The best smart plugs are a quick way to make your home more intelligent, turning any simple appliance into one that connects to your wifi. When you think of the possibilities, it's easy to see how turning plugs on and off could be useful.
Need a cuppa right away? You can get the kettle boiling before you reach the front door. If you're not home, have lamps go on and off to make it look like you are; or you can double-check you definitely switched off your hair straighteners – we've all been there.
Along with smart bulbs, these devices are among the simplest and most affordable ways to make your home more connected, enabling you to control your appliances remotely and set them to a schedule from your phone.
What is a smart plug?
They might look like an ordinary adaptor or extension lead, but they can do so much more, connecting to your wifi and letting you manage your gadgets from an app on your phone. Setup is as straightforward as popping one in a socket, pairing it with your network, and then using it to switch on and off any appliance attached to it. But they aren’t all the same. This roundup explains the key things to look out for and how to pick the one that’s best for you.
How we test smart plugs
We test out smart plugs by setting them up and looking at how quickly they can turn on a range of appliances including lights, fans, hair straighteners and slow cookers. We try out features in the companion app, including setting up schedules and trying out integrations with voice assistants. Here are our top recommendations:
How do smart plugs work?
Companion apps and connectivity: You’ll be able to control your plug and create schedules using a smartphone app from the brand. Some of these are also compatible with a platform called IFTTT, which stands for “if this, then that”. This service can get devices and services from different brands working together. For example, you could set it up so that your wifi security camera could automate a lamp switching on, but only if the camera spots someone outside your house.
Voice assistants and integrations: In addition, you can use voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant to switch plugs on and off. If you prefer to keep everything in one place, you can also create “automations” and schedules within the app for the voice assistant. Not all plugs work with all assistants though, so we’ve covered that in our reviews.
Can smart plugs save energy?
Smart plugs can help you save energy by helping you to switch off appliances that may be consuming electricity while on standby. Set-top boxes, games consoles and older TVs are some of the main culprits. Newer tellys are more energy-efficient, but it still can help to switch a few appliances off overnight to save precious pennies on your energy costs. Models from brands like TP-Link and Eve will offer you energy-monitoring capabilities too, helping you to know how much energy you’re using and what it costs.