Ring’s Outdoor Smart Plug is one of the more affordable accessories in the company’s lineup, and for once in 2021, it’s not another doorbell. Cough-cough, remember the $59.99 Doorbell Wired that was released in February or the $249.99 Pro 2 from March? For $30 you get a connected device that has two outlets where you can plug in anything from a string of decorative lights to a pool pump or any other outdoor gadget of your choosing.
The Outdoor Plug fits nicely into Ring’s ecosystem of products, but you’ll need to have a Ring Bridge, a small device you can get bundled with the plug for a small markup. It’s available to order right now directly from Amazon for $29.99 ($49.99 if you bundle the plug and Bridge together).
We’ve spent the last week testing the Ring Outdoor Smart Plug, using its automation features to make our life easier.
The who, what and how
Who it’s for: The Outdoor Smart Plug is for someone who’s looking for a way to control an outdoor accessory, be it holiday decorations or a pool accessory. If you’re already invested in Ring’s ecosystem of products, the Smart Outdoor Plug easily integrates and expands on your current setup.
What you need to know: Ring’s Outdoor Smart Plug connects to your home internet via the Ring Bridge. On its own, the Bridge is $49, but you can buy it bundled with the Outdoor Plug for a total of $49. Once it’s connected, you’ll be able to control either outlet independent of the other, set schedules for lights or use Ring’s automation features, such as motion to trigger when something, like a light, turns on or off.
How it compares: There are several different outdoor smart plugs, like the iDevices Outdoor Plug. The iDevices product is more expensive but offers integration with more personal assistant services. Ring’s Outdoor Smart Plug is designed to work with Ring and Amazon’s Alexa service.
The Smart Outdoor Plug’s design is familiar but different
It feels as if there are only so many ways you can design a smart plug, and Ring doesn’t break the mold with the Outdoor Smart Plug. There’s a single plugin that leads into the main housing, and you’ll find two standard outlets that you can plug into.
And in terms of sizing, the Outdoor Smart Plug measures 4.9 inches by 3.1 inches by 2 inches, or roughly the same size as an individual box of cereal. That’s not too shabby, and since this does carry an IP66 rating (which means it’s built to withstand storms and survive extreme temperature swings), covers are built in for both outlets. These let you keep any dirt, water or other debris out of the outlets.
The Outdoor Smart Plug can carry up to 15 amperes of power across both outlets, at a max of 1,875 watts. That’s a fairly standard setup for plugs in a home, and it’s more than enough for everyday use — such as powering devices like a TV or lights with ease. Before you start plugging in things like an electric smoker or pellet stove, be sure to check the power requirements.
And while this is a smart plug, you can still manually control which outlet is powered on or off using a circle button that’s on the front of the housing. Actually, there are a couple of circles here. In the middle is one that lights up to let you know it’s connected and receiving power. When everything is working as it should, the light will be blue.
Press on either side of the larger circular button and you’ll turn on the corresponding outlet. For instance, if you press on the left side of the circle, the left outlet will power on or off. The same goes for the right side.
You’ll know when an outlet is currently turned on based on a small white indicator light that’s visible when it’s engaged.
Installation and control is as easy as 1, 2, 3
Setting up the Outdoor Smart Plug is straightforward. But before you plug it into an outlet, you’ll need to make sure you have a Ring Bridge set up and connected to your account. The Bridge is a small device that acts as a hub to connect to several different Ring devices, like the Outdoor Smart Plug, as well as the Mailbox monitor and smart light devices. Basically, anything that Ring makes that can’t connect directly to your Wi-Fi network needs to go through the Bridge.
You can purchase the Outdoor Smart Plug in a bundle with a Bridge for $49.99. Each Bridge can handle up to 50 devices, and you’re limited to one Bridge for your home — which should be more than enough.
Setting up the Bridge consists of finding a central location in your home to leave it plugged in all the time. You’ll use the Ring app to scan a QR code on the back of the Bridge to connect it to your account and Wi-Fi network. Once that’s done, you’re free to set up Bridge-reliant devices like the Outdoor Smart Plug.
The plug’s setup process mimics the Bridge in that you’ll start by plugging it into an outlet and then use the Ring app to add a new device to your account. There’s a small QR code on the back of the plug’s housing you need to scan, and then you’ll answer a few questions in the app about placement, giving each outlet a name and then linking the outlets to other Ring devices if you choose. Opting to engage the latter allows you to create some automations or routines between Ring products.
Linking the plug to another Ring product can come in handy for a number of different reasons. For our testing, we linked Ring’s Spotlight Cam ($199.99; amazon.com) and the new Wall Light Solar ($59.99; amazon.com) to one of the two outlets on the smart plug. That way, whenever the Wall Light Solar detected motion, not only would it light up a section of the sidewalk going along the backside of our home, but it’d also trigger the string of lights we have plugged into the outlet, adding even more light to the equation. Additionally, it would trigger the Stick Up Cam’s light and prompt it, along with another Ring camera to start recording. Pretty handy if you ask us.
The same kind of chain of events can be triggered by the camera detecting motion, forcing all lights on our back porch, including those plugged into one outlet of the Outdoor Smart Plug, to be turned on.
In the second outlet on the smart plug, we connected our outdoor TV and soundbar and left it on all the time. That way we can AirPlay music from an iPad Pro or iPhone through the Roku Smart Soundbar, or not have to wait for the TV to completely boot up anytime we want to use it.
Another fun feature in the Ring app we used was to automate the string of lights plugged into the first outlet to come on at dusk and stay on until 10 p.m., right at bedtime.
If you have a lot of Ring products, be it smart lights, sensors, doorbells or stand-alone cameras, there’s a lot you can do in terms of automation based on the time of day or motion triggers.
If you have any of Amazon’s Echo devices, you can connect your Ring account and all of its associated devices to Alexa for complete control using nothing more than voice commands. For example, in our setup we could tell Alexa to turn on the back porch lights or turn off the outdoor TV, and a second or two later, the command would be carried out.
Ring’s $30 Outdoor Smart Plug is very affordable, and the perfect accessory for someone who already has several Ring devices around their home. Even if you have to buy the extra Bridge, at $50 you’re set up to control multiple Ring devices, and now you also have a smart plug for controlling lighting or holiday decorations year-round.