Smart Plugs: The First Step Toward a Smarter Home
A high-tech home doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Smart plugs (and power outlets) are an easy and affordable way to upgrade ordinary appliances, lighting, and any other electronics into smart home devices that you can control straight from your smartphone. While installing and using these plugs is relatively simple, choosing which one is right for you is no easy task. To help you out, we’ve rounded up the best smart plugs and power outlets we’ve tested, along with a few tips to consider when automating your home.
What Is a Smart Plug?
Let’s make this clear: Whether they’re marketed as smart switches, smart outlets, or any variation thereof, smart plugs are ultimately plug-in outlets (or power strips). They plug directly into a wall outlet or traditional power strip, and have their own outlet you then plug into with the device you want to automate. You’re not gaining or losing any outlets by plugging one in—you’re simply making an existing outlet smart by connecting it to your home Wi-Fi network.
With that in mind, the first thing to consider is where you want to place your smart plug. While most are svelte enough to fit next to one another in your typical wall outlet, not all of them are, and power strips are a different story entirely. If you have a crowded power strip, it’s important to consider where the plug’s outlet is located. Some feature outlets on the side. Layouts like this can be easier or more difficult to access depending on the type of power strip you’re using and where it’s located.
smart speakers and smart displays. For example, if you have a HomePod or are an avid iPhone user, you’ll get the best experience from a plug that supports Apple’s HomeKit protocol that you can control with Siri. Similarly, if you already use Amazon Alexa with an Echo Dot, or Google Assistant with a Google Nest Mini, make sure to get a plug that supports your voice assistant of choice.
Some plugs feature native support for a particular brand of smart home products, while others can interact with nearly anything via IFTTT. We’ve noted which features are supported by each plug in the chart below to help determine which one best fits your needs.
So if you can’t settle on a family of smart light bulbs, or you don’t want to shell out big bucks for a set of new connected kitchen appliances, consider connecting the products you already own with a smart plug. Whether you’re just dipping a toe into smart home tech, or you’re a pro at writing your own IFTTT applets, smart plugs make it simple and affordable to automate just about anything in your home.