How Does A Smart Plug Work?

Smart plugs come with a variety of benefits, and in this guide, we show you exactly how they work.
Written By: Richard Morgan | Updated:
How Does A Smart Plug Work
Richard Morgan/DIY Works

Smart plugs are a great way to transform your home into a “smart home”, and they work by controlling the power supply to the plugged-in device. As you can see from the photo above, a smart plug is very easy to set up, and it sits between your power socket and electronic device. Once set up, you can control the device’s power supply over a WiFi connection.

Compared to the early version of smart plugs, the latest smart plugs now offer a variety of functionalities, such as scheduling, energy monitoring, actions, and so much more.

Do Smart Plugs Need WiFi?

In short, yes, they do. Smart plugs work over a stable WiFi connection and a smartphone application. Depending upon the plug you choose, they may or may not require a “hub”, which enables the plug to connect to your internet connection.

For example, the Hive Smart system requires a hub, which you can then use to connect various plugs and even their smart thermostat for heating. Therefore, buying all your smart home devices from the same brand is a good idea.

How Do Smart Plugs Work?

Once you have plugged the smart plug into a socket and connected it to your WiFi, you will want to understand exactly how it works. Therefore, using the Hive Smart Plug as an example, you will first want to begin by giving the plug a distinctive name so you know exactly what it is used for.

In this example, we have connected our smart plug to outdoor wall lights at the front of the house (video below). We used a smart plug for these lights because we wanted them to remain on at night but also turn off via pre-set schedules so they aren’t on all night.

How Does A Smart Plug Work

Richard Morgan/DIY Works

Once you have named the plug, you can then play around with the various functions that the plug offers. For example, the Hive system allows you to turn it on and off remotely (in the left photo) and also schedule the light to turn on at specific periods.

In this example, we have set the lights to turn on between 6 and 7 in the morning and again between 5 and 11 in the evening. Other functionality includes actions, i.e., turning it on for 20 minutes, energy monitoring, and much more.

Below is a quick video of how easy it is to control the smart plug remotely from your phone:

Smart Plug Ideas

Smart plugs are highly versatile, and they can be used for almost anything, such as:

  • Outdoor security lights or garden lighting at night
  • Limiting the time your kids use electronics (watching TV or playing games)
  • Controlling and monitoring devices remotely (i.e. when you are on holiday)
  • Providing peace of mind that certain electronics are turned off (i.e. hair straighteners or the iron)
  • Turning on a fan at night whilst trying to sleep during hot summer nights (i.e. schedule it to stay on for 1 hour).
  • Scheduling certain lights to turn on and off to give the illusion you are at home when you are on holiday
  • Controlling any electric blankets so they don’t stay on all the time.
  • Resetting devices that have malfunctioned (i.e. outdoor security cameras)
  • … and so much more

Are There Any Drawbacks?

One of the main disadvantages of using smart plugs is their reliance on a stable internet connection. Depending on where you use them, you will also need a strong signal strength if the plug is far from the WiFi router.

Another minor drawback is that they do look quite bulky due to the internal components inside of the plug. However, most come in neutral colours and often come with modern lights to display when the plug is on or off.


Smart plugs can be used for so many things, and they really are a great purchase. If possible, we always recommend purchasing smart plugs that offer scheduling because they open the door to many different possibilities.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch, and we will try to provide our assistance where possible. Whether you need to setup your smart plugs or need more information, we are very knowledgable about these gadgets!

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