The best smart plug or smart switch is one of the most affordable ways to start your smart home journey. They ensure you can control your lights or any appliance connected to the smart plug or smart switch remotely, even when you’re not close by.
A smart plug is the easiest of the two to install - just connect it to an existing power outlet, while a smart switch is slightly more complicated and may require the services of a professional. Whichever of the two you choose, they’re compact and discreet, so they won’t look out of place in your home.
As well as making life easier, the best smart plug or smart switch can also help when it comes to saving energy, and money. If you’re forgetful and often leave the house with the lights or the coffee maker still on, you’ll no longer have to wait until you get home to switch them off, you can use your smartphone instead. Many smart plugs can also track how much energy the appliance connected to it is using, which can be a handy tool when it comes to reducing your energy usage.
A smart plug or smart switch will also integrate with one of the best smart speakers or smart displays, ensuring you don’t even need to reach for your smartphone to control them - just use your voice. They can also be set to work with other smart home devices such as smart lights or smart thermostats so you can automate your property and create a cozy atmosphere with just one command.
There’s a wide array of smart plugs and smart switches on the market, from tech stalwarts such as Amazon and Hive to smaller brands including TP-Link, WeMo, and Eve, which may leave you struggling to decide which is best for you. We’ve put a number of models to the test to find out just which is the best smart plug and switch for 2021.
Best smart plug and switch of 2021
The Eve Energy smart plug is the best you can buy in our eyes, although it has one small flaw - while it’s HomeKit-enabled, it won’t work with Alexa or Google Assistant. Simple to use, it keeps track of the energy consumption of the devices plugged into it - and if you provide specific details from the energy provider - the total cost, too.
The smart plug connects over Bluetooth, or Thread smart home technology - if you have a HomePod Mini or an Apple TV in your home - so you’ll be able to control even when you’re not at home. Thread is more stable than Wi-Fi and puts an end to smart home devices failing to respond.
However, compared to the rest of the market it's expensive and its all-white design is simplistic, but don't let that fool you - it’s got plenty of handy features such as the ability to create schedules.
Read our full review: Eve Energy smart plug
For Alexa and Google Assistant-based smart homes, this smart powerstrip is a worthy choice if you need several smart plugs in one location. While it lacks energy monitoring and HomeKit support, it’s easy to use and even has a handy Away mode that will turn the plug on and off at random time - ideal if a radio or lamp is connected to one of the outlets and you want to to help deter unwanted intruders. There are also two USB ports on the powerstrip - although these aren’t smart.
Like all of the smart plugs in this line-up - the plain all-white design won’t win any prizes for style but it offers almost all of the functions we’d expect, such as being able to set schedules and even create automations where other TP-Link branded products work in tandem alongside the smart plug.
Read our full review: TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip KP303
If you’ve using different voice assistants in your home, or you haven’t settled on your final option, the WeMo WiFi smart plug is ideal - as in the US at least it works with Alexa, Google Assistant and HomeKit. Unfortunately, in the UK, it’s HomeKit only, we’re afraid.
A compact smart plug, that’s simple to use and has most of the features you’d expect, including the ability to set schedules so it turns on or off automatically, as well as engage the Away mode – which randomizes the times at which the smart plug switches on and off – to simulate occupancy. It’s affordable and has a manual power buttons, and LED that illuminates when the plug is switched on.
It’s only lacking when it comes to energy monitoring features, which is why it's a cheaper alternative to Eve Energy, but those on a budget we think this is a compromise worth making.
Read our full review: WeMo WiFi smart plug
If your home is all-things Alexa, then opting for the Amazon-branded smart plug makes perfect sense. It may not be the cheapest smart plug on the market, but it integrates well with Alexa routines - making setting up automations for your home a simple task.
The relatively bulky smart plug connects to the internet over Wi-Fi, so it can still be controlled even when you’re not at home and was extremely simple to set-up thanks to a QR code that did the hard work for us.
On test, it proved to be responsive both when controlled by the app or Alexa. There’s no energy monitoring function, neither is there an Away mode to help deter intruders by randomly turning devices on or off. Unsurprisingly, you're out of luck with this smart plug if you want Google Assistant or HomeKit support too, but it’s still a solid smart home device.
Read our full review: Amazon smart plug
After a smart plug that’s as discreet as possible? You’ll be hard pushed to find a more compact smart home gadget, than the D-Link Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug. Easy to install and simple to use, this smart plug is responsive when controlled from its smartphone app, or Alexa.
As you’d expect, the smart plug lets you set schedules for when it should switch on and off, and integrates with both Alexa and Google Assistant - although there’s no HomeKit support sadly. It also doesn’t offer a energy monitoring feature included, nor an Away mode that can turn the smart plug on and off at random intervals.
That said, it's affordable and a great buy for anyone starting their smart home journey.
Read our full review: D-Link Mini Wi-Fi Smart Plug DSP-W118
Hive began as a manufacturer of smart thermostats, but has grown into one of the biggest names in smart home devices of all kinds, including lights, cameras, locks and plugs. It's one of the most affordable ecosystems to get into - cheaper than Philips Hue, if you're interested in trying smart lighting.
The Hive Active plug requires either a Hive Active Heating thermostat or Hive Hub, but once you have that, it's simple to set up and use. You can create a schedule (with up to six time slots per day), trigger the plug using the Hive app on your phone, or link it to a Hive switch or sensor.
The Hive Active Plug is also relatively small, making it one of the most discreet (if not stylish) options available.
Read our full review: Hive active plug
Smart light switches mean any lights in your home, even those that can't have the bulbs swapped for smart versions, can be controlled by your smartphone or a voice assistant.
The sleek-looking TP-Link HS200 Smart Wi-Fi Light Switch is a well-designed, easy-to-use switch that gives a satisfying click, just like old-fashioned models, when pressed.
But the similarities with old-school switches end there. This switch taps into an app called Kasa that lets you create different scenes that turn on or off certain lights, or set lights to turn on when your home's motions sensors detect movement, for example.
The switch also works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, but there's no HomeKit support. It's a bulky device and as a result, we found it wasn't compatible with every switch in our home. So we recommend ensuring that it’ll fit before buying the switch, or at least making sure that the store you buy it from has a pretty good return policy.
Unfortunately, this switch is currently only available in the US.
Read our full review: TP-Link HS200 Smart Wi-Fi Light Switch
If you're looking for a simplistic smart plug, then head to your local IKEA and check out the brand's TRÅDFRI range of smart home products, which includes this minimal but reliable smart plug on offer.
It features a single socket that can be plugged into a power source and controlled via the IKEA Home Smart app. However, unlike most of the smart plugs on this list that connect directly to your home Wi-Fi network, it requires the Tradfri gateway and a Tradfri ‘steering device’, which makes this less of an im[pusle purchase and more of a considered buy.
Once hooked up, the smart plug can be controlled using the IKEA Home Smart app, or thanks to integration with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri (via HomeKit), your voice. It lacks features such as an Away mode or energy monitoring, but for those that want to keep it simple, it's a good choice.
Read our full review: IKEA Tradfri wireless control outlet
How we test smart plugs
To identify the best smart plugs and switches you can buy right now, we evaluate how easy they are to install and control. We assess how responsive they are to being controlled from a smartphone, both when we’re away from home and close by. We also check which voice assistants each model integrates with and whether they integrate with Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri, and how effectively Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri respond to commands related to the smart plug.
We also evaluate each design on how durable it is, and any extra features such as energy monitoring and Away modes that control the plug at random times in a bid to simulate occupancy. We also assess any extra kit such as hubs that’s also available for the smart plugs and consider whether it requires reading a thick instruction manual before use.
What to consider when buying a smart plug or smart switch
When selecting the best smart plug or smart switch for you, there are a number of aspects that should be considered before plumping for a particular model
Start by thinking about how the smart plug or switch is installed. Most smart plugs simply connect to an existing outlet, however, there are some available that replace your existing outlets, just as smart switches replace the existing wall switches that control your lights. These smart plugs and switches look stylish but they require much more DIY expertise, so you may have to employ a professional.
With smart plugs, it's also important to consider the number of outlets a smart plug offers. The majority will have one, but if you have several devices close together than you want to control from your smartphone, a powerstrip, which can have up to four smart outlets in one device, will be a more cost effective solution.
Also consider if you need the ability to monitor how much energy a device connected to the smart plug is using, and if so, does the smart plug work out the subsequent cost if you enter your energy tariff details, too.
Some smart plugs and smart switches connect to your smartphone using Bluetooth, but that means you’ll only be able to control them if you’re close by. However if you’re the forgetful type that struggles to remember to turn devices off, a model with Wi-Fi built-in or that uses a bridge to connect to the internet and relay instructions from the cloud, will ensure it can be switched on or off even if you’re no longer at the property.
Not all smart plugs and smart switches integrate with all voice assistants, so check if a model is compatible if you already use a voice assistant in your home, and whether it will integrate with other smart home devices you already own such as home security cameras, video doorbells and smart lights.
What is a smart plug good for?
A smart plug is ideal for making any standard appliance smart so it can be controlled from an app on your smartphone. Perhaps you want to be able to brew your coffee without having to get out of bed, or perhaps you’re forgetful and are looking for a way to switch your hair straighteners off after you’ve left the house.
It connects to an existing power outlet and can be used with any appliance that has a standard plug on it - the possibilities are endless. Smart plugs can also be useful for monitoring how much energy an appliance is using. The figure, which is usually in Kwh can be viewed in the companion app. However, some smart plugs also allow you to add the energy cost and work out a monetary value for this energy usage too.
What are smart plugs and how do they work?
Smart plugs allow you to power an electrical socket on or off from your smartphone, even when you’re not at home. Some use Bluetooth to allow you to use an app on your smartphone to control them, while others connect to Wi-Fi and use internet access to relay the command.
Smart plugs come in two styles; the simplest and most common versions plug into an existing power outlet, with the likes of Amazon, Philips Hue, We-Mo, and even IKEA producing this design of smart plug.
Alternatively, opt for a smart outlet that replaces your existing power outlet. However, you won’t have as many models of this type of smart plug to choose from, and you’ll need to access your home’s wiring to replace these, which will mean calling in a professional. Find out more in our article What is a smart plug, and how it can stop your fear of leaving the coffee maker on?
Do smart plugs save energy?
Smart plugs can save you money, but only if you’re the sort of person that forgets to turn off electrical devices. For example, if you leave your laptop constantly on charge, even when the battery is full it will continue to use energy, or perhaps you regularly forget to turn side lamps, or the radio off when you leave the room? If so, then using a smart plug could be the answer.
Do smart plugs and smart switches work with Alexa (and other voice assistants)
Many smart plugs snd smart switches will work with Amazon Alexa, as well as Google Assistant and Siri so you can use your voice to control the gadgets, either by asking a smart speaker, or smart display, or by using the voice assistant on your smartphone or tablet.
You can also create automations controlling several smart home devices at once with one command, or when a certain situation happens. For example, if your home security camera detects motion, a DAB radio connected to a smart plug could switch on or a smart switch will automatically illuminate the lights, to give the impression there’s someone at home.
It’s worth noting that not all smart plugs and smart switches work with all voice assistants, so if your smart home is well established, make sure you opt for a model that integrates with your current setup.
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