A smart plug, which brings a bit of automation to lights, coffee makers, and other everyday gadgets, is a great way to get started in the smart home world without spending much money immediately.
Whether you use Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant, or Apple’s HomeKit, a smart plug is a portable outlet connected to a smart home ecosystem. There are also intelligent outlet strips, which transform a single wall plug into a bank of outlets that can all be remotely managed, ideal if you want to connect several products to the internet.
Our testing methodology
After gathering information from industry professionals, best-selling products, and our familiarity with the smart home sector, we settled on a set of devices to put through their paces. We zeroed down on the essentials, paying close attention to the ease of use, the potential for interference, and the compatibility of each plug worldwide.
From the time each plug arrived, we started making notes about the ease with which they were installed. Did we have to create an account and utilize a separate app to access it? Is the plug compatible with voice assistants such the Google Home, Apple HomeKit, and Amazon Alexa? What additional functionality, such as timers, an away mode, or the ability to define routines, did the standalone application provide?
We performed latency tests by repeatedly turning the switch on and off to ensure its usability. We timed the time it took to get an answer, too. We compared the wattage of each plug and checked for energy monitoring capabilities.
We combed through countless smart plug options, combining expert and user reviews to narrow the field down to 11 top picks. Three solutions emerged as the most promising after weeks of testing:
The Wyze Plug is a highly stealthy gadget. It includes everything you’d expect from a smart plug, including a plug that fits into your regular outlet, a front outlet for connecting additional devices, and connectivity for remote control.
A QR Code is provided on the packaging for easy app-to-plug connection. Following simple prompts, you can link the device to your home’s Wi-Fi network.
The Wyze plug could answer requests in under a second. You can set timers, and unlike the Wemo, the Wyze makes it easier to do so by providing a simple navigation from which to choose the desired duration. For instance, each morning at 6:40, the Wyze is programmed to activate automation that initiates the brewing of coffee. It may also be set to shut off outlets (and whatever is connected) at the eleventh hour of the day, saving energy for environmentally conscious individuals. One can manually activate or deactivate the Wyze using a switch on its side.
More crucially, it was about half a second faster than the Wemo at switching power on and off. This is convenient for a few applications, such as preheating a coffee maker or transforming a standard bulb into a smart one.
The Wyze plug has a vacation mode, while the Wemo does not. Connecting a window lamp to this outlet will give the impression that someone is home all day long—no need to bother with customizing automation because it’s already included.
Wyze plugs are excellent when used with Amazon or Google’s smart home ecosystems, but they don’t work with Apple’s HomeKit. That makes it slightly less universal, but if you only want to use the phone app, Alexa, or Google Assistant, you can’t match the price. And while the Wyze plug isn’t quite as portable as the Wemo, it offers incredible value at just $12.
What made the original Wemo Smart Plug so great was what makes the newer model, the Wemo Smart Plug with Thread, so great: its ease of setup, responsiveness to commands and cues, and compact but powerful design. Thread is a mesh networking protocol that expedites data transfers between your iPhone and intelligent gadgets like the Wemo Smart Plug. To use Thread, you’ll need a HomePod Mini, Apple TV 4K, or another Thread hub; however, the Wemo plug still provides Bluetooth connectivity, just in case.
It took us two minutes to set up the Wemo Smart Plug With Thread. To begin setting it up, plug it in, launch the Home app on your iPhone, and then press the top of your phone toward the top of the plug to read the NFC tag. Designate a room, label the outlet, and activate it with a single tap.
Compared to the original Wemo Smart Plug, which you could manage through both the Wemo app and the Wemo app, you can only control the new Smart Plug through Apple’s Home app. After adding the plug to Home, you may use Siri to manage the device plugged into it or automate it using HomeKit. Saying, “Hey Siri, turn off the bedroom lamp,” will turn off any lights connected to the smart plug in the bedroom.
The Wemo Smart Plug with Thread is a no-brainer recommendation for someone who already owns a HomeKit-based smart home. This is as good as it gets, period.
The Wemo Plug packs a lot of features into a little package; it’s the most compact smart plug we evaluated. Having plenty of spare space in a regular two-prong plug is helpful in many situations. It has a glossy white exterior that doesn’t draw much attention to itself.
Like the Wyze smart plug, the Monoprice Stitch comes in a strip form factor instead of a traditional plug design. It’s simple to set up and use and compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, but it doesn’t work with Apple HomeKit.
Among the intelligent strips we evaluated, the Monoprice Stitch required the least installation time. We plugged it in, downloaded the accompanying app, and linked it to our appropriate electronic gadgets. We could get up and running in fewer than 10 seconds. We particularly liked not having to connect directly to the strip via Bluetooth.
One drawback is that Monoprice’s cord is just 19.9 inches long. While this is ideal for powering a few small items on a kitchen counter, a home office that requires plugs from varying distances and directions could prove more challenging to install.
The Monoprice has two USB-A connectors and four regular outlets. Because you can independently switch the power on and off for each of the four plugs, you can use two while leaving the other two without power. This can be done either manually through the app or automatically in response to voice commands from your Amazon or Google intelligent assistant (the Eve Energy power strip is your best bet if you want to connect to Apple HomeKit).
The Monoprice mobile app can program unique outlet routines and timers. Suppose we were doing tests in a kitchen, for example. In that case, we may have one outlet start the coffee maker at a specific time each morning and another outlet preheats the toaster oven before dinner.
Turning on and off the strip as a whole or a single outlet is quick. Wi-Fi strength indoors is average (below our top option and the much more expensive $100 Eve Energy). Still, it may vary depending on the strength of your Wi-Fi signal at home.
The Monoprice Stitch Power Strip is an affordable option that provides a reliable experience and a quick response time to orders. It has a straightforward layout similar to the popular Wemo and Wyze Plugs, and we expect that it will appeal to a wide range of customers.
There are three standard outlets and two USB-A ports on this smart outlet strip, each of which may be controlled independently. You can use the Kasa app (available for Android and iOS) to configure the strip and connect it to voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant. Although other apps were more intuitive, we appreciated Kasa’s solid construction. It’s more expensive than the Monoprice Stitch strip and has fewer outlets but a more extended chord.
One peculiar feature of the Wemo Mini Smart Plug is that, in comparison to the Wemo Plug, it is approximately twice as large. Integrated into the same Wemo app, it’s compatible with Apple HomeKit, Alexa, and Google Assistant. It’s also more expensive than our top option, the Wemo Plug, by $10, making it a less attractive purchase at $34.99.
If we were judging solely on aesthetics, we’d have to give the nod to the Eve Energy Smart Strip. It has a sleek, premium aluminum construction. However, there are just three outlets, and it’s HomeKit-only, which drives the price to nearly $100. You can monitor your total energy consumption and control each outlet’s power.
Philips Hue’s product is compatible with the three main ecosystems, similar to the Wemo Plug. A bridge allows for control from outside the home, while Bluetooth allows for control from within. However, it is only certified for lighting; thus, no appliances may be operated from it. For this reason, Wyze or Wemo is preferable in most scenarios.
The Eufy Smart Plug stood out as the most original of all the plugs we looked at. The bottom of this squared-off object is where you’ll find the plug. However, it is bulky and adds one more outlet to your setup. A power switch with an LED indicator is included. Although it is compatible with Amazon Alexa, the setup process was more time-consuming.
TP-Kasa Link’s Smart Plug is noticeably more compact than the other smart plugs we examined. The LED light on this plug’s right edge is the brightest we observed. You can customize the plug, monitor it, and create a schedule from the Kasa app on your Android or iOS device. It also works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. As a result of its clumsy app and shaky connection to the wall outlet, Kasa ultimately failed to impress us.
The Amazon Smart Plug is significantly more specialized than our top picks because you can only use it with Echo devices like smart speakers and smart displays. This is an Alexa device, and it performs admirably in that environment. It’s easy to set up and operate, but it’s more pricey than our other top options and has a bulkier, longer design.
Satechi provides an intelligent plug designed from the get-go to work with Apple’s HomeKit, splitting a single power supply into two. The Home app can control each individual plug and set up routines. However, it is pretty big, so plan accordingly in terms of storage and whether or not you can afford the over $60 asking price.
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