The best smart outlets I’ve tried

From in-wall plugs to energy-monitoring power strips.

If you buy just one thing to make your home a little smarter, make it an outlet. Smart plugs can turn almost any modern electronic into a smart device, and most can be controlled using your existing voice assistants. Some even monitor your energy usage. Think about it this way: You can buy one plug and use it as a multipurpose smart adapter. There are lot of smart outlets on the market, but here are my favorites.

Great for remote temperature regulation. Amazon

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With the WeMo Mini Smart Plug, you can control your A/C—or heater when it is cold—from anywhere. If the temperature spikes and you want to keep your poor pup a little cooler at home, use the smart plug to turn on the air conditioner. The plug connects via Wi-Fi and can be controlled from an app on your smartphone. Schedule devices in your home to turn on automatically. The plug works with Amazon’s Alexa and can pair with the Nest Thermostat as well.

Control from your phone. Amazon

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This 15-amp outlet is a genuinely cheap option that you can control via Amazon’s Alexa and/or Google Assistant. You can schedule when devices turn on and monitor your energy uses in the app.

Fits in with the rest. Amazon

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For a permanent smart home option, this in-wall, WiFi smart outlet is worthwhile. It’s a bit more expensive and requires installation, but it’s also way less of an eyesore since it blends in with every other outlet in your house. Only the bottom outlet is smart, so you can only measure the energy use of and set schedules for products sent plugged in there. It requires no external hub and works with both Alexa and Google Assistant.

Control each device separately. Amazon

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This power strip by TP-Link features six outlets and three USB ports. Unlike most smart power options, you can control each of the outlets separately. Instead of turning the entire power strip on, you can just turn on a lamp or your A/C. It’s also got an energy monitoring function. The strip can be controlled via the app or with voice assistants. So if you want to turn off a light after you’ve snuggled into bed, you can just say “Alexa, turn on outlet one.”

This one has an away mode. Amazon

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With the Wemo Insight smart plug you can monitor your energy usage from your phone or via Apple Homekit, Google Assistant, or Alexa. It also features an “Away Mode” that can turn lights on and off while you are traveling. You can also set timers and schedules via the smartphone app.

Billy Cadden

Billy CaddenBilly Cadden is the Director of Commerce for the Camden Media tech group. He was part of NYC indie rock band The Postelles, and currently releases solo music under his name. His latest work is available on all streaming platforms. Contact the author here.