Best Smart Plugs and Outlets for 2020

Upgrading your house with the best smart plugs can be very convenient.

If you’re not familiar with smart plugs, they’re basically devices that allow you to control any electronics that might be plugged into them remotely.

What this means is that you can access all sorts of appliances, even when you’re not home. Whether you want to double-check that everything’s turned off when you’re away, or you just want to make your own custom setup, you can’t go wrong with smart plugs.

Now, if you’re aiming for the ultimate smart home experience, then you can mix and match different home automation systems such as Alexa or Google Home, which synergize extremely well with smart plugs.

This article will help you find the best smart plugs for your home and will save you a lot of time. We’ve included our top three picks for the best smart plugs for 2020, as well as a detailed buying guide that includes everything you need to know to pick the right product.

Without further ado, here are the best smart plugs you can get today.

The Best Smart Plugs and Outlets for 2020 – Our Picks

1.     WeMo Mini – The Overall Best Smart Plug

The WeMo Mini is easily among the best smart plugs you can get in 2020. It is compact and extremely reliable. All you have to do to get it up and going is to plug it in and download the app. The best part is that it only takes up one socket, meaning that you won’t have to worry about space. The app will allow you to access programmable schedules and remotely configure and control any plugged devices.

The WeMo Mini also works well with most home hubs. For example, you can use voice commands such as Siri, Google, or Alexa to control devices. Another great feature in the WeMo Mini is the Away Mode. This mode can be used to make it look like someone is home by randomly turning lights on and off.

Pros

  • Compact
  • User-friendly
  • Programmable schedules
  • Compatible with many platforms
  • Away Mode

Cons

  • Pricier than average
  • No energy monitoring
  • No web browser control

2.     TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug – Most Customizable

When it comes to networking products, TP-Link is an established brand that you can trust. Their Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug only goes to show how solid their products are. While it requires more outlet space than its mini counterpart, it has even more features packed into it. It has a lot of easy-to-use programming options that allow you to customize and control devices to your heart’s content. Additionally, the Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug features an Away Mode to make it look like someone’s home.

With that said, the biggest strengths of this smart plug are the detailed energy consumption information that it can provide. This can be extremely helpful if you want to optimize energy usage in your home.

The Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug is also compatible with voice commands via Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant. Unfortunately, it’s not compatible with Apple’s Siri.

Simply put, if customization and flexibility are what you’re after, then the TP-Link Kasa is one of the best smart plugs you can get today.

Pros

  • Highly customizable
  • Affordable
  • Energy consumption monitoring

Cons

  • Takes up an entire outlet
  • No Apple compatibility

3.     GE Enbrighten Smart Outlet – The Overall Best Smart Outlet

If you’re looking for a great smart outlet rather than a smart plug, then the GE Enbrighten Smart Outlet is the one to get. Even though it has to be hardwired, which might take some time, the end result is an outlet that perfectly blends in with your home. At first glance, it looks like any other standard wall outlet. However, looks can be deceiving as you’ll be able to control devices from a distance effortlessly.

One thing we have to note is that, unlike the other two options we mentioned so far, the GE Enbrighten requires a Z-Wave certified gateway. As such, it is compatible with Z-Wave home hubs such as Wink and SmartThings. However, it won’t be compatible with other home hubs such as Zigbee. There’s also the fact that there are no energy monitoring features or an Away Mode.

Pros

  • Blends in very well with any home
  • Event scheduling and scene creation
  • Compatible with Z-Wave hubs

Cons

  • Pricier than average
  • Hardwired setup
  • No energy consumption monitoring

Choosing the Best Smart Plugs – Buying Guide

If you’re looking for the best smart plugs for your house, you might be surprised by the number of choices you’ll be faced with. There are plenty of different styles, features and compatibilities to take into account. Worry not, as we’ve got you covered in our buying guide.

Here’s what you need to look out for when you’re looking for the best smart plugs:

Indoor or Outdoor

The majority of smart plugs you’ll come across can only be used indoors; you can immediately tell whether or not the plugs you’re getting are weatherproof or not by their color. If they are white, they’re not, if they’re black then they are and as such you can use them outdoor.

Hub requirements

If you want to control the switch via a home hub such as Wink or SmartThings, you can find smart plugs that are compatible with any third-party hub. If you’re bothered by having to spend a bit more money for convenience, then having a home hub is definitely worth considering.

Wireless Standards

Smart plugs can only support one of the various wireless technologies. There are ZigBee, Z-Wave, and Wi-Fi plugs. Wi-Fi plugs generally don’t require a hub since your router will be filling that role. With that said, there are hybrid smart plugs such as Insteon and Caséta products that combine powerline and wireless home networking.

HomeKit Support

If you’re looking for a smart plug that is compatible with Apple’s HomeKit devices, then you’ll need to look for smart plugs that offer that feature. Not all smart plugs will have that compatibility, so you’ll need to make sure it’s stated on the product’s packaging and website.

Voice Assistant Compatibility

Most smart plugs work with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. With that said, support for Apple Siri is not as common. If you happen to own Apple products and want to be able to control them remotely, then you might need to look a bit more, but it will be well worth the effort.

Power Limitations

One of the things that you need to keep in mind is that the majority of smart plugs you’ll come across can only handle a few hundred watts. This means that you can’t plug anything into them. However, a few hundred watts should be more than enough for most of the devices that you can to control remotely.

With that said, we recommend you always check the maximum wattage of the smart plug you’re using and make sure you’re not plugging anything with a higher wattage than the indicated rating on the plug.

Number of Plugs

Depending on your situation, you might need a smart plug that replaces two plugs. You can find designs that offer two plugs with only one of them being smart. Whichever design you choose to go with, just keep in mind that most smart plugs will cover up to two plugs. This means that, in most cases, you’ll be lowering the number of power outlets you had.

That said, smart power strips are gaining a presence on the market. These devices offer multiple smart plugs that can be individually controlled.

Grounded or Not

In order to prevent people from plugging in heavy devices to the outlet, some smart plug manufacturers make their best smart plugs with only two-prong, ungrounded power. However, there are three-prong, fully grounded power alternatives.

Energy Monitoring Features

If you want to optimize power consumption in your house, there are smart plugs that offer energy monitoring features. These plugs will indicate how much power is being used by the device and can save you a lot of money in the long term. If you have money for a smart plug with such features, you won’t regret buying one since it’ll probably pay for itself in the long term.

Integrated Dimming

If you have a lamp plugging in, you can make it into a dimmable lamp if there’s an onboard dimmer in the switch. You can control the dimming via the buttons on the switch as well as via the app.

Picking the Best Smart Plugs – Frequently Asked Questions

What does a smart plug do?

Smart plugs are very useful to have around. First and foremost, they allow you to control your devices via your phone remotely. Additionally, you can set up schedules and even create scenes if you want to automate your home in some form or another.

We mentioned scene creation. Scenes can be used to program multiple devices to work in tandem with each other. You can make certain triggers for these scenes such as temperature, humidity as well as time.

Some of the best smart plugs also include an Away Mode, which you can use when you’re not home. This mode makes it look like there’s someone in the house by randomly turning lights on and off. The amount of customizability will vary depending on which smart plug you’re using.

With that said, smart plugs have numerous other hidden benefits. For instance, some smart plugs feature energy monitoring. This is extremely useful as it can help you track how much power is being used and can even be used to optimize power consumption around the house. What this means is that some smart plugs can even pay for their own price if you know how to make full use of this feature. This is why it’s an option worth considering.

As for other factors, there’s the app design and set up process which is worth taking into account. When it comes to the setup process, it is rather simple across the majority of smart plugs. All you have to do is to plug them in and connect them to the phone app, speaking of which, the app quality can be a huge factor when it comes to which plug to buy. You need to take into account the features that the app provides, as well as how easy it is to use.

What’s the difference between a smart outlet and a smart plug?

While smart plugs and smart outlets serve the same purpose, they are not the same thing.

On the one hand, smart plugs are devices that are designed to be plugged into a power outlet and then used.

On the other hand, smart outlets need to be hardwired into the wall and are meant to replace a traditional outlet permanently. Each one of these options has its own pros and cons.

To put it simply, if you’re looking for something that’s easy to set up and move around, then you might be better off with a smart plug. If you want something that seamlessly blends in with the house, then you might want to get a smart outlet instead.

Do I need a home hub to use a smart plug or outlet?

For most smart plugs, the answer is no. However, there are smart plugs that require a home hub or a bridge. With that said, if you want to be able to use voice commands through Google Assistant, Apple Siri, or Amazon Alexa, then you’ll need a bridge or a home hub.

What’s the difference between a smart bridge, a smart hub, and a smart gateway?

Smart hubs and bridges serve the same function and are often used interchangeably. Smart bridges tend to be smaller and are directly connected to the router. Smart hubs connect to the network wirelessly. As for the smart gateway, it’s a device that bridges the gap between your connection (be it DSL, cable, or fiber) and your home network. You can think of smart gateways as a modem-router combination.

Can I create my own smart plug system to control the lights remotely?

If you’re highly proficient and happen to own a Raspberry Pi, you can design your own smart plugs. With that said, it’s very difficult. If you’re looking for a challenge, then go for it, but if you want a functional product with numerous features, then you’d be better off buying a smart plug

Final Thoughts

Owning a smart home is a dream of many, but most people think that doing so requires tremendous amounts of cash and a brand-new building altogether. Well, that’s not true, as you can make your current property smart one step at a time, and it’s pretty easy to begin with getting the best smart plugs available today.