Ask for it to turn a light on, it turns your light on.
Ask for music and even the station, your music plays.
Tell it to show you who’s ringing the doorbell or to vacuum the floor, well if you have smart devices associated with your digital assistant you can do that too.
But what if you want that Dyson in the corner to turn on? Or perhaps you want the tea kettle to heat up.
Some of these items have smart features. Most of them don’t. That doesn’t mean you have to hold out and spend a fortune on smart appliances whenever one comes out.
Instead, all you need is a smart plug.
A smart plug is the fastest way to transform a “dumb” device into a “smart” one.
A plug works similar to a small adapter, like if you live in an old home without a ground electrical outlet and you need to plug your three-prong device into the two-prong outlet.
It’s about the same size too.
However, the difference here is the smart plug will connect to your home’s Wi-Fi system. It also will pair up with your digital assistants, such as Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. This way, you can tell your digital assistant to “turn on” the specific device.
Basically, you’ll leave the device “on.” So you leave the fan in the corner set to “On.” The smart plug will just adjust whether power goes to the device or not. So when you tell it to turn on, the digital assistant will send an instruction to the smart plug, and the smart plug will then allow power to go through.
Naturally, there are some limitations to smart plugs over an actual smart device. However, if all you need is to turn something on or off, this is the way to go.
Often times you can even name the plug, so if you have a Dyson fan you can name the plug “Dyson.” Then, when you tell your digital assistant to “Turn on the Dyson” it will do just that.
You could even lay strips of bacon onto your George Foreman grill the night before, have it plugged into a smart plug, the program your digital assistant to turn on the George Foreman right before you wake up.
It’s all up to you with what you do and what you use with the smart plugs. You just need to know which smart plug is right for you.
Here are eight of our favorites.
There isn’t a ton different from one smart plug to the next. There are a few different features you’ll want to consider, and it may just come down to what you already have. However, if you’re new to this whole “smart home” concept, here are a few suggestions to consider.
1. Wi-Fi vs. Bluetooth
Some smart plugs will connect with your home’s Wi-Fi. Others are Bluetooth. We’re going, to be honest, we much rather have W-Fi over Bluetooth.
Because with Bluetooth your device has to be close to the digital assistant. And many of these plugs, smart lights and other devices do not have powerful Bluetooth senders/receivers. This is especially the case if you don’t have a digital assistant speaker for every room.
With Wi-Fi, as long as the smart plug is able to connect to your home’s Wi-Fi signal it will work. Wi-Fi also generally uses less energy than continually sending out a Bluetooth signal (chances are your cell phone battery dies incredibly fast when you’re using Bluetooth headphones).
Now, as you expand your smart home, if you live in a larger house we do recommend to invest in a mesh wireless router. A mesh wireless receiver works along with your current Wi-Fi router. However, you place a small router in different corners of your home. The system will “mesh” the Internet signal over the entire house, instead of with a singular router, which just blasts it into a general radius.
Until recently, you didn’t have much of a reason to toss your Internet signal into every room of the house. With smart appliances, plugs, lights, and other devices, you now need to have a steady connection throughout. So as you add different pieces to your smart home, consider buying a mesh router setup.
Price isn’t terrible for a smart plug. You can get the lesser expensive ones starting at about $10. And if you wait for plugs to go on sale, you can usually get them for less. Of course, chances are you’re not going to just use one plug. You’ll hook up that one fan, love the function, and then want more.
You may want to buy the plugs in sets. This brings the price down and allows you to control more devices.
3. Plug vs. Outlet
The plug is going to fit onto your current power outlet. Some are an inch or so in size and cover an individual plug. Others may be a larger plate that fits into both of the outlets. The size will vary somewhat, but for the most part, these devices connect on the exterior of the outlet.
An outlet, on the other hand, will require you to remove the current outlet and replace it with the smart option. This does take some electrical work on your part, or if you’re not comfortable with the install you’ll need someone else to come in and install it for you (which only increases the cost of setup).
It really comes down to the amount of work you want to put into it, and if you’d like the ability to move the plug about. Changing out every single power outlet in your home to a smart outlet is time-consuming and expensive, but moving your Dyson fan and plug to a different room, that’s easy.
4. Digital Assistant
Most of these third-party smart plugs will work with either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant (some will work with Apple HomeKit or Microsoft Cortana, but these two are falling behind in the home automation game).
However, what you need to be on the lookout for are plugs made specifically by Google or Amazon (or one of the companies owned by Google and Amazon). In these instances, the smart plugs may only work with the dedicated digital assistant.
You don’t want to accidentally purchase a smart plug and find out it doesn’t work with your given system, so keep all of this in mind before buying anything.
Many of these smart plugs work in a similar way. Each on this list is Wi-Fi connected and will often work with a number of digital assistants. However, there are some that stand out a bit taller than the crowd. And that’s why we decided to give the Editor’s Choice to the iDevices Switch – WiFi Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring plug.
Now, if you don’t really care about these features and you’d rather just go and get as many of these plugs as you can for the smallest price possible there are a number of other options. For us, we like the iDevices Switch – WiFi Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring because:
The Amazon Smart Plug is pretty straightforward. First, it is made specifically by Amazon, which means it is going to be Alexa based (so if you’re running a different digital assistant platform do not pick it up).
You can use this with any plug. It is a bit larger than what you might like. It is a single plug but runs the entire length of your outlet.
One of the benefits of this plug is you don’t need a home hub. There are some third-party plugs that will first send information to a hub, and then the hub sends the information to the digital assistant. Thankfully that is not the case with this.
The plug connects via a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi network.
The Alexa app will walk you through the setup process. Once you’ve set one up you’ll pick up the process quickly, so setting up subsequent plugs will be a breeze.
The Alexa App will work on both Android and iOS.
If you want a smart plug but want it to work with Google Assistant, the last option was not for you. Thankfully, this one is. It works with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
The plug is easy to use and is a bit smaller in diameter than the last option (although it is fatter, so there is some tradeoff).
The power button on the side is easy to turn on, and it feels sturdy plugged in. You can purchase this as a single, one plug option, a “2-outlet” option for the entire two-plug outlet, or a six plug outlet, if you want to provide different control over an entire surge protector (it’s not a surge protector though, so you should still connect it to a surge protector).
With the KASA application, you can schedule the devices connected to turn off and on at different times.
The Kasa Smart Plug Mini Outlet runs on a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi network. It doesn’t require a hub either. However, the Wi-Fi signal needs to be strong (that is the case for most of these plugs). If you’re trying to add a smart plug in a far edge of the Wi-Fi network’s range your control over the device may come and go. In those instances it’s much better to invest in the mesh network we pointed out earlier.
If you part of the Apple ecosystem you’ve likely tried to pick up the Apple HomeKit. However, you’ve probably run into some problems finding devices that work with Apple HomeKit. This includes smart plugs.
Thankfully, the Wemo Mini Smart Plug doesn’t just work with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, but Apple HomeKit as well.
The individual plug does run the entire diameter of your power outlet. The plug has a power button on the front of the device. Honestly, we like the plug on the side of the device because it’s pretty easy to accidentally pus the power button when fumbling with cords at night (like trying to plug in your computer when the lights are off). While not a big issue, it’s just our personal preference.
The Wemo Mini Smart Plug uses a Wi-Fi network and does not need to connect to a device hub.
The Wemo app is good and it allows you to set up scheduling and control devices while away from the house.
The plug does allow for two to fit into a two outlet setup.
It is a unique design in that instead of having the plug facing the same direction as originally intended, it faces to the side.
The iDevices Switch – WiFi Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring comes with an energy monitoring feature. All you need to do is bring up the application and look at how much energy each plug is running. You can then adjust your usage accordingly (you’ll also have a better understanding as to what kind of energy each device in your home is using).
You can schedule devices with the application, which makes it a great way to turn lights on and off and other appliances when you’re out on vacation.
The iDevices Switch – WiFi Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring also works not only with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant but with Apple HomeKit.
No hub is required to work with the device.
The iDevices Switch – WiFi Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring also works via a Wi-Fi signal. However, you don’t need to pair each device with Wi-Fi. Instead, there is a code listed on the side of the plug. You’ll launch the application and scan this code. From there the plug will automatically connect with your Wi-Fi network.
The AUKEY Wi-Fi Smart Plug Mini Smart Socket is great out of the box because it comes with two plugs. This is for the same price as some of the other listings give you just one.
The AUKEY Wi-Fi Smart Plug Mini Smart Socket works off of a Wi-Fi connection and doesn’t require any hub.
You can control the plug with either Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. Plus, with the app, you can create different schedules.
The power button on the side of the device makes it easy to turn it off when you want to and yet not accidentally turn the device off when you don’t.
The Etekcity WiFi Smart Plug Mini Outlet comes in both one pack and a four pack design. Whatever you go with you can use it with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
The device offers energy monitoring so you can see what kind of energy your device is using. The app also works on both Android and iOS, so you can control your device from any mobile platform.
The Etekcity WiFi Smart Plug Mini Outlet is Wi-Fi based and connects with a 2.4 GHz wireless network (most outlets do not work with the 5 GHz wireless network).
There is an automatic night light feature built into the outlet. You can turn this off via the application, but if you want to add some additional visibility to your outlet, you can use this feature.
The Wemo Insight Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring gives you a number of solid features. It is a Wi-Fi enabled plug that allows you to monitor energy consumption through the connected app (which works on both Android and iOS devices).
You can also control the Wemo Insight Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring with either Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.
This is the smaller of all the plugs as it fits nicely around the outlet without taking up much space.
The power button is on the top, so it is out of the day and you likely won’t accidentally turn the device off or on.
No hub is required with the Wemo Insight Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring. You just need the app.
When you want the biggest bang for your buck, the Teckin Smart Outlet might be where you want to start. This is a four pack that cuts the price per plug down to under $10. That’s a price you’ll be hard pressed to find any other option beat.
The outlets work with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. You can also control the devices with the application, which is available on both iOS and Android.
These four plugs are all Wi-Fi connected and will function over a 2.4 GHz network.
You can schedule a timer on all of the plugs using the app.
These plugs are the smallest plugs you’ll find. The circular designs are barely larger than the outlet itself. This makes it easy to not only pop in two onto an outlet but you can also use individual plugs within a larger surge protector.
When you’re looking to jump head first into creating a smart home but you don’t want to buy a half dozen different outlets, this is the way to go. You already have four for under $40.
There isn’t a ton in the way of difference when looking for the right smart plug. It kind of depends on whether you want a few added features, or just want to pick up as many as you can for the least expensive price.
If you just want as many plugs as possible without features like energy monitoring, the four-pack is a great deal. However, if you want to take your smart plugs a little more serious and want some added features, you’ll want to check out the iDevices Switch – WiFi Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring. It not only provides energy monitoring but it works on Apple HomeKit, so it’ll likely work with your digital assistant.
Have you purchased any smart plugs? What did you think, and would you recommend the plugs to anyone? Also, what kind of features interests you with regards to your power outlet.
Let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear your take on the smart outlets.