Amazon released the Amazon Smart Plug in 2018, and it works exclusively with Alexa and allows users to add voice control to any regular power outlet. These Smart Plugs are a valuable addition to any home automation system, but they have some limitations, including their outdoor capabilities.
Amazon Smart Plugs aren’t waterproof. The outer shell of the plug doesn’t protect against water damage, and the device itself doesn’t have an IPX rating. Therefore, this device isn’t suitable for outdoor use.
All smart devices contain small, electrical, internal components. If the manufacturer doesn’t include protection for these internal components, the device is unsafe to use outdoors.
The Amazon Smart Plug is a single-socket, 3-prong WiFi plug. It contains a miniature circuit board, which acts as the main control panel. This “microcontroller” is similar to a tiny computer with limited capabilities.
Based on the commands the microcontroller receives (via voice commands through an Echo or the Alexa app), it turns the power to the device on or off. The microcontroller also utilizes an internal antenna to connect to WiFi.
Like most smart plugs, Amazon Smart Plugs contain internal safety features in their power input and output lines. If an appliance is drawing more power than the outlet is equipped to handle, it’ll shut off. There’s also a small memory chip inside to keep your schedules if you decide to set devices on a timer.
These internal components require proper protection from the elements to keep the device working and keep the user safe. If they come into contact with water, they may cease to work.
Amazon Smart Plugs unfortunately don’t come with protective features that protect the device against water damage. The outer shell of the Amazon Smart Plug isn’t water-resistant or waterproof. If a user exposes the device to the elements, the internal components could malfunction, leading to damage of the Amazon Smart Plug, an electrical problem within the home, or worse, an injury.
In addition, the Amazon Smart Plug doesn’t have an IPX rating. This rating indicates how resistant a product is to environmental elements. Products without a rating provide no protection against any outdoor elements.
Most smart plugs designed for outdoor use utilize water-resistant material and have an IPX rating of at least four. These devices also come with weather-proof caps to further protect against water exposure. Amazon Smart Plugs don’t have this feature either.
Any smart plug without these protections, including the Amazon Smart Plug, can become damaged within a short time if exposed to the elements.
Since Amazon Smart Plugs aren’t waterproof, you probably think they’re not suitable for use in a kitchen or a bathroom—but that’s not true.
Most home builders equip kitchen and bathroom outlets with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI)—if not, that’s something homeowners need to have installed immediately for safety reasons.
The GFCI is a necessary safety feature that turns off electric power to that outlet if it detects a fault in the electrical system. GFCIs act as mini circuit-breakers, cutting off the power quickly, in less than a tenth of a second.
GFCI protection is standard on outlets found in kitchens and bathrooms or any area in close proximity to water. It’ll provide protection to the Amazon Smart Plug when it’s plugged into a GFCI protected outlet.
Even with the extra protection, Amazon Smart Plug users must take great care not to get water into the inlets, as water and electricity have the potential to cause shock or electrocution. This applies to outdoor plugs as well, even the ones that boast “waterproof.”
While some smart plugs are designed for outdoor use, the Amazon Smart Plug isn’t.
Amazon specifically states that the Amazon Smart Plug is for indoor use only. Indoor plugs should never be considered for outdoor usage. Instead, invest in a waterproof smart plug that’s made for outdoor use and has an IPX rating of at least four.
Even if you could use an indoor smart plug outdoors, it wouldn’t be as efficient. Indoor plugs are notorious for having short WiFi ranges. Since they’re usually confined to a small area, there’s no need for a broader range. In contrast, smart plugs designed for outdoor use have ranges up to 300 ft (91.44 m).
In addition, the Amazon Smart Plug offers a maximum energy output of 15 amps. This won’t power high-energy devices like outdoor appliances, pumps, or motors. For more extensive load requirements, including electric grills or high-powered firepits, you’ll need an outlet that can pull more amps.
If you really have to power something outside using your Amazon Smart Plug, you can always plug it in indoors and bring the device’s power cord into the home. That way, you can still utilize your automation system, but without the risk of ruining your smart plug or causing injury to yourself.
Although the Amazon Smart Plug for Alexa isn’t waterproof, Amazon offers many different brands of waterproof smart plugs designed for outdoor use. Look for plugs that have an IPX rating of at least four.
When choosing a smart plug, consider where you’ll be using it. If you need this smart home device for outdoor use, choose one that explicitly states that it’s waterproof and ensure that it has an IPX rating of four or higher. Unfortunately, even with all of its capabilities, the Amazon Smart Plug isn’t waterproof and doesn’t meet these standards.
Therefore, the Amazon Smart Plug should never be knowingly exposed to water and should only be used indoors.