A smart plug is one of the easiest ways to control small appliances in your connected home even if you’re not in the same room or you’re out of the house completely.
If you want to take charge of older devices from your smartphone, a smart outlet is a cost-effective way to enjoy remote control using your smartphone or even using voice commands via your preferred digital butler.
We’ll save the detailed breakdown on smart plugs for later this week when we focus on these simple but effective devices in more detail. Right now, we’ll launch straight into our smart plug reviews so you can assess what makes the best model for your needs and your home WiFi network.
Smart Plug Reviews
Leading off our selection of the best smart plugs, we’ve got a classic remote controllable dual outlet from the smart home OG, Insteon.
Of all the plugs we looked at, this dual outlet leads the pack in terms of versatility. You can control the switch from the outlet itself, but that’s hardly inkeeping with the ethos of a smart home is it? If you have another Insteon device like a keypad or mini remote, you’ll be able to hit your On/Off switch from there, streamlining operations. Control options don’t end there, though…
You can also choose to build out your Insteon ecosystem with the Insteon hub so you can take full charge in-app on your smartphone. We’ll never prod you into buying anything you don’t need, but if you want to get serious about home automation, this central controller is well worth the investment and currently discounted so check it out here.
This outlet is ideal for use with lamps or other small appliances and you can reap the full rewards of the dual outlet thanks to independent control of the upper and lower outlets.
You don’t get a wall plate included but you can use any regular paddle switch. If you want to stick with Insteon, though, the screwless trim plates complement this outlet a treat. With no need for an additional module, you can keep things looking fresh and flush.
- Flexible control options using Insteon controller, your smartphone, voice commands, or on the outlet itself
- All the convenience of a dual outlet with the inbuilt advantage of being able to control each outlet separately
- Removes the need for a separate outlet jutting out since the technology is all baked in
- If you want to use Alexa or Google Assistant, you’ll need both the Insteon hub and an enabled device for your virtual butler
First up in our smart plug reviews is a slimline plug-in outlet that sidesteps the need for any kind of gateway with a robust connection over WiFi.
The impressive range included this standard smart plug along with a mini version, some dimmers, plug-in dimmers and even a switch.
Set-up is a breeze thanks to the intuitive app. This hub-less smart plug demands nothing more than a smartphone for control. If you want to use Alexa or Google Assistant, you’ll need an enabled device but you can then take charge with voice commands.
The Leviton app allows you to control lights and appliances under 15 watts from lights to non-dimmable lamps, floor fans to small appliances. You can create IFTTT recipes to trigger, for example, your outside security light when motion is detected on the porch. The Decora works seamlessly with Nest products and you can control everything remotely, the home vs away mode coming fully to the fore when you want to get your smart home ready for your vacation.
Compact enough that you can pop two of these smart plugs into a duplex outlet, the Leviton Decora is a first class and pocket-friendly way to smarten up control of small appliances.
• Connects over WiFi with no hub required offering you both remote and voice control
• Operates on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency for maximum flexibility, ideal for reducing interference if your home is crowded with devices on the slower band
• Great integration with Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT and a broad spread of smart devices and appliances
• Some random issues with connection dropping according to a few users but we have not experienced this problem
The Belkin Wemo Mini is a scaled-down version of the Insight we’ll look at shortly. The stackable design allows you to put a pair of these smart plugs into a single outlet.
All you need to do is pop this smart plug into any regular 120v wall outlet, download the free Wemo app then connect using your home WiFi network. You won’t need to invest in a smart home hub although we’ll wager you might already have one in place.
You’ll be able to use the Mini with Alexa devices or Google Home if you want voice control. You can also take full advantage of If This, Then That recipes for wider-reaching functionality. Scheduling is convenient when you’re at home while it adds an extra layer of security if you’re heading off to your smart vacation home and want your primary residence to look lived-in. This can be taken care of easily in-app.
You won’t get any energy monitoring with this budget smart plug but you need to keep your expectations in check at this price-point.
The Wemo Mini smart plug is a great way to get wireless control of small electric devices from fans and lamps through heaters and lighting without any subscription or gateway required. In many ways, this is the quintessential starter product for a smart home.
• Robust scheduling capability and fantastic integration with other smart devices
• Straightforward control using your smartphone or voice commands
• No risk of overheating thanks to thermal cutout in place
• No energy monitoring capacity
Be aware front and center that you’ll need the SmartThings Home Hub to use this nifty little Samsung outlet. If you’re already fully invested in the smart home giant’s ecosystem, this will present no problem. If you’re just starting out, we’d strongly recommend this gateway in any case so this requirement is unlikely to queer your buying decision.
Once you’re locked into your hub through the Samsung app – this is one area they need to work on as the feel is cluttered and awkward in places – you can enjoy full remote access of small appliances from your coffee machine down to your lighting. Whether you want to come home to a fresh pot of your favorite blend or you want people to think someone’s home when you’re sunning yourself on the beach, this smart outlet combines convenience and security in one neat package.
Do you have Zigbee devices in place? If so, this device works as a range extender thanks to the wonder of mesh networking.
For a smart outlet that works with a huge array of other third-party devices and appliances along with Samsung’s comprehensive range, this smart outlet is well worth popping on your shortlist.
• Control a broad spread in your connected home using nothing but your smartphone
• Enhances the range of all Zigbee devices on your home network with no extra wiring or work required
• Remotely monitor and control your lighting so a great way to ramp up security in your smart home while slashing electricity bills at the same time
• You need the SmartThings Home Hub so factor this into budgeting if you don’t already have one
• App has a surprisingly clumsy feel at times
Don’t let the name confuse you, this is a smart plug coming in at a keen price and punching seriously above its weight.
Perhaps the key selling point of this smart plug is the intelligent energy monitoring. With iDevices Connected app, you can check in on exactly how much power any appliance is using so you can take action against any energy vampires and save money when your electricity bill drops.
The iDevices smart plug is pretty delicate and compact with a subtle flash of purple adding a splash of color.
Scheduling is super-simple so you can streamline your daily routine, one of the major draws of investing in home automation. You can create customized Scenes with ease helping you to automate control of appliances so you can spend more time enjoying your home theater system.
iDevices kit works with HomeKit and for that you’ll need an iPhone or iPod with iOS 8.1 or later. If you’re an Android fan, you’ll need 4.3 or higher.
The only real downside is the fact a few disgruntled customers report a less than reliable connection at times. Thing is, much of that is likely to be down to the home WiFi network in place so it’s hard to consider that a genuine deal-breaker. We always mentioned minor niggles, though, so you don’t end up with any unexpected surprises.
• Informative energy monitoring through iDevices Connected app helping you to study usage and save money on your utility bills while reducing your environmental footprint
• Schedule your small devices to suit and create more ambitious Scenes so a single command turns on multiple appliances
• Works well with Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri if you want full voice control
• Some reported snags with dropped connections
Next up in our smart plug reviews is the full-sized Wemo Insight. This device differs from the Mini in offering energy monitoring so you can keep tabs on consumption while potentially making savings on your power bills. The best news? You’ll get all this without needing to spend a fortune so the Insight could be the wisest investment you make for your smart home in 2019.
You can take remote control of this smart plug in-app or use the requisite enabled device if you prefer to use voice commands. For even more far-reaching functionality, use IFTTT to get really creative with synced automation. When you’re off on a business trip or jetting overseas, Away mode creates randomized lighting to help you prevent break-ins the easy way.
There’s no call for a hub so you can get going straight out the box without any further expenses. With scheduling, the ability to create Scenes and great compatibility with other smart home devices, Wemo Insight can also ensure you get a return on your investment by giving you valuable stats on your energy usage so you can cut costs where it counts.
• As the name suggests, the Insight serves you up with a snapshot of how you consume electricity in your connected home with in-app monitoring
• Works even with higher powered appliances unlike much of the competition
• Use Google Assistant or Alexa for voice control and also works brilliantly alongside Nest products
• You won’t get any web browser support
• App can bit a little glitchy in places
One of the very smallest smart plugs on the market, the Mini measures up at just 1 ½ x 2 ½ x 1 ½ inches meaning unless you’ve got an incredibly tight and restricted power strip, you’re in safe hands.
Control is a cinch through the Kasa app, available in both App Store and Google Play. You’ll be able to schedule multiple smart devices in-app and, like with all the best smart plugs, you can also build out Scenes to make your life easier still. Time-based scheduling is a nice touch if you want to come home to a freshly brewed cup of coffee and the lights going on as you enter the hallway. The trademark Away mode simulates activity in your home when you’re out by turning devices on and off again. The countdown timer will put paid to accidentally leaving those hair straighteners or the iron on when you head out the door.
You can take full advantage of both Alexa and Google Assistant, and you’ll even be able to use Cortana for voice commands but Apple HomeKit is not supported so Siri is missing from the digital assistant roster.
For a small and agile smart plug from a brand you can trust, this Mini from TP-Link is a solid starter model with a great deal going for it.
• Supports all voice assistants except Siri but you will need to buy enabled devices
• App is a pleasure to use and you can exercise full control over appliances remotely
• Very compact housing so this smart plug blends in perfectly and won’t block neighboring sockets either
• Lack of HomeKit support is a disappointment
• Energy usage metrics are not detailed enough to offer meaningful insight
We’ll kick off with a negative this time since we always value your time: although Alexa works with 5GHz WiFi networks, this smart plug doesn’t. While most home networks still offer both frequencies, if you’re only running on the 5GHz band, steer clear of this device.
For anyone else, you’ll get a superb and user-friendly experience as you’d fully expect from Amazon. Alexa app is a pleasure to use and you won’t need to invest in a hub or any third-party equipment to smarten up control of small appliances. Both scheduling and routines can be set up easily in-app.
The space-saving and slim design means you won’t overcrowd the adjacent outlet and undo the benefits of updating your plug points. Price is equally lightweight making the Amazon Smart Plug ideal for any connected homeowner on a budget.
• Control your appliances with Alexa and, although the master of the upsell tries to convince you of the need for an Echo device, you actually only need the app for voice control
• Straightforward set up using the Alexa app and your home WiFi network
• Take charge of everything from your holiday lighting through to fans and lamps with the power of your favorite digital butler
• Only works on 2.4GHz frequency so buyer, beware
• No energy monitoring available
Now available in this upgraded version, the Etekcity Smart Plug is a flexible option as long as you’re not operating with a 5GHz network. Check out some of the other outlets we reviewed today if you prefer the pace and uncluttered frequency of a 5GHz set-up. If you have secure 2.4GHz network in place, though, this plug is a great choice at a price you’ll love.
From heating and AC units or even higher power appliances, this is a neat solution for remote control along with all the versatility you’d expect from the best smart outlet.
On the flipside, interoperability is limited. There’s no scope to use If This, Then That. Samsung SmartThings is not supported either, bad news if your connected home has appliances from their impressive ecosystem. You won’t be able to use HomeKit devices either meaning there are some serious restrictions in place.
Backed by a full 2-year warranty coupled with customer support for life, as long as you don’t face a clashing issue with the above limitations or network frequency, the Etekcity Smart Plug is a superb smart plug at a very keen price-point.
• Choose from single unit, 2-pack or 4-pack depending on your needs
• Completely customizable timers and schedules
• Auto night light is a nice feature to make sure you don’t go bump in the dark
• No support for HomeKit, IFTTT or SmartThings so make sure this doesn’t present a problem for you
• Only works on secured 2.4GHz network so avoid if you prefer using a 5GHz network for less congestion
Rounding out our smart plug reviews, we’ve got a full power strip with no less than 6 outlets, again from TP-Link.
You’ll get the energy monitoring you’d expect from TP-Link and you can switch off any energy-hogging devices using nothing but your smartphone or voice commands. All voice assistants are viable with the exception of Siri.
ETL-certified surge protection keeps you safeguarded against any potentially damaging spikes whipped up by adverse weather conditions.
The Kasa app is slick and intuitive. Controlling multiple devices is a cakewalk and you won’t need a hub either so this is a great choice if you’ve got less demanding needs with an automated home and you just want to test the waters with a convenient alternative to traditional plugs and manual control.
While it’s not the cheapest option in the smart plug market, there’s relatively little choice when it comes to full power strips and we’d argue the T-Link still boasts an outstanding price/performance ratio so what are you waiting for?
• Excellent capacity with 6 grounded outlets and 3 swift USB ports for a robust all-in-one smart solution
• Use Google Assistant, Alexa and even Microsoft Cortana if you want voice control
• Offers full protection from power surges
• Only works with 2.4GHz WiFi networks so bear this in mind before committing to purchase
Hopefully, you’re now spoiled for choice with smart plugs and smart strips. Making your purchasing decision should now be easier in much the way your life will be if you invest in one of these ingenious devices to update your regular plug points.
Head back to our home automation blog later this week. We’ll be doubling down in more detail on smart plugs so we’ll see you soon!
Source: All Things Home Automation