(Pocket-lint) - Smart plugs are a really easy way to make your electronics that little bit... well, smarter. Essentially, these gizmos let you control unconnected home appliances right from your phone, or even through a voice assistant. That lets you switch them on and off remotely, using their companion apps.
Many smart plugs are also compatible with smart home devices and ecosystems like Amazon Echo and Google Home or Apple HomeKit so you can control them with your voice or have them in a central app alongside other devices in your home.
Here's our choice for the best all-round smart plugs on the market at the moment...
Our pick of the best smart plugs to buy today
Ikea Smart Plug
The Ikea Smart Plug is part of the furniture giant's Home Smart range of devices (previously Trådfri), which includes smart lighting. You'll need the gateway to connect the Ikea Smart Plug to your home network, as well as either the Control Outlet or a separate bridging device, but you can connect multiple plugs to the gateway and the controlling device.
Once connected, the Ikea Smart Plug can be controlled remotely from your smartphone through the Ikea Home Smart app and you can schedule electronics plugged into the Smart Plug to turn on or off at set times. The Ikea Smart Plug also works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit.
Amazon Smart Plug
The Amazon Smart Plug is designed to work with Alexa, so you only need the Alexa app to get it up and running. You'll then be able to remotely control the electronics plugged into the Amazon Smart Plugs, use voice control from Alexa devices, as well as set schedules for routine operation, such as turning the living room lamp on at 7pm.
If you decide to move on from the Alexa platform to Google Home for example, the Amazon Smart Plug won't be compatible with Google Home voice control. You'll still be able to remotely control the plug through the Alexa app on your smartphone though.
Eve Energy (originally Elgato) is available as a UK plug, EU plug and a US plug and it is one of the few smart plugs on this list that is compatible with Apple's HomeKit, therefore allowing control through Siri, like the Ikea option.
Eve Energy will allow you to see how much energy your devices are using and understand your energy consumption and you'll also be able to switch your devices on or off with a simple tap or by using your voice and asking Siri. Eve offers several other smart home devices within its portfolio too, including door and window sensors and a door lock, among other things, all of which are HomeKit compatible.
Belkin WeMo Switch
The Belkin WeMo Switch works with both Android and iOS devices and it allows you to turn electronic devices on or off from anywhere, so long as you have an internet connection. It uses your existing home Wi-Fi network to provide you with wireless control of anything from TVs and lamps to irons and heaters, via the free WeMo app or voice control through Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
The WeMo Switch is a modular system so you can add multiple switches to your home and turn them all off at once or program each one to turn on or off at specific times. The WeMo Switch plugs into a standard plug socket. The appliance you want to control wirelessly then plugs into the WeMo Switch, with the rest of the installation completed through the app.
TP-Link HS110 Smart Plug
The TP-Link HS110 Smart Plug will allow you to turn your electronics on or off from your smartphone, anywhere you have an internet connection, but it will also allow you to monitor energy usage of anything plugged into it from your smartphone like the Eve Energy. There is also an Away-Mode on this smart plug, allowing you to turn devices on and off at different times to imply someone is home even if they aren't.
The HS110 Smart Plug works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and it is compatible with devices running Android 4.1 or higher and iOS 8 or higher. Like all smart plugs, you just need to plug the HS110 into a normal plug socket, followed by the device you want to control into the smart plug.
Hive Active Plug
The Hive Active Plug requires the Hive Hub if you don't have Hive Active Heating in order to connect it to any other Hive devices you have and allow you to control it with your smart device, be that a smartphone, tablet or laptop. Once connected, you'll be able to turn any electronics plugged into it on or off remotely, as well as schedule up to six time slots a day to mimic someone being home.
Like some other smart plugs on this list, the Hive Active Plug is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant meaning you'll be able to control your electronics with your voice through an Amazon Alexa-enabled device, like the Amazon Echo or a Google Assistant-enabled device like Google Home. Hive also has bulbs and sensors within its smart home portfolio if you want to expand beyond plugs.
Bosch Smart Plug
The Bosch Smart Plug will connect any electrical device you plug into it to the Bosch Smart Home System. Through the Bosch Smart Home app, you'll be given an insight into the power consumption of the individual devices and you'll also be able to individually control them and program them day-by-day with a time switch.
Its compact design means it should mean both sockets on a double socket can be used simultaneously still and although it doesn't offer Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant control, there is a manual override function on the plug if your smartphone isn't handy.