What to Know About Smart Plugs

Smart plugs can take an ordinary (dumb!) appliance or device and make it smart in minutes, no tech knowledge needed.

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Smart plugs are one of the best ways to automate your home quickly, with little to no tech knowledge. They are super simple to use and can transform just about any appliance or light into a smart device. Here’s how they work and some things you need to know.

What Are Smart Plugs?

Smart plugs are small box-like devices that plug into a wall outlet. If you plug a traditional or “dumb” item like a lamp into the smart plug, then download the smart plug’s app, you can control that item on your smartphone. Easy.

What Type of Things Can You Do With a Smart Plug?

Smart plugs typically allow you to turn something on or off, through the app or with voice commands via Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant. Many also let you schedule on and off times. Some smart plugs, like the ConnectSense CS-SO-2 Smart Outlet ($60) or the TP Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug with Energy Monitoring ($24), also monitor a item’s energy usage, which is great if you’re trying to determine the electricity vampires in your collection of appliances and gadgets. A few smart plugs, like the Lutron Caseta Dimmer Plug ($45), even dim your lights remotely. Here are the best smart plugs we’ve identified for 2020.

What is the Best Wi-Fi Smart Plug?

The Wemo Mini Smart Plug ($30) is one of the best smart plugs on the market. It’s easy to use, small enough to allow access to your second outlet, and the app is wonderfully non-glitchy. It’s compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit and IFTTT.

What are Some Devices You Can Use With a Smart Plug?

Now that you know what a smart plug is and what it can do, here are some lights and appliances you may want to automate:

  • Bedside lamp;

  • Christmas lights;

  • Coffee maker;

  • Stove;

  • Curling iron or straightener (never wonder if you left it on, just turn it off with your phone);

  • Swimming pool pump.

Alina Bradford
Alina Bradford is a technology and internet safety and security expert for SafeWise.com and has contributed her insights to dozens of national publications, both in print and online. Her goal is to make gadgets less mystifying, one article at a time.