Best Smart Plugs

Updated August 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

14 Models Considered
68 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
146 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best smart plugs

Last Updated August 2019

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 will not plug into very old outlets; they require a three-prong, grounded outlet.

Check the switch

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.

Mechanical switch

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.

DID YOU KNOW?

Most smart plugs have an indicator light to let you know whether they’re powered on.

Electronic switch

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.

EXPERT TIP

Look for a smart plug with a USB port on the side, if you’d like to control the charging of mobile devices.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Smart plugs do offer a few features in addition to their basic on and off functionality.

  • “Away” mode

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.

  • Energy monitoring

Ever wonder how much electricity a certain appliance is using during the day? Many smart plug apps can help track the power usage.

  • Scheduling

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.

Some smart plugs are really large, covering up both slots in your wall outlet. To save space, look for smart plugs designed to be low profile.

FAQ

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.

The team that worked on this review
  • Alvina
    Alvina
    Photographer
  • Amos
    Amos
    Director of Photography
  • Branson
    Branson
    Videographer
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Production Assistant
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Steph
    Steph
    Web Producer

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