Smart plugs are capable of doing a lot of things when connected to the outside world via the internet. You can do things like turn on a light when you get close to home, but what can the smart plug do when there is no internet?
Can smart plugs work without internet? Smart plugs can still perform certain functions without internet. The physical button on the smart plug can still be used to turn on and off devices. If the smart plug is still connected to the home network, you can control it and use smart features locally.
It’s logical to wonder what your smart plug will do when your internet goes down. It’s sort of like making a contingency plan and being prepared when the inevitable happens. What you can do with the smart plug with no internet depends on where the internet connection is broken. Let’s go explore those options.
What does it mean to have no internet?
When we talk about the internet, we’re generally talking about being able to connect to the outside world through our computer, or whatever device needs that access. This is called being online.
When we don’t have that connection, we say a device is offline.
Ways a Smart Plug Can Lose Internet Connection
In a home network, there are typically a few devices that the signal must go through when leaving your smart plug and before it goes outside of your home network.
Wi-Fi Smart Plugs
First, let’s take a look at smart plugs that connect to the internet using Wi-Fi.
These types of smart plugs connect wirelessly to your router using Wi-Fi. The router then sends the data to the internet.
In this scenario there are two possible problem sources.
- The smart plug is not connecting to the router correctly
- The router in not connecting to the internet properly
Smart Plugs That Use a Hub
Second, let’s take a look at smart plugs that connect to the internet through a smart hub.
Typically, this will be either a ZigBee smart plug or a Z-Wave smart plug. These are the two most common options when a smart device does not connect with Wi-Fi.
A smart hub is required for these types of smart plugs. The smart hub is able to communicate with the smart plug, and then relays the data on to the router.
That means there is another potential source for an internet connection problem.
In this scenario there are three possible problem sources.
- The smart plug is not connecting to the smart hub correctly.
- The smart hub is not connecting to the router correctly
- The router in not connecting to the internet properly
What can a Smart Plug Do Without Internet?
What a smart plug is capable of doing without internet depends on where the connection is dropped.
Smart Plug Has No Smart Hub Connection
In the case that your smart plug is not able to connect to your smart hub, or to your router if you have a Wi-Fi smart plug, there is really not a whole lot you can do with it.
It basically becomes a manual on/off switch.
The smart plug has no way to communicate with any other devices, and the only option is to press the button on plug to turn it either on or off.
Smart Hub has no Router Connection (or Router has no Internet Connection)
If the internet connection is dropped further up the chain, you have a few more options.
Your smart plug isn’t completely useless any more, you just can’t control it remotely. (Depending on the type of smart plug.)
The smart plug having a connection to your smart hub, or your router, means that you can perform local operations from a device on the same network at the router or smart hub.
In other words, if you’re at home you can control the smart plug. If you’re not at home, you cannot control the smart plug.
Certain home automation may function as well, depending on what triggers the automation.
For example, I have lights that turn on if I get home after dark. This automation is triggered by my phone connecting to my home network.
There are a ton of possible home automations that you can setup, so I won’t try to list them. Just know that they will still work, as long as they don’t rely on some event that requires internet.
If I had that same automation setup, but was triggered by some geo-fencing boundary, then the automation would be broken until my home network had internet again.
Wi-Fi Smart Plug Warning
There are Wi-Fi smart plugs that require an internet connection to send and receive commands.
In the background, not visible to the user, the smart plug is talking to a server somewhere that is hosted by the manufacturer.
Every command that the smart plug receives is sent by that server. If the smart plug can’t communicate with that server, it will not perform any functions other than turning on and off by pressing the button on the plug.
Not all Wi-Fi smart plugs operate this way, but a good portion of them do.
Smart Plug Internet Troubleshooting
Okay, so you ended up here because you wanted to know if smart plugs can work without internet.
In the case you were wondering that because you lost internet, here are some tips to help you trouble shoot the problem.
- Make sure the smart plug is actually plugged in.
I know it sounds stupid, but it happens. You think something is plugged in, and it may even look like it plugged in, but it’s just not pushed into the outlet all the way.
It only takes a quick second. You can double check that it’s plugged in by pressing the on/off button and seeing if the device plugged into the smart plug turns on and off.
- Power Cycle the smart plug
It’s the classic first question the IT guy always asks, “Have you tried turning it off and then back on?”
In this scenario, unplug the smart plug from the wall, wait a few seconds, and then plug it back into the wall.
Sometimes the software just needs to reset and that clears up the problem. If this keeps happening, there is probably a software bug.
Check for software updates, and let the manufacturer of the smart plug know so they can get the problem fixed.
- Check for Software Updates
The last point leads us right into the point of checking for software updates.
In addition to bug fixes, their may be updates to security, added features and performance enhancements.
There may also be compatibility updates to communicate with the manufacturer’s servers.
- Check the Smart Hub or Router
I wanted to cover this before getting to the next point, because the next one is reserved for when everything else fails.
Check that your hub or router are working correctly. Here are some questions to check through.
Are you able to connect to the internet?
Are other smart devices that connect to the same router functioning correctly?
Are their too many devices connected to your router?
- Factory Reset the Smart Plug
This one is reserved for when nothing else works. If all else fails, try doing a factory reset of the device. After doing a factory reset, you will have to setup everything again as if it were brand new. This may not be a big deal, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Can you have a smart home without Internet?
It is possible to create a smart home without using internet. A smart home can be setup using no internet connection as long as the correct smart devices are used in the implementation. These devices must not rely on Wi-Fi to operate.
Can Alexa work without Internet connection?
The Alexa voice assistant will not work without an internet connection. However, the speaker where Alexa lives, commonly an Echo, can still be used as a Bluetooth speaker as long as it was setup beforehand with internet connection.