The best smart plug
A smart plug is the gateway device to open your eyes to all the conveniences a smart home can offer. Most smart plugs are very similar to each other in core functionality: they turn an outlet on or off. They're simple to set up, usually not requiring much more than plugging one in and connecting it to your WiFi. They're also highly affordable when compared to almost any other smart device on the market.
We love TP-Link's Kasa HS100 Smart Plug because it's simple to set up and doesn't require a hub, and it works with Alexa and Google. You can learn more about this model as well as the important features to look for in a quality smart plug by reading our buying guide.
Considerations when choosing a smart plug
Many smart plugs are rather large, the problem being that you can often only fit one in an outlet. If you have two items to plug in and you need them in the same outlet, you either need a dual-socket smart plug or a model that's small enough to fit two in a wall outlet.
Smart plugs tend to come either one, two, or four in a box -- be sure you're purchasing enough for your needs. Note that it's possible to plug a power strip into a smart plug as long as the total draw and wattage is below the amperage and wattage of the smart plug.
The main problem with smart plugs is that they may drop the WiFi signal from time to time and need to be reset. Luckily, this is typically a quick and easy process. When searching for a smart plug, look for a reliable model that experiences fewer drops.
A great deal of the smart plug's functionality depends on the quality of the accompanying app. Look for a model that comes with an app that has all the features you desire, such as an away mode, energy monitoring, scheduling, and scenes.
If you have any USB devices that you want to control with your smart plug, look for a model with USB ports.
You cannot use an indoor smart plug outdoors. If your unit may possibly be exposed to the elements, you need one specifically rated for outdoor usage.
There's not a very wide range when it comes to smart plug prices. Decent models start at around $7 or $8. Some of these do not require a hub, while others are designed to work with your home voice assistant. The price rises if the model is rated for outdoor use or there's more than one plug in the box. If you're considering a higher-priced smart plug, make sure it has features you need to make it worth the additional cost.
Q. What is a smart plug?
A. At its core, a smart plug is an on-off switch. It functions best with simple appliances such as lights and fans that can be operated with the flip of a switch.
Q. Do smart plugs work with all devices?
A. No. A smart plug doesn't work with devices that don't fully turn on again after a power outage, such as your computer. A smart plug is also ineffective for devices requiring anything other than being turned on. (For example, you cannot turn on your oven and bake cookies for 12 minutes at 350° using only a smart plug.)
Smart plugs we recommend
Best of the best: TP-Link's Kasa HS100 Smart Plug
Our take: A highly rated smart plug that works with Google Home, Alexa, and doesn't require a hub.
What we like: When using the Kasa app, you have a great deal of control: you can schedule when the outlet is on or off, and you can group many outlets together so they can be controlled with a single button. The setup is simple and the smart plug works with your home WiFi network.
What we dislike: It is a bit pricier than other smart plugs. Like other models, this unit occasionally drops the WiFi connection and must be reset.
Best bang for your buck: Etekcity's Mini Smart Plug (Two-Pack)
Our take: Two mini smart plugs that are affordable and easy to install.
What we like: These smart plugs work with Google Home, Alexa, and don't require a hub. Besides allowing you to control the devices, the free VeSync app also monitors your energy usage to help you see where to cut costs.
What we dislike: In order for this smart plug to function, your location setting must be turned on. As with other models, this unit occasionally drops the WiFi signal and must be reset.
Our take: A set of two smart plugs that don't require a hub and work with Alexa or Google Home.
What we like: The design is slim enough to allow you to insert two smart plugs in a single outlet. The free Kasa app lets you either control your smart plugs separately or group them in "scenes" so you can control multiple smart plugs with one button.
What we dislike: Even though these models have a higher price tag, they still have the same WiFi drops as lower-priced models.
Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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