Tech Magazine

Get your smart home started with a smart plug — here are our favorites

Find the best smart outlet to power your home.

best product line

TP-Link Kasa

From outdoor plugs to indoor power strips, TP-Link gives quality and options.

$17.99 from Amazon

Best for Amazon Echo

Amazon Smart Plug

Amazon’s smart plug pairs with Alexa to automate your home.

$24.99 from Amazon

Best App

Belkin WeMo Insight Wifi Smart Plug

Wemo Insight monitors energy with a detail-oriented app.

$29.99 from Walmart

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Smart plugs may seem like a cheap party trick, like your attention-seeking friend who shushes the group to yell at Alexa to turn on the lamp. But they’re great devices for everyday use, not purely because of convenience but because they also save energy. (And no, you don’t have to yell at Alexa, or Google Home, etc., all the time.)

If this is your first smart home product, a smart plug is a great gateway device. It connects pieces you already own and love to the internet. But there are a few things to learn.

One question separates most smart plugs: to hub or not to hub? Many manufacturers now make plugs that connect directly to WiFi, but others require a hub to connect your smart devices to the network. A hub can be pricey and often not truly necessary for a smart plug.

A voice-control device like the Amazon Echo or Google Home can control all your smart devices, but there are apps too. Manufacturers create apps to go along with their smart devices and can help you schedule your smart plugs and track energy consumption. Apple HomeKit, a free app for iOS devices, can also connect everything together. Whatever you use, make sure your smart plug is compatible.

Hopefully, you can have a little fun controlling your house with smart plugs and save on your electric bill. Once you master the (extremely easy) smart plug, there will be more things you can try out like smart speakers and light bulbs. But for now, pass the buffalo dip and show your friends your voice-activated lamp.

Easy to use
Only compatible with Echo
It’s a natural move for Amazon fans.
Amazon’s smart plug pairs with Alexa to automate your home.

  • Hub required?: No
  • Works with: Amazon Echo
  • Energy monitoring?: No

$24.99 from Amazon

How could I pick anything other than Amazon’s own? In total Amazon fashion, this smart plug forgets the competition and only works with Alexa. It works seamlessly with the Alexa app and Echo devices, so this is the best choice for, say, your low-tech parents.
Amazon reviewer Rachel Wright says:

“Got this smart plug so I can remotely turn appliances/lights on and off in an Alzheimer’s patient’s home. I can remotely make sure things are off by simply turning them on/off in the Amazon Alexa app – super simple to use and really helps me out. Now I don’t have to drive over there to make sure the lights are off, or the AC or TV are off, etc. Thank you!”

Adjustable plug • Energy monitoring
A bit pricey
Well-designed plug with high praise.
The Currant Wifi Smart Outlet should integrate well with a Google Home device, with lots to love.

  • Hub required?: No
  • Works with: Amazon Echo, Google Home
  • Energy monitoring?: Yes

$59.99 from Amazon

If its appearance didn’t stand out, the features would. There are two outlets on the side, which is nice when located behind a couch or headboard. You can rotate the prongs on the back around to choose the outlet orientation, a cool added touch.
The app reminds me of Google itself with bright graphs in green, blue, yellow, and red. These pie charts give a sense of energy consumption. After it gets a sense of your habits, the app recommends automation patterns for you.

Moderate price • Large line • Great app
No energy monitoring
Lots of quality outlets under one great app.
From outdoor plugs to indoor power strips, TP-Link gives quality and options.

  • Hub required?: No
  • Works with: Amazon Echo, Google Home, Microsoft Cortana, IFTTT
  • Energy monitoring?: Sometimes

$17.99 from Amazon

Once you start automating your home, you may not want to stop. TP-Link gives consumers nine options at competitive pricing, so you can always add to your lineup. There’s an outdoor plug with two outlets, perfect for Christmas lights. You could also install their in-wall outlet, ditching the bulk of a standard plug.
The only drawback is not all models have energy monitoring. The only current outlet with the feature is the Kasa Smart Wifi Plug with Energy Monitoring. It has a taller shape, barring you from plugging in anything above it.
Inexpensive • Good features
No energy monitoring
It can hang with the best of ‘em.
This low-end smart plug is still pretty good.

  • Hub required?: No
  • Works with: Amazon Echo, Google Home, IFTTT
  • Energy monitoring?: No

$8.99 from Amazon

For 10 bucks, this smart plug is impressive. The corresponding app is pretty good too, with abilities to schedule your smart plugs and set scene preferences.
Amazon reviewer Jason Sanchez says:

“Love these plugs. I bought two of them. One for my Christmas tree inside and the other for my Christmas lights outside. These plugs are pretty neat because you can turn them on and off with your phone no matter where you are. You can also set up a schedule for them to automatically turn on and off on top of setting a timer if you like, on top of pressing the button on the switch to manually power cycle them on and off. Easy-to-use switch with easy-to-use app. Would definitely recommend to a friend.”

Great features • Easy-to-use app
Large price tag
There’s a lot to love, but a lot to spend.
Wemo Insight monitors energy with a detail-oriented app.

  • Hub required?: No
  • Works with: Amazon Echo, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, IFTTT
  • Energy monitoring?: Yes

$29.99 from Walmart

The WeMo Insight is a detail-oriented smart plug with a well-developed app for when you don’t want to call on Alexa or when you’re miles away. There’s even a function that will turn lamps and other lights on and off periodically in “Away Mode.” This way, it looks like someone is always home.
The application allows you to hone in on your energy consumption. For each plug, it tells you how long you use the power, the average wattage, and how much it’ll probably cost you. You can even give the app a profile picture of sorts for each plug, making it easy to see which fan or appliance is plugged into it.

Compatible with most devices • Inexpensive
No manual switch • Bulky
Another minimalistic IKEA product.
IKEA produces a smart plug compatible with most devices.

  • Hub required?: Yes
  • Works with: Amazon Echo, Apple HomeKit, Google Home, Microsoft Cortana, IFTTT
  • Energy monitoring?: No

$9.99 from Ikea

Your favorite Swedish flat-packed furniture store sells smart plugs. And just like most IKEA’s products, the smart plugs are an inexpensive product devoid of frills.
The best thing, apart from the price, is the compatibility. Consider this smart plug the love of your life because it connects to pretty much everything. At first, Apple HomeKit wasn’t supported, so IKEA released an update.
There’s a catch, though. You’ll need the $30 Trådfri gateway as well, a pretty good price for a hub. The plug is also a bit clunky, so don’t plan on plugging anything in above it.