The best smart plugs in 2024


Is it difficult to turn on a lamp by hand? No, but it is convenient to say a few words and have all your lights turn on (or off). In the year or so that I’ve been testing and using smart plugs in my home, I’ve enjoyed not muddling through the early-evening dark, because my lights come on an hour before sunset. I don’t stumble blindly to the kitchen for midnight water; instead I ask Alexa to snap on a lamp. And when the heat wave we now call summer makes my office an oven, I tell Siri to switch on the fan by the door. For all their convenience, smart plugs can vary widely in compatibility and reliability, so we tested units from the major players out there to come up with recommendations for the best smart plugs for whichever smart home ecosystem you prefer.

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Photo by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

Assistant support: Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, Samsung SmartThings | Energy monitoring: Yes | Matter support: No | Hub required: No

All of the plugs eventually did what they said they would, but each had a quirk or two that gave me pause – except TP-Link’s Kasa EP25. From installation to implementation, it was fuss-free and reliable. It’s also one of the cheaper plugs on our list at just $13 each (but you’ll usually find it in a four-pack). It works well with both iOS and Android and on all four smart home platforms. The Kasa app has a clean, intuitive design and includes the features you’d expect like timers, schedules, a vacation mode and smart actions (aka scenes). TP-Link makes a wide range of other smart devices, so you could expand your smart home without having to leave the Kasa app.

The EP25 is an updated version of the HS103 that adds HomeKit compatibility, so I was able to control it with both an iPhone and an Android phone. If you also live in a blended OS home, I recommend onboarding with the iPhone first. After tapping the + button in the Kasa iOS app, a HomeKit pop-up will prompt you to add the plug using the QR code from the box. (The code’s also printed on the plug, but that’s harder to access.)

Once set up in HomeKit, it was easy to add the plug to the other smart home apps. Google Home and SmartThings just need your TP-Link log-in details and Alexa uses the Kasa “skill.” Once you’ve added one plug, any future TP-Link devices you incorporate should automatically show up in each app. If you’re only using an Android device, the Kasa app will walk you through using a temporary Wi-Fi network to get the plug online.

After setup, I named the plug and assigned it a room (making sure it was the same in each app to avoid confusing myself). Then I programmed various routines and schedules and asked all three voice assistants to turn the light on and off – everything worked without a hitch. In the weeks of testing, the EP25 never had a connection hiccup, even after I relocated it to the basement, which is the farthest point from my router.

My single complaint is that sharing with another user isn’t supported within the Kasa app. You can share your log-in details with the other person, as the app does support access from multiple devices on one account. But Google Home feels like the best way to share smart home device control, whether that’s between iOS and Android devices or when everyone uses the same OS.

Pros

  • Works with all four major smart home platforms
  • Solid, stable connection
  • Affordable
  • Easy setup
Cons

  • Can’t share control within the Kasa app

$36 at Amazon

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Engadget

Assistant support: Alexa | Energy monitoring: No | Matter support: No | Hub required: No

If you have many Amazon Echo devices and use Alexa to answer your questions, control your music and manage your timers, Amazon’s smart plug makes the most sense. Your Echos and Alexa app already have your details, so you won’t have to create an account, enter your Wi-Fi password or switch to a different app, which makes setup mindlessly simple. In addition to naming your plug, you’ll also want to designate it as a light under Type in the settings menu. That way, when you say, “Alexa, turn all the lights off,” it will act accordingly.

I was impressed with the speed of the onboarding process and how seamlessly the plug blended into the ecosystem, adding another IRL appendage to flex. I still get a small thrill when I say, “Alexa, goodnight,” and all goes dark. However, you won’t be able to use the Alexa smart plug with any other smart home app, which is why it’s best for those who’ve already gone all-in on an Amazon home.

The only other drawback, and it’s not a small one, is the Alexa app’s lack of sharing capabilities. You can create households that let other people in your home access your Echo speakers through their phone, but they can’t see your smart home devices. If you’re the only one who needs app access and everyone else in your home is happy to interact via voice commands only, this plug couldn’t be simpler. At $25, it’s not the cheapest smart plug, but like all things Amazon, it goes on sale fairly often.

Pros

  • Dead-simple setup with Alexa
  • Stays reliably connected
Cons

  • Only works with Alexa
  • Can’t share app control

$13 at Amazon

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Photo by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

Assistant support: Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, Samsung SmartThings | Energy monitoring: Yes | Matter support: Yes | Hub required: Only with HomeKit 

Only a handful of Matter-enabled smart plugs are currently available and the Kasa KP125M is the best of what we tried. It works with all four platforms, installs easily and reliably maintains connections. Most Matter devices need to be initialized with a QR code, but this plug also supports Bluetooth onboarding, which saves a step. I set it up through the Kasa app first and because I already had another Kasa plug installed, the process was simplified, automatically prompting me to add the plug with a couple of taps. Adding the device to Alexa, Google Home and Samsung’s SmartThings worked the same way, with each app letting me know I had new devices available to add.

To add the plug to HomeKit, I had to scan the included barcode. The process didn’t work at first and I ended up having to long-press the button on the side to make it enter pairing mode. Unlike some Matter plugs, KP125M doesn’t require a Thread border router. And because it’s also a Wi-Fi plug, you don’t need a Matter controller, such as a smart speaker for access when you’re away from home. That said, many of the negative reviews on Amazon have to do with the plug’s poor HomeKit compatibility. In addition to the setup hitch I mentioned, the connection with the HomeKit app and Siri was extremely spotty until I added Apple’s HomePod mini to the mix as a dedicated hub. After that, the reliability improved.

The KP125M also provides detailed energy monitoring in the Kasa app. From the home screen, tap on a plug to see stats on its energy usage, along with an estimate of how much that energy will cost you on your next electric bill. You can even enter in your per-kilowatt hour pricing to get a more accurate picture. While we wish there were a way to see the energy usage from all connected devices at once, it’s still a useful insight to have on a per-plug level.

It’s important to note that our best overall pick is $7 cheaper and also works with all four platforms. The higher price tag is likely due to the Matter logo on the side. Honestly, I’d call the KP125M plug more of a hybrid Wi-Fi-Bluetooth-Matter plug, which could be why it played nice with every platform. Another Matter plug, the Eve Energy Matter plug, requires you to have a HomePod for HomeKit access, a Nest Hub for Google Home connection and a SmartThings hub to make it work with Samsung’s system. The Matter plug I tried from Meross requires Wi-Fi splitting to properly connect, which is doable, but inconvenient. The promise of Matter is faster and simpler connectivity – needing multiple pieces of additional equipment and workarounds seem to miss that point.

Pros

  • Works with all four major smart home platforms
  • A good starting point for Matter connections
Cons

  • Kasa’s non-Matter plug works just as well
  • HomeKit connectivity is spotty without a HomePod

$24 at Amazon

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Photo by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

Assistant support: Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, Samsung SmartThings | Energy monitoring: No | Matter support: No | Hub required: No

None of the smart plugs we recommend block the second outlet, but the Meross Wi-Fi dual smart plug takes that convenience one step further by combining two outlets into one. This lets you independently control two different devices at once like a combo of a lamp and fan, a humidifier and your coffee maker, or whatever else you’d like to lend some smarts to. It also works with all four major platforms, so it should smoothly integrate with whichever assistant you’re already using.

Setup starts with the Meross app, though if you’re using an iPhone, you’ll see a suggestion to set up with HomeKit first. The plug has a QR code for communicating with Apple’s system, but that didn’t work for me, so I followed the prompts to use a temporary Wi-Fi method and connected successfully. As for Google and Amazon, each of their apps should automatically detect it and cue you to add it once you’ve completed the initial setup in the Meross app. Setup with Samsung involves entering your Meross email and password.

While the Meross app is required for setup, it’s not the most compelling app for programming routines and schedules. You’ll likely get a better experience using whichever of the major smart home platforms you prefer. When I tested moving the plug to a new position in my house, it reconnected instantly. Then I put it in the basement, which sometimes has spotty Wi-Fi, but it had no trouble working as intended. Should you ever want to operate the unit manually, there are two buttons on the front with arrows pointing to the outlet each controls.

My only qualm was the default name Meross assigned to each outlet within the app. I would assume the left plug to be called “Switch 1” and the right “Switch 2,” but it was reversed on my unit. That’s really not an issue as most people would rename the switches to match the plugged-in devices, but it still struck me as odd. Also, getting Siri to understand which switch I was asking to operate was complicated, until I renamed the entire plug and each switch within the Apple Home app. But in my experience, Siri is still working out its smart home assistant kinks, so I don’t blame Meross for this.

The plug is just $17 and, considering its wide compatibility and consistent connectivity, it’s easy to recommend, particularly if the number of outlets in your home isn’t as plentiful as you’d like.

Pros

  • Two independently controlled outlets
  • Affordably priced
  • Works with all four major smart home platforms
Cons

  • HomeKit control can be confusing

$30 at Amazon

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Emporia

Assistant support: Alexa, Google Assistant | Energy monitoring: Yes | Matter support: No | Hub required: No

Emporia’s smart home ecosystem extends to EV chargers, solar equipment and whole-home energy monitors. The company’s smart plugs are small potatoes by comparison, but they pack similar energy supervision to give you a picture of how much power a plugged-in appliance is drawing over time. In the case of an LED lamp, that draw is going to be miniscule — but the device can give you insight into bigger loads such as those from a humidifier or even a small space heater (the plug can handle 1500 watts at 120 volts with a max load of 15 amps). A four-pack goes for around $35, which puts each plug below the cost of many plug-in power meters. So for less money, Emporia’s plug can gather stats and stop idle devices from vampiric energy drains.

Last year, Emporia issued a preemptive recall on its plugs for a potential fire risk. They worked well enough before the recall to earn an honorable mention in an earlier iteration of this guide, but the updated plugs are now faster to connect. A finicky setup prevented us from fully recommending it before but now, that kink has been worked out. In addition to useful monitoring, easy setup and reliable connections to Alexa and the Google Assistant, the plugs’ comprehensive app can also incorporate Emporia’s other equipment, should you ever decide to add those devices to your home’s power grid.

$35 at Amazon

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Photo by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

My main concern with the Cync plug is the way the scheduling works within the proprietary app. Instead of programming when an outlet should turn on, you tell it when it should turn off. Despite my best efforts, I could not figure out how to program the Cync-connected lamp to come on at sunset, as I did with every other plug. Other than that, the app is very elegant, set up is easy and reliability is spot on. It only works with Alexa and Google Home, not HomeKit or SmartThings, but at $15, it’s a couple bucks cheaper than the Wyze plug that has the same compatibility.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Elegant app
  • Reliable performance
Cons

  • Scheduling is finnicky
  • No HomeKit support

$15 at Amazon

Most people will likely use outdoor plugs for two things: patio lighting and holiday string lights. The devices are designed for the outdoors with ingress protection rating of IP64 or higher, which means they’re impervious to dust and can handle splashing water from rain and sprinklers. They have a longer Wi-Fi range than indoor plugs, for obvious reasons, and many have dual outlets, with individual control over each one.

Setup is the same as for indoor plugs: you’ll use your phone to help the plug find your Wi-Fi using its companion app. The only tricky part is getting your phone within Bluetooth range of the plug (which it uses to initialize setup) and in Wi-Fi range at the same time. I had to awkwardly stand at a triangulated point in the middle of my driveway to get things communicating properly. Once set up, the plugs will communicate using your router for voice and app control and your phone needn’t be anywhere near the plug.

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Photo by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

Assistant support: Alexa, Google Assistant | Energy monitoring: Yes | Matter support: No | Hub required: No

Wyze’s indoor version wasn’t one of the top picks for this guide, not because there was anything wrong with it — connection was quick, the app is clean, and the plug works well with both Alexa and the Google Assistant — other plugs simply had other features that made them stand out. But when it comes to an outside version, the Wyze Plug Outdoor wins. For one, it’s cheaper than most at just $18, yet it offers the longer, 300-foot range that more expensive plugs do. Setup was quick using the Wyze app, which has you set up an account and enter your Wi-Fi password. You’ll be prompted to name each of the two outlets (for reference, when looking at top of the device, the one on the left defaults to “Plug 1” the one on the right is “Plug 2”). What you name them in the app will carry over to the Alexa or Google Home app.

After a few months of playing around with smart plugs, I find Alexa (in my case an Echo Dot) to be the most reliable way to control them. But if you want to use the Wyze app instead, you’ll find a clean interface with useful features like a vacation randomizer and usage stats. The scheduling is a little confusing and requires you to select the device from the home page, then tap the settings gear, then Schedules, then turn on Schedule 1, then you can program the times you want. There’s an option to turn it on or off at sunset or sunrise but unfortunately, you can’t set it to trigger, say an hour before sunset like you can with other apps. But again, using a smart home platform from Amazon or Google bypasses those minor inconveniences entirely.

Pros

  • Long connectivity distance
  • Less expensive than other long-range plugs
Cons

  • Scheduling is complicated in proprietary app
  • Doesn’t work with HomeKit or SmartThings

$18 at Amazon

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Photo by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

Assistant support: Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri | Energy monitoring: Yes | Matter support: No | Hub required: HomeKit function is better with a HomePod

For those who rely on Siri to manage their smart home, the TP-Link Kasa EP40A reliably adds outdoor control to your world. The device looks like most smart plugs designed for outside spaces, with two downward-facing receptacles on the body and a short cable leading to a three prong plug. Unlike others, the plug head exits the cable at a right angle, so the unit hangs flat against the wall. That keeps things neater, but can get in the way of other items that might need access to the outlet.

Setup is the same as with indoor Kasa plugs: download the app, create an account and add the device. You won’t be asked to scan a QR code to connect with Alexa or Google Home — just go to the respective app and the device should pop up after it’s set up with Kasa. For Homekit, you’ll need to scan the code, which is printed on a postage stamp-sized sticker in the box, and also on the back of the plug itself. It took a few attempts to get connected to HomeKit, but nearly every time I initialize a smart home device with Apple’s ecosystem I hit a similar snag, so I don’t blame the plug.

Once connected, I was able to ask Siri to turn on the holiday lights. (I even asked the Google Assistant to shut them off and Alexa to light them up again and assistant switching was glitch-free.) HomeKit maintained the connection and responses were quick. When I moved the plug from the garage to the side of the house, Siri found it quickly and no re-install was necessary. If you want to use the Kasa app instead, you’ll find user-friendly controls and a straightforward scheduling feature, though, if you’re not planning on using the plug with HomeKit, I’d recommend saving the $12 and going with Wyze’s option.

Pros

  • Works with all four major smart home platforms
Cons

  • More expensive than the Wyze plug

$22 at Amazon

Before you buy one, it helps to know how a smart plug works best. They are designed for things that have an on/off switch, making them great for turning lamps into smart lights. If you want a plug-in fan to move some air around before you get home, a smart plug can help. You can load a basic coffee maker with grounds and water the night before and wake up to a fresh pot in the morning. And instead of an air purifier running all day, you could set it to just run when you’re away. But gadgets that needs to be programmed further, or requires a stand-by mode, isn’t ideal. If you want to control built-in lights, you’ll need smart switches, which are more involved than smart plugs as they can involve installation.

Some smart plugs can even monitor how much energy they use and display those figures within their companion app. That might not be much use on its own, as lamps with LED bulbs consume very little energy, but it could help you keep tabs on your overall energy consumption.

Adding a smart plug to your home is relatively simple. You’ll use the manufacturer’s app to initially connect, after which you can add the plug to a compatible smart home ecosystem so you can use voice control and other features. Both the brand’s app and your smart home app will let you name the plug, set schedules and program “routines” which provide automation for multiple smart devices at once. But as you can guess, a manufacturer’s app only lets you control products from that brand. If you want whole-home automation, operating, say, a plug from TP-Link’s Kasa, a bulb from GE’s Cync and a camera from Arlo without switching apps, you’ll need to use a smart home platform, which means you’ll need to consider compatibility.

Smart home devices connect through wireless protocols, often using more than one to communicate with your phone, smart speaker, router and in some cases, one another. The majority of smart plugs use Wi-Fi, but some have recently incorporated Matter, a relatively new wireless standard intended to solve integration issues between different brands and manufacturers, while also improving security and reliability.

More of these smart plugs are coming to market and, for now, most Matter devices work via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a low-power mesh network called Thread. Matter requires a controller that stays at home, like a hub or smart speaker, to manage things when you’re out and about.

As for Bluetooth, most plugs, including all Matter plugs, use the short-range protocol to get the device set up for the first time. Some can continue to run on Bluetooth in the absence of another option, but the connection isn’t as reliable and you won’t be able to control the plug when you’re away from home, or perhaps even just on the other side of the apartment.

Because Matter is relatively new, it may be easier to consider the manufacturer’s system you’d use the most. There are four major “branded” smart home platforms: Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, Apple’s HomeKit and Samsung’s SmartThings. The first two work with the widest range of brands and are compatible with both iOS and Android devices. HomeKit not only limits app access to Apple devices, but it’s also compatible with fewer plugs. You can also turn to open-source software like Home Assistant or go with the larger functionality of IFTTT if you want to, say, have your lights turn off when your Uber arrives. For the purposes of our testing, we stuck with the four big players. Nearly every plug we looked at clearly stated which platforms it works with, both on the packaging and retail product pages.

Of course, there’s no rule that says you have to stick with one home assistant. You might have an Echo Dot in the basement, a HomePod in the living room and a Google Nest Mini in the kitchen, each controlling any compatible devices. My kid has a great time telling Alexa to turn on a light then asking the Google Assistant to turn it back off.

Five smart plugs from TP-Link, Amazon, Emporia and GE are stacked on a yellow, orange and brown tiled surface.

Photo by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

All of our top picks recommended here don’t require a hub and connect directly to your home’s Wi-Fi router. That means if you already have wireless internet and a smartphone or tablet, you can quite literally plug and play. The exception is Apple’s HomeKit. If you want to pair up a compatible plug with that platform, you’ll need a HomePod speaker, Apple TV or an iPad that stays in your home to enable remote control when you’re away.

Some smart plugs require a hub regardless of which platform you use. For our guide, we focused on the simplicity (and lower cost) of options that work on their own, but hub-dependent devices may make sense in certain situations. Some companies, like Aqara for example, make a vast range of smart home products, adding automatic shades, window sensors, smart locks and air quality monitors to the more traditional cameras and plugs. If you’re going all-in on one brand and plan to get a plethora of connected devices, a hub can keep your Wi-Fi network from getting too crowded and provide a more seamless setup with reliable connectivity.

Once a plug is set up with your platform and voice assistant of choice, anyone can control the plug just by talking. If someone else wants to control things with their phone, things get more complicated. Google makes it easiest, allowing you to invite another person just by tapping the + button within the Home app. Whomever you invite will have full access to your connected devices – including cameras – so this is only for people you trust the most.

HomeKit makes it similarly easy to grant app access to someone else, but as with most things Apple, it only works for other iOS users. Amazon only allows you to share access to your Echo, not your connected home devices.

Many smart plug manufacturers allow you to share control through their app by inviting another person via email. But this only grants access to devices of that brand. Hopefully as Matter expands, multi-admin features will become more widespread.

Most people will wirelessly connect their smart plugs to their home’s Wi-Fi router. Matter, Z-Wave, Thread and other smart home protocols can work over local networks, but for most setups, the signals telling your plugs what to do will be dispatched through your router. If you happen to get a new one (like I did when it became clear my very basic gateway could not handle the number of smart home devices being tested) you’ll need to take a few steps to get everything reconnected.

Depending on the brand, the steps may simply involve using the plug’s companion app to update your credentials (network name and password). Or it will require deleting the device in the companion app, doing a factory reset (typically by pressing the onboard button for 10 seconds) and setting up the plug like it’s brand new. GE Sync and Emporia plugs allow for a credentials update via their apps, others, like TP-Link Kasa and Meross plugs require deletion and a factory reset to get along with your new network. Amazon’s smart plug updates automatically after updating the associated Echo device.

Before we decided which smart plugs to test, we considered brands Engadget staffers have had the best experiences with, both in review capacity and personally. We also checked out other online reviews. We then looked at factors like price, compatibility and relative popularity. I got ahold of ten indoor smart plugs and four outdoor versions from eight manufacturers.

I set up each one using its companion app, then added it to all compatible smart home platforms. Plugging in a cadre of lamps and string lights, I tested the plugs using an iPhone 11, Galaxy S10e, Echo Dot, HomePod mini and Nest Mini. I accessed the plugs via the apps and through voice commands and controlled them in my home and away from it. I programmed schedules and routines and moved the plugs to different outlets, including ones in the basement to gauge range. For the outdoor devices, I plugged them into an outlet in the garage (approximately 85 feet from my Wi-Fi router) and an outlet attached to the back of the house.

Here’s every smart plug tested before settling on our top picks:

*Emporia issued a recall on its smart plugs purchased before August 1, 2023 due to a potential fire risk, though no incidents were reported. The plugs have since been updated to resolve the issue and are back on sale. We’ll be testing the revised version for an upcoming update to this guide.

I wasn’t able to test the Meross Matter plug fully. It requires Wi-Fi splitting, a process that’s certainly possible for the average consumer, but more involved than it should be, considering the more than dozen other plugs I’ve tested don’t require such a step. The plug itself also blocked the other outlet. Meross has an updated version of the Matter device on the way, one that looks to solve both issues and we’ll update this guide accordingly once we’ve had a chance to test it.

Roku’s smart home gear is basically Wyze equipment with an app and packaging that are more purple. The Roku smart plug performed just fine with both compatible voice assistants (Alexa and Google Assistant). The companion app doesn’t offer scheduling that revolves around the timing of the sunset in your area, but the plugs go for less than $10 each and if you’ve got a Roku TV or streaming device set up and want to keep everything on-brand, it could be a fit.

The Aqara plug requires an Aqara hub. In tests, the connectivity was solid and the companion app allowed for useful if/then automations that can rope in other Aqara devices like locks, window shades, cameras and more. The plug also worked well with voice assistants from Amazon, Google and Apple. As a stand-alone plug, however, it’s tough to recommend the nearly $100 combo to anyone who isn’t planning to get a complete Aqara smart home setup.



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