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If you’re forgetful and often leave the house without switching off the lights, your hair straighteners, or even your coffee maker, a smart plug or smart switch means you no longer have to return home, potentially making yourself late, just to be able to switch them off. Instead, just use your smartphone and put an end to wasting energy. Some of the best smart plugs can even keep track of your energy usage, making them a handy money-saving tool.
If you have one of the best smart speakers or best smart displays in your home, you can use your voice to control them, without needing your smartphone to hand. If you’re looking to automate your home, smart plugs and switches can also be set to work with other smart home devices such as the best smart lights or smart thermostats to ensure your home creates the right ambiance when you want it.
When it comes to choosing the right smart plugs and switches for you, there’s a range of models on the market. We’ve put designs from Amazon, TP-Link, WeMo, and Hive to the test to find out just which are the best smart plugs and Switches you can buy right now.
Best smart plugs and switches ranked
The Eve Energy smart plug is the best you can buy in our eyes, although it has one small flaw – while it’s HomeKit-enabled, it won’t work with Alexa or Google Assistant. Simple to use, it keeps track of the energy consumption of the devices plugged into it – and if you provide specific details from the energy provider – the total cost, too.
The smart plug connects over Bluetooth, or Thread smart home technology – if you have a HomePod Mini or an Apple TV in your home – so you’ll be able to control even when you’re not at home. Thread is more stable than Wi-Fi and puts an end to smart home devices failing to respond.
However, compared to the rest of the market it’s expensive and its all-white design is simplistic, but don’t let that fool you – it’s got plenty of handy features such as the ability to create schedules.
For Alexa and Google Assistant-based smart homes, this smart powerstrip is a worthy choice if you need several smart plugs in one location. While it lacks energy monitoring and HomeKit support, it’s easy to use and even has a handy Away mode that will turn the plug on and off at random time – ideal if a radio or lamp is connected to one of the outlets and you want to to help deter unwanted intruders. There are also two USB ports on the powerstrip – although these aren’t smart.
Like all of the smart plugs in this line-up – the plain all-white design won’t win any prizes for style but it offers almost all of the functions we’d expect, such as being able to set schedules and even create automations where other TP-Link branded products work in tandem alongside the smart plug.
If you’ve using different voice assistants in your home, or you haven’t settled on your final option, the WeMo WiFi smart plug is ideal – as in the US at least it works with Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit. Unfortunately, in the UK, it’s HomeKit only, we’re afraid.
A compact smart plug, that’s simple to use and has most of the features you’d expect, including the ability to set schedules so it turns on or off automatically, as well as engage the Away mode – which randomizes the times at which the smart plug switches on and off – to simulate occupancy. It’s affordable and has a manual power buttons, and LED that illuminates when the plug is switched on.
It’s only lacking when it comes to energy monitoring features, which is why it’s a cheaper alternative to Eve Energy, but those on a budget we think this is a compromise worth making.
If your home is all-things Alexa, then opting for the Amazon-branded smart plug makes perfect sense. It may not be the cheapest smart plug on the market, but it integrates well with Alexa routines – making setting up automation for your home a simple task.
The relatively bulky smart plug connects to the internet over Wi-Fi, so it can still be controlled even when you’re not at home and was extremely simple to set up thanks to a QR code that did the hard work for us.
On test, it proved to be responsive both when controlled by the app or Alexa. There’s no energy monitoring function, neither is there an Away mode to help deter intruders by randomly turning devices on or off. Unsurprisingly, you’re out of luck with this smart plug if you want Google Assistant or HomeKit support too, but it’s still a solid smart home device.
After a smart plug that’s as discreet as possible? You’ll be hard pushed to find a more compact smart home gadget, than the D-Link Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug. Easy to install and simple to use, this smart plug is responsive when controlled from its smartphone app, or Alexa.
As you’d expect, the smart plug lets you set schedules for when it should switch on and off, and integrates with both Alexa and Google Assistant – although there’s no HomeKit support sadly. It also doesn’t offer an energy monitoring feature included, nor an Away mode that can turn the smart plug on and off at random intervals.
That said, it’s affordable and a great buy for anyone starting their smart home journey.
Hive began as a manufacturer of smart thermostats but has grown into one of the biggest names in smart home devices of all kinds, including lights, cameras, locks, and plugs. It’s one of the most affordable ecosystems to get into – cheaper than Philips Hue if you’re interested in trying smart lighting.
The Hive Active plug requires either a Hive Active Heating thermostat or Hive Hub, but once you have that, it’s simple to set up and use. You can create a schedule (with up to six-time slots per day), trigger the plug using the Hive app on your phone, or link it to a Hive switch or sensor.
The Hive Active Plug is also relatively small, making it one of the most discreet (if not stylish) options available.
Smart light switches mean any lights in your home, even those that can’t have the bulbs swapped for smart versions, can be controlled by your smartphone or a voice assistant.
The sleek-looking TP-Link HS200 Smart Wi-Fi Light Switch is a well-designed, easy-to-use switch that gives a satisfying click, just like old-fashioned models, when pressed.
But the similarities with old-school switches end there. This switch taps into an app called Kasa that lets you create different scenes that turn on or off certain lights, or set lights to turn on when your home’s motions sensors detect movement, for example.
The switch also works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, but there’s no HomeKit support. It’s a bulky device and as a result, we found it wasn’t compatible with every switch in our home. So we recommend ensuring that it’ll fit before buying the switch, or at least making sure that the store you buy it from has a pretty good return policy.
Unfortunately, this switch is currently only available in the US.
If you’re looking for a simplistic smart plug, then head to your local IKEA and check out the brand’s TRÅDFRI range of smart home products, which includes this minimal but reliable smart plug on offer.
It features a single socket that can be plugged into a power source and controlled via the IKEA Home Smart app. However, unlike most of the smart plugs on this list that connect directly to your home Wi-Fi network, it requires the Tradfri gateway and a Tradfri ‘steering device’, which makes this less of an im[pusle purchase and more of a considered buy.
Once hooked up, the smart plug can be controlled using the IKEA Home Smart app, or thanks to integration with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri (via HomeKit), your voice. It lacks features such as an Away mode or energy monitoring, but for those that want to keep it simple, it’s a good choice.
How we test smart plugs
To identify the best smart plugs and switches you can buy right now, we evaluate how easy they are to install and control. We assess how responsive they are to being controlled from a smartphone, both when we’re away from home and close by. We also check which voice assistants each model integrates with and whether they integrate with Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri, and how effectively Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri respond to commands related to the smart plug.
We also evaluate each design on how durable it is, and any extra features such as energy monitoring and Away modes that control the plug at random times in a bid to simulate occupancy. We also assess any extra kit such as hubs that’s also available for the smart plugs and consider whether it requires reading a thick instruction manual before use.
What to consider when buying a smart plug or smart switch
With smart plugs, it’s also important to consider the number of outlets a smart plug offers. The majority will have one, but if you have several devices close together than you want to control from your smartphone, a powerstrip, which can have up to four smart outlets in one device, will be a more cost-effective solution.
Also consider if you need the ability to monitor how much energy a device connected to the smart plug is using, and if so, does the smart plug work out the subsequent cost if you enter your energy tariff details, too.
Some smart plugs and smart switches connect to your smartphone using Bluetooth, but that means you’ll only be able to control them if you’re close by. However if you’re the forgetful type that struggles to remember to turn devices off, a model with Wi-Fi built-in or that uses a bridge to connect to the internet and relay instructions from the cloud, will ensure it can be switched on or off even if you’re no longer at the property.
Not all smart plugs and smart switches integrate with all voice assistants, so check if a model is compatible if you already use a voice assistant in your home, and whether it will integrate with other smart home devices you already own such as home security cameras, video doorbells and smart lights.
What are smart plugs and how do they work?
Alternatively, opt for a smart outlet that replaces your existing power outlet. However, you won’t have as many models of this type of smart plug to choose from, and you’ll need to access your home’s wiring to replace these, which will mean calling in a professional. Find out more in our article What is a smart plug, and how it can stop your fear of leaving the coffee maker on?
Do smart plugs save energy?
Smart plugs can save you money, but only if you’re the sort of person that forgets to turn off electrical devices. For example, if you leave your laptop constantly on charge, even when the battery is full it will continue to use energy, or perhaps you regularly forget to turn side lamps, or the radio off when you leave the room? If so, then using a smart plug could be the answer.
Do smart plugs and smart switches work with Alexa (and other voice assistants)
Many smart plugs snd smart switches will work with Amazon Alexa, as well as Google Assistant and Siri so you can use your voice to control the gadgets, either by asking a smart speaker, or smart display, or by using the voice assistant on your smartphone or tablet.
You can also create automation controlling several smart home devices at once with one command, or when a certain situation happens. For example, if your home security camera detects motion, a DAB radio connected to a smart plug could switch on or a smart switch will automatically illuminate the lights, to give the impression there’s someone at home.
It’s worth noting that not all smart plugs and smart switches work with all voice assistants, so if your smart home is well established, make sure you opt for a model that integrates with your current setup.