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iHome Outdoor SmartPlug review: iHome's latest smart plug is meant for the great outdoors

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Options are pretty limited when it comes to outdoor smart plugs. They've taken a backseat to the plethora of connected outlets and switches offered for inside the home. The Outdoor Smart Plug from iHome is here to address that and at $40, it's a less expensive alternative to the iDevices Outdoor Switch. If you don't need two smart outlets, then consider iHome's model. It's a reliable, affordable smart plug that doesn't sacrifice on quality.

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6.5

iHome Outdoor SmartPlug

The Good

iHome’s Outdoor SmartPlug works well and integrates with several virtual assistants and smart home platforms.

The Bad

For $40, you’ll just get one smart outlet, and the plug itself has a bulky, unattractive design.

The Bottom Line

iHome’s Outdoor SmartPlug performs well and works with a lot of smart home platforms, but the $40 price tag might seem like a lot for the functionality of just one outlet.

Read more: These smart plugs are the secret to a seamless smart homeWant to buy a smart plug? Read this first

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The iHome Outdoor SmartPlug is a well-performing, bulky box with just one smart outlet. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

While the iHome Outdoor Smart Plug is half the cost of the $80 iDevices plug we reviewed a few years ago, it's also technically half the plug. iHome's model works just as well, and with the same voice assistants we've come to expect: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Homekit and then some. The difference is quantity of outlets. The iDevices Outdoor Switch comes with two power outlets, while the iHome Outdoor SmartPlug comes with just one.

The Outdoor SmartPlug looks very much like the iDevices smart plug and neither are particularly attractive and certainly not discreet. A thick, black 6-inch cord connects iHome's bulky black outlet box with your wall outlet. Part of the plug's bulkiness is to protect it from the elements, but it's still a bit of an eyesore, especially if the exterior of your home is a lighter color. The Outdoor SmartPlug comes with an anchor and screw for hanging the outlet up beside your regular plug.

You'll need a GFCI outlet and a 2.4GHz wireless internet connection to use iHome's Outdoor SmartPlug, which has a maximum load of 120V AC, and 15A (1,800W). That's nearly identical to the iDevices Outdoor Switch, save for the wattage, where iDevices is rated for only 10A (1,200W).

You'll also need to download the iHome Control app on your Android or iOS device (with iOS 9.3 or later) in order to set up the plug. The iHome Control app guides you through setup, including connecting the device to your Wi-Fi network, naming it and attaching it to a specific room. For me, that process was quick and easy.

iHome's Outdoor SmartPlug works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri. Controlling the Outdoor SmartPlug via Siri was intuitive and worked right off the bat with almost no setup on my end. The other two assistants required an iHome account and authorization for each assistant through the respective apps, but that's not uncommon for iHome or Apple-centric products. Once everything was connected and authorized, the platforms all discovered the plug.

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The iHome Control app displays plug information and customization options. 

Screenshot by Molly Price/CNET

Voice commands with all three worked well, with little lag between commands and actions. I should also mention that the iHome Outdoor SmartPlug works with Nest "home" and "away" statuses, to turn the plug on or off accordingly. The plug also works with the Wink smart home platform. However, the iHome Outdoor SmartPlug doesn't work with IFTTT, so there won't be options for integrating your plug into any of IFTTT's recipes. The Outdoor Switch from iDevices doesn't work with IFTTT either, so for now options on that front are limited for outdoor smart plugs.

The iHome control app also allows you to create rules for your plugs with time-specific on and off commands. I gave this a try with the Outdoor SmartPlug and it performed well. Within the iHome Control app, you can also view energy consumption for the Outdoor SmartPlug, as well as activity history. 

Smart outdoor plugs might seem an afterthought for homeowners smartening their property, but these durable plugs come in handy for more than just holiday lights once per year. From controlling patio string lights to setting a schedule for a patio heat lamp or outdoor entertainment equipment, smart plugs serve a purpose no matter the season.

I'd like to see more choices in the market for consumers looking to buy an outdoor smart plug, but iHome and iDevices both offer quality plugs that simply work. The $40 price tag makes iHome's Outdoor SmartPlug a more affordable alternative to the iDevices plug, but with just one smart power outlet, it still feels like a high price. Overall, iHome's Outdoor SmartPlug offers solid performance and enough customization options to serve most of your common smart plug needs.

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6.5

iHome Outdoor SmartPlug

Score Breakdown

Features 7Usability 7Design 5Performance 7