The best smart plugs: the slickest ways to make your life easier, save energy and reduce bills

The best smart plugs can turn even the most basic devices into part of your smart home. The future is literally now

WeMo WiFi Smart Plug plugged into white socket against dark navy wall
(Image credit: WeMo)

Automating your home with the best smart plugs might be the easiest and most cost-effective method of modernizing the many ordinary lights, devices, and tools you have around the home, without needing to upgrade absolutely everything to the latest connected model. 

Use smart plugs for peace of mind with things like hair tools and heaters, so you can double-check they've been turned off while you're out of the house, or for lamps that you wish could be synced with the rest of your smart lighting set-up. Different models offer different features, but most allow you to connect with Alexa, Google Assistant, and/or Apple HomeKit, so you can control your devices with your voice.

The best smart speakers will also let you include your smart plugs into existing routines and schedules, so you can have your living room lamp switch on just as the sun is setting and you're wrapping up your workday. 

The best smart plugs in 2022

Philips Hue Smart Plug next to box on light wood surface

(Image credit: Philips)

1. Philips Hue Smart Plug

Best smart plug for lighting

Specifications

Works with: Philips Hue, Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit
Voltage: 120V
Amperage: 15
Dimensions: 2.1 x 1.5 x 2.7in

Reasons to buy

+
Works with all major smart home platforms
+
Can be used via Hue Bridge or Bluetooth

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires Philips Hue Bridge for most features
-
No energy monitoring function

The Philips Hue Smart Plug is, unsurprisingly given the name, designed to supplement an existing smart lighting set-up in your home but can equally be used as a standalone smart plug for lamps, heaters, hair tools, or anything else you want to be more automated.

Note: we tested the Philips Hue Smart Plug in the UK. Features and functionality of the plug are the same across the UK and US models, though they look slightly different.

What we liked

When testing the device using plug-in curtain string lights in our bedroom we found that, despite some decidedly patchy home WiFi, it never failed to turn on and off within the evening and morning routines we can set via Google Assistant. Over the course of several weeks, the Hue smart plug never failed.

It was also easy to both add to the Hue app and our smart assistant platform, giving you options for how you want to control it. Geofencing also worked great, with the plug being able to detect (via the Hue Bridge) when we were home, switching off accordingly to save energy.

What could be better

A Philips Hue Bridge - often included in starter kits with Hue bulbs - will be required for most of the features you'll want to use, such as being able to control it with your voice or turn the power switch on or off while you're not home. Alternatively, if you just want basic functionality, you can use the plug via Bluetooth.

The Hue smart plug, unfortunately, lacks energy monitoring, which is becoming a must-have for smart plugs in households looking to save a few pennies on their unnecessary usage.

Livingetc rating: 4 out of 5 stars

WeMo WiFi Smart Plug against dark grey wall beside plant

(Image credit: WeMo)

2. WeMo WiFi Smart Plug

Best smart plug for home security

Specifications

Works with: Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant
Voltage: 120V
Dimensions: 1.3 x 2in

Reasons to buy

+
Good price
+
Works with all major smart home platforms
+
No subscription or hub required

Reasons to avoid

-
No energy monitoring function

It can be difficult to tell the difference between what smart plugs offer, aside from the price and design of individual devices, but the WeMo WiFi Smart Plug does have one feature that would suit frequent travelers. Away Mode, when activated, will randomly turn your switch on and off to simulate that someone is home - deterring any would-be burglars. 

It works with Google, Alexa, and HomeKit, so it doesn't matter what smart assistant you've chosen for your home, and it's also 45% smaller than the previous WeMo model so won't get in the way of other outlets. At a budget price, it doesn't have energy monitoring, however. 

TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini next to white chest of drawers

(Image credit: TP-Link)
Best smart plug on a budget

Specifications

Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant
Voltage: 120V
Amperage: 15
Dimensions: 2.3 x 1.4 x 1.5in

Reasons to buy

+
Good price
+
Works with Alexa and Google Assistant

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn't work with Apple HomeKit
-
No energy monitoring function

Another budget option, this time from TP-Link, the Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini measures up well against more expensive options. The Kasa app has a few more scheduling options with timers and countdowns available to better automate when your plug powers up and down, and an Away Mode similar to WeMo's that makes it appear that you're home when you may not be. There's also no hub required to get started with the TP-Link Kasa Mini, so it's quite literally 'plug and play'.

Etekcity Voltson Smart Wi-Fi Outlet Plug against dark blue wall

(Image credit: Elekcity)

4. Etekcity Voltson Smart Wi-Fi Outlet Plug

Best smart plug for energy monitoring

Specifications

Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant
Voltage: 120V
Amperage: 10
Dimensions: 2.5 x 4 x 1.2in

Reasons to buy

+
Energy monitoring function
+
Works with Alexa and Google Assistant

Reasons to avoid

-
Won't work with Apple HomeKit

If your main motivation for incorporating smart plugs into your home set-up is to track how much energy you're using and subsequently cut down, then the Etekcity Voltson Smart WiFi Outlet Plug could be the best choice. Using the app you can see where wastage may be happening, making it easier to save money in the long run.

Etekcity plugs will work with Alexa and Google Home, but unfortunately, HomeKit compatibility is absent. The good news is that there is no hub required so there are no hidden costs.

Eve Energy Smart Plug above ordinary socket with twin leads going in

(Image credit: Eve)

5. Eve Energy Smart Plug

Best HomeKit smart plug

Specifications

Works with: Siri, Apple HomeKit
Voltage: 60V
Dimensions: 1.5 x 10.8 x 2.5in

Reasons to buy

+
Energy monitoring function
+
Supports Bluetooth and Thread

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Only works with Siri and Apple products

Apple fans will get on fine with the Eve Energy Smart Plug, but those who don't already have Apple-branded or HomeKit compatible devices might want to go another way. Eve's device only works with Siri voice control, and automation will also need other HomeKit-friendly items. But if this all sounds okay, then it comes recommended. There is energy monitoring functionality for the cost-conscious, helping to limit wastage.

How to choose the best smart plug for your home

Philips Hue Smart Plug at night time next to lit string lights

(Image credit: Philips)

How does a smart plug work?

Smart plugs like the ones in this guide serve as a WiFi-enabled bridge between an ordinary plug-in device and an ordinary wall outlet. While smart outlets require you to do some wiring and DIY and buying smart alternatives to your lamps, heaters, and kitchen appliances can get expensive, smart plugs are a budget-friendly way to modernize your home. 

Setting up smart plugs is also very simple - all you need to do is plug them in, download the relevant app, and pair it with your smartphone. After this, you can incorporate the devices into your smart home set-up via Google Home, Alexa, or HomeKit.

Do smart plugs save energy?

Smart plugs themselves do not save energy, as they really just form a bridge between your device and ordinary outlet. What they can do, however, is make it easier to save on energy wastage, whether that's through an app's monitoring, or via routines and the ability to program your lights, heaters and more to turn off without your intervention. Very useful if you live with someone who always forgets to turn the lights off!

Do smart plugs slow down Wi-Fi?

An ordinary home with a few select smart devices such as plugs, bulbs and speakers shouldn't experience any issues with their WiFi speeds. However, on the flip side, a slow or patchy WiFi connection may interfere with how reliable your smart plug is. 

Can you use a smart plug without Alexa (or Google Home/HomeKit)?

Most smart plugs are completely useable without Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit at home, but you will need a smartphone. Ordinarily, smart plugs can be set up, used, and programmed via the brand's own app, while smart speakers only serve as add-ons if you want to sync your plugs with other smart devices around the home.

Caroline is the smart homes ecommerce editor for Livingetc, covering everything tech for the home, from smart speakers to air purifiers and everything in between. She is passionate about the role that technology and smart devices can play in daily life, enhancing the home without sacrificing personal style and carefully chosen interiors. In her spare time, she can be found tinkering with bulbs, soundbars, and video doorbells in an effort to automate every part of her small home. Previously, she lent her expertise to the likes of Expert Reviews, IT Pro, Coach, The Week, and more.