How to Connect a Smart Plug to Alexa and Set a Timer and Power Schedule

Featured Image of Set Timers Power Schedule With Smart Plugs Alexa Google Home

Not all of your home devices are smart, and you might not want to replace them either. This is where a Wi-Fi enabled smart plug comes in handy as you just need to plug it in and connect to a mobile app. You can further connect the smart plug to voice-based Alexa on Echo devices and set up a timer and power schedule as shown in this guide below.

What is a Smart Plug?

A smart plug is any plug that can connect to your local Wi-Fi network and Alexa/Google Assistant on their respective smart speakers. A smart plug is the ultimate home automation device as it can convert dumb gadgets into smart ones (as far as the on/off settings are concerned).

16A Smart plug device unboxed and with three pins visible

Smart plugs available in the market often have features like scheduling, timers, family sharing, and other remote access controls. If you’re able to set a routine with them in Alexa, you’ll never have to manually switch on/off any of your connected devices again. Just do an initial scheduled set up and let everything run in autopilot mode.

Set Up the Smart Plug App on Your Phone

Before setting up a smart plug app on your phone, learn the plug’s hardware specifications which are available in the instruction manual. Always check the rated voltage (110-240 V) and maximum power capacity. For the following plug, the maximum rated capacity is 3500W.

These plugs are generally rated for a high ampere rating (16A etc.) as they’re designed for heavy duty appliances such as water pumps, geysers, air-conditioning, microwave ovens, vacuum cleaners, and indoor heating devices.

Smart plug device three pin plugs visible on the obverse end.
  1. Download and install the smart plug app on your phone. It should be mentioned in the device instructions and packaging.
Homescreen of Smart Plug app on Android phone.
  1. After logging in, you will need to provide some permissions to the app to collect your data for analysis.
Smart plug app permissions received on Android phone. Data analysis.
  1. Every smart home app has an add device menu where you can add all supported devices. Click the “+” sign to proceed.
Add device menu on smart power plug app on Android.
  1. Connect the smart plug to a wall outlet or another power socket.
  1. While adding the Wi-Fi enabled plug, you will have to give your precise location via Google Maps.
HomeMate Smart app receiving precise location permissions in Android.
  1. The smart home app may have several different devices. Select your smart plug from the list. Make sure you select the correct amperage for your plug (16A, 10A etc.)
16 A smart plug added manually in HomeMate Smart app for Android.
  1. Setting up smart plug may require a device reset for which you’ll find a button. Just hold the device reset button for a few seconds. You should notice an indicator that keeps blinking for a few seconds. For your device specific information, refer its configuration guide.
Smart plug device reset confirm on HomeMate Smart app for Android.
  1. Select the Wi-Fi network for your plug, and ensure it is set at the device rating of 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz.
Select network ID and password for smart plug power app connection in Android.
  1. Wait a couple of minutes for the smart plug device to connect online as the app scans for the plug and registers it to the cloud.
Smart plug connecting to the available Wi-Fi network on Android phone.
  1. If you’re getting a device timeout error, you will need to retry the above steps. Ensure that you power on the plug using its reset button only, and the Wi-Fi password is accurate.
Device timeout error while adding smart pkug to home Wi-Fi network.
  1. If your plug is not connecting properly to your wall socket, or if the Internet is not receiving, use a step-down auxiliary three-pin plug. The one shown here is rated at 15A. I also had to chip the wiring a bit.
Using a 15A converter socket with 16A smart socket displayed together.
  1. After the auxiliary plug is connected to the smart plug, you may find the lights blinking in no time.
Blinking light in 16A smart plug by using another step down 15A converter socket.
  1. Once you are able to connect the smart plug to Wi-Fi, you will see a “smart plug added successfully” message on the app.
16 ampere smart plug by HomeMate added successfully in its Android app.
  1. You can now power on and off the smart plug device from the manufacturer app. To get more out of this, we will connect the smart plug to Alexa.
16A smart plug being powered on from its Android app with weak Wi-Fi signal.

Connect Smart Plug to Your Alexa Account

First you need to turn on your Alexa Echo speaker and put it in listening mode. Wait for the blue lights to fade out completely. After that, we will connect the smart plug to an Alexa account.

Amazon Echo speaker in listening mode with blue lights on to connect Alexa.
  1. On your iOS or Android Alexa app, go to the home screen and click the “+” sig on top. This will allow you to add new devices to your Alexa app.
  2. Select “Add device – Echo, Smart home and accessories.”
Add device in Alexa Android app for Echo speaker.
  1. Select “plug” as the category of the device you’d want to set up in your Alexa.
Select plug among various device categories in Alexa Android app.
  1. Scroll down to search for your smart plug brand and click to go further inside the menu. If your plug is not available in the list, you can add the smart home app using Alexa skills, as shown in this unrelated guide for an air purifier that connects to Amazon Alexa using third-party skills.
Smart plug brand selected in Alexa app for Android.
  1. Select your plug type. If you’re not sure, refer the manufacturer’s guide. In this case, it is a JX09B type plug that comes with a shutter.
Type of plug selected in Alexa for Android app.
  1. Alexa itself will guide you on how to set up your specific plug type. Follow its on-screen instructions.
Setting up JX09B plug in Alexa app.
  1. You should ultimately reach the third-party skill which needs to be enabled for use in Alexa. Click on the big blue button to proceed.
Enabling skill to use in Alexa app for smart plug (Android)
  1. You might need to solve an authentication query.
Account verification puzzle via Tuya Smart in Android app.
  1. Many smart home device makers use intermediate connecting apps such as Tuya Smart. In that case, you will need to choose your smart home app from a drop-down menu.
Choose a smart plug app to be added to Alexa via Tuya Smart.
  1. Authorize Alexa to receive your public profile for the connecting app so that it can control the smart plug.
Alexa app authorizes to import Tuya Smart skills.
  1. You should see a message that the smart plug app has been successfully linked to Alexa.
Account linking successful with Alexa for smart plug app.
  1. Wait up to a minute for Alexa to connect to other devices on the network.
Alexa is looking for devices to connect in the Android Alexa app.
  1. Alexa will announce that it has found 1 smart plug (with brand name) and connected to it.
Smart plug found and connected in Alexa app for Android.
  1. Alexa may ask you where the smart plug is located? Choose a room such as the kitchen or living room.
Smart plug location in kitchen in the Alexa Android app.
  1. After a few seconds, you will receive a confirmation that the smart plug is added to the room of your choice.
16A smart plug added to the kitchen in Alexa app for Android.
  1. You should also receive a message that the smart plug is set up and ready to use. You can now use voice instructions in Alexa to turn on/off the smart plug: “Alexa, turn on smart plug 16A.” You can rename the smart plug to just “plug” or something simpler in the device settings.
16A Smart plug ready to use in Alexa app for Android.
  1. Your smart plug will now be available in “Add devices.”
Smart plug added in All devices of Alexa app for Android.

Set a Timer on a Smart Plug

A good thing about smart plugs is that it can help you set timers on your target device which doesn’t have to be smart. With a 16A smart plug, you can set the timer for an oven, immersion rod, water pump, or any other heavy-duty appliance. In the following example, we will set a timer on a dumb microwave oven.

  1. First connect the smart plug to the microwave oven or any other dumb gadget. Make sure the plug lights are blinking on.
  2. If your target device uses “knobs” like in this example below, adjust them to a desired temperature setting.
Smart plug connected to non-smart oven and powered on with blinking lights.
  1. Go to the smart plug app. You may find a countdown or timer option.
Click countdown option in smart plug app homescreen for Android.
  1. Set the timer or countdown for desired number of minutes.
Countdown started in Connected pp for powered on smart plug.
  1. Your smart plug app may also have a feature called “inching.” Turning it on means the device will be automatically set in a particular on/off state.
Inching for automatic turn on and off in smart plug app for Android.

Once the number of minutes is visible, you can simply turn on or off the timer from your phone app, and the dumb gadget will be powered on, and get to work. So, if you wanted to preheat the oven without touching anything, the app timer will do everything for you.

Oven connected to smart plug and timer turned on for the device.

Set a Power Schedule on a Smart Plug

A smart plug also helps set you what is called a power schedule. This is one of the best features as it can also integrate with Alexa (but not Google Assistant.)

  1. You can set a weekly or day-by-day schedule for the smart plug on its manufacturer app as shown here.
Schedule added in the smart plug app for weekdays and given time.
  1. Once the schedule is set, you can turn on or off the end use device from your app itself. Every day at the same time.
Smart plug schedule added in its app for given time.
  1. You get many more advanced scheduling options with Alexa though. First visit the smart plug’s device settings page.
  2. Click “create a routine.”
Click create routine in smart plug added into Alexa app.
  1. Click “enter routine name” to give a new name to the scheduling activity.
Enter routine name in Alexa app for Android for the smart plug.
  1. Give the routine an easy to remember name. In this example, we’re calling it “power on oven.”
Type the full details of the routine you want to set with smart plug in Alexa.
  1. From the “when this happens” menu, select “Schedule.”
Click schedule among when this options in Alexa app.
  1. Alexa lets you schedule things for sunrise, sunset and at a specific time.
Schedule set in Alexa to turn on a device at scheduled time.
  1. If you’re choosing sunrise or sunset, you can choose a time offset before or after the event. This is just a few extra minutes.
Minutes before and after sunset for the oiffset settings in Alexa app for smart plug.
  1. If you haven’t saved your location address to Alexa so far, it’s time to do it now.
Add location to smart plug address being added in Alexa.
  1. You can also choose “voice” in the “When you say” menu. Write down what you want to say to activate instructions. In this example, I have put the voice instructions down to “Alexa, turn on the oven.”
When you say something to the Alexa app as part of a routine.
  1. Finally, you need to add an action to your voice command.
Add action to the voice routine b eing selected in Alexa.
  1. The only actions available here are “power on” and “power off” which is good if I want to preheat the oven at a scheduled time of my choosing.
Action is power on for a smart plug routine in Alexa.
  1. You should see the smart plug power on option available on the Alexa app.
Routine set in Alexa with action details including power on based on voice command.
  1. You should be able to see the routine you created in the list of routines.
Power on schedule set up as Alexa routine for oven connected via smart plug.

Once a voice routine is set in Alexa for the smart plug, you can turn on/off the target device using your voice. Thus, we have converted a dumb device to a smart one.

Dumb oven made smart by being turned on using power schedule of smart plug.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I set a smart plug schedule without Internet?

Some smart plugs may allow you to set a schedule to the end device even when there is no Internet available. If your power goes down, then you can’t do anything. If you want to reduce your dependence on Internet, consider using a Zigbee connection to connect your smart plug.

Can you leave a smart plug on at all times?

Yes., you can leave a smart plug on all the time especially for devices that require constant power connections, such as refrigerators. As long as you don’t experience power failure, your device should work perfectly. If there are Wi-Fi issues, you just need to restart the router and it will start working again.

Can Google Home schedule with smart plugs?

Google Home’s Assistant generally doesn’t have advanced scheduling and timer facilities. They’re only available with Alexa. However, Google’s Nest devices and Google Assistant app can definitely connect to the smart plug to turn it on and off.

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Sayak Boral

IoT-addicted since early 2016. Love to explore the challenges, opportunities and trend insights into what is becoming the third wave of Internet.