Every room in your house has them: electrical outlets, and they’re as dumb as technology can get. To create a true smart home, you need to update the way your wiring works so that it can be controlled, managed, and monitored from afar.
You can hire an electrician to pull out your existing plugs and replace them with smart wall-recessed models, but there’s an easier and less expensive way: put a smart plug in those sockets. They work exactly how they sound – the outlet on the wall doesn’t change, just configure the extra plug using an app, plug it into your network, and use it to control what’s plugged in.
Smart plugs are useful in many ways. Some models have built-in dimmers, so you can adjust the brightness of the lamp that is connected to them; others can power small appliances, such as a fan or space heater. Others can be scheduled, so you can make your home appear inhabited while on vacation, or so you can limit the hours your children can play video games or watch television.
Which smart plug is best for your home? These are our top picks, plus a shopping guide to help you decide which one is right for you if none of our options fit your needs. You can also click here to see a list of all the smart plugs we have reviewed to date.
Updated December 28, 2021 to add our review of the Kasa Smart KP401 outdoor plug. Unless having a small, single-outlet smart plug is at the top of your list of must-have features, there are far better values than this.
The best smart plug for most people
Leviton continues to make our favorite smart plug, and its second-generation device, the D215P, adds HomeKit support to its repertoire (although we found it a bit of a struggle to get that feature working out of the box). Like its predecessor, this smart plug connects directly to your network via Wi-Fi, so you don’t need to invest in a hub. And its slim form factor means you can plug two of them into the same duplex output. This is an on / off device, not a dimmer. If you need dimming features, consider the second generation Leviton. Decora Smart Mini Plug-in Dimmer (Model D23LP).
Smart plug with the best economic price
The Wyze Labs smart plug will not report your power consumption, and is limited to on / off functionality, not dimming, but it is the least expensive smart plug you will find and is incorporated into the broader Wyze smart home ecosystem Labs., So it was an easy choice to be our first choice in the budget category.
The best smart plug for advanced users
The Lutron starter kit hub can control more than the smart plugs that come with it. It is also compatible with Lutron wall dimmer switches and can be used to program and automate Lutron’s Serena line of electric shades. Additionally, you can incorporate the kit into a larger smart home system and it is also compatible with Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem.
The best smart power strip
There isn’t much competition in this area, but it’s not just that TP-Link wins by default. Kasa’s Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip features six grounded outlets that can be independently controlled and programmed, plus three fast USB charging ports. Of course, it also offers surge protection. It may seem expensive at around $ 80, but it’s actually quite a hefty deal when you compare it to two-outlet smart plugs that cost around $ 60.
Best outdoor smart plug
The Wyze Plug Outdoor isn’t the $ 10 bargain it was when it was first announced last December, but it’s still an incredible value. Not only does it beat the competition on price, but it also offers some features that those devices don’t have. You can control its two sockets independently, for example, and thanks to its built-in photocell, you can program the device to turn its sockets on at dusk and turn off at dawn, even if the plug is out of range of your Wi-Fi network. (just program while connected to your network and then move to your final destination – instructions will be stored in your memory). The plug will also monitor and report on your power consumption. That’s a lot to offer for a list price of $ 17.
What to look for when buying
Smart plugs may seem like a commodity, but they cover a wide range of design styles, capabilities, and compatibilities. If you are looking for a smart plug, consider how your environment and what you plan to connect to the smart plug: match the following list of functions.
As always, full reviews of all the smart plug hardware on the market are at the end of the buyer’s guide.
Interior vs exterior: Most smart plugs can only be used indoors as they are not weather resistant. (These are almost invariably white in color). Climate switches (almost always black) are clearly marked as safe for outdoor use.
Hub Requirements: If you need to control the switch through a third-party hub like SmartThings or Wink, that’s one more piece of equipment you’ll need to budget for. In many cases, a switch vendor will also offer its own hub as an option, although these may be limited in flexibility and features. Using a hub will also make it easy to interconnect multiple devices, so if you want to press a single button to turn on your overhead lights and lamps at the same time, a hub is a great way to go.
Wireless standard: As with all smart home equipment, smart plugs support one of several wireless technologies, including Zigbee, Z-Wave, or Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi plugs generally don’t require a hub (your router does that), while the Zigbee and Z-Wave models do. You’ll also find two proprietary standards: Clear Connect, which is used in Lutron’s Caséta products; and Insteon, a hybrid of wireless and electric home networks.
HomeKit support: If you’re looking for compatibility with Apple’s HomeKit devices (and want to tell Siri to turn the lights on and off), you’ll need to look for this bracket, 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. Apple’s Siri support 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 the plugs on and off with voice commands.
Power limitations: You can’t plug anything into a smart plug. Most are rated to handle only a few hundred watts of power consumption, which is fine for a lamp or coffee maker, but you can run into problems if you connect a hair dryer or professional blender to one. Plug manufacturers tend to bury their maximum wattage ratings in the fine print, so check carefully beforehand if you expect the outlet to support heavy-duty appliances.
Number of plugs: The designs vary a lot here. Some smart plugs replace a single plug, others replace two. Some designs offer two plugs, but only one of them is smart; the other is a permanent feed-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 both wall sockets, which can greatly limit their usefulness. Smart plug strips, offering multiple individually controlled smart plugs in a single device, are also entering the market. TechHive recently praised a TP-Link model.
Grounded or ungrounded: Some smart plugs only offer ungrounded two-prong power. (This is done in part to discourage you from plugging heavy machinery into the outlet.) If you need fully grounded three-prong electricity, be sure to purchase one of the many smart plugs on the market that include this feature.
Energy monitoring functions: Curious to know how much power your connected device is consuming? Energy monitoring features allow you to use the device’s mobile app to track energy consumption over time, giving you a better argument to use against your wasteful and wasteful kids who never turn off the TV.
Integrated regulation: If you are connecting a lamp to a smart plug, you can easily convert it to a dimmable lamp if the switch includes a built-in dimmer. These switches include hardware buttons to control dimming directly on the switch, in addition to application-based control.