Are Smart Plugs Safe?
We never want our smart devices to put us at risk.
What if you plug a high drawing product into a smart plug and it ends up catching on fire due to it being on too long? What if your smart plugs are hacked?
I can help you keep your smart plug safe with helpful tips on how to protect it from hackers AND yourself.
What is a Smart Plug? A Smart Plug allows users to turn on/off appliances plugged into them remotely via their Smartphones. The Smart Plug is connected to your WiFi and you control it through an App or Voice.
Are smart plugs safe? Smart plugs are generally very safe. They are reliable and most come with a manual button if you want to turn them on or off.
There isn’t too much to worry about unless you live in another country outside of the United States and want to purchase smart plugs like the WeMo, GoSund or the Amazon Smart Plug.
If You Do Live In Another Country
If you do live in another country, you’ll have to check your countries Voltage and Frequency.
Example: You live in Spain, their electrical outlets are 230 Volts and 50Hz. You purchase a WeMo Mini Smart Plug. That wouldn’t work because the WeMo is rated at 120 Volts.
- 1800w Max
- 15a Max
- 120v U.S.
- 1800w Max
- 15a Max
- 120v U.S.
- Support for up to 1/2hp Motor
(This is directly from WeMo Technical Support)
Luckily, most people in the US don’t have to worry about this. If you do happen to live outside the US, I do not recommend using devices that are not for their specific voltage. This can be dangerous and lead to overheating.
Please double check with your smart plug device specifications and your countries Volts/Frequency!
Check out our best smart plugs page where we go over the top choices!
Can Smart Plugs Be A Fire Hazard?
Smart Plugs are not a fire hazard if you make sure to do these 3 things:
- Don’t plug your smart plug into an outlet with a different electrical rating (the example we just spoke about above)
- Only plug devices into your smart plugs that are within the specifications
- Inspect your outlet to see if it’s damaged
We wrote a full article on If Smart Plugs are a Fire Hazard , if you want to learn more.
Only Plug in Devices That Meet The Smart Plug Power Requirements
What #2 pretty much means is, don’t plug your Water Heater or AC unit which draws massive power into your tiny smart plug. It is not meant for that and will melt your smart plug, cause sparks, and ultimately could be a fire hazard.
Here is an example where someone on WeMo’s Forums posted about this scenario happening exactly.
Their Water Heater was rated for 3000w and WeMo’s input is rated for 1500-1800w Max.
This is why you need to stay safe and only plug things that are within the maximum allowed ratings of your Smart Plugs!
Inspect Your Outlet
The last thing you want to do is plug your smart plug into a really old and damaged outlet, to have it fry up later. Please be safe and inspect it before plugging it in. If you have any questions, I urge you to reach out to a professional electrician.
Signs of a bad outlet include discoloration, paint over the outlet, and if your devices are loose when plugged in.
If you are renting where you are staying, report it to the landlord and have them replace it. Any of these signs can point to a risky situation for you. Be cautious!
How Can I Protect My Smart Plugs From Hackers
To be honest, anything can be hacked. There I said it.
But…..BUT, there are ways to make it difficult and provide higher security to your devices and network.
If you were a lion hunting for food, would you rather target an animal with a lot of protection or the lone and vulnerable target?
Strengthen Your Passwords
Believe it or not, a large portion of people were not born into the internet world. Some people still have very insecure weak passwords. Make sure all your passwords are long and include special characters. Not a lot of repeating numbers.
Do this for your smart apps, routers, and WiFi passwords.
Keep All Your Software, Firmware, and Apps Updated
This seems like an easy thing to remember, but many people tend to forget to check on making sure everything is up to date.
Make sure your smart devices are updated. Check your smart home apps to make sure there isn’t a newer version out there.
Companies will often include security improvements in their code and if you don’t have the luxury to have it automatically update, you may be exposed to a security threat.
Buy Good Quality Branded Products
It’s very common practice for other companies to create similar products of lesser quality and sell it for cheaper.
This may seem like an affordable way to acquire the thing you want while not breaking the bank but tread lightly.
If you can – buy the name brand stuff. Less headache in the future.
Change Your Network Name (AKA the SSID)
Your Wi-Fi has a real name called the SSID (Service Set Identifier). Changing this name makes it harder for hackers to identify which kind of router you have.
Your default SSID name exposes what type of router you have and makes it easier to hack. Change it ASAP.
Not sure how to do it? Maybe you’re not tech savvy? That’s okay. Just google “How To Change SSID for [provider]” and that should give you the steps to do it. [provider] = whoever is your internet provider.
For me, I have AT&T, so I have to enter “http://192.168.1.254” into my browser and enter my login info to change the settings.
Your provider might be different like Xfinity, Cox, Spectrum, etc.
Still having trouble following the steps? Just reach out to your internet providers tech support department, they’ll be sure to help you change these settings.
Enable Network Encryption
The most common encryption on wireless networks is the WEP, WPA, WPA2. I won’t dive too much into this but just know, the WPA2 is the best. Make sure your network isn’t using old school encryption.
Most big name internet providers will already have WPA2 enabled so you shouldn’t need to worry about. Just try the steps above to login and you should see it on your homepage what your encryption setting is.
Hopefully, that makes you feel more comfortable with getting your hands on a Smart Plug. Again, they are generally very safe and often times benefit the buyer more than not.
Stay safe and make sure to take all the proper precautions when using any electrical devices or devices that expose your computer networks.