A smart plug is one of the most versatile additions you can make to the home, effectively turning a traditional electrical outlet into a smart home system.
Our tests of 10 new smart plugs from popular brands such as Amazon, TP-Link, Hive and Philips Hue have found Best Buys costing less than £10, but also mediocre models for twice that much.
Browse all our smart plug reviews to see which impressed us the most.
Why would you need a smart plug?
A smart plug allows you to control whatever is plugged into it via an app on a phone or tablet, or via a voice-based digital assistant such as Amazon Alexa, provided it’s compatible. Consider the follow popular applications:
- Convenience: Easily turn on a light in the hall, or switch on the coffee machine when you wake up. with a voice command or a swipe on your smartphone,
- Home security: By connecting up a light or an audio device like a radio to a smart plug, you could turn it on when you’re away and trick a burglar in thinking someone is home.
- Energy monitoring: Analyse in real time the power consumption of any connected devices to improve energy efficiency.
Security and safety concerns
The cheap price of smart plugs can make them an impulse purchase, but as with any smart device, it’s important to do your research before you buy.
In a recent investigation into smart plugs, we found a shocking range of issues that could put at risk your security, privacy and even safety.
Flaws with popular smart plugs could allow hackers to control your devices, steal your wi-fi password and work out when you’re away from home. One plug was so badly made that it could even burn your house down.
Our in-depth testing of every smart plug includes a barrage of assessments for how they protect your privacy and security. We also assess electrical safety.
If we find any potential security flaws, we flag them in our reviews – so you can rest assured that your home and personal data will stay private and secure.
Smart plugs put to the test
Our reviews include a range of different models to suit all budgets and needs. We have three Best Buys, starting at under £10, so you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a top quality smart plug, but the varying range of features and compatibility means you do need to make sure a model you’re looking to buy ticks the right boxes.
Take a closer look at three popular models from TP-Link, Hive and Amazon to see what’s on offer.
TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-fi plug KP115, £11.99
As with most smart plugs, this TP-Link Kasa model plugs into a single socket, and then you plug an appliance or device into it.
It comes with all the main features you’d want from a smart plug, including the ability to set timers and schedules to turn your appliances on or off remotely.
It also has energy monitoring, which you can use to see how much energy the device you have plugged into it is using.
Hive Active Plug, £39
With this plug from British Gas’ Hive brand, there’s no timer feature, but you can set up devices on a schedule – so, you can make your lights switch on or off while you’re away to give the impression you’re still home.
You can connect it up with other Hive smart home accessories, such as the Hive Homeshield Starter Home Pack smart security system.
Find out all you need to know about this smart plug, including its test score, in our Hive Active Plug review.
Amazon Smart Plug, £24.99
Amazon’s smart plug is certainly not the cheapest we’ve tested, especially considering that it doesn’t offer energy monitoring.
There’s no timer feature, either, so you can’t set devices to turn off after 20 minutes. It does support scheduling, though, so you can have it come on or off at certain times.
As you’d expect it is compatible with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, but won’t work with rival systems – Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri – so you won’t be able to integrate it into a Google Nest or Apple Home hub.
We give you the full lowdown and ratings in our Amazon Smart Plug review.
More smart plugs on test
Our in-depth reviews include a range of other models and brands, including: