Most advanced feature I’ve ever seen in a plug.
- Compatibility — Broad range of suitable smart pairings.
- Price — Brace yourself (and your bank account).
- Single Outlet — It’s a lot of money for only one outlet.
Best Outdoor Smart Plugs — Buyer’s Guide
What makes an outdoor smart plug better than another outdoor smart plug? Or, perhaps more importantly, what makes a smart plug suitable for a life in the great outdoors? All will be answered below.
There’s only one thing that can prepare a smart plug for the rigors of outdoor living, and that’s weatherproofing. As I’m sure you’re aware, to weatherproof something means to apply some form of barrier that will protect sensitive internal components from the heat, cold, rain, wind, and snow.
To attain weatherproof status, a plug needs to have a rugged enclosure that seals out the elements and provides plenty of impact resistance.
These enclosures are pretty easy to identify due to their bulk, so, basically, if a smart plug looks “normal”, it’s probably not suitable for outdoor use.
Okay, so I know I was just waffling on about weatherproofing, but, cards on the table, there’s no such thing as complete weatherproofing — even mountains are eroded by precipitation, wind, and extreme temperatures.
All we can do is create as much weather resistance as possible, and the level of this resistance is communicated as an IP rating. IP stands for Ingress (entering) Protection. Simply put, the higher the IP rating, the more resilient a plug will be living under the stars.
Technically speaking, any electronics that measure IP44 or above will fare pretty well outside, but I’d recommend aiming for something in the 60s, if only for peace of mind.
Angled vs Inline Plug
Angled plugs make it a little easier to close the cover of your outdoor outlet, but they can block the spare socket. Inline plugs won’t block a socket, but you probably won’t be able to fully close the cover of your outlet either. It’s a matter of choosing whichever you feel is the lesser of two evils, I’m afraid.
How many things do you want your smart plug to power simultaneously? Some only offer a single outlet, while others offer upwards of 4.
Those multi-outlet plugs I just mentioned, some of them allow you to control each outlet individually, while with others, all the plugs are either on or off.
A smart plug that lets you choose which outlet to power is way more convenient, not to mention more energy efficient. It means you can create a custom schedule for each connected device.
Unlike indoor smart plugs, outdoor smart plugs have a cable. These cables are typically quite short, but if you feel you’d benefit from a couple of extra inches, there are slightly longer ones available.
The beauty of a smart plug is, of course, that it can be controlled remotely via the company app, but what if you’re right next to it?
Do you really want to have to dig your phone from your pocket and go menu diving in the app to turn it on or off? Not really, which is why I’d recommend looking for a plug with on-unit controls.
Automation and App Design
Each smart plug company has its own app for controlling their smart devices, and they’re not all made equal. Some are easier to navigate, some offer more features, while others offer none of the above.
The depth of smart plug automation options will also shift from app to app. Some will allow you to set simple on/off times, while others offer complex scheduling features, such as sunrise/sunset automation.
Smart Home Compatibility
Smart devices really shine when combined, so it’s worth your while choosing an outdoor smart plug that’s compatible with any established smart home system you may have or plan on introducing.
Not only will this unlock voice commands via your virtual assistant, but your smart hub may offer more advanced automation options than the companion app.
Not sure what smart home route to take, feel free to check out Nstaronline’s triple-header Google Home vs Alexa vs Apple showdown.
As you may be aware, there is a slight security risk when using smart devices. Wireless signals are far easier to intercept than physical connections, and your phone or account could potentially be hacked too.
It sounds scary, but you can keep risks to a minimum by choosing a device with two-factor authentication, coming up with strong passwords, or picking a plug that uses a localized network like ZigBee or ClearConnect.
Best Outdoor Smart Plugs — Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re looking for an even deeper insight into the world of outdoor smart plugs, have a quick glance through these FAQs.
Can a smart plug work outside?
A regular smart plug will indeed work outside, that is until the rain comes down, debris works its way into the mechanism, or a family of slugs take up residence in the outlet holes.
To replicate the smart features you so enjoy indoors, you’ll need one of the outdoor smart plugs reviewed in this article.
Are outdoor smart plugs waterproof?
Using robust ABS enclosures with high IP ratings, manufacturers can make outdoor smart plugs water-resistant, but not completely waterproof. This is why you’ll often see disclaimers warning that you shouldn’t completely submerge your outdoor smart plugs or spray them directly with your garden hose.
How do outdoor smart plugs work?
Outdoor smart plugs work in exactly the same way as indoor smart plugs. They connect wirelessly to your router, making them identifiable to a companion app on your phone or your home smart system.
You can then control any appliance plugged into the smart plug remotely from anywhere in the world. The only difference is that outdoor smart plugs are weatherproofed, so they can survive outside.
Can you use outdoor smart plugs indoors?
Yep! Bring an outdoor smart plug inside, and it will work like any normal smart plug. They can be a little bulky, though, so they’re not best for indoor use.
What is the range of a smart plug?
Range is important when it comes to outdoor smart plugs, as in most instances, they’re going to be further away from your Wi-Fi router than your indoor plugs. They’ll also be beaming their signal through brick walls, glass, and wood.
Luckily, most smart plugs have a range of around 300 feet, so unless you live in a straight-up palace, yours should be able to communicate with your router just fine.
What devices can you plug into an outdoor smart plug?
Outdoor smart plugs are most commonly used to power string lights or some other form of outside lighting, but they can be used to power whatever you want. They’re no different to an indoor smart plug.
Can smart plugs work without internet access?
Generally speaking, smart plugs need internet access to function, but if they have Bluetooth, they can connect directly to your phone, where they can be controlled by a Bluetooth-based companion app.
Best Outdoor Smart Plugs — The Final Word
Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m all smart plugged out. Was there anything on this list that caught your eye? I believe there’s a little something here for everyone, no matter your budget or plans.
Each one of the featured plugs is capable of expanding the convenience we’ve been enjoying within our abodes, to the outside world, completing our smart home network, and quelling our tech addiction…for now, anyway.