Smart devices are replacing our light bulbs, speakers, and even our deadbolts. Still, most of the electronics in our house run without any real brains. If you want to control these dumb devices through voice controls, an app, or a schedule, then a smart plug will do the trick.
What to Look for In a Smart Plug
Like surge protectors, smart plugs act as a bridge between your electronics and your outlets. They have a mechanical switch that opens or blocks the flow of electricity—effectively turning your devices on and off.
But unlike a surge protector (or a timer), smart plugs connect to your router. They can be controlled remotely through an app, a smart assistant, an IFTTT routine, or a schedule, so they provide a cheap-yet-flexible way to control all the dumb devices in your home.
Sounds pretty simple, right? Most smart plugs perform the same basic tasks. Still, different smart plugs have different form factors, and they only ever support a handful of smart assistants. You’ll have to decide between some common form factors and compatibility issues before buying a smart plug.
Here are some form factors and compatibility restrictions that you’ll run into:
- Smart Home Compatibility: Most smart plugs support Google Assistant, Alexa, and IFTTT. But it’s common to run into compatibility issues with Apple Homekit or the Z-Wave and Zigbee standards. To make things a bit easier, we’ve picked out our favorite Homekit and Z-Wave smart plugs.
- Energy Monitoring: Some smart plugs monitor your energy consumption to help you save money over time. They’re a great option for anyone who wants to wrangle their energy bill, although they’re a little more expensive when compared to basic smart plugs.
- Outdoor Options: Outdoor smart plugs are a rarity, but the ones that exist are fantastic. They’re great for powering outdoor lights, pool filtration systems, landscape lighting, and the like.
- Multi-Outlet Smart Plugs: Some smart plugs have multiple outlets. They’re a great deal, as long as the outlets can be controlled independently.
- For Dimmable Lamps: Some smart plugs, like the Lutron Caseta, are built to work with dimmable lamps. This way, you can control a set of cheap dimmable bulbs with your voice or phone, and skip buying a set of smart bulbs.
In addition, there are some other small details to look out for, such as smart plug’s size. Some of our favorite smart plugs are large enough to block neighboring outlets, especially when they’re plugged into surge protectors. Either way, it’s time to start getting in the weeds. Here are the best smart plugs available right now.
Best Overall: Wyze Smart Plug (2-Pack)
Smart plugs are very simple products. They turn devices on and off through voice commands, routines, schedules, or an app. So, as far as we’re concerned, basic indoor smart plugs shouldn’t cost a lot of money. They should be easy to set up, and they should be compatible with most smart assistants.
The Wyze Smart Plug is the only simple smart plug that lines up with our priorities. For just under $10 a pop, Wyze’s impressively small plugs work with Google Assistant, Alexa, and IFTTT. They’re easy to set up through the Wyze app, they don’t obstruct neighboring outlets, their scheduling features are straightforward, and they work beautifully with Wyze’s cheap motion sensors.
Sadly, the Wyze smart plugs don’t worth with Apple Homekit. However, that’s their only major downfall. If you’re an Alexa or Google Assistant user, then the Wyze Smart Plugs offer the best value and quality on the market.
For Apple Homekit: WeMo Mini
Anyone who’s committed to the Apple Homekit standard should check out the WeMo Mini Smart Plugs. These gadgets aren’t too expensive, and they carry the same quality and features that you’d expect from other popular smart plugs. They’re easy to install or schedule through the WeMo app, they don’t block neighboring outlets, and they work beautifully with Apple Homekit.
For what it’s worth, the WeMo Mini smart plugs are also compatible with Google Assistant, Alexa, and IFTTT.
For Energy Monitoring: TP-Link Kasa with Energy Monitoring
Trying to cut back on your energy bill? The TP-Link Kasa Energy-Monitoring Smart Plug monitors how much electricity you’re using in kilowatt hours (kWh) and helps you save money through routines, schedules, or voice commands. It works with Google Assistant and Alexa, and it’s a perfect solution for high-consumption electronics like air conditioners, heaters, or older devices.
Best Outdoor Option: iClever Outdoor Smart Plug
Typical outdoor timers are essential for controlling outdoor lights and electronics. Still, they’re a little primitive. If you want to drag your porch, balcony, or garage into the future, then you’ll need the iClever Outdoor Smart Plug.
As you might expect, this is an average two-outlet smart plug that’s dressed for the outdoors. Each of the iClever’s outlets can be controlled independently via Google Assistant or Alexa, and because it uses a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi signal, it should work at a decent distance from your router. Also, the iClever smart plug has an angled cable, so it shouldn’t obstruct your outlets or get in the way of outdoor outlet covers.
Best Smart Power Strip: TP-Link Smart Surge Protector
If you want to add brains to your entire media center or office space, then the TP-Link Smart Surge Protector is your best bet. It sports six independent smart outlets, so you can set separate routines or commands for each device that’s plugged into the power strip. It also has three “dumb” USB ports for charging phones or tablets, and it can even monitor your energy usage to help you save on your electric bill.
The TP-Link Smart Surge Protector has an angled plug, so it won’t block any nearby outlets. It works with Google Assistant and Alexa. If you don’t need six outlets, you could always buy the cheaper three-outlet model.
Best for Dimmable Lamps: Lutron Caseta Smart Dimmer
Smart plugs can add automation and voice commands to your lamps for a low price. But they can’t replace smart bulbs, right?
Well, with the Lutron Caseta Smart Dimmer, you can skip the expensive smart bulbs. It adds smart features to your dumb dimmable lamp, so you can adjust a room’s lighting with your voice, through a schedule, or from a fancy routine. It even comes with a physical remote control, which makes it a solid option for anyone who wants the best of both worlds.
The Lutron Caseta Smart Dimmer works with Google Assistant, Alexa, and even Apple Homekit. Sadly, it doesn’t work with color-changing bulbs, and you’ll need to buy a Lutron Caseta Bridge in order to actually use this smart dimmer. You’ll also need dimmable LED, incandescent, or halogen bulbs. Thankfully, they’re very cheap.
For Z-Wave: GE Enbrighten 2-Outlet Switch
Smart home products that utilize the Z-Wave and Zigbee protocols are faster and more reliable than Wi-Fi devices. Still, these standards are falling out of favor in the smart home world. That’s fine for most people, but if you have a robust Z-Wave- or Zigbee-based smart home, it can be difficult to find good modern smart home products.
As of right now, GE’s line of Enbrighten Smart Plugs are the best Z-Wave option on the market. They’re a bit expensive, but that’s the name of the game for Z-Wave devices right now. These smart plugs work with Google Assistant and Alexa, and they’re sold in a variety of form factors. We think that the two-outlet model is the best value, but there’s also a one-outlet model, a dimmer option, and an outdoor option.