How To Set Up Smart Plugs (In 2 Easy Steps)

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Smart plugs are the simplest and cheapest of smart home devices. They can revolutionize your home and turn any ‘dumb’ appliance into a smart device.

This article shows you how to set up smart plugs and use them once they are set up.

But first, what are smart plugs, and what are the benefits of using them?

How To Set Up Smart Plugs

What Are Smart Plugs?

A smart plug is a device that sits between the power supply and an appliance in your home. It connects via Wi-Fi with an app on your phone, and that allows you to control the appliance remotely.

A smart plug is simply a switch that turns an appliance on or off. But when connected to a smart home hub such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home, a smart plug allows you to turn appliances on and off according to a schedule or by using voice commands.

Smart plugs are the simplest and cheapest components in a smart home. They turn ‘dumb’ appliances into smart appliances. 

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Benefits of Smart Plugs

But what’s the point of having smart plugs?

The answer to that question is simple: convenience, saving money, and security.


Because smart plugs can be scheduled, you can set them to turn on appliances at the same time each day. For example, you can prep your coffee machine the night before and set it to turn on while you are still in the shower. 

Or you could set a smart plug to turn on your air conditioner or space heater exactly half an hour before you get home. That way, your house is at the temperature you want when you get home.

You can also use a smart plug to turn off a group of devices at the same time. For example, you could have your TV, sound bar, Xbox, Roku device, and music player on a single power strip that is connected to a single smart plug. You could schedule the smart plug to turn off all those devices at the same time each evening when you go to bed.

Saving money

The ability to set up automatic routines that turn off devices each day at a set time helps you to cut down on ‘vampire’ energy or phantom load. This is electricity that you use by having appliances in standby mode when you don’t need them to be. 

Not only that, but some smart plugs measure electricity consumption. That means you can see in your smartphone app which appliances are using more electricity than others. You can either limit the use of those energy-guzzling devices or replace them with more efficient versions.


With smart plugs, you can set up occupancy routines, also known as ‘away modes’, which give the impression there is someone at home, even when the house is empty. Using a smart home hub like Alexa, you can set up routines that randomly turn lights on and off as if someone was at home.

You can even link your smart plug to a motion sensor so that any movement outside your house triggers a recording of a barking dog.

In the remainder of this article, we will look at how to choose a smart plug, how to set up a smart plug, and some of the different ways to use a smart plug.

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Choosing a Smart Plug

There are dozens of different brands of smart plugs available – knowing which one to get can be quite confusing.

Here are some factors you need to consider when buying a smart plug.


The main thing to be aware of when buying a smart plug is compatibility – is the smart plug compatible with your smart home hub? 

Smart plugs come with their own app (the manufacturer’s app), and you can control your smart plug for that app. But if you want the smart plug to integrate with your other smart devices, then you need to make sure that the smart plug works with your smart hub.

The smart plug’s packaging should tell you if it works with Alexa, Google Home, HomeKit, or SmartThings. Most smart plugs will work with Alexa and Google Home, but the number of smart plugs that work with HomeKit and SmartThings is much smaller.

So, compatibility is the first thing to check when buying a smart plug.

Here are some popular brands of smart plugs, together with details about their compatibility:

Amazon Smart Plug

  • Alexa: yes
  • Google Home: no
  • HomeKit/Siri: no 
  • SmartThings: no

Hue Smart Plug

  • Alexa: yes
  • Google Home: yes
  • HomeKit/Siri: yes
  • SmartThings: no

Kasa Smart Plug Mini

  • Alexa: yes
  • Google Home: yes
  • HomeKit/Siri: no 
  • SmartThings: no

Meross Smart WiFi Plug

  • Alexa: yes
  • Google Home: yes
  • HomeKit/Siri: yes
  • SmartThings: yes

TP-Link Tapo P125M Mini Smart Wi-Fi Plug

  • Alexa: yes
  • Google Home: yes
  • HomeKit/Siri: yes
  • SmartThings: yes

Wemo Smart Plug

  • Alexa: yes
  • Google Home: yes
  • HomeKit/Siri: yes
  • SmartThings: no

Wyze Plug

  • Alexa: yes
  • Google Home: yes
  • HomeKit/Siri: no
  • SmartThings: no


Smart plugs are bulkier than standard plugs. 

If you have a wall outlet with two adjacent sockets, you’ll find that some smart plugs are so bulky that they block the second socket. 

So, look at the size of the smart plug, and if possible, try and get one that has a slim profile. 

The Eufy Smart Plug Mini and the Amazon Smart Plug are slim in profile and usually don’t block the second socket in a wall outlet.

Maximum wattage

Smart plugs usually have a maximum power rating of 1800 W (120 V at 15A) in the US and 2300 W (240 V at 10A) in Europe.

For appliances like toasters, kettles, microwaves, and TVs, the power rating of your smart plug is generally not an issue.

However, with heavy-duty appliances such as fridges, dishwashers, dryers, washing machines, and ovens, you should check that the wattage of the appliances doesn’t exceed the maximum wattage of the smart plug.

Number of outlets

Some smart plugs give you just one outlet, while others have two or three outlets. You also get smart power boards with four or five outlets. 

There are advantages to having multiple devices controlled by the same smart plug. But there are also situations where you need each appliance on its own smart plug.

So before buying a smart plug, you must be clear about how many appliances you want to run on the same smart plug.

Energy monitoring

One of the most useful features of smart plugs is the ability to monitor energy usage. If you are energy conscious and want to keep track of how much electricity you are using on a daily and monthly basis, these kinds of smart plugs can really help you get control over your electricity usage.

However not all smart plugs offer energy monitoring, so this is another thing to consider when purchasing a smart plug.

How To Set Up Smart Plugs

The process for setting up smart plugs usually involves two steps: first, you download the manufacturer’s app (also known as the ‘companion app’), and then you link the smart plug to Amazon Alexa or Google Home via the companion app.

In this example, I’m using a smart plug made by Arlec, which is designed to work in an app called ‘Grid Connect’. Whichever brand of smart plug you use, the steps will be similar to these.

Step One: The Companion App

  • Download the companion app and tap the option to add a device. The app will find your Wi-Fi network and will ask you for the network password.
  • Press the button on your smart plug for 5 seconds until it starts flashing fast. Then press ‘Next’ in the smart plug app. The app will now look for your smart plug and add it to the app.
  • Once the smart plug has been added to the companion app, you should rename it with a more descriptive name (e.g. ‘coffee maker’ or ‘bedroom lamp’).
  • Then, press the On/Off button in the companion app to make sure that your smart plug is responding to the app.

A quick caveat here: I have experienced problems setting up some smart plugs. And whenever I’ve had trouble setting them up, it’s always been at this stage: adding the smart plug to the companion app.

A lot of the time, the problem has to do with the flashing light. Every smart plug has a flashing light that tells you it is in pairing mode. But there are two speeds for the flashing light: slow and fast. Make sure the light is flashing fast before you attempt to pair it with the companion app.

Step Two: The Alexa App

  • Open the Alexa app and tap on ‘Devices’ in the bottom menu
  • Then tap on the Plus sign in the top right corner
  • Next, tap on ‘Add Device’
  • Then tap on ‘Plug’
  • On the next screen, you’ll see a list of smart plug brands. If your brand of smart plug is not listed, don’t worry – tap on ‘Other’
  • On the next screen, Alexa will show you five options: Matter, Zigbee, Zwave, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. Tap on the connection protocol that applies to your smart plug (in most cases, this will be Wi-Fi).
  • Alexa will now ask you to download the app for your smart plug (this is the companion app I mentioned earlier).
  • Now tap on ‘Discover Devices’
  • Alexa will scan for new devices (this can take up to 45 seconds). Once Alexa has found the device, tap on ‘Set up Device’.
  • You can now add the new smart plug to an existing ‘Group’ or you can skip this step.
  • You will now see a screen that says your new smart plug has been added and is ready to use.

Nine Clever Ways To Use Smart Plugs

Now that your smart plug has been added to Alexa, you’ll be able to control it via voice commands or schedule it to turn on and off at set times of the day. 

You can also set up more advanced automations. For example, you could set the smart plug to turn on or off when another device is activated (for example, a motion sensor).

Here are nine clever ways to use smart plugs.

#1. Pre-cool or pre-heat your room

Plug your air-conditioner or your space heater into a smart plug and set it to turn on half an hour before you get home. That way, the room will be at the perfect temperature when you get home.

#2. Automate your coffee

Prep your coffee maker the night before and leave it switched on but plugged into a smart plug. You can then set it to turn on while you shower. It’s like having a butler!

#3. Make your slow cooker smart

Slow cookers have a temperature control but usually have no timer. With a smart plug, you can turn it into a smart slow cooker. You can schedule it to turn on and off at certain times. You could even turn it on and off remotely from work.

#4. Reduce vampire load

Vampire load is the electricity that your appliances use in standby mode. It’s a tiny amount for each appliance, but when you add it up across a dozen or more devices, it’s costing you money. We tend to leave things in standby mode because it’s such a hassle to go around turning appliances off at the wall. 

But what if you could turn off a group of appliances with one command? For example, you could plug the TV, the music player, the X Box, and the soundbar into a single smart power board. And then you could schedule that smart plug to turn off at 11 p.m. every night.

Over time, that will save you money.

#5. Identify appliances that are energy sinks

If you get smart plugs that monitor energy use, you can quickly see which appliances are using excessive amounts of electricity. You can then either limit their use or replace them with more energy-efficient models.

#6. Guard against thieves

When smart plugs are connected to smart hubs like Alexa or Google Home, you can set up ‘away modes’ that turn your lights on and off so that it looks as if someone’s in the house.

#7. Know when the clothes washer has finished

If you get a smart plug that also measures power usage, you can use it to tell you when your clothes washer has finished its cycle. 

#8. Turn your hot water on and off

If you’re often away on business trips, you probably don’t want to leave the hot water system on while you are away. But nor do you want to come back to a house with cold water.

The solution is simple: connect the water heater to a smart plug. You can turn it off before you leave (or even after you leave if you forget to turn it off) and then turn it on remotely the day before you come back.

#9. Limit your children’s screen time

Instead of having arguments with your kids about screen time, you can plug the TV into a smart plug and then schedule it to turn off at a set time each evening.


Smart plugs are a cheap and easy way to automate your home. They turn ordinary appliances into smart devices that you can control by voice or schedule to turn on and off at set times of the day.

The advantages of using smart plugs include convenience, added security for your home, and the ability to monitor energy usage and save money on electricity.

There are a number of factors to consider when buying smart plugs, such as whether the smart plug is compatible with your smart hub and how much space it will take up on your wall outlet.

This article has shown you how to set up smart plugs in two easy steps: first, download the smart plug’s companion app and then link the smart plug to Alexa or Google Home.

There are some ingenious ways you can use smart plugs to make your daily routines easier, make your house safer, and save on electricity, which I outlined above.

I hope this article will inspire you to go and get your first smart plug and start automating your home.

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