Best smart plugs: Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit controlled options

Buyers guide: Get dumb tech online with these awesome Wi-Fi connected plugs

The best smart plugs

The aim of a smart plug is a simple one - to make the dumb devices in your house a bit smarter. Smart plugs with Wi-Fi are great for lamps that aren't compatible with any smart bulbs, fans that require you to push a button to turn on, AV kit that doesn't ever power down... and a whole lot more.

They make all your old devices smart so that you don't have to throw any of them in the trash on your quest toward full home automation. Plus, they often let you talk to Alexa and company for even more control.

The best smart plugs offer an array of extras - such as digital assistant integration, energy monitoring, timers and more - but even the most basic ones make your old tech connected and remotely controllable.

The premise is pretty simple - like those timers your mum uses when she goes on holiday, smart plugs simply slot directly into your mains and you then plug your kit into the socket they have built in. Sure, right now it makes your plug sockets look a little bulky but that's a small price to pay for all of the extra control options.

Best smart plugs: Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit controlled options

Smart plugs: Considerations before buying

Most, if not all, smart plugs have Wi-Fi built in so, as long as you've got a smartphone with a signal, you should be able to ping them a message to turn on or off. There's usually a dedicated app for this - or there's a section in a brand's smart home app - to do this.

However, if you want to take things further and add your smart plugs to your home automations - be sure to check whether the one you're considering buying has Alexa / Google Assistant / HomeKit compatibility, or can be controlled using smart home hubs such as Wink, or automation apps such as IFTTT, Yonomi or Stringify.

Because, while the basic function is turning things on/off remotely (or without getting up off of the sofa, at least) smart plugs really come into their own once you start syncing them up with the rest of your connected tech. For example, think of what devices you'd like powered down following a "Goodnight" voice command, or think of what tech you might want killed at the mains if your smart detector detected smoke.

As well as power up or down controls, smart plugs also offer additional extras such as energy use monitoring - with some devices even giving you a monetary value of how much your devices are costing to run.

We've tested the top smart plugs on the market across a range of budgets, with an array of different features. Here are our favourites...


The best smart plug for your automated smart home

Belkin WeMo Mini Smart Plug

$34.99, belkin.com | Amazon

If the larger, and more expensive, Switch isn't doing it for you, Belkin offers a far more affordable option. In fact, the Mini Smart Plug combines a compact design with great compatibility and affordability for a wonderful overall package.

In terms of features, you're not going to get any insight into how much electricity you use or how much money you can save - so forget that. But you will get a solid group of features.

Naturally, you can control your devices from anywhere and schedule when you want to them to turn on and off. There's also Away Mode, which will randomly turn your device on or off so that people think you're home. This is mostly valuable if you're using the Mini Smart Plug with a lamp rather than, say, a blender.

It's also super compact. You won't be taking up much space on your wall outlet, which is great. Finally, Belkin has packed this thing with compatibility; no hubs required. There's Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT and Works with Nest. More recently, it was also updated with HomeKit support via software update. Due to how flakey the WeMo app is, however, downloading that update may take some tries.

the ambient verdict
Belkin WeMo Mini Smart Plug
The Mini Smart Plug is a good overall plug to invest in. While it doesn't have insight into your electricity use, it's compact, affordable and works with all the major smart home ecosystems. No hub required.
PROS
  • Compact
  • Affordable
  • Compatibility
CONS
  • Lack of insight
  • Not many features


Best smart plugs: Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit controlled options

Amazon Smart Plug

$24.99, Amazon

This is the first smart plug actually made by Amazon. The benefit of that becomes apparent the minute you pop it in: the First plug takes all of the hassle out of the setup. As soon as we stuck it into the socket, the Alexa app detected it and - just like that - we were away. We didn't even need to add it manually to our devices, lest do any signing in or other messing about, as your home Wi-Fi is saved in the Alexa app.

You will want to give the plug a name so you tell Alexa to turn on/off the right power socket, but otherwise there's little else to concern yourself with. Just note that Alexa isn't built into the plug, so you'll need an Echo or other Alexa-packing device (even your smartphone will do) to control the First plug.

The plug is also helpfully shaped so as to not block other sockets and there's a button on the left side for manual control should you Wi-Fi ever conk out.

At $25 it's also aggressively priced, joint cheapest with TP-Link on this list. You don't get some features found in other plugs, like energy tracking or timers, but you can add the First plug into your Alexa routines. If you're already running an Alexa home, this feels like a doozy.

the ambient verdict
Amazon First smart plug
Amazon's homegrown smart plug is all about simplicity: a breeze to set up, a breeze to use. It lacks the bells and whistles of other options, but if you're living in an Alexa home and want something that does the basics - on/off commands and the ability to add to routines - it's hard to argue with the First plug.
PROS
  • Super easy setup
  • Manual button
  • The price is right
CONS
  • Lacks features of other plugs
  • Alexa only
  • No insights


The best smart plug for your automated smart home

TP-Link HS110

$24.99, tp-link.com | Amazon

TP-Link has been in the smart plug game for years and, with the HS110, has fully embraced the digital assistant revolution with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility.

The HS110 isn't quite as wide as the Eve Energy, nor as fat as the WeMo Insight but that's not to say it's a slender affair either. You'll have no problems plugging in something else next to it on a double socket, but it does come out the wall a fair bit and is there really any need for such a bright Wi-Fi signal light? Makes it a non runner for people needing a bedroom smart plug who don't like lights in their dark room.

Where it does get things right though is in the very-easy-to-use Kasa app - which also houses any other TP-Link smart home kit you might have. From here you can monitor kWh energy use, as well as runtimes, over daily, weekly or monthly time periods.

Also within the app you'll find options for setting up count-down timers (a great idea for kettles, hair straighteners and the like) and schedules. There's also an Away mode feature where you can set regular recurring days or times where you want things powered on or off.

While the HS110 isn't one of the more expensive options on test you could - if you want to save a bit of money - get the HS100 instead, which has all the features minus the energy consumption monitoring.

the ambient verdict
TP-Link HS110
TP-Link's best smart plug is a fantastic option for people wanting a bit more than remote on/off controls without breaking the bank. As always, the design isn't the best but the Kasa app is easy to use and dual digital assistants on board make it a great option for most smart home setups.
PROS
  • Alexa and Google Assistant on board
  • Easy to use Kasa app
  • Power consumption details
CONS
  • Bulky(ish) design
  • Bright light is annoying
  • No cost monitoring


Best smart plugs

Elgato Eve Energy

$49.95, elgato.com | Amazon

If you're going all in for an Apple Home then the Eve Energy could be the smart plug for you. If you're not homely with HomeKit, forget about it. For, while the Elgato smart plug can be controlled within the Eve app, - it will only work remotely if it's living on a HomeKit platform. It has no Wi-Fi, you see, and so requires to be linked (using Bluetooth) to an Apple HomeKit Hub - whether that be your iPad, Apple TV or HomePod - for all the extra functions.

Once paired with your Apple Home app you'll have no issues controlling it remotely and the Eve Energy is actually one of the most feature packed smart plugs out there. Inside the Eve energy you'll not only find energy consumption data for whatever's plugged into it - along with detailed graphs over scaling time periods - you'll also get cost details and yearly projections for usage too.

On the design front, the Eve is one of the more basic looking smart plugs - that's a good thing though. As usual, the European version is less bulky as the plug insertion is hollowed out. For US, Canada and the UK (plenty of other countries available too) you're essentially dealing with a square box with a little light that shines green when it's on.

It's actually one of the widest smart plugs we've tested and, here in the UK at least, you'll have trouble getting something else plugged in next to an Eve Energy as doesn't leave too much room on a double switch.

It's also the second most expensive plug we've tested - costing $49.95, so consider whether you really need all of the extra data before you buy.

the ambient verdict
Elgato Eve Energy
The Eve Energy isn't the only HomeKit smart plug - but it's by far the best integrated and easy to use if you're jumping feet first into Apple's smart home system. It's also the most detailed smart plug in terms of energy use - but that comes at a premium. If you're looking for simplicity and cross platform integration though, look elsewhere.
PROS
  • Consumption and cost data is rich
  • Simple design
  • Easy setup on HomeKit
CONS
  • Wide design may cause issues
  • HomeKit is essential
  • Pricey


Best smart plugs

Belkin WeMo Insight Switch

$49.99, belkin.com | Amazon

Belkin's WeMo Insight Switch is the most expensive we've tested but it does have the potential to be the heaviest hitter of the lot. Out of the box you'll get Alexa, IFTTT and Works With Nest compatibility and, if you throw a WeMo Bridge into the mix (at $39.99), it'll sync up to Apple HomeKit too.

Like the TP-Link smart plug, it has an oversized power light - although the good news there is that it doesn't light up once a couple of minutes have passed. This light also doubles up as a touch-sensitive power button - nice touch.

The Insight Switch is by far the fattest smart plug on test and, if you want to plug in anything next to it you'll have to do that first so it can wedge in over the top.

The WeMo app, which is feature rich but flakey, offers up an array of stats from power-on timers, to scheduling, to an away mode, to details on power consumption and cost. Using the away / home status from your Nest app, you can also set rules to have things automatically power down.

It's worth noting that Belkin doesn't list one-packs of the Insight any longer, and only sells the two-pack on its site. It's possible that the company may be debuting a replacement soon, or is ushering people toward the Switch Smart Plug. It's also no longer available on Amazon UK.

One unique inclusion on the WeMo Switch is the Micro USB port on the top of the plug. We've no idea what it's for. No-one else has one. Not even Belkin. But it's there.

the ambient verdict
Belkin WeMo Insight Switch
The Belkin has all the bells and whistles - albeit at a slightly more premium price-tag than its rivals. The design is pretty bulky though and the app, while jam-packed full of data, is also a bit of clunky affair.
PROS
  • Great integrations
  • Plenty of consumption data
  • HomeKit compatibility... sort of
CONS
  • Expensive
  • App is a bit rubbish at times
  • Need to pay extra for HomeKit bridge


The best smart plug for your automated smart home

D-Link DSP-W115

£29.99, dlink.com | Amazon

D-Link (just like TP-Link) wants to turn itself from 'boring networking company' into 'hip smart home brand' and, although (again, like TP-Link) it hasn't made its smart plug naming convention more attractive to regular (i.e. non IT help-desk) folk, its new Mydlink platform certainly takes things more mainstream.

Mydlink ties in together all of your D-Link branded kit - security cameras and sensors as well as the smart plugs - into one, easy-to-use, app where you can set schedules, create automations and apply one-touch routines.

The D-Link smart plug itself is pretty basic - it doesn't offer any energy or cost tracking. About the only 'extra' it offers is the ability to turn on or off the LED ring around the rim.

However, it obviously excels within a Mydlink system where you can have it combine with other D-Link kit to automate based on a range of factors. You can have things turned on or off based on your location, for example - such as when you leave the house. Or you could trigger the plug to power up a lamp when a D-Link security camera notices some activity.

However, you're not resigned to just teaming it up with other D-Link devices - there's Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility too, along with all of the delights that IFTTT offers up. Word of warning: This model is no longer available in the US, and is only available in the UK.

the ambient verdict
D-Link DSP-W115
D-Link's latest smart plug adds in a couple of big name smart assistants while at the same time keeping the price-tag down. There's no frills with regards to monitoring use but the updated Mydlink app makes it super simple to team it up with other D-Link connected kit.
PROS
  • Mydlink app is great
  • Price-tag is fair
  • GA and Alexa on board
CONS
  • No energy monitoring
  • HomeKit is missing
  • Design isn't exactly svelte


Best smart plugs

Hive Active Plug

$44, hivehome.com | Amazon

We’re big fans of Hive’s smart home ecosystem, but when it comes to the Hive Active Plug, things don’t fully stack up. Despite being Zigbee powered, you’re still limited to using the Hive Plugs from within the Hive ecosystem, which means using the Hive Hub. That’s not a huge problem, but means that non-Hive users are much less likely to jump in.

The recently revamped design actually gives them an edge over the competition, maintaining a small footprint, with the glowing on/off button adding to an overall look you won’t be ashamed to have on show.

In terms of features things are pretty basic. You can remotely control the Hive Active Plug from within the Hive app, and set up schedules, so you can have lamps and appliances automatically switch on, while you’re away. Hive has its own Actions section of the app, where you can create IFTTT-style recipes, and you can easily set up rules, such as turning on lamps when it gets dark, for example. Environmental factors are a new part of the Hive Actions set-up, and you can add unlimited numbers of devices into these recipes.

Hive plays nicely with Alexa and Google Assistant, and your Hive Active Plugs will sync-up in either smart home set-up. You can use Hive’s plugs as part of your Groups and Scenes, making them versatile additions to your smart home set up.

There are no advanced features found on other smart plugs, such as power consumption tracking, and this is a big miss, especially from an energy company that’s pushing smart meters elsewhere in the business. But the real killer here is the price. At $44 per plug, it’s not the most expensive on test but, when you consider the basic range of features, it’s really hard to fully recommend the Active Plugs, even to existing Hive users.

the ambient verdict
Hive Active Plug
Hive’s plugs are a tad too expensive and light on features However, the scheduling works well and they play nicely with Alexa – but there are plenty of smart plugs out there that offer far more control, for a more wallet-friendly price.
PROS
  • Scheduling
  • Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Well designed
CONS
  • Expensive
  • No consumption tracking
  • Needs Hive Hub


Best smart plugs

Lightwave Smart Power

From £34.99, lightwaverf.com

Lightwave has been helping with home automation for years and, with its newly launched second-generation sockets that went live last year, the British company is now fully on board with Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit, as well as IFTTT.

A different approach to the other contenders in this list, Lightwave's smart plug isn't actually a plug at all - it's a connected that socket that replaces your existing mains points. Coming in either single or double gang options, the new Lightwave RF switches essentially make your dumb sockets smart.

You'll have to fork out £185 for the starter kit, which includes the Link Plus hub and a double gang socket – you can then hook up more doubles (£59.95) to the hub... singles are still only available in the first-gen range, but are coming soon we're told.

The switch comes in white metal or stainless steel or white metal and the Lightwave app syncs up with the Link Plus hub to send over the commands. But the big selling point, as always, is the HomeKit / Alexa / Google Assistant integrations that let you ditch the pretty-basic app and open up a world of scenes, automation and voice controls.

Installing a new power socket is obviously not as easy as plugging in a plug – but there are easy to follow instructions and even the most novice electrician wannabe should be fine. The switch, once paired up to the Hub, works without issues and the app does allow for away from home controls, as well as timers; obviously hit up Home or the Alexa app for more complex functions.

The price-tag is obviously a lot higher than the standalone plus on test but, if you're thinking of going all-in with Lightwave - the company also makes smart light switches, thermostats and radiator valves - then it is a neat solution, that will blend seamlessly into your home.

You're no longer going to find the Lightwave Smart Power on Amazon

the ambient verdict
Lightwave Smart Power
A bit left-field compared to the others in this buyers' guide - and a much bigger attack on your bank balance - but, like with its light switches, the Lightwave option is the most seamless and the most complete solution available.
PROS
  • Blends in seamlessly
  • Syncs up with smart light switches
  • Full set of digital assistants
CONS
  • Very costly
  • Requires wiring
  • Energy use and cost info



TAGGED   smart home

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