Turn your traditional gadget into a smart one with a smart plug.

Smart home devices are great — I’ve been obsessing over them since recently moving into a century-old house — and they all work together to make life a little easier and more convenient. It isn’t always about being too lazy to reach for the light switch; most smart gadgets allow you to access and control the various appliances in your house remotely so that you won’t, say, run up the electric bill by forgetting to turn off the air conditioning.

You don’t have to replace your perfectly good hardware to benefit from that remote access, though — at least, as long as you only need to be able to turn your devices on and off. Smart plugs are a great way of turning traditional gadgets into smart ones; they sit between your device and the power outlet, and essentially act as remote-controlled gatekeepers of power. Flip the switch on your phone, and that gate opens and — bam — your lamp or microwave powers on. You can even just tell your Google Home to turn the device on.

Sounds pretty great, right? So what’s the best smart plug you should buy?

Belkin Wemo Mini

Belkin has perhaps the best brand recognition within the smart plug market, thanks to its popular Wemo plug, but the Wemo is big and bulky, which means you can’t fit two of them onto a standard wall outlet. Thankfully, that’s a non-issue with the newer, much smaller Wemo Mini, which barely occupies more space than the plug itself.

As you would expect, the Wemo Mini works with Google Home, along with Alexa and HomeKit, and allows you to remotely power any device you plug into it. It even ties in with services like Nest and IFTTT to further automate your gadgets so that you can automatically turn the lights on inside when you get home at night or turn the fan on when it gets too hot outside. Best of all, the Wemo Mini is pretty affordable at $ 29.98.

See at Amazon

Belkin Wemo Insight

The Wemo Mini is great, but there’s one thing it’s missing: you would think a smart plug would be able to keep track of the electricity it’s managing. It’s great to have an idea of exactly how much power your connected device is using, and how much that’s costing you each month. The Wemo Insight does just that, giving you … well, insight into your daily and monthly usage, breaking down how long you leave your devices on and how many watts of power that all amounts to.

Aside from its power analysis, the Wemo Insight is more or less the same as the Wemo Mini, albeit a tad larger. You won’t be able to fit two of them on an outlet, but you can still turn on the attached device through your phone or voice assistant. Run your coffee maker through it, then set up your Google Home to make you a fresh cup of joe in the mornings with a quick voice command! The Wemo Insight is useful, but that analysis will cost you — it runs for a hefty $ 44.99 on Amazon.

See at Amazon

$ 30 is a fairly high barrier of entry for first-time smart plug shoppers — and even for experienced users, that price can rack up fast when you’re buying multiple plugs for around the house. For $ 10 less than the Wemo Mini, TP-Link’s Kasa offers the same remote control and smart assistant compatibility.

The Kasa is significantly larger than the Wemo Mini — you won’t have room for a second smart plug on the same outlet, though small power cables should still be able to fit in the plug underneath the Kasa. TP-Link also supports scheduling, so you can set your lights to turn on at certain times while you’re on vacation so it looks like someone is still home. You can grab a TP-Link Kasa for just $ 19.99.

See at Amazon

iDevices Outdoor Switch

Being able to control your fan, microwave, or TV is great, but some appliances reside outside the house. From your electric grill to the various holiday decorations you’ll inevitably have to put out, there are plenty of reasons you’d want a durable, weather-resistant alternative to the indoor smart plugs we’ve listed so far.

The iDevices Outdoor Switch houses two plugs for remote access, and even provides the same power analysis as Belkin’s Wemo Insight, monitoring average use by hours and wattage, and estimated how much money your usage will cost you. You can set schedules for the Outdoor Switch too, so if you only want your inflatable tube man dancing in the mornings, you can set him to deflate by the afternoon. The iDevices Outdoor Switch is expensive at about $ 50, but its powerful features make it worth it.

See at Amazon

Which one is right for you?

At the end of the day, most smart plugs do more or less the same things. Finding the right one for you mostly comes down to your budget, where you want to use it, and whether or not you need to fit more than one onto a single wall outlet.

Have you used a smart plug? Do you have multiple plugs strewn across the house? Let us know in the comments below!

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