If you look around, you'll notice that almost every piece of technology has become "smart," which is shorthand for connected to the internet — even plugs.

A smart plug is a small device that sits between your outlet and a gadget. Once the smart plug is connected to the internet, you'll be able to turn it on and off using an app or smart assistant. A practical benefit to using a smart plug is never having to worry about whether or not you accidentally left an appliance on before heading out of the house. If it's connected to a smart plug, you'll be able to power that device down from outside of your place. 

The flexibility of how you use your smart plug is what makes this tech accessory so appealing, and there are more options than ever. To save you time, we've researched and tested many of them, and you'll find our recommendations for the best smart plugs below.

Best Overall: Philips Hue Smart Plug
Best Budget: GE CYNC Indoor Smart Plug
Best Outdoor: Wyze Plug Outdoor
Best Power Strip: TP-Link Kasa Smart Plug Power Strip
Best In-Wall: Leviton Decora Smart WiFi Tamper-Resistant Outlet

How We Picked The Best Smart Plugs

Some of these advances in technology are genuinely exciting, but they beg the question: What about the tools and appliances I already own? Do I need to upgrade to get smart features? Smart TVs allow you to access streaming apps directly through your set; smart speakers allow you to select songs and get answers to questions just by asking; smart vacuum cleaners can pick up dust (and mop!) on a set schedule, or with the tap of an icon in an app. 

 The answers to those questions will vary based on your needs, but you may be able to get away with using a smart plug instead of replacing your current gear.  Smart plugs can be used with an app, virtual assistant, and can also be set on a timer, which is great if you want to ensure an appliance or gadget gets turned out when you get to bed. Conversely, you can rig up a system wherein a device you rely on in the morning is turned on at the same moment your alarm goes off. 

In some cases, smart plugs may be able to replace other smart home accessories. For instance, plugging a lamp into a smart plug will allow you to turn that light on and off. This single, binary operation won't give you as many options as installing a smart light bulb, but may perform the one task you're interested in. 

Our smart plug recommendations are based on a mix of hands-on testing and research. Below are the factors we considered when deciding which smart plugs to include in this buyer's guide.

Number of Outlets: Most smart plugs only have one outlet, but that may not be sufficient for your needs, especially if the devices you'd like to control are clustered in one area. We've made sure to recommend multi-outlet smart plugs that can accommodate any situation, but be mindful of the fact that these multi-outlet options will take up more space, and may not plug directly into your wall.

Smart Platform: All of our smart plugs can be controlled using an app on iOS and Android, and don't require a smart assistant to control them. That said, our smart plug recommendations work with Alexa, the Google Assistant, Siri, or a combination of the three. Smart plugs that are compatible with multiple home assistants require you to choose the one you want to use, but offer the option of choosing a different one later on. 

Water Resistance: Smart plugs used to be limited to indoor use only, but there are durable options available now that can withstand exposure to water and dust. These smart plugs typically have a thicker housing, which means they'll take up more space. We understand that the number of accessible outlets you have outside may be limited, so our recommendation in this area has two plugs.

Best Smart Plugs: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Philips Hue Smart Plug

One and Done. Philips

Why It Made The Cut: Philips' Hue Smart Plug is compatible with several smart home assistants and its app makes it easy to set up and manage. 

Specs:
Number of Outlets: One
Compatible Smart Platforms: Alexa, Siri
Water Resistant: No

Pros:
— The only Apple HomeKit-compatible smart plug
— Simple to use app
— Ultra small size

Cons:
— No Google Assistant support

The Philips Hue Smart Plug is one feature away from being nearly perfect, but it still has enough going for it to be the best smart plug available right now.

That starts with its compatibility with both Alexa and Apple's HomeKit, which allows you to control the plug using Siri. There are very few HomeKit-compatible smart home accessories — smart plugs or otherwise — but we've found Philips' Hue gear works very well when using Apple devices. Unfortunately, this smart plug doesn't support the Google Assistant, which is its only major flaw. 

Another big benefit to using the Hue Smart Plug is the company's app, which is organized and easy to use. Setting up a smart home device only takes a few minutes, and no longer requires a Philips Hue Hub to be added to your network. Instead, your device connects to the smart plug over Bluetooth during the setup process, and over WiFi once the setup has been completed. 

At 2.7 inches wide, the Hue Smart Plug is the smallest option in our guide, which is a big benefit if you like your tech to be as unobtrusive as possible. The only way to get a smaller smart plug is to install an outlet with smart features, which we'll get to later. In terms of practicality, the Hue Plug's smaller size may also make it easier to connect an additional accessory to the adjacent outlet. 

If you're an Apple HomeKit user, the Philips Hue Smart Plug is the only one we feel comfortable recommending. Your options open up significantly if you're part of a home that uses Alexa or the Google Assistant, but the Hue Plug's smaller size allows it to pull just ahead of its competition.

Best Budget: GE CYNC Indoor Smart Plug

Piece of the Puzzle. GE CYNC

Why It Made The Cut: GE's CYNC Indoor Smart Plug has all the same features as more expensive options, plus it's one part of a larger ecosystem of smart home devices.

Specs:
Number of Outlets: One
Compatible Smart Platforms: Alexa, Google Assistant
Water Resistant: No

Pros:
— No hub required
— Part of a large smart home accessory ecosystem
— Price

Cons:
— No HomeKit support

Smart plugs aren't typically very expensive, but this one from GE's CYNC line has a couple of extra features we didn't expect to find in a model that's this inexpensive.

The first is that it doesn't require a hub to operate. Smart home hubs have fallen out of fashion lately, which is great as they’re double or triple the amount of money you'd need to spend to set up your smart plug. Once it's set up, the GE Sync Indoor Smart Plug has all the functionality you'd expect from models that cost twice as much. You can set it up to work on a set schedule, operate it from anywhere, control it using a voice assistant, and use it with your choice of smart assistant. Unfortunately, the GE CYNC Smart Plug isn't compatible with Apple's HomeKit. 

The GE Sync Smart Plug's secret best feature is that it's part of a large line of smart home accessories. You can use the smart plug with tech made by any manufacturer, but we like recommending products that are part of a larger overall ecosystem. This is primarily because it allows you to manage all the smart home accessories in your place within a single app, which is a lot more convenient than hopping between several of them. GE's CYNC line includes everything from security cameras and thermostats to light bulbs and light strips, most of which are a good value. We've had the opportunity to try the company's smart light bulbs, and they've continued to work very well even after several months of daily use. 

We generally recommend smart plugs as a first step for anyone thinking about building a smart home because they're easy to operate and only do one task. GE's CYNC Smart Plug lowers the barrier to entry without cutting corners, which makes it a very good choice.

Best Outdoor: Wyze Plug Outdoor

Wet and Wild. Wyze Plug

Why It Made The Cut: If you need a smart plug that can handle rain without a problem, this one from Wyze is the one to get.

Specs:
Number of Outlets: Two
Compatible Smart Platforms: Alexa, Google Assistant
Water Resistant: Yes

Pros:
— IP64 compliant
— Long WiFi range
— Energy tracker

Cons:
— No HomeKit support
— Size

The Wyze Plug Outdoor allows you to expand your smart home to the outside of your house, and can be left unattended during bad weather. 

The smart plug has an IP (ingress protection) value of 64, which means it's dustproof and water resistant enough to handle splashes of water from any direction. This means the Wyze Plug Outdoor can be used during routine rainstorms without the risk of being damaged. 

If you're getting particularly bad weather — hurricanes or nor'easters, for example — you may want to take it inside, as wind gusts may dislodge it from your outlet. Exposing an open outlet to the elements is a recipe for disaster, which is why Wyze built outlet covers into its smart plug. If an outlet isn't in use, keep the cover on at all times.  

This smart plug has two outlets, which itself is a great feature if you only have one outdoor outlet. It offers the same level of performance as our indoor smart plug recommendations, and can even be used with outdoor cooking equipment like an electric griddle. Just be mindful of the fact that using both of this smart plug's outlets simultaneously may require a lot of power. If you're using a high-wattage gadget like a griddle, we recommend keeping the other outlet free. 

Speaking of power consumption, Wyze allows you to track how much electricity your smart plug is using inside its app. Monitoring your electricity usage in real time may help you be more energy conscious, which in turn means you'll end up with a lower utility bill each month. Increasing your awareness about how much electricity you're using can also help reduce your carbon footprint. 

Outdoor smart plugs require WiFi to work, but they're far more likely to be further away from your router than an indoor plug. Wyze says its smart plug has a range of up to 300 feet in open space, so it should have no issues maintaining a consistent connection to your router.

If you want an outdoor smart plug to power your smart security camera, or manage the energy usage of more powerful tech tools, Wyze's Smart Plug is a wise choice. 

Best Power Strip: TP-Link Kasa Smart Plug Power Strip

Six in One. TP-Link

Why It Made The Cut: TP-Link's Kasa Smart Plug Power Strip allows you to control a whole group of gadgets in one go.

Specs:
Number of Outlets: Four
Compatible Smart Platforms: Alexa, Google Assistant
Water Resistant: No

Pros:
— Six independently controllable outlets
— Three USB-A ports
— Long cable

Cons:
— No HomeKit Support

If you'd like to control a bunch of tech accessories grouped in a single place — a home theater setup, for example — TP-Link's Kasa Smart Plug Power Strip is the definitive solution. 

It's the best smart plug we've tested because its six outlets, which can all be controlled independently, open up a whole world of opportunities. If you shut down your computer setup at night,  this smart power strip can turn it all one right before you go to work. If you've got a power-sucking home-theater system, you can be sure that every component is totally off until you need it. That same principle applies to your group of appliances in the kitchen, or tools in the garage. Unplugging several appliances when you want them totally off and plugging them back in when you need them is an annoyance that this array of smart plugs solves. 

Controlling six smart plugs could be annoying, but we found TP-Link's Kasa app to be very simple to use. It allows you to name each smart plug in this power strip, which makes it easy to know which device you're turning on and off at a glance. For example, you could name the plugs: Amplifier, Xbox, TV, Cable Box, PlayStation, Turntable, if you use the Kasa Smart Plug Power Strip in a home-theater application. This smart power strip's lack of HomeKit support is annoying if you primarily use Apple devices, but it's a small mark on an otherwise excellent piece of gear.

In addition to its six outlets, this smart power strip also has three USB-A ports, so you can use it to charge your devices directly instead of using one of its plugs for a power adapter. This is a nice touch, and we took advantage of it during our testing to maximize the usefulness of the power strip. If you want to jump into the world of smart plugs with both feet, TP-Link's Smart Plug Power Strip is the one to use.

Best In-Wall: Leviton Decora Smart WiFi Tamper-Resistant Outlet

All Inside. Leviton

Why It Made The Cut: Leviton's Decora Smart WiFi Tamper Resistant Outlet has all the benefits of a smart plug, but is built directly into your wall.

Specs:
Number of Outlets: Two
Compatible Smart Platforms: Alexa, Google Assistant
Water Resistant: No

Pros:
— Sits flush with the wall
— Compatible with multiple smart assistants
— No hub required

Cons:
— No HomeKit support
— Requires confidence with electrical work to install

All of our smart plug recommendations so far have needed to be plugged into the outlets in your home to work, this device from Leviton is different. Instead of creating a plug, the company built the functionality of smart plugs into a two-outlet wall receptacle. 

This device can replace any standard-sized two-outlet wall receptacle you already have in your home. Once it's installed, you'll be able to control the devices plugged into either outlet  over WiFi, just like a standard wall plug. There are two benefits to using a smart outlet instead of a standard smart plug, and two big drawbacks. 

The biggest benefit is you won't have a device protruding from your wall. This means you're far less likely to bump into it, or accidentally dislodge it. The other major upside to using a smart outlet is that you can plug two devices with big power cords into it without running into the risk of running out of space. Smart outlets are small, but there's always the chance they'll take up just enough room to disallow you from plugging in another appliance. 

The most significant drawback of a smart outlet is that it requires you to feel comfortable doing basic electrical work in your home if you're allowed to, which might not be the case if you're a renter. If you're uncomfortable doing electrical work, you'll have to pay an electrician to install it for you, which can significantly increase the cost of this device. The other downside to smart outlets is that you can't move them around as easily. With a smart plug, you can unplug and replug it anywhere else when your needs change, or take it with you when you move. 

If you like a DIY project, and are clear headed about the drawbacks about getting a smart outlet instead of a standard smart plug, Leviton's Decora is the one to get.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Smart Plug

Your Smart Home Ecosystem

Some of the smart plugs we've recommended only work with one smart assistant. If you choose one of those smart plugs, you should be very confident about sticking with that smart-home ecosystem, because changing to another one will require you to get a new smart plug. We generally value flexibility, which is why a majority of our smart plug recommendations work with more than one smart-home platform. 

Size

Smart plugs have gotten a lot smaller over the past couple of years, but they may cause some trouble if you've got one connected to a wall receptacle with two outlets. The smart plug you get may be big enough that AC adapters (thick, rectangularly-shaped plugs that come with heavy-duty appliances) may not be able to fit in an adjacent outlet. 

WiFi Frequency 

Smart plugs, like all smart home accessories, have to be connected to the internet in order to work properly. The plugs we recommend need to connect to a WiFi network that's operating using the 2.4 GHz (gigahertz) frequency band. This is the universal standard, so don't worry, your router will work. That said, some new WiFi routers also create a network on the 5 GHz frequency band, which is far faster. If this is the case, you may notice two WiFi networks with the same name (ex: MyNetworkName 2.4 GHz &  MyNetworkName 5 GHz). 

We mention this, because you'll be prompted to connect the smart plug to a WiFi network at some point in the setup process. If your WiFi router has created two networks, be sure that you choose the 2.4 GHz version, or the setup process will fail. 

FAQs

Q: Can I electrically overload a smart plug?

Yes. Generally, smart plugs should only be used with electronics that consume less than 1,000 watts of sustained electricity. This includes TVs, coffee makers, fans, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, electric mixers, alarm clocks, and a whole host of smaller gadgets. Overloading a smart plug with a more energy-hungry tool, like a refrigerator or air conditioner, may overload the smart plug, causing it to overheat and malfunction.

Q: How do I responsibly dispose of my old smart plug?

If you're replacing an old smart plug, we recommend reading our guide on how to recycle electronics.

Q: How long do smart plugs last?

In our experience, reputable companies support their smart plugs for several years, so you won't have to worry about them becoming obsolete anytime soon. Smart plugs aren't typically taxed very hard either, so the chance of them wearing down from daily use is also very low.

Q: How strong of a WiFi connection do I need to use a smart plug?

Smart plugs don't require an ultra-fast wireless connection to work, but they will need a strong signal from your router. If a smart plug is properly set up and connected to the internet, it will function. 

Q: Is it safe to keep a smart plug connected overnight?

It depends. In our experience, smart plugs can be connected to an outlet for several months without any issues, but that may not be the case if you plan on keeping it connected to an active appliance 24/7. If that's the case, you're better off installing our smart outlet recommendation (or asking a professional to install it for you). 

Final Thoughts on Smart Plugs

Smart plugs are incredibly helpful, inexpensive tech accessories that do their one job: allowing you to turn a gadget on and off remotely, very well. Their inherent limitations may seem off-putting initially, but there's a lot to like about them if you want some peace of mind, or have a particular problem you're looking to solve. 

You may actually end up saving a little bit of money by using a smart plug to fully turn off an appliance or gadget that has traditionally entered a standby state at night. The smart plug will still need power, but it's possible it'll require less energy than the appliance in question.

If you've got a smart home problem that requires a simple solution, smart plugs are one of the first accessories you should consider getting.

This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.


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