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Best smart plug: control your appliances while you're out

Best smart plug: control your appliances while you're out

Searching for the best smart plug? Smart thinking. An ingenious gadget for your house, the smart plug allows you to schedule the length of time an appliance in your home runs for, saving you money and the planet energy. In short, it comes in pretty handy.

Let's face it, we often leave our phones and laptops on charge for far longer than necessary. Likewise, printers and scanners can spend months left on standby, clocking up a hefty electric bill. Plus, there's nothing worse than realizing your curlers have been on all day – eek! But with a smart plug, these nightmares are no more. You can set a time to switch off in advance or perhaps at your leisure from a smartphone.

The Belkin WeMo Insight Switch is the best all-around smart plug. While it's not the most affordable option available, it's more than worth the investment if you're serious about having a smart plug that does everything you'd expect it to, and more.

The main draw of a smart plug for many is the ability to control electronic devices from afar. So, whether you're keen to maintain some control over the kids' TV watching schedule – even when you're not there – or want to put your mind at ease, safe in the knowledge that you did turn off the iron, this model from Belkin covers the basics.

A step up from simply being able to control your appliances from afar, the WeMo Insight Switch allows you to set schedules. Perfect for helping reduce your energy usage – you can schedule all non-essential electronics to turn off when you leave the house, and turn back on when you return – schedules can also be used to enhance your home security by using smart plugs on lamps, giving the appearance that someone's home, even when they're not.

Plus, for the more tech-savvy among us, there's the option to connect the WeMo to an external automation tool, such as IFTTT (If This Then That) which allows for more complex commands.

While, admittedly, you're not going to single-handedly save the planet by switching your appliances off at the socket when you're not using them, there is something to be said for being more conscious of your energy usage. With this in mind, the WeMo Insight Switch can help users identify where they're wasting the most energy and make changes, accordingly.

Compatible with Amazon, Apple, and Google, the WeMo Smart Plug should slip, seamlessly, into a wider smart home system.

2. Hive Active Smart Plug

Best affordable smart plug

Best for: All round smart plugConnectivity: 802.11n W-Fi (2.4GHz)Zoning: YesScheduling: YesCompatible with: Amazon Echo, Google Assistant and IFTTT
Reasons to buy
+Option to zone or schedule smart plugs+Easily connects to a wider Hive smart home system+Compatible with a variety of smart systems
Reasons to avoid
-Slightly more expensive option

The only-just-second-best smart plug you can buy, there are a lot of reasons why we rate the Hive Active Smart Plug so highly.

Best smart plug: control your appliances while you're out

Whether you want the option to turn off lights, fans, electric heaters, and more without having to get out of bed; or want to be able to check – wherever you are – that you did in fact turn off your hair straighteners, iron, or whatever else, the ability to control a smart plug from your smartphone is a super handy feature. Thanks to the ease of the Hive system, this is easier than you might imagine.

Perfect for those looking for easy ways to increase their home security, the Hive Smart Active Plug allows users to schedule up to six separate time slots, daily, making it easier than ever to give burglars the impression that someone's home (even if they're not). Or, perhaps you want the slow cooker to turn on (or off) while you're at work, so dinner's ready when you get home? Or the coffee machine to make a brew just as your alarm goes off in the morning? Scheduling sorts it.

Forming part of the wider – and equally recommended – Hive Smart Home System, makes opting for a smart plug from Hive the easiest option if you're looking to build your home set-up and want the guaranteed ease of committing to one, specific brand where quality and functionality is guaranteed. While this isn't essential – most smart product brands are inter-connectable – we understand the desire of many to minimize hassle through brand loyalty.

3. mydlink Wi‑Fi Smart Plug DSP‑W115

Best smart plug for zoning

Best for: Creating zonesConnectivity: 802.11n W-Fi (2.4GHz)Zoning: YesScheduling: YesCompatible with: Amazon Echo, Google Assistant and IFTTT
Reasons to buy
+Create zones and set schedules with ease+Compatible with a variety of smart assistants
Reasons to avoid
-D-Link don't have the largest range of smart home devices

Comparable, in many ways, to our top model, the mydlink Wi‑Fi Smart Plug DSP‑W115, does everything you'd expect a smart plug to do, and it does it well. The only thing preventing it from taking the top spot? D-Link doesn't have a particularly wide smart home range (yet), so if you're looking to build a wider smart home system you'll have to be prepared to control separate items from separate apps. Not the biggest problem in the world, but something worth considering if you're looking for efficiency.

That said, there are a lot of benefits to be enjoyed from investing in this model.

As is standard with most smart plugs, it's easy to turn your plug on and off, from wherever you are, thanks to smart connectivity. In addition to being able to turn lights and other electronic devices on and off without having to get out of bed/get off the sofa; it's also a practical solution if your sockets are in hard-to-reach places. Think: stuck down behind the sofa or under a sideboard.

An essential for those looking to switch – whether gradually, or in one go – to a full set of smart plugs, the option to create zones with your smart plugs is perfect for those prioritizing energy reduction. Simply turn your plugs off, in one fell swoop and you're doing your bit for the environment.

4. TP-Link WiFi Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring

Best smart plug for energy efficiency

Best for: Monitoring energy useConnectivity: 802.11n W-Fi (2.4GHz)Zoning: NoScheduling: YesCompatible with: Amazon Echo, Google Assistant
Reasons to buy
+Monitor energy use+Set schedules with ease+Pre-set timers thanks to Away Mode
Reasons to avoid
-TP-Link don't have the largest range of smart home products

Interested in using smart plugs to monitor your energy usage? The TP-Link WiFi Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring could be the option for you.

Providing weekly and monthly feedback, as well as real-time stats, this model is perfect for those looking to keep track of their energy usage. They say knowledge is power and once you know exactly how much energy each of your devices is using, it'll make it all the easier to look for ways to reduce it. Good for the planet and good for your pocket, this feature is a real winner.

Providing peace of mind for those who *sometimes* forget to turn off their appliances, this option from TP-Link comes complete with a countdown timer feature, which switches off running household appliances, automatically, if you have set a time limit prior to use.

5. Amazon Smart Plug

Best smart plug for Alexa users

Best for: Alexa usersConnectivity: 802.11n W-Fi (2.4GHz)Zoning: NoScheduling: YesCompatible with: Amazon Echo
Reasons to buy
+Designed specifically for compatibility with Alexa products+Schedule with ease+Affordable
Reasons to avoid
-Only compatible with Alexa

If you're an Alexa user who's on a budget, the Amazon Smart Plug could be just what you've been looking for. While it may not come with all the bells and whistles of its competitors, this is a handy piece of kit that's perfect for those just beginning to break out into the world of smart home tech.

Perfect for those already operating on the Amazon Alexa system, it's super simple to control your smart plugs via the Alexa app. Unlike other systems, there's no need for any extra apps to clutter up your phone.

On top of this, the fact that this smart plug model was designed, in-house, by Amazon, means it's unlikely that you'll be met with any difficulties when connecting to your wider Amazon smart home system.

Much like many of the other smart plugs mentioned in this buying guide, it's super easy to schedule when your smart plugs turn devices on and off. That's your home security and hard-to-reach plug socket dilemmas solved.

6. Drayton Wiser Smart Plug

Best smart plug for a Drayton Wiser system

Best for: Drayton Wiser usersConnectivity: 802.11n W-Fi (2.4GHz)Zoning: YesScheduling: YesCompatible with: Amazon Echo
Reasons to buy
+Connects to the wider Drayton Wiser smart home system with ease+Schedule up to eight time slots per day+Can expand the range for other Drayton Wiser products
Reasons to avoid
-Requires the Wiser Heat Hub