By Rachel Cericola
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A smart plug can make magic, turning any electronic device into one that can be controlled remotely or put on a schedule. That means you'll never have to enter a dark room or worry that you left the curling iron plugged in. We recommend the Wemo Mini, a reliable Wi-Fi smart plug that works with most major smart-home platforms, including Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant.
The Wemo Mini is the only model that has been rock-solid reliable over long-term use, offers a compact design that won't block both outlets on a wall plate, and supports all the major voice-control platforms. Like most of the smart plug-in switches we tested, the Wemo Mini is easy to set up: Plug it into an outlet, download an app to your phone, make the wireless connection, and then control lamps, small appliances, and even higher-draw devices like fans and air conditioners. The Wemo family also includes light switches and dimmers, so it's easy to expand your system.
The Lutron Caséta Smart Lighting Lamp Dimmer costs more than most smart plugs, but it has two outlets, allowing you to control two lamps or strings of lights at once (though not independently). And it lets you dim those lamps rather than just turning them on and off—a rarity among smart plugs. The Caséta system connects over a robust wireless mesh network, rather than Wi-Fi, so Wi-Fi dead spots in your house aren't a problem, but it requires Lutron's proprietary Caséta Smart Bridge hub. We recommend you buy a kit that includes the hub. This outlet supports only lamps, not fans or other motors, but the Caséta line includes compatible in-wall dimmers, window shades, and remotes, so this model is ideal for people who want a larger smart-home system. It works with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Nest, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, and more.
The iClever IC-BS06 smart plug can weather the outdoors better than you can, with the best operating temperature (–4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit) of any model we tested. It has two plugs you can control remotely and independently using the app or voice control (via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, but not Siri), and you can configure automations based on time, weather, humidity, temperature, air quality, sunrise and sunset, or triggers from other iClever devices.
The TP-Link HS300 is a little pricier than the average smart plug, but it's worth it as it transforms one wall plug into six independently controlled outlets. Of the smart power strips we tested, it also has the most USB ports (three) and the longest power cord. It also supports voice control via Alexa, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, and automations via IFTTT.
The lowest priced model on our list is also the smallest—making it possible to fit the Monoprice Stitch Mini into almost any outlet in the house without crowding. It's also the least expensive model we've seen to include energy monitoring. Currently, it supports only Alexa and Google Assistant (and IFTTT unofficially), but you can also set schedules that are triggered by sunrise and sunset and local weather conditions.
I have written about consumer electronics for more than 15 years and have tested a slew of smart-home devices, from remotes and security cameras to AV receivers and speakers. As a former editor for Electronic House and Big Picture Big Sound, I have written buying guides for multiple consumer-electronics products, in addition to tech articles for Wired, Woman's Day, GeekMom, Men's Health, USA Today, and others.
If you have a smartphone and an empty outlet in your house, you can control, schedule, and automate something easily with a smart plug. You don't need programming skills or an installer on speed dial to set up smart outlets, and they're immediately useful with very little fuss. Putting even just one smart switch into your home can ensure that you'll never enter a dark house; add a few more to control items such as household fans, speakers, slow cookers, and air conditioners.
Some smart outlets communicate via Wi-Fi, while others use Bluetooth or another wireless signal. All the Wi-Fi–enabled smart plugs we found operate on the 2.4 GHz frequency range. Although 5 GHz Wi-Fi is faster, these devices don't benefit from the extra speed of 5 GHz, and 2.4 GHz offers longer range. (All modern Wi-Fi routers support both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.)
We searched the Web and online stores for smart plugs, looking for reviews and roundups. We came up with a list of models that we then narrowed down based on the most important features you should expect from such a device:
The average price for a smart outlet is about $30—you shouldn't need to pay more than that unless a particular outlet offers a certain advantage you want, such as an extra outlet or compatibility with a specific system.
For each smart outlet in our test group, we downloaded the appropriate app to an iPhone 7, an iPad, and a Samsung Galaxy S6. Most of the switches connected to Wi-Fi easily and were simple to operate from inside our 1,250-square-foot house. For smart switches that offer control from afar, we played around with the settings while at the grocery store (2 miles away), the gym (10 miles away), and other houses (up to 50 miles away). To keep things interesting, we plugged a variety of items into each test switch, including (at different times) two table lamps, two fans, a white-noise machine, a radio, and even a flat iron. All of the plugs operated well, except where noted in the Competition section.
When possible, we paired switches to an Amazon Echo Dot, an Echo Plus, HomeKit (via an Apple TV), Nest devices, IFTTT, and each other.
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After more than two years, we've found the Wemo Mini to be consistently reliable, unobtrusive in a wall socket, and an affordable way to get started with smart-home devices. It's the best-performing Wi-Fi smart plug that's compatible with all three major voice-control platforms: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant. The Wemo iOS and Android apps provide remote control, scheduling, and grouping for an infinite number of Wemo devices, including the Wemo Mini, the Wemo Insight, and Wemo in-wall light switches.
The Wemo Mini is compact enough to fit into one socket in a duplex outlet without blocking the second one, and its wide, thin shape allows you to place it in either the top or bottom socket without blocking the use of other bulky plugs—some larger competitors fit in only one and block the other. You can even stack two Minis in the same duplex outlet.
The Wemo Mini can also operate higher-draw appliances with motors or heating elements—such as air conditioners and coffee makers—making it more versatile than some of the other smart outlets we tested. For people who don't want to deal with elaborate smart-home setups but still want to start cooling their apartment off before they get home, a Wemo can do the job whereas a Lutron smart plug can't.
The switch easily connects to Wi-Fi without needing a hub, username, or password (see the Flaws but not dealbreakers section for more information about that). It performed reliably throughout more than two years of testing, providing on/off control from inside and outside the house whenever called upon. (Other smart plugs would occasionally disconnect from our network or respond slowly to commands.) We even created repeatable schedules and rules, which consistently turned lamps and fans on and off automatically at set times of the day.
The Wemo Android and iOS apps are almost identical, offering on/off controls, rules, groups, and timers. Unlike many smart plugs, the Wemo Mini accepts settings to go on and off at certain times (but allows for separate rules for each), as well as to trigger based on local sunrise and sunset times. Both app versions can combine all Wemo devices and other compatible smart-home products on one screen, and each app makes everything easy to find and use. The apps even include a photo of every Wemo device or let you use your own photo for each (your lamp, your fan, and the like). The Mini is also one of the few models on our list with options for an Away mode, which can randomly turn devices on and off during a predetermined time period.
One of the other ways the Wemo Mini stands out is in its wide compatibility with other smart-home devices. In addition to integrating with fellow Wemo devices, the Mini is the most reliable Wi-Fi plug we tested that works with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Nest, and IFTTT. The Mini used to require a bridge to make it compatible with HomeKit, but that necessity was eliminated with a firmware update, downloaded via the Wemo app. We found Alexa and HomeKit to be easy to use with the Mini; it linked quickly and responded consistently to on/off commands and automations. For example, we created an automation so that whenever we said "Alexa, dinnertime," the Mini would trigger a table lamp and the Lutron Caséta (our in-wall light switch pick) would flip an outside light off. We also grouped the Mini with a separate light so that we could control both by saying "Alexa, turn on the living room."
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Wemo is the only smart plug brand we are aware of that does not allow device owners to have a username and password to restrict access to its devices. While this does make setup faster and easier, it also means that if you don't require a password for your home network, or if you use the default password (which can be searched for easily online), then anyone passing by your home can access your network and control your Wemo devices. If you plan to purchase Wemo (or really, any smart-home device), make sure your router is protected by a strong, unique password that is not used with any other accounts.
The slightly larger Wemo Insight switch includes an energy use monitor in the app. We'd like to see those features for the Mini, but we can live without them.
The Lutron Caséta Smart Lighting Lamp Dimmer is the only model we've found that includes two outlets and dimming capabilities. It's ideal if you're looking to go beyond a simple plug or two and want to add smart lighting throughout your house. However, it's also the only model on our list that requires a central hub, which adds to the cost of a system.
For the money, Lutron gives you a rock-solid system that ties your lights together and can link with other devices, such as thermostats, shades, and cameras. Lutron's Caséta system is compatible with more smart-home partners than any other plug on our list: It supports Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Ecobee, IFTTT, Nest, Samsung SmartThings, Sonos, Wink, and much more. We easily tied the lamp dimmer in with Alexa and HomeKit so we could turn the outlet on and off, as well as set specific lighting levels, using voice commands. We also created a scene that would turn a HomeKit-enabled air conditioner to 67 degrees whenever the Lutron lamp dimmer was turned on.
Unlike the Wemo outlet, the Lutron model is designed specifically for dimmable lamps—a limitation emblazoned right above each outlet and confirmed to us by a Lutron representative. In other words, your fans, air conditioners, radios, and curling irons are not welcome here. This Lutron plug is not rated for motor inrush current (those few milliseconds of "whoosh" when you turn on an air conditioner, for instance), which could damage it. And frankly, it wouldn't fit some of those devices anyway, since both outlets are missing the ground prong. It's specifically rated for lamps, but if one of those isn't dimmable, the plug will just turn it on or off.
The dimmer itself is easy to use and offers dimming capabilities for two outlets, but you can't control the two outlets independently—they turn on and off together. This is okay if you're using the plug to control holiday lights that need to turn on at the same time, for example, but you can't set two connected lamps to different levels of brightness.
The Lutron smartphone app allows for different schedules every day of the week (or the same one every day), based on time or sunrise and sunset. You can also create scenes that can trigger multiple devices, as well as Smart Away, which can turn on the plug-in dimmer randomly between the hours of 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. to make it look like you're home when you're away.
As we mentioned above, to use this plug-in dimmer, you need the Lutron Caséta Smart Bridge, a hub that plugs into your router. This device adds to the overall cost, but you can purchase a starter kit that includes the Smart Bridge, two plug-in outlets, and a wireless remote to control the entire setup. (The plug-in dimmer and hub also work with our top in-wall light-dimmer pick.) Lutron says one Smart Bridge covers a 2,500-square-foot area, and the lamp dimmer acts as a range extender.
Although we didn't have connection issues with any of our picks, the Lutron plug sets itself apart with Clear Connect technology, which operates at a lower radio frequency than most smart-home devices. This can make it more reliable, since it's virtually free from interference, an issue that's common with Wi-Fi devices.
If you're looking to extend your smart home to the outdoors, the iClever IC-BS06 smart plug is the way to go. While most outdoor plugs max out at 133 degrees, this weatherproof device can stay on the job in even the most forbidding conditions, with an operating temperature of –4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. It has two outlets that you can control independently, and it's compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT (but not Apple's HomeKit or Siri). Control it manually or by voice within the outlet's own smartphone app, or set on/off triggers based on time, local weather, and more.
Although the device itself has only a simple toggle button that turns both outlets on or off together, within the app you can control each outlet independently and name them so you can use voice commands for each via Alexa or Google Assistant. For example, in our testing we named them "fan" and "radio"; both responded correctly to Alexa voice commands. iClever also gives you in-app voice control, which is a nice touch, but it can only be used to turn the entire receptacle on and off.
The iClever IC-BS06 uses the Smart Life app, which has some similarities to the apps for Geeni, Monoprice, Top Greener, and Aukey. Otherwise, the app is easy to use, allowing for scheduling as well as for scenes based on local weather, humidity, temperature, or air quality, plus sunrise and sunset, and the status of other iClever devices.
Sometimes you want more than one thing automated. The TP-Link HS300 Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip stretches your smart-home capabilities more than any device we tested, with six independently controlled outlets and three USB ports. It's also the only power strip to include energy monitoring on each of those smart outlets, as well as an Away mode, and support for Alexa, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, IFTTT, and Nest.
Available for iOS and Android, the Kasa app lays out each outlet as if it's a separate device. This makes on/off access easy from the Devices screen. Each plug can be renamed, so you don't have to remember what is plugged in where. This option also makes it easy to call out voice commands like, "Alexa, turn off the table lamp."
Touching on each device in the app brings up another on/off option, as well as scheduling and timer features. Toggling on Away mode triggers devices randomly during set periods, so it appears as if someone is home. Energy Usage provides a peek at real-time power consumption, as well as daily, weekly, and monthly averages in hours and kilowatt-hours.
The HS300 was the only smart power strip we reviewed that includes manual controls on the actual device for each of the six outlets. With the longest cord (38 inches) of any of the power strip models we tested, the HS300 can be tucked into a corner out of sight. The HS300 also includes limited surge protection, though not enough to offer much functional value. Specifically, it's rated to reduce power spikes to 500 volts when exposed to a 6,000-volt surge in testing, which means it will clamp down high-voltage surges to that level and limit the damage to any connected devices. For our surge protector guide, the models we consider are generally rated to lower such surges to 330 volts in the same situation. And in our own tests using 5,000-volt surges, our top picks were able to reduce that even further, to 200 volts.
The Monoprice Stitch Wireless Smart Mini Plug is one of the lowest priced models on our list, but it's much smaller than any of the other models we tested, so it can fit into practically any outlet, whether it's wedged behind the couch, shelves, or any other obstructed areas. It currently only supports Alexa and Google Assistant (sorry, HomeKit users), but it does provide energy monitoring, a rare feature at this price.
Monoprice doesn't advertise IFTTT compatibility, but the icon is in the app, so we tested it out. We were able to create applets using the Smart Life skill that would trigger the plug on and off based on our Ring camera and Wemo Mini, as well as send emails based on the status. Tuya, Smart Life's parent company, has created apps for Aukey, Geeni, iClever, and Top Greener, so you may notice the look is similar, as are some of the functions, such as the ability to set triggers based on local temperature, humidity, and weather conditions.
To access the Stitch Mini's energy-monitoring feature, click on the Statistics tab, which will bring up real-time readings for Current (milliamps), Power (watts), Voltage, and total energy use in kilowatt-hours. It lists monthly totals for 12 consecutive months. While we don't think this capability is an essential option for most people, it's pretty impressive that it's included at this price.
The Wyze Plug is one of the cheapest plugs we've seen with Alexa, Google, and IFTTT support. This simply designed smart plug costs about $20 for a two-pack.
Samsung's SmartThings Wifi Smart Plug doesn't require pairing with the SmartThings Hub, and it's also compatible with Alexa, Bixby, and Google.
The Ezlo PlugHub Energy is a plug-in wall unit with a built-in Z-Wave hub, so it can control smart bulbs, smart locks, sensors, and more.
The Eve Power Strip houses three HomeKit-enabled smart outlets in a sleek aluminum frame.
The Satechi Dual Smart Outlet has two HomeKit-compatible smart outlets with energy-monitoring features.
The D-Link DSP-W118 Indoor Wi-Fi Smart Plug is compact, with support for Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT. The DSP-W320 Outdoor Wi-Fi Smart Plug has two outlets that you can control independently through the app or compatible voice-control platforms.
A previous top pick, the Belkin Wemo Insight is still a solid smart plug. Like the Wemo Mini, it's easy to use and equipped with a lot of smart-home perks, including support for Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit (via the Wemo Bridge), Google Assistant, Nest, and IFTTT. Although the Insight adds energy monitoring, the device itself is not as compact as the Wemo Mini (you can't stack two Insights in a standard double wall receptacle), it typically costs a little more, and it needs the Wemo Bridge to work with HomeKit. Since most people don't need to monitor the energy use of every lamp and fan, we think the Wemo Mini is more useful overall.
The iDevices Switch is a previous runner-up and still an aesthetic standout thanks to a side outlet and a customizable LED night-light that you can turn on or off remotely and tweak to match your room's color scheme. In addition, it includes energy monitoring and support for Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit, but over long-term use, we've experienced a handful of connectivity issues.
The iClever IC-BS08 is almost identical to our previous budget pick, the IC-BS11, except it does not have an integrated night-light. It's competitively priced and compact, though not as compact as our new pick, and it doesn't include the energy-monitoring features.
The Aukey SH-PA1 Smart Plug is typically sold in packs of two for around the same price as the Wemo Mini. Each plug is small enough that you can squeeze two onto any wall outlet. The SH-PA1 lacks HomeKit support but works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT, and it features scheduling based on local weather conditions, sunrise and sunset, and more. It worked fine in our testing, but we felt more confident in the Wemo Mini's long track record of reliability.
TP-Link has three indoor smart plugs, the HS105, HS110, and HS107. The HS105 is a standout because of its size: Also known as the Mini, this model measures 2.61 by 1.49 by 1.57 inches. (The Wemo Mini is slightly larger at 3.8 by 1.4 by 2.4 inches.) The HS110 is bulky but adds energy monitoring so you can track whatever you've plugged into it. The HS107 has two outlets that can be controlled individually or monitored for usage via the Kasa app or voice control. None of the models have HomeKit support, but they do work with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Microsoft's Cortana, Nest, and IFTTT, and allow for schedules, timers, scenes, and an Away mode. This year, the company added the Kasa Smart Outdoor Plug (KP400), which has two outlets that can be independently controlled. It works well but is more expensive and has a smaller operating range than our outdoor pick.
The ConnectSense Smart Outlet2 costs about the same as two standard smart plugs because it has two sockets, both of which can be individually controlled through Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or the ConnectSense iOS/Android apps. It works well, but the app could use some streamlining—as could the actual device. It's extremely bulky and will cover an entire receptacle.
Geeni has more smart plugs than any other brand on our list, including the Geeni Spot, Geeni Switch + Charge, Geeni Outdoor Smart Plug, Merkury Innovations Smart Plug, Geeni Spot Glo, Geeni Switch Duo, and Geeni Surge. All of them lack HomeKit support, have a basic app, and share the Smart Life Alexa/Google skill with five other companies on our list (so you can't mix and match them). Otherwise, they worked well, but it should be noted that the outdoor model has a limited operating temperature (14 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit), and the surge protector is more of a smart power strip, with a rating of 460 joules and 800 volts.
The Amazon Smart Plug is the only Alexa-enabled plug that doesn't require a separate app for control and firmware updates. It has one of the easiest setups, with just a few clicks and without enabling any skills. Once it's set up though, it doesn't have anything to make it a true standout. It's designed to work only with Alexa and do all of the same things every other Alexa-enabled device can do. Also, it doesn't include any extra features, such as an away mode, countdown timers, or power monitoring.
Leviton's DW3HL-1BW is specifically designed for dimmable lights. Despite its high price and girth, it does not include energy monitoring. Recently, the company added the DW15P Mini, which looks a little more like our top pick. Although all three don't include HomeKit support, they are solid plugs that will work with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Nest, and IFTTT.
The Jasco myTouchSmart WiFi Smart Plug performed well, but it's limited to Alexa and Google Assistant. Also, we didn't love that you're limited to creating a maximum of five schedules, and there needs to be an on and off for each of those. The outdoor version of the plug was similar, but what really knocked it out of the running is that it costs more than our outdoor pick but has only one outlet.
The Monoprice Stitch has scheduling, energy monitoring, and support for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. However, the bulky design confines it to the top socket in a receptacle, and it doesn't feature as many scheduling options as some of the other entries on our list. Monoprice's Stitch Wireless Smart Power Strip doesn't have as many options as others, doesn't have manual controls for each outlet, and comes with an incredibly short cord (19 inches).
Top Greener released two smart plugs this year. The TGWF115PQM is a smaller model, with the TGWF115APM designed to handle heavy-duty loads up to 15A. The thing is that there are several other models on the list that can do that in a smaller design—and at a cheaper price. Both models were consistent in performance and include energy monitoring but lack options for sunrise and sunset settings and rely on the aforementioned Smart Life skill for use with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
The Currant Smart Outlet is a double plug with outlets that can be controlled independently in the app or by voice via Alexa and Google Assistant. It has Bluetooth support for when your Wi-Fi is down and a "learning" feature that will make suggestions in the app on how you can save money, based on your habits and local utility. It also has a reversible backplate, so you can have the outlets on the right or left side of the device. We had some connectivity issues during testing and question the usefulness of some of the extras. Between that and the newness of the company, we want to do some long-term testing on this model before making any recommendations.
Samsung is shutting down ARTIK services as of August 30, 2019, so if you have Legrand's WWP20 Smart Plug-In Dimmer or the WWP10 Smart Plug-In Switch, you need to create a new Legrand cloud account. None of your settings or schedules should be affected. Otherwise, both models support Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, but they are more expensive and bulkier than the average smart plug. We also found the app to be more complicated than it should be for a smart plug.
The iHome iSP100 Outdoor Smart Plug has more smart-home possibilities than our main outdoor pick from iClever, with support for Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, Nest, and Wink. But we had a handful of connectivity problems during testing, and the iSP100 doesn't have that second outlet or as wide a range of operating temperatures, making the iClever model the better buy.
The Etekcity Voltson comes in multipacks with a price tag that's impressive, considering that each one has energy monitoring, scheduling, and the option to create an away mode. It also works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, although we had a handful of connectivity issues and problems with voice commands delivering "clicks" and no actual on/off functionality in about a quarter of our tests.
The Elgato Eve Energy has options for timers, scheduling, energy monitoring, and integration, but it relies on Bluetooth and Apple HomeKit, which means you can control it from outside the house only if you have an Apple TV, a HomePod, or an iPad at home. It also works only with iOS devices, with the latest version of the app restricted to those running iOS 11.3 or later.
The Sylvania Smart+ HomeKit Smart Plug is another Bluetooth/HomeKit exclusive. However, the real dealbreaker on this bulky model was that we experienced several delays and false app readings during our testing. Also, it doesn't have a separate app for control, which seems like a great idea, until you realize you still need to download the Sylvania Smart Home app so you can manually check for firmware updates.
Like our top pick, the Koogeek P1 Smart Plug works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit. It even adds in energy monitoring. During testing, we often had to wait for devices to load in the app, and scheduling is more confusing than it should be. We also had a few connection problems and customer support is nonexistent.
The PureGear PureSwitch similarly works only with Apple HomeKit. It doesn't have energy monitoring or a built-in USB port, but the high cost, the confusing app, and this model's spotty connectivity during our testing keeps us from recommending it.
The GE Bluetooth Smart Switch (Plug-In) is a great little option if you're specifically looking to control devices from within your house, but because it's a Bluetooth plug, you can't control it from the office, the beach, or any other remote location. It uses the Avi-on app, which performed fine on both iOS and Android devices for us, and it includes options for timers and scheduling, as well as energy-usage monitoring. But this GE model works only with other devices within the GE/Jasco family.
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