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Once you get the smart home bug, you’ll find devices in all parts of your home that you want to automate, including in the garden or front yard.
If you’re planning to use plugs to create automations, you’re probably wondering whether smart plugs can be used outside?
No, smart plugs cannot be used outside unless they specifically state that they are suitable for outdoor use. This is because they won’t have the correct IP rating which indicates how weatherproof they are. However, there is a range of outdoor smart plugs that have been designed for this use.
In this guide, I’ll share some of the best outdoor smart plugs and some helpful hints and tips for setting them up and ensuring they are as safe as possible.
- Can Smart Plugs Be Used Outside?
- What is an Outdoor Smart Plug? How is it Different?
- Best Outdoor Smart Plugs UK
- Smart outdoor Plug Comparison Chart
- Alternative to a Smart Outdoor Plug: Using a Plug Box
- Uses for an Outdoor Smart Plug
- How to Protect Your Outdoor Smart Plug and Equipment
- Related Questions
Can Smart Plugs Be Used Outside?
No, you should not use indoor smart plugs outdoors. An outdoor plug needs to have a certain amount of weather resistance to ensure it is safe to use outdoors, a typical smart plug will not have this.
A dumb outdoor socket will usually have an IP rating of IP66, if you have one of these installed, you could use a smart plug inside the housing, however, in most cases, the housing will not be big enough.
This leads us to dedicated outdoor smart plugs. There aren’t many of these on the market at the moment but I will share a few recommendations later in this article. I would recommend aiming for IP66 as with the dumb outdoor plugs.
What is an Outdoor Smart Plug? How is it Different?
An outdoor smart plug is a weatherproof plug with Wi-Fi or Zigbee built-in which allows the plug to connect to a router or smart hub. Most outdoor smart plugs will have an IP rating of at least IP44 which protects against dirt, bugs, and splashes of water.
Some of the better outdoor smart plugs will have an even greater IP rating up to IP66 which protects against water jets. You should always check the weatherproof rating and if you expect it might be too low, take extra precautions such as those outlined below.
Best Outdoor Smart Plugs UK
These are the best outdoor smart plugs available in the UK:
- Best Overall: Knightsbridge
- Easy Installation: Meross
- Best for HomeKit: Meross HomeKit Edition
- Best Zigbee Outdoor Plug: OSRAM Plug
Below are my full reviews of each plug recommendation and the reason why I have included them.
Best Overall: Knightsbridge
My top pick is the Kinghtsbridge double plug. At first, I didn’t recognise the brand as they aren’t a typical smart home brand, however, I found out that they are an electronic retailer in Dunstable (UK) with over 7,000 5 star reviews on Trustpilot so I believe the products can be trusted.
The socket itself looks much like a standard outdoor double socket, however, it’s got Wi-Fi built-in and is certified by Amazon to work with Alexa and Google Home.
It has a maximum load of 2990W which is in line with what you’d typically expect from a standard outdoor plug. I was impressed by its IP66 rating too which would allow it to sustain powerful jets from any angle without a problem. This is the level just below submersion in water so is about right for an outdoor plug.
The only downside to this plug is that you’d need it to be installed by someone who knows what they are doing, I would recommend an electrician or other professional.
Easy Installation: Meross
If you don’t want to hire an electrician and already have an accessible outdoor plug, this Meross double socket is a great way to make it smart.
This product is also a Wi-Fi-connected plug so it connects straight to your router without the need for a hub. Once set up, you can use it with Alexa, Google Home, Smart Things, and more.
The sockets have overload protection that will cut off if there are any surges. The downside to this one is that it’s only IP44 which is much less weather resistant than the IP66 plug from Knightsbridge before. I would recommend this placed under some decent cover.
Whilst the manufacturer has not provided much additional information about the weatherproof abilities of this device, based on the style it doesn’t seem to be weatherproof whilst in use like the other sockets I have shared here so I wouldn’t recommend it be used whilst raining.
Best for HomeKit: Meross (HomeKit Edition)
There’s only one UK outdoor smart plug that works with HomeKit and that’s the Meross HomeKit edition. It’s basically the same setup as the previous Meross device I’ve mentioned, however, it’s also been certified to work with Apple HomeKit. Don’t worry, it still works with all of the other voice assistants too including Alexa and Google Home.
Again, it has an IP44 rating so I’d recommend keeping it well protected from the rain and it doesn’t appear to be weatherproof whilst in use, I would avoid use whilst raining. It uses 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi so you won’t need a hub.
Best Zigbee Outdoor Plug: OSRAM
If you have an Echo Show, Echo Plus, Philips Hue Bridge, or other Zigbee enabled hub, you might want to choose a Zigbee outdoor plug, this is where the OSRAM plug comes in.
It has a 1.5m power cable which is much longer than the short Meross cable and will give you plenty of room to feed it through a door or window to an indoor socket if required. Alternatively, you can just plug it into an outdoor socket too.
The device works well with Alexa and has been certified by Amazon for use with the voice assistant. The main disadvantage compared to the previous devices is that there’s only one power socket.
Smart outdoor Plug Comparison Chart
For those who love a good chart, here is a comparison chart with the key specs of each recommendation above:
|KEY SPECS||Knightsbridge||Meross||Meross (HomeKit Edition)||OSRAM|
|Ease of Installation||Requires professional||Moderate||Moderate||Easy|
|My Overall Rating||8/10||6/10||6/10||6/10|
|Where to Buy?||Amazon||Amazon||Amazon||Amazon|
Alternative to a Smart Outdoor Plug: Using a Plug Box
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of installing a smart plug permanently, you could opt for a temporary installment.
Unfortunately, most dumb outdoor plugs don’t have space for a smart plug within the housing. However, you can use a plug box instead.
For example, this Knightsbridge plug box is IP55 rated and has plenty of room inside to fit an extension cable and indoor smart plugs.
Uses for an Outdoor Smart Plug
Now that you’ve got your outdoor smart plug, here are a few ways you could put it to good use:
- Adding smarts to your dumb outdoor lights (or you could invest in some outdoor smart lights)
- Automating your garden sprinkler system
- Turning on and off your Christmas or Halloween lights
- Making an outdoor heater smart
- Future-proofing your garden
How to Protect Your Outdoor Smart Plug and Equipment
Here are a few more tips to help you properly and safely install a smart plug outdoors:
- When permanently installing an outdoor smart plug, any cabling should run directly through the hole and into the back of the plug. If you have excess cabling that runs along the wall, you should use a conduit designed for outdoor use to cover this.
- Try to install your outdoor plug in an area that is least exposed to wind and rain, if this isn’t possible, you could use an additional rain cover for further protection.
- Keep in mind any areas that are prone to flooding and avoid these. Even when the area is not prone to flooding, you should still aim for it to be at least 12 inches off the ground.
- Avoid using nails or staples to attach wiring to your wall, opt for plastic cable clips to ensure you don’t get an electric shock.
- Don’t be afraid to call a handyman or electrician for help, these types of installation are very common and don’t cost too much.
Can You Use Smart Plugs Outdoors in Winter?
Yes, you can use smart outdoor plugs in Winter, however, you should check the operating temperature of the plugs to ensure that they are suitable for cold temperatures.
The Meross smart plugs above have an operating temperature down to -10°C, given that the lowest temperature recorded in the UK during 2020 was -10.2°C, it’s safe to say that these will be suitable for year-round use.
Can You Use Amazon Smart Plugs Outdoors?
No, the current Amazon smart plug available in the UK is designed for indoor use only. Whilst some people might recommend using a weatherproof housing box for outdoor use, I would recommend that you opt for an outdoor smart plug that has been designed with this use in mind.