Old-fashioned outlet timers allow you to run outdoor lights, pool filtration system, and Christmas decorations on a schedule. But why stick with old-fashioned? New outdoor smart plugs allow you to control lights and other outdoor electronics through voice commands, an app, or a complex weekly schedule.
Before Buying an Outdoor Smart Plug
Unlike surge protectors and mechanical outlet timers, outdoor smart plugs connect to your Wi-Fi network for remote control and scheduling. They’re easy to set up, and they offer a level of flexibility that you won’t get with old-fashioned outdoor timers. You can use a voice assistant to power on an outdoor fan, for example, or program your patio lights to only turn on over the weekend.
Outdoor smart plugs are pretty straightforward with little variety between different products. Still, you need to think about outlet selection and smarthome compatibility. You should also keep an eye on brand names, as no-name brands tend to have worse apps than popular brands.
Here’s what to know before you buy an outdoor smart plug:
- Smart Home Compatibility: Most outdoor smart plugs support Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT. But smart devices that support Apple Homekit or Z-Wave standards are kind of rare. To make shopping easy, we’ve picked out the best outdoor smart plugs specifically for Homekit and Z-Wave setups.
- Multiple Outlets: Each outlet on an outdoor smart plug works independently, making it easy to run your patio lights and outdoor fan on separate schedules. If you have a bunch of outdoor electronics, you may want to go for the four-outlet POWRUI smart plug.
- Weather Resistance: All of the outdoor smart plugs listed in this article are water-resistant and dust-resistant with an IP44 rating or better. This is sufficient protection against rain, but don’t let your smart plug sit in a puddle! (The TP-Link Kasa outdoor smart plug has an IP64 rating, offering better dust protection than the competition.)
- Range: Most outdoor smart Wi-Fi plugs advertise a range of 300 feet… which is really just the maximum theoretical range of 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi. I suggest that you ignore what the manufacturers say about range and test it yourself with your smartphone. If your phone can’t reliably use Wi-Fi from wherever you want to install your smart plug, try moving your router or buying a Mesh Wi-Fi system.
- For Dimmable Lights: The TREATLIFE outdoor smart plug works with dimmable lights, providing an extra layer of smart home control and automation. If you use dimmable outdoor lights, then scroll down and grab that thing!
Now that we know what to look out for, it’s time to get into the weeds. Here are the best outdoor smart plugs available today, including a few fringe options for Homekit and Z-Wave setups.
Best Overall: TP-Link Kasa 2-Outlet Plug
Outdoor smart plugs shouldn’t cost more than the average mechanical outlet timer. That’s why the TP-Link Kasa outdoor smart plug is a winner; it’s affordable, it has two well-spaced outlets, it’s from a well-known brand, and the Kasa app (Android, iOS) is great. Plus, it has an IP64 rating for better dust protection than any of the other smart plugs in this article, making it the best pick for sandy and dusty areas.
The Kasa outdoor smart plug is also notable for its two power buttons. Most outdoor smart plugs have just one physical button that turns off every outlet, but the Kasa has one button for each outlet for individual control. (Other smart plugs offer independent outlet controls through the app or voice assistant, but they rarely have two physical buttons like the Kasa.)
For Big Projects: POWRUI 4-Outlet Plug
Why stop at just two outlets? The POWRUI outdoor smart plug has four outlets to independently control all of your lights, decorations, and outdoor appliances. And unlike other smart plugs, the POWRUI has small extensions for each of its outlets. These small extensions make it easy to use the POWRUI with bulky power adapters, and they dramatically slim down the POWRUI’s main enclosure.
Best for Dimmable Lights: TREATLIFE Dimmer
Is your patio decorated with dimmable string lights? Skip the basic smart plugs and grab a TREATLIFE outdoor smart dimmer. It has all the features of a regular outdoor smart plug, such as scheduling and voice assistant integration, plus the ability to control a dimmable light’s intensity. You can schedule your lights to grow brighter or dimmer throughout the night, for example, or use your voice to change the intensity of your lights on the fly.
Best Homekit Option: Wemo 2-Outlet Plug
If you’re a fan of Siri, then you gotta buy the Wemo outdoor smart plug. It’s one of the few outdoor smart plugs with Apple Homekit compatibility, and it comes from one of the most popular smart home brands available today (you know what that means—a good app).
Because the Wemo outdoor smart plug is compatible with Apple Homekit, Google Assistant, and Alexa, it’s one of the safest smart home gifts that you can buy for a homeowner. You don’t have to ask which voice assistant somebody uses, you can just buy the Wemo plug and call it a day.
Best Z-Wave Option: GE Enbrighten Plug
Do you need an outdoor smart plug that works with your Z-Wave hub? The GE Enbrighten outdoor plug gives you remote control over your outdoor lights and appliances without putting any strain on your home internet. It also offers scheduling features and voice assistant compatibility, although it only has one outlet.
Even if you’re a hardcore Z-Wave user, the GE Enbrigten may seem a little expensive. It only has one outlet and it costs nearly double the price of typical smart Wi-Fi outdoor plugs. That GE Enbrigten is fantastic for long-term applications and has a stellar wireless range (GE smart products act as signal repeaters for one another), but if you just need to control some Christmas lights, then you might want to look at cheaper Wi-Fi options.
This post was written by Andrew Heinzman and was first posted to www.reviewgeek.com
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