Easily control connected devices, monitor energy usage, and operate with voice commands. Compatible with numerous devices with the free SmartThings app. Voice-control available with Bixby, Alexa, and Google Assistant and easy to set up. Handy schedule and timer functions. No hub required.
Requires wifi and compatible smart home device or app-enabled mobile device to use. Scattered reports of setup issues.
Small design that doesn't take up 2 outlets and energy-monitoring capability that helps save electricity. Alexa and Google Assistant compatible. No hub needed and app is free. 2-pack.
Difficult to set up and sync to Alexa. Tends to drop connection. Subpar customer service.
Easy to set up and control with the free Kasa app on your device. Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant. Has "away mode" for control when not at home. Doesn't require a hub – just WiFi.
Occasionally doesn't respond to Alexa and drops network connection. Somewhat bulky when plugged into an outlet, and not compatible with all face plates. A bit pricey.
A top-selling pick and a leader in smart technology. This easy-to-set-up plug doesn't require a hub, has "home away" mode, is voice controlled with Alexa and Google Assistant, and sports a sleek design. Kasa app is free.
Drops in connectivity and occasional failures syncing with voice control have been reported. Sometimes requires resetting, which is easy to do. Only get one.
Features a streamlined design that doesn't take up 2 outlets. Doesn't require a hub. Voice-control compatible with Alexa. Free app is easy to set up and customer support is attentive.
Higher price – only get one for the price. Issues with the app crashing have been reported. Not as energy efficient as some competitors.
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Smart plugs are an easy and affordable way to add some intelligence to your home. Plugging them directly into an outlet, they will give you basic control over nearly anything you plug into them. Using an app on a tablet or phone, you can easily turn items on and off and control more settings with certain devices.
In order to be smart, the plug needs to connect to the internet via a WiFi network for remote control. How "smart" a plug is ultimately depends on its features. Common capabilities include energy monitoring, away modes, and automated scheduling.
To start researching which smart plugs will give you the most control inside your home, we have included a detailed guide that lays out all of the important information and considerations you need to know. It also has a list of some of the top smart plugs you can check out directly.
Smart plugs greatly simplify home automation, and at a cheaper price than replacing all your devices, but they only give you partial control over certain appliances. The primary function of a smart plug is to simply turn the electricity on and off — a great feature for lamps, but not what you need to make your refrigerator “smarter.”
Once you connect a device to the smart plug, the type of switch on the device determines how much control you’ll have.
If you have a device that makes use of a mechanical switch, it will work fully with a smart plug. The mechanical switch can be a physical toggle switch with an “on” side and an “off” side, just like a light switch. Or a mechanical switch can be a knob that you turn like on a floor lamp.
If you’re unsure what you have, try plugging in and turning on the device. Then unplug it for few seconds before plugging it back into the outlet. If it turns on again without you touching the switch when you plug it in, the switch is mechanical.
This means you’ll be able to turn it on and off with with your smart plug app. Just plug the device into your smart plug, leave the device on, and control the power via the smart plug app.
Most smart plugs have an indicator light to let you know whether they’re powered on.
An electronic switch is usually a single button that you press to both turn on and off the device. To test a device, follow the same steps we outlined earlier. If the device does not turn back on when you plug it in again, it has an electronic switch.
The electronic switch always reverts to the off position whenever it loses power. So, when it’s plugged into a smart plug, and the smart plug cuts the power to it, the device with the electronic switch reverts back to the off position. This means you’d have to manually press the button on the device to turn it on again.
You can use this device with a smart plug, as you can turn it off with a smart plug app. However, you cannot turn it back on later with the app.
Look for a smart plug with a USB port on the side, if you’d like to control the charging of mobile devices.
Smart plugs do offer a few features in addition to their basic on and off functionality.
Smart plugs with “away” mode offer a bit of extra home security by providing the illusion that someone is home. When set to this mode, the plug turns on and off at different times throughout the day. If the plug controls a light, from the outside it appears that your house is occupied, which may deter intruders.
Ever wonder how much electricity a certain appliance is using during the day? Many smart plug apps can help track the power usage.
Through the app that controls the smart plug, you may be able to schedule the smart plug to turn on and off at exact times.
Q. What makes a plug “smart”?
A. The smart plug connects to your WiFi network, allowing you to control the connected device remotely, and schedule it to meet your daily patterns.
Q. How does the smart plug control my device’s power switch?
A. The smart plug doesn’t actually control the power switch itself. When you plug an electrical appliance into a smart plug, you also switch the appliance to the “on” position. That switch is actually on all the time. To control the device, you turn the smart plug on and off through the smartphone app, rather than turning the actual appliance on and off.
Q. How important is compatibility?
A. If you already use some smart home devices or a networking system, check for compatibility with your smart plug options. If all your devices work through the same system, you’ll only have to manage scheduling in one app.
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