Features 6 outlets and 3 USB ports. Surge protection. Monitors energy use. Alexa voice control. User-friendly companion app. Schedule when individual outlets turn on and off.
Unable to remotely turn USB ports on and off.
Affordable. Optimized for Alexa voice control. Simple to set up. Compact. Does not need a smart home hub to operate. Control devices from the Alexa app. Integrated on/off button.
No way to disable its blue LED light.
Features 2 power outlets. Especially rugged design. Individually controlled outlets. Alexa voice, remote and scheduling control options. Easy to set up. Weather-resistant.
Not completely waterproof.
Especially affordable. Optimized for GE Smart Bulbs. Fine-tuned lighting voice controls via Alexa. Compact. Easy to schedule devices and appliances. No smart hub needed.
Users must set up the GE app before connecting to Alexa.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Smart homes used to only exist in the imaginations of science fiction writers, but today they’re a reality. One of the easiest ways to dip your toes in the waters of smart technology is with smart plugs. And if you love the ease of voice control that comes with Alexa, you’re in luck because there are some excellent compatible plugs available.
If you’re not sure where to start your search, you’ve come to the right place. Our shopping guide has in-depth information on these products that can make your life easier.
The size of the smart plug depends on whether you want a full-size plug, which may cover the whole outlet, or a compact model that leaves the adjoining electrical outlet open for another device or second smart plug. There is some variation in size even among the compact models. Some have a horizontal design that extends beyond the electrical outlet while others aren’t much bigger than a regular plug. And some smart plugs have two or three outlets, allowing you to control several devices at once from the same smart plug. The purpose of the plug and what you plan to use it for will help you narrow your size options.
Smart plugs are square, rectangular, or oval. The shape can determine whether the plug covers both electrical outlets or just one. In general, the more compact the shape, the better the access you’ll have to the rest of the outlet. However, some compact designs lack more advanced features, such as an Away mode.
The vast majority of smart plugs are intended for indoor use only. However, if you want the ultimate in hands-free control of your Christmas lights, there are smart plugs made for use outdoors. These smart plugs can be set on a time- or weather-based schedule, which means they’ll turn on or off depending on the time of day or the humidity and temperature.
Each smart plug is rated for a limited amount of power, usually stated in either amps or watts, which also limits the kinds of devices you can plug into it. If you want a smart plug that can turn on your coffee maker or air conditioner, you’ll need a higher power capacity than you would for one that just turns on a lamp.
Ease of setup and app: Ease of setup depends on a number of factors, including the brand, make, and app used with the smart plug. Inexpensive models tend to come with inexpensive apps, which aren’t always the easiest or most efficient to set up or use. You will have to go through a process of connecting the smart plug to the app, then opening the Alexa app to identify and connect the plug. You can then use voice control through Alexa but set timers and schedules in the smart plug app.
Multi-outlet: Smart plugs come in both single and double outlet models. There are also smart power strips that offer up to eight outlets, but we’re not looking at those here. Multi-outlet smart plugs come in vertical and horizontal designs and give you more options for controlling your lights or other devices. Some are large enough to cover the entire electrical outlet, while others leave the adjoining outlet available for use.
If you choose a multi-outlet smart plug, you also have to choose between dual and single power control. A single power-control plug means that both outlets are turned on or off by the same power button. A dual power-control plug has a separate on/off button for each outlet. Dual control provides more options and versatility. For example, if one outlet controls a coffee maker and the other controls a lamp, you can turn off the coffee maker’s outlet while you’re out of town but keep the lamp on with the Away mode schedule.
Usage, electricity meter, and cost analysis: A few plugs record electricity use and display it in the app. Using a graph, you’ll be able to see not only how much electricity you’re using but also when you’re using it. Some even include a way to calculate a cost analysis to get an idea of how your power usage affects your electricity bill. This feature is also a good way to monitor the efficiency of your appliances, including refrigerators, freezers, and stoves. If you’re into power monitoring, this is a premium feature you’ll love.
Schedule: Smart plugs with a scheduling feature let you turn on the lights before you get home from work or before guests arrive. Scheduling can also be a money saver. You can schedule the lights to turn off after you’ve left for work, for example, so you don’t waste energy if you forgot to shut them off before you left.
Away mode: The Away mode is at the top of our list of favorite features. It turns the plug on and off at random to make it look like your home is occupied while you’re gone. If you have more than one plug, you can set them to different schedules, increasing the believability of your ruse.
Condition automation: Condition automation is usually found on outdoor smart plugs. Sensors in the casing detect temperature and humidity and allow you to set a schedule based on those readings. For example, you can use it to turn on an air conditioner when the temperature reaches 80°F. (These plugs can usually handle higher amps for heaters or air conditioners.) Of course, on the more basic side of things, they can also be used to automate your outdoor lights.
Smart plugs start at less than $25. These inexpensive models may come as a single or dual pack but are usually only single outlet. Most of these smart plugs are compact, so you can use more than one per home electrical outlet. Some of the accompanying apps aren't of the best quality, which can make setup and/or use more difficult. However, there are a few standouts in this category that work beautifully even though they lack advanced features like an Away mode.
Between $25 and $35 you’ll find smart plugs with better apps and a longer list of features like power usage monitoring, scheduling, and an Away mode. Models that have more features will come in a single pack, while basic models in multipacks can be found in this range, too.
Outdoor smart plugs with a high power capacity and premium features like condition automation come in at over $35. You’ll also find multipacks with five or six basic smart plugs if you want to create a fully integrated smart home system.
Know what you want to plug into the smart plug before you buy. Make sure the plug has the right power capacity and decide whether you still want access to the second outlet.
Use your smart plugs to control a variety of devices. Smart plugs for Alexa can give you voice control over any number of home devices, such as the speakers, lights, and printer in your home office, which you can run from your office chair.
As smart devices continue to grow in popularity, more and more smart plugs are hitting the market. Here are a couple we love that didn't quite make our list. The iHome iSP100 WiFi Outdoor Smart Plug provides some great options for outdoor use and higher-power devices like air conditioners and heaters. The app gives you remote access from anywhere so you can activate or deactivate devices based on your travel schedule. The AUKEY WiFi Smart Plug is an excellent bargain for two compact plugs that come with a good list of features, including scheduling and remote access.
Q. Can I use a smart plug for my coffee maker or space heater?
A. Smart plugs can work for almost any electrical device as long as they have the right power capacity. You’ll want to make sure the plug has the features you want, such as electrical usage and an Away mode.
Q. Are there smart plugs that can be grouped and connected to other smart devices?
A. Many smart plugs can be grouped with other devices so they can be turned on or off together. If the manufacturer’s app doesn’t support this feature, you can group devices through Alexa to turn everything in a single location on or off.
Q. Will a smart plug block my second outlet?
A. Most manufacturers realize that people want access to all their outlets. However, there are still some smart plugs that block or limit what can be plugged into the adjoining outlet. If you want maximum access, look for compact or horizontal smart plugs that take up as little space as possible.