Automation and the Internet of Things (IoT) are the raves of the moment because the industry continues to make our daily lives as simple as possible. Smart plugs are just another example of how the industry is using the internet to transform everyday objects and make them easier to use.
Smart plugs require the internet to function. They are installed around the home and are either directly connected to the internet over a Wi-Fi connection or connected to a bridge device, known as a Smart Hub, which has to stay connected to the internet for the smart plugs to work effectively.
Also read: 14 Smart Uses for Smart Plugs
I’ll look at all these and more in this article:
- How do smart plugs work?
- What happens when there’s no Wi-Fi?
- Do you need to make a contingency plan?
How Do Smart Plugs Work?
Smart plugs connect to your Wi-Fi network directly or to a “Smart Hub” that’s already connected to your Wi-Fi network and let you monitor and control appliance and device usage.
The smart plug functions like your conventional plugs but with a twist. If you get one of these, you have to plug it to an outlet and then plug the appliance you’d want to use on it into the slot.
The smart plug delivers electricity to the appliance in line with the commands you send to it from the app or smart home hub.
Why Use a Smart Plug?
Some real-life applications of smart-plug usage include the following:
- Controlling a home camera remotely
- Pre-warming rooms when necessary
- Improving the humidity in a home by controlling the humidifier remotely
- Making remote control of kitchen and home appliances easier
- Discouraging burglars by controlling home lights remotely
- Charging batteries when you’re not around
Will Smart Plug Work Without Wi-Fi?
A smart plug can still power an appliance without Wi-Fi, but it’s unlikely to take commands from your app. If the plug can’t connect to the smart hub or directly to the router (for smart plugs that support direct Wi-Fi connectivity), you have to operate it manually like conventional wall plugs.
In a scenario where the smart hub has lost connection to the router or where your router can’t connect to the internet, your smart plug can still work manually and perform local commands that don’t require the internet. Likewise, home automation controlled by the smart hub may also still work if the commands don’t require internet.
So, a smart plug won’t shut off power from an appliance because it’s not connected to Wi-Fi or because the Smart Hub has lost internet connectivity. Instead, you’ll have to operate the plug manually until you can re-establish the connection.
Can You Have a Smart Home Without Internet?
You can have a smart home without internet if you created the system outside the internet in the first place. However, if your smart home is reliant on the internet, it will stop functioning as soon as any part of the setup loses connection.
When you automate your smart plugs or light bulbs to come on at a specific time, the request isn’t sent directly to the specific plugs or bulbs.
Instead, the command is sent to a remote server run by the manufacturers of the plugs or bulbs (or smart hub device). The server will tell the specific device to act on your command at the right time only if they are connected to the internet either directly or via the hub. When there’s no internet, you lose that smart functionality.
Still, as I mentioned above, you can build a smart home outside the confines of the internet.
How To Create a Smart Home Without Internet
Setting up a smart home outside of the internet starts with getting a smart hub. This hub will control all the smart devices you intend to use within your home. It will also process any commands you send to the devices.
The right hub needs to support a wireless protocol like Zigbee or Z-Wave. Fortunately, most of the biggest manufacturers in this space produce hubs that can run on this protocol. Options like Hubitat allow local functionality.
However, you can also create your own hub by setting up Home Assistant Software on your computer and getting a Z-Wave USB stick to function as the controller. With the hub set up, you can start looking for compatible devices in line with what you need to set up the smart home. From smart plugs and switches to locks and bulbs, there’s a healthy market to choose from.
The one downside to a smart home built off the internet is that you can’t use voice commands or control the system from outside your home. Instead, you’ll need to be at home to control the system from a mobile phone app.
Smart plugs rely on a Wi-Fi connection to respond to commands sent over the internet. However, when the connection drops, they can still function like traditional appliances requiring you to manually turn them on/off. In addition, automations that don’t require internet connectivity may also work without Wi-Fi.