Here’s an easy and inexpensive way to control the lamps and small appliances in your smart home. There are dozens to choose from; we’ll help you find the right one.
Every room in your house has them: power outlets, and they’re about as dumb as technology can be. To create a true smart home, you need to upgrade the way your wiring works, so that it can be controlled, managed, and monitored from afar.
You could hire an electrician to rip out your existing outlets and replace them with smart in-wall models, but there’s an easier, less-expensive way: Stick a smart plug in those outlets. They work just the way they sound: The outlet in the wall doesn’t change, you just configure the add-on plug using an app, connect it to your network, and use it to control whatever’s plugged into it.
Smart plugs are handy in all kinds of ways. Some models have built-in dimmers, so you can adjust the brightness of the lamp that’s plugged into them; others can power small appliances, such as a fan or space heater. Others can be scheduled, so you can make your home look lived in while you’re away on vacation, or so that you can limit the hours your kids can play video games or watch TV.
Which smart plug is best for your home? Here are our top choices, plus a shopping guide that will help you decide which one is right for you if none of our picks fits your needs. You can also click here to see a list of the all the smart plugs we’ve reviewed to date.
Updated July 31, 2019 to add review of the Braumm P11 WiFi Smart Plug, one of the more uninspiring products you’ll find in this category. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, and there is a companion in-wall switch that uses the same app, but there’s nothing innovative about this product, either.
Best smart plug for most people
Leviton’s Decora DW15P smart plug is our new favorite in this category. It connects to your network over Wi-Fi, so there’s no hub required. And its slim form factor means you can plug two of them into the same duplex outlet. But what renders it unique in this class of products is that it’s a dual-band device, meaning it can operate on both 2.4- and 5GHz Wi-Fi networks. That’s a great feature if you live in an area that’s saturated with devices operating on the 2.4GHz frequency band.
The Currant WiFi Smart Outlet costs quite a bit more than Leviton’s offering, but in addition to looking prettier, it delivers two independently controllable smart outlets while consuming just one receptacle.
Best smart plug for power users
The hub in Lutron’s starter kit can control more than just the smart plugs that come with it. It also supports Lutron’s in-wall dimmer switches and you can use it to schedule and automate Lutron’s line of Serena powered window shades. What’s more, you can incorporate the kit into a broader smart home system, and it’s compatible with Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem, too.
Best smart power strip
There’s isn’t a lot of competition in this area, but it’s not just that TP-Link wins by default. The Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip features six grounded outlets that can be independently controlled and scheduled, plus three fast USB charging ports. It of course offers protection from power surges as well. It might seem expensive at around $80, but it’s actually a pretty strong deal when you compare it to dual-outlet smart plugs that cost about $60.
Best outdoor smart plug
TP-Link has a strong smart lighting control lineup in its Kasa Smart line, and the all-new Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Outdoor Plug extends that range outdoors for the first time. What sets this device apart from the competition is its ability to control its two electrical outlets independently, and the LED indicators that report the status of each outlet as well as its Wi-Fi connection. Apple HomeKit fans, however, might prefer the iDevices Outdoor Switch, at least until TP-Link has finished its work to add HomeKit support to its Kasa Smart lineup.
What to look for when shopping
Smart plugs might seem like a commodity, but they cover a wide range of design styles, capabilities, and compatibilities. If you’re in the market for a smart plug, consider how your environment—and what you plan to connect to the smart plug—matches the following list of features.
As always, full reviews of all the smart plug hardware on the market follow at the end of the buyers’ guide.
Indoor vs. outdoor: Most smart plugs can only be used inside, since they aren’t weatherproof. (These are almost invariably white in color.) Weatherized switches (almost always black) are clearly denoted as safe for use outside.
Hub requirements: If you need to control the switch through a third-party hub like SmartThings or Wink, that’s one more piece of gear you’ll need to budget for. In many cases, a switch vendor will also offer its own hub as an option, though these can be limited in flexibility and features. Using a hub will also make it easier to interconnect various devices, so if you want to press a single button to turn on both overhead lights and lamps at the same time, a hub’s a great way to get this done.
Wireless standard: As with all smart home gear, smart plugs support one of several wireless technologies, including ZigBee, Z-Wave, or Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi plugs typically don’t require a hub—your router serves that role—while ZigBee and Z-Wave models do. You’ll also encounter two proprietary standards: Clear Connect, used in Lutron’s Caséta products; and Insteon, a hybrid of wireless and powerline home networking.
HomeKit support: If you’re looking for compatibility with Apple’s HomeKit devices (and want to tell Siri to turn lights on and off), you’ll need to look for this support, which should be well-labeled on a product’s website and packaging.
Voice assistant compatibility: Many smart plugs work with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or both. Support for Apple’s Siri is less common, but not hard to find. If you have Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Apple HomePod smart speakers in your home, you’ll love being able to turn sockets on and off with voice commands.
Power limitations: You can’t plug anything into a smart plug. Most are rated to handle just a few hundred watts of power consumption, which is fine for a lamp or a coffee maker, but you might encounter problems if you connect a hair dryer or a professional blender to one. Power plug manufacturers tend to bury their maximum wattage ratings in the fine print, so check carefully beforehand if you expect the outlet to support high-draw appliances.
Number of plugs: Designs vary widely here. Some smart plugs replace a single plug, some replace two. Some designs offer two plugs, but only one of them is smart; the other is an always-on pass-through plug. Whichever design you choose, be sure to consider the physical design of the device itself. Many of these devices—even those with a single-plug design—cover up both wall sockets, which can greatly limit their utility. Smart power strips—which offer multiple, individually controlled smart plugs in a single device—are also entering the market. TechHive recently showered praise on Jasco Some smart plugs, such as this GE Jasco model, accept only two-prong plugs and are not directly grounded.
Some smart plugs, such as this GE Jasco model, accept only two-prong plugs and are not directly grounded.
Energy monitoring features: Curious as to how much power your connected device is sucking down? Energy monitoring features let you use the device’s mobile app to track power consumption over time, giving you a better argument to use against your wasteful, wasteful children who never turn off the TV.
Integrated dimming: If you’re hooking up a lamp to a smart plug, you can easily turn it into a dimmable lamp if the switch includes an onboard dimmer. These switches include hardware buttons to control dimming directly on the switch itself in addition to app-based control.
Our smart plug reviews
TP-Link’s Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip makes all the right choices, from a sleek design that fits in with home decor to a set of advanced scheduling options for every kind of routine and travel need—and surge protection.
- Six switched AC outlets that can be programmed with complex schedules
- Includes an “away” mode for simulating someone present in a home or office
- Works with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Microsoft Cortana
- Outlets can be combined in scenes with other Kasa smart-home devices
- No manual in the box, not even a tiny one
- Power cord is slightly too short for versatile placement
- No Apple HomeKit or Siri support
This smart plug boasts a stackable design, broad DIY smart-home ecosystem support, and easy setup.
- Slim design doesn’t block adjacent outlets
- Broad compatibility (HomeKit, Alexa, Wink, Nest, and SmartThings)
- Allows remote scheduling without relying on HomeKit
- Side location of manual on/off switch can be hard to reach
- Some features require an account and remote access
Affordable and compact, this is a top smart outlet choice for those with ZigBee ecosystems.
- Quite compact; doesn’t block second outlet
- Hassle-free setup (if you have a compatible hub)
- Great price
- Wink support still pending
- Rather utilitarian in design
A top smart outlet choice gets even better with expanded smart home hooks.
- Double independent outlets, plus a bonus USB charging port provides great flexibility
- Integrated power usage and dimming features
- Supports Google and Alexa products in addition to HomeKit
- Monolithic design is not for everyone
- ConnectSense mobile app is in need of a refresh
A top smart outlet choice for any HomeKit-enabled smart home.
- Double outlets plus a bonus USB port gives you lots of flexibility.
- Integrated power consumption meter.
- Painless setup is among the easiest in this product category.
- Industrial design could be improved.
- Basically a brick if you don’t have an iPhone.
With thoughtful design and loads of features, Currant raises the bar on what you should expect from a smart outlet.
- Clever hardware design allows for flexible positioning
- Best-in-class setup
- Stuffed with attractive features
- No third-party smart home system connectivity at the time of this review
- Rickety geofencing system
- Minor UI inconsistencies
iDevices brings its smart power control system to the outdoors, but you’ll pay extra for it.
- Works flawlessly, even in poor weather conditions
- Intuitive app
- Compatible with Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem as well as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
- The two outlets can’t be controlled independently
- Requires registration to complete setup
Nothing fancy here: iClever’s budget smart plug covers the bases and leaves you with change in your pocket.
- Extremely inexpensive
- App is reasonably intuitive and easy to work with
- Compact design allows for two smart outlets per receptacle
- No support for third-party smart-home hubs
- Low-quality, out-of-date user manual
This smart plug boasts a stackable design, broad DIY smart-home ecosystem support, and easy setup, but the remote control seems out of place.
- Slim design to avoid blocking adjacent outlets
- Built-in power-consumption monitoring
- Broad DIY smart home ecosystem support (HomeKit, Alexa, SmartThings, and Wink)
- Some features, including tracking power consumption, require an account and remote access
- Side-mounted on/off switch can be difficult to find
- One-button remote doesn’t scratch any home-control itch
With its streamlined design and lower price, Leviton’s latest smart plug is one of the most compelling on the market.
- New design allows for two plugs per receptacle
- Supports devices with larger motors (up to 0.75 horsepower)
- Supports dual-band Wi-Fi networks (2.4- and 5GHz)
- Leviton’s control app is still undercooked
- Can’t dim a connected lamp
Plug in this compact HomeKit smart plug with a high-speed USB port and you can keep the second outlet free.
- Easy setup
- High-speed USB charging
- Occupies just one outlet
- No manual power switch
- Supports Apple HomeKit only
- Expensive relative to its features
TP-Link brings its smart home system to the outdoors, but you’ll pay extra for it.
- Its two outlets can be controlled independently
- LEDs indicate which outlets are electrified
- Compatible with Amazon Alexa. Google Assistant, and Cortana
- You can’t schedule groups of Kasa Smart devices (only individual devices)
- The app offers no energy-monitoring features
- There’s no HomeKit support (though TP-Link says it’s coming)
This is an inexpensive option to add a smart plug, but remote access requires use of Wemo’s account-free cloud infrastructure.
- Compact design avoids blocking other plugs in a duplex outlet
- Works with Alexa, Google Home, Nest, and IFTTT
- Large, easily accessible manual on/off button on the front
- You must connect to the device’s Wi-Fi network to set up
- Requires account-free cloud linking for remote access
- No HomeKit support (Belkin has since shipped a HomeKit bridge)
This beefy switch offers ZigBee wireless control, plus an extra pass-through socket.
- Quick and easy to set up
- Quick responsiveness via SmartThings
- Handy, additional always-on bonus socket
- Onboard dimmer button is difficult to work with
- Limited dimming range
- Very large
This generic smart plug works well enough to justify its low price tag, but shop around and you might find a better product for even less.
- Very inexpensive
- Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant
- No noteworthy functionality issues
- Size of the plug means you cannot plug two of them into the same duplex outlet
- Operates on 2.4GHz networks only
- Very poor-quality documentation
This smart plug offers a snazzy LED light ring, but you’ll pay dearly for it.
- USB charging port provides power independent of the three-pronged outlet
- LED light ring adds flash to a relatively dull category
- Independent energy monitoring for the main plug and the USB charging port
- Design blocks full use of second outlet
- No certified device handler for SmartThings at press time
- Not compatible with Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem
The Geeni Energi smart plug covers the basics at a reasonable cost, and its app integrates with other Geeni products.
- No hub needed for this Wi-Fi-enabled smart plug
- A single, simple app controls both Geeni smart plugs and smart bulbs
- Compatible with Amazon Echo and Google Home
- App can have random, temporary difficulties connecting at times
- Its large size dictates that it be installed in the bottom outlet
- Energy monitor is relatively limited in scope
This wall outlet features plenty of extras, but the price makes it a tough sell.
- Very easy setup and installation
- Energy usage monitoring included
- Thoughtful extras, including a tunable nightlight and manual power control
- Very expensive
- Nightlight and power status buttons are likely to be obscured by plugs
There are less-expensive options that deliver the same benefits—unless you’ve already committed to using TP-Link’s Wi-Fi smart bulbs.
- Works with Alexa and Google Assistant
- Part of a growing TP-Link smart-home ecosystem
- Easily accessible manual on/off on the front
- Design takes up entire two-jack outlet
- Requires account for remote access
- Doesn’t support Apple’s HomeKit
The C by GE Smart Plug failed to live up to its ease-of-use promises, and it doesn’t offer any advanced features to justify its price tag.
- Good enough hardware design
- Promised support for Apple HomeKit
- Touted easy connections to Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa didn’t pan out
- Arcane scheduling system
- Too expensive for what’s delivered
Xiaomi Mi Smart Plug WiFi
A shoddy software experience showcases why you might want to skip generic smart products.
- Cheap (but not in a good way)
- Two can fit in one duplex receptacle
- Needlessly convoluted, buggy setup
- Poorly translated app
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Source : Macworld