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Best smart plug 2023: For remote control from just £8

Turn on your lights, switch on a fan or set your coffee machine brewing – top smart plugs upgrade your home appliances quickly and easily

We live in the “smart home” age – but it’s a fair bet that only a handful of the appliances in your home are designed to be controlled from your phone, or via voice commands. A smart plug could be the answer. These simple little mains adaptors let you use an app or a voice assistant to effortlessly turn the power on and off – or, they can do it automatically to a set schedule.

There’s a wide range of smart plugs on the market, and it’s not always obvious what the difference is between them. Here’s our guide to choosing the right smart plug, and our pick of the best models. But first of all, here are two hot smart plug deals to cast your eyes over.

Best smart plugs: At a glance

Best overallTP-Link Tapo Mini P100 | £8.99Check price at Argos
Best for AlexaAmazon Smart Plug | £25Check price at Amazon
Best with energy monitorMeross MSS310 | From £30Check price at Amazon
Best budget smart plugMeross MSS110 Mini | From £19Check price at Amazon

How to choose the best smart plug for you

The first thing to know about smart plugs is that, while they may be much smarter than your average power socket, they have their limitations. You can use one with any appliance fitted a three-pin plug, but their capabilities only extend as far as turning the mains power on and off. If an appliance requires you to press a physical button to operate it – as with, say, a dishwasher or a coffee machine – then there’s not much benefit to installing a smart plug.

However, these handy little gadgets still have plenty of uses around the house. For instance, you can:

Switch lights on and off: A smart plug can’t control your wall switches, but it will work perfectly with any plugged-in upright lamps. It’s more convenient than fumbling for a switch, and you can also schedule the lights to switch on and go off whenever you like – a simple way to deter intruders, as your home will appear to be occupied even if you’re away.

Wake up in the morning: A smart plug can help rouse you from your morning slumber, by turning on the radio or even switching on a kettle – just make sure it’s filled it with water the night before. You could even turn your lights on, as long as you’re not the type to hide under the duvet.

Keep your home safe: You can set a smart plug to switch on security cameras overnight, then disable them when you’re home – so they’re not running all the time, wasting power and storage. You could also use cut the power to domestic appliances when they’re not in use, to cut the risk of electrical accident. At Christmas, why not rig up a smart plug to control the lights on your tree and manage any external lights that are connected indoors?

Reduce power consumption: Using a smart plug to turn off electrical items when they’re not needed isn’t just about safety – it can save electricity too. Some plugs even have a built-in energy-monitoring feature that analyses each connected device’s power consumption, so you can see at a glance just how much energy your devices are consuming, and take control of your electricity usage.

Will a smart plug work on my home network?

Most domestic smart plugs connect to your router via standard 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, so you should have no problem. A few however use low-power networking systems such as Z-Wave and Zigbee to communicate with a wired hub – be aware that the hub may cost extra, and you’ll need a spare Ethernet socket on your router to connect it to.

The other issue to consider is reach. If you want to install a smart plug at the far end of your home, or in your garden shed, you’ll need to make sure it has a stable connection to the router or it simply won’t work.

Do I need an Amazon Echo or Google Home to use a smart plug?

Not at all. Most smart plugs are designed to work with voice-assistant hardware, but there’s almost always a smartphone app too, which you can use to remotely control your smart plugs and set up schedules. Sometimes a website allows you to check your appliances and control them from anywhere in the world.

Can my smart plug respond to external events?

Probably, yes. Many smart plugs integrate directly with IFTTT or other automation platforms, so you can set up triggers to make them turn on and off in response to external events. For example, if you have a smart thermostat, you can set the fan to automatically turn on when the room exceeds a certain temperature. Or, if you have a motion sensor, you can set a security light to turn on whenever movement is detected.

Can I use a smart plug with a multi-way mains adapter?

Absolutely: electrically speaking, it’s just a switch. Plugging a mains adapter into a smart plug lets you turn multiple appliances on and off at the same time – although of course you won’t have the ability to turn them on individually. If that’s what you need, you’ll have to invest in multiple smart plugs, or a smart multi-way adapter.

What other features should I look out for?

A smart plug doesn’t have to be a complicated thing, but there are some bells and whistles that you might want to look out for. A visual status indicator lets you see at a glance that the plug is connected to your network and responding to commands. A physical button for manually toggling the power can be handy too: if you’re standing at the socket, it’s easier than pulling out your phone, and better than switching the socket off at the wall (because this will disable the smart plug altogether).

Some smart plugs keep logs, so you can track exactly when your appliances are switched on and off, which could be useful for troubleshooting. The most sophisticated models include a power meter, so you can see exactly how much juice your appliance is consuming, and perhaps tweak the schedule as needed.

How we test smart plugs

We test smart plugs by connecting them to a home Wi-Fi network and using them to power a range of table lamps, standard lamps and electric radiators. We start by installing any control apps, then we configure the plug and use the basic on/off functionality to turn any attached devices on and off. Scheduling features are used to set up times for the plugs to turn on and off; we leave them running for several days to check the reliability of the connection and how well scheduling performs in real-world use. During that time, we’ll also continue to turn the plugs on and off manually, and also connect them to Google and Alexa smart speakers to try any voice controls. Where a plug also supports programming through these systems or via IFTTT, we’ll also use them in routines with a motion or temperature sensor.

READ NEXT: The best smart speakers to buy

The best smart plugs you can buy in 2023

1. TP-Link Tapo Mini P100: Best smart plugs overall

Price when reviewed: £8.99 | Check price at Argos

TP-Link’s Tapo Mini P100 smart plugs are an easy recommendation. They’re compact form should fit easily into most sockets and extensions. They pair easily through the Tapo app, and come with a single button on the left-hand-side that works as both an on/off toggle and a reset switch. You can control the plug through the app or using voice commands with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, and in our tests, both approaches worked flawlessly.

It helps that TP-Link’s app is one of the more polished efforts out there, making it easy to schedule on and off times for your lamps or appliances, or set them on a countdown timer. We’re also big fans of the Away feature, where you can set, say, a lamp to turn on and off randomly during a specific period to make it look like there’s somebody at home. You can set up more complex operations with timers or Tapo sensors from the Automations menu, while the P100 can also be controlled through IFTTT.

One thing the base P100 model doesn’t have is power monitoring; but this is available on the P110, with detailed graphs to cover energy consumption by day, month and year, along with an estimate of the cost. The energy monitoring version of the device costs only a few quid more per plug than the P100, so is well worth the spend if you want to track how much power certain appliances are using. With Tapo developing into quite a comprehensive smart ecosystem, either Tapo Mini is a great way into a smarter home. From the Argos link above you can buy a singular plug, if you need a bigger pack, you can buy a 4-pack from the Amazon link below.

Key specs – Networking support: 2.4GHz 802.11bgn; Smartphone app: Yes; Voice assistant: Alexa, Google Assistant; Schedule: Yes; Power monitor: No; Buttons: Power/Reset; Indicators: Network status LED; Dimensions: 60 x 72 x 51.5mm (WHD)

2. Amazon Smart Plug: Best smart plug for Alexa

Price when reviewed: £25 | Check price at Amazon

Amazon’s own-brand smart socket is expensive, but since it comes directly from the same manufacturer as the Echo, you can be certain it will work perfectly with Alexa, now and into the future.

Setup is a breeze – you just have to use the Alexa smartphone app to scan a QR code printed on the back of the plug. The app then prompts you to give the socket a name and set up schedules and routines as needed. The plug looks rather boxy, but it measures just 56mm wide, so it shouldn’t block adjacent sockets. A single LED shines blue when the socket is powered on, or red if there’s a network error.

There are a couple of things to be aware of before choosing the Amazon Smart Plug. Predictably, it can’t be controlled from Google Home devices. More disappointingly, it’s also not currently supported by IFTTT, though we hope that’ll change before long.

A final possible niggle is that, while the Amazon Smart Plug has a handy on/off button, it’s tucked away at the side – so you might not be able to access it if there’s something else plugged in next to it. Overall though it’s a great choice for Alexa fans.

Key specs – Networking support: 2.4GHz 802.11bgn; Smartphone app: Alexa app; Voice assistant: Alexa; Schedule: Via Alexa app; Power monitor: No; Buttons: Power on/off; Indicators: Network/power status LED; Dimensions: 56 x 63 x 97mm (WHD)

3. Meross MSS310: Best smart plug with energy monitoring

Price when reviewed: From £30 | Check price at Amazon

While it’s chunkier than the new wave of mini smart plugs, the Meross MSS310 is still a fairly compact unit that just about fits into most standard extension sockets. At the top you’ll find a nice, accessible big button that works as an on/off toggle, with an illuminated logo that glows green to red to indicate Wi-Fi status.

Meross’s app gets most things right. It’s easy to find and connect the plug to your Wi-Fi network, and you can arrange several plugs in a “scene”, allowing you to turn them all on when you enter the room or turn them all off when you go to bed. The only odd thing is that the “routines” that control schedules and countdown timers require you to set one routine to turn the smart plug on and another to turn it off, which seems like an unnecessary faff.

On the plus side, the MSS310 works well with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, and is compatible with Samsung SmartThings and IFTTT. It also delivers detailed reports on power consumption, presenting figures by week, month and year, and with an optional cost calculation if you enter your currency and rate. You can even get a consumption report emailed to you as a CSV file. If you’re trying to keep track of your energy use and expenses, this smart plug could definitely help.

Key specs – Networking support: 2.4GHz 802.11bgn; Smartphone app: Yes; Voice assistant: Alexa, Google Assistant; Schedule: Yes; Power monitor: Yes; Buttons: Power/Wi-Fi Pair; Indicators: Network status on button; Dimensions: 67.3 x 67.3 x 47.8mm (WHD)

4. Meross MSS110 Smart Plug Mini: Best budget smart plugs

Price when reviewed: From £19 | Check price at Amazon

The MSS110 is another mini smart plug. Measuring just over 5cm wide, it should cram into spaces where other smart plugs won’t fit, although you should bear in mind that the power toggle and pairing button sits halfway down on the left-hand side. As with the larger MSS310, it connects easily through the Meross smartphone app, and you can still integrate several smart plugs in a scene or set up routines and timers. This still means putting up with the odd quirk, particularly the need to set up separate routines to turn the smart plug on and off.

You miss out on power monitoring, but it’s hard to complain when these smart plugs are so cheap – they’re ideal if you’re looking to smarten up a whole bunch of lamps and appliances at once. What’s more, the latest versions work with Apple HomeKit and Siri, as well as Google Assistant and Alexa.

Key specs – Networking support: 2.4GHz 802.11bgn; Smartphone app: Yes; Voice assistant: Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit; Schedule: Yes; Power monitor: No; Buttons: Power/Wi-Fi Pair; Indicators: Network status on button; Dimensions: 61 x 51 x 33mm (WHD)

5. Humax Wi-Fi Smart Plug: Best budget smart plug for features

Price when reviewed: From £15 | Check price at Humax Direct

Humax is better known for its Freeview and Freesat recorders, but it’s come up with a neat circular smart plug that’s an easy fit in extenders and mains sockets. A button on the unit’s left has a double role for pairing and toggling the power on and off, while glowing blue when everything is connected and working properly. It’s an elegant, no-fuss plug.

What’s more, you get a good set of features for the money. The Humax Smart app allows for easy setting of schedules, countdown timers and even sunrise and sunset switching. You can also organise multiple plugs in scenes and set them to come on according to a timer or changes in the weather; the track uses your location to gather the necessary data. Alexa and Google voice controls are also supported. Best of all, you get built-in energy monitoring with annual and monthly views. You don’t get quite the same level of detail as presented in the Meross and Tapo apps, but it’s still more than sufficient for keeping an eye on running costs. Given that the Humax plug costs less than other plugs without these features, it’s a bit of a bargain.

Key specs – Networking support: 2.4GHz 802.11bgn; Smartphone app: Yes; Voice assistant: Alexa, Google Assistant; Schedule: Yes; Power monitor: Yes; Buttons: Power/Wi-Fi Pair; Indicators: Network status on button; Dimensions: 55 x 55 x 58mm (WHD)

6. Trust Wi-Fi Smart Plug: A great value twin pack

Price when reviewed: £25 | Check price at Amazon

Looking to dip your toe into home automation? This twin pack of plugs from Trust is a fine option. The circular compact plugs fit easily into mains sockets and even 4-way extenders, although you’ll need to leave enough space in case you need to click or hold the button on the left-hand-side for pairing. This flashes while in pairing mode and glows blue when the plug’s turned on.

We found this one a little tricky to set up; the default Wi-Fi connection method is picky about connecting to 5GHz networks, and many modern routers and mesh systems don’t isolate the 2.4GHz network unless specifically configured to do so. On our home mesh network, the Trust WiFi Smart Plug refused to play ball. However, on selecting the Bluetooth connection method, it hooked up on the first attempt, and proved reliable during several days of testing.

The app is a bit basic when it comes to features, and you’ll need to look elsewhere if you want energy monitoring. Nevertheless, you can set up countdown timers to turn off the plug, or schedule it to come on and off at sunrise or sunset, or at specific times. It also supports Alexa and Google Assistant, and can be used to control Trust’s line of Wi-Fi smart bulbs.

Key specs – Networking support: 2.4GHz 802.11bgn; Smartphone app: Yes; Voice assistant: Alexa, Google Assistant; Schedule: Yes; Power monitor: No; Buttons: Power/Wi-Fi Pair; Indicators: Network status/Power status on button; Dimensions: 60 x 60 x 41mm (WHD)