The Best Cheap Smart Plugs of 2019

A smart plug is a cheap way to control "dumb" appliances with a smartphone or tablet.

Smart plugs are about the size of a plug-in nightlight. They connect to a wall outlet and they have a three-prong plug that can power a single appliance. These plugs are "smart" because of the WiFi radio inside: This allows the plugged-in appliance to be controlled by an app. Some plugs are also compatible with smart home systems like Alexa, HomeKit or Google Home. 

Many smart plugs have useful features like timers (e.g. shut off the coffee machine at 9:00 a.m.), schedulers (e.g. turn on the air conditioning 30 minutes before I get home) and vacation modes (e.g. make it look like someone is around by turning lights on and off). More advanced plugs can measure power consumption and highlight ways to save money by reducing electricity usage.

If you're concerned about fire safety, look for "UL" or "ETL" listed plugs. These markings mean a product has been certified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory to meet certain safety standards.

A smart plug might be worth it if it makes your life more convenient. That said, smart plugs can only power a single device and may get in the way of other outlets. Shop thoughtfully.

Here are the best-reviewed smart plugs that have sold for $20 or less in the last 12 months:

Good Price: $20 | Great Deal: $15

These smart plugs work well with Alexa, according to several Amazon customers. Some reviewers wish these plugs worked on WiFi networks higher than 2.4 GHz; others had trouble with Jinvoo’s app.

Good Price: $20 | Great Deal: $17

These smart plugs work well with Alexa and Google Home, but they can be tricky to set up, according to several Amazon customers. Some reviewers were thrilled that these compact plugs don't block the second wall outlet; others were disappointed that the plugs don't monitor energy usage or work on 5Ghz WiFi.


John DeFeo