Can You Use a Smart Plug to Turn On Your TV?

Smart plugs are great devices that offer a great amount of flexibility to a homeowner, however, one cool question remains:

Can you use a smart plug to turn on your TV?  No, a smart plug won’t turn on your TV when you request it.  The smart plug can only switch the power on or off for the TV just like you manually walking up to a wall outlet and flicking the switch on or off.

There are ways however of turning a TV on using smart devices other than a smart plug.  This includes the ability to completely control your TV using voice commands too.  This article will explore the options available.

How to connect your TV to a smart plug

As we have discussed earlier, a smart plug is a fantastic device to use for all of your devices including your TV as you can use it to provide power to your TV as and when you wish.

Follow the steps below to connect your TV to your smart plug.

  1. Plug the smart plug into the wall outlet and flick the power switch on to turn on your smart plug.
  2. Follow your smart plug manufacturer’s instructions to connect your smart plug to your home WiFi network.
  3. Plug your TV’s power cable into the smart plug.

You will now be able to use an app on your phone or tablet, such as the Smart Life app.

If you have purchased a voice assistant smart device such as an Amazon Echo or Google Home, you will be able to extend the use of the smart plug and TV via voice control which is really cool.

How to fully control your TV with Alexa without a remote?

This section of the article will show you how to control your TV with Alexa instead of using the TV’s remote control.  The method below will allow you to switch your TV on or off, switch the source input, turn the volume up and down, etc.

Please note that you do not need a TV compatible with Alexa for this to work.  This method extends Alexa’s capabilities to what is otherwise a dumb TV.

Prerequisites for using Alexa with your TV 

There are two things required to get this to work.  These are:

  1. Amazon Echo Dot or Amazon Echo
  2. Broadlink RM Pro+ Universal Remote

Amazon Echo Dot

You don’t need a full Amazon Echo for this to work.  We would recommend purchasing the cheapest Echo device on the market, the Amazon Echo Dot, as we only need the simplest solution to interface with Alexa.

If you already have an Amazon Echo Dot or Amazon Echo device then this will do.

Broadlink RM Pro+ Universal Remote

Broadlink RM Pro+ Universal Remote is used to simply replace your handheld TV remote.  As the Broadlink device is an Infra-Red (IR) transmitter that also can join a WiFi network and interface with Alexa, you can use this to send IR signals to the TV that otherwise would have come from the TV remote.

Step 1 – Install Broadlink App to your phone or tablet

If you are based in the US, download the Broadlink e-Control app to your phone or tablet.

Or if you are based in the EU, install the Intelligent Home Center For EU app on your phone or tablet:

Step 2 – Connect the Broadlink RM Pro+ to your home WiFi

Next, connect the RM Pro+ appliance to your home WiFi.  To do this, follow the following instructions:

  1. Power on the Broadlink RM Pro+ and wait for the Blue LED to start flashing.  If it doesn’t press and hold the Reset button for 5 seconds.
  2. Open the Broad e-Control or IHC app on your phone and select Add Device.
  3. Select Universal Remotes.
  4. Select RM Pro+.
  5. Select your home WiFi SSID and type in the password to join the network.

Step 3 – Add your TV to the app

Next, you need to set up a Universal Remote for the TV itself.  Follow the steps below:

  1. Select Universal Remote (RM Pro+).
  2. Select TV.
  3. Enter a name for the TV.  It’s this name that you will use to interface with Alexa. E.g. “Alexa, turn on TV”.

Step 4 – Program the Broadlink RM Pro+ functions

In this step, you will program the RM Pro+ with the actual TV remote functions.  This is so the Broadlink will know what IR signal to send to the TV when you issue a voice command.

For example, when you say “Alexa, turn on TV”, the RM Pro+ will transmit the correct IR signal to your TV.

To match these settings up, follow these steps in the Broadlink e-Control or Intelligent Home Center For EU app:

  1. Select the ellipsis icon i.e. three dots and select Learn.
  2. Select the remote control function that you would like the RM Pro+ to learn. In this example, we will use ON/OFF.
  3. Select ON/OFF.  An orange LED will appear on the unit.
  4. Point the TV remote to the RM Pro+ and press the Power button.
  5. Select Test to see if the TV switches on.
  6. If it does, go through the rest of the functions that you would like to add.

Now all of your buttons will be added to the Universal Remote on the RM Pro+.

Step 5 – Install the Amazon Alexa App

The next step is to install the Amazon Alexa app onto your phone or tablet.  Follow the links below to these apps:

Log in to the app using your Amazon account.

Step 6 – Enable the BroadLink Remote Control/IHC skills

Next, enable the BroadLink Remote Control (US-based users) or IHC skill (EU-based users) to your Alexa app/account.  To do this, follow these steps:

  1. In the Alexa app, select the menu icon (three horizontal lines).
  2. Select Skills & Games
  3. Select the search icon and type BroadLink Remote Control or IHC for EU
  4. Select Enable.

Step 7 – Find your universal TV remote

Next, we will link the Alexa service with the Broadlink RM Pro+ TV remote.  To do this follow these steps:

  1. From the Amazon Alexa app, select the Devices option.
  2. Select the + icon.
  3. Select Add Device.
  4. Scroll down and select Other.
  5. Select Discover Devices.

Congratulations!  You have now linked all devices and you will be able to fully control your TV using Alexa.

What are the other features of a smart plug?

There are a whole host of other features when it comes to using smart plugs.  As these devices can be linked to other clever services such as IFTTT, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant etc, then the sky is the limit when it comes to thinking of ways of using these devices.

Below are a few features to get your imagination going:

  1. Act as a timer – We’ve all used mechanical timers which are a pain to set up.  They are often a real pain to reprogramme too.  Smart plugs remove all of the pain from this though as you can easily adjust timer settings using the manufacturer’s app.  If you want your lights to turn off at a specific time?  Easy!
  2. Monitor energy consumption – Quite often we don’t realize how much energy consumer electronics are using at any given moment or over time.  Well, smart plugs can monitor the amount of electricity used as they are the conduit between the device and the wall outlet.
  3. Turn devices on just before you get home – By connecting your smart plug to an automation service such as IFTTT, you can configure your coffee percolator to switch on as you approach your house from work.  Now you have a smart coffee machine as well as a smart plug!
  4. Limit family screen time – So you don’t want your son or daughter to be playing Fortnite on their PC or game console after a specific time?  No problem!  Set the smart plug to turn off at bedtime!
  5. Act as a security deterrent – Again, using the timer options, it will be possible to set up multiple timers for multiple smart plugs thus giving thieves the impression that you are moving around the house switching lights on and off.
  6. Be lazy – So you want to switch the light (or any device for that matter) on or off but you can’t be bothered to get off the sofa or out of bed?  That’s fine just use your phone or favorite voice assistant to do the hard work for you!