How to Use Both Outlet Receptacles with a Bulky Smart Plug

Smart plugs are great little devices that can turn ordinary appliances into smart products, letting you control them from your phone or with your voice over Alexa or Google Assistant. But unfortunately, many smart plugs take up the space of two outlets.

Granted, a lot of newer smart plugs are better about this, since the design has improved to only take up one receptacle rather than hog the majority of the outlet space. However, if you just can’t move on from your older trusty smart plug, it’s completely understandable.

Luckily, there are ways around this, and we’ll go over some options that you can take advantage of. But be warned that there isn’t really a perfect solution if you want to keep things clean looking.

Use a Power Strip or Outlet Tap

Perhaps the easiest and quickest way to make room for both receptacles on an outlet when you want to use a bulky smart plug is to bust out that trusty power strip. Not only do you get access to the other receptacle, but you also create several more receptacles to plug things into.

I’d be surprised if you didn’t already have a power strip lying around somewhere, but if not, you can get them for pretty cheap on Amazon.

If you want to keep things off the floor, consider an outlet tap. These come in all different shapes and sizes, but the main goal is that they won’t take up as much room as a power strip would. I have a few of these GE taps around the house and they do a great job of turning two receptacles into six without needing a whole lot of room to do it.

With these taps, I can plug a smart plug into one of the front receptacles, and even if it does take up both of the front receptacles, I still have four receptacles off to the sides that I can use for anything else I might need.

It’s important to note that if you do use a power strip or outlet tap, don’t put particularly heavy loads on it (like a space heater) unless you know that the power strip can handle it. However, many cheaper options aren’t meant for high loads, so keep that in mind.

Get a 1-Foot Extension Cord

If you don’t necessarily need any extra receptacles, then a power strip or outlet tap is kind of overkill. However, you’re not completely out of luck, since you can also just get some handy 1-foot extension cords.

You can buy single units for around $5 a pop, or get them in packs for a bit cheaper. I have these scattered all around my house where I have bulky power adapters plugged into outlets or power strips where they normally wouldn’t fit. However, they also work great for smart plugs.

Keep in mind that this is probably the least sexy option, as you’ll have a short extension cord dangling down from an outlet with your smart plug at the other end. So I would reserve something like this for places that aren’t out in the open and can easily be hidden behind furniture or something. Also make sure that your smart plug isn’t so heavy that it’s weighing down the extension cord and making the connection loose.

And just like with power strips and outlet taps, make sure you get an extension cord that can handle any heavy loads. Otherwise, stay away from things like space heaters and other power-hungry appliances.

Just Buy a New Smart Plug

I know, I know. This really isn’t what you wanted to hear, but if you don’t feel like adding any kind of extra bulk to your outlets in the form of power strips, outlet taps, or extension cords, your last option is to just buy a new smart plug that works best for your setup.

Like I mentioned further above, a lot of newer smart plugs are much smaller in size and they don’t hog the entire outlet. Eufy’s Smart Plug Mini is a good example, as well as Belkin’s Wemo Mini.

Or if you want both receptacles of an outlet to be “smart”, you can buy a dual-receptacle smart plug. Believe it or not, they do exist, albeit there aren’t very many of them out there. Perhaps the most popular option is the ConnectSense Smart Outlet, which completely covers an entire outlet when you plug it in, but it comes with two receptacles, both of which are smart and can be independently controlled.

Craig Lloyd writes about smarthome for How-To Geek, and is an aspiring handyman who loves tinkering with anything and everything around the house. He's also a mediocre gamer, aviation geek, baseball fan, motorcyclist, and proud introvert.