Smart Plugs and Powerboards: A Simple Solution to get Connected

Smart appliances are making our lives easier. But what if you have grown attached to your not so smart lamp? Or you can’t afford a fancy new coffee machine? Smart plugs or powerboards can be a quick and easy way to get your household devices connected.

If you’re seeking a cheap and convenient way to combine new smart technologies with your household’s existing appliances and lighting, it could be time to look closer to your power source. Connecting directly to a power outlet, a smart plug or powerboard is a simple solution to make your dumb devices smart. And they can help expand your home network.

Smart plugs can be put to use across a variety of applications, from scheduling your heating to switch on at a certain time, to confirming you turned your lights off after rushing out of the door first thing in the morning. In addition, voice control can provide for easy, hands-free operation while around the house.

So what are smart plugs and how can they help in your home?

What is a smart plug?

A smart plug is a plug with built-in wi-fi. They look like a traditional adaptor or powerboard that can plug straight into your wall socket. But any appliance plugged into the smart plug can then be connected to your wireless home network. This effectively allows you to integrate older devices with your smart home set-up.

Why get a smart plug?

Smart plugs pave the way for a variety of features, allowing you to use your old, existing appliances in new ways usually reserved for the latest in tech. This could include anything from wireless operation of devices via your smartphone or voice control, to scheduling lighting and appliances to turn on and off at set times throughout the day. Even real-time monitoring of electricity usage.

Smart plugs can allow you to create an entire network of smart devices from your existing appliances. The possibilities are endless!

This means not only can smart plugs help make your life easier, and allow you to control your devices without leaving your seat, but they can actually save on power too!

In addition to simple set-up and ease of use, a big benefit of smart plugs is their comparatively inexpensive pricing compared to other, dedicated smart home devices.

It’s important to note that you’ll need a compatible smartphone to set up and operate a smart plug. As we’ll look at below, most smart plugs are compatible with a range of Android and iOS devices.


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Smart plugs: features to keep in mind

If you’re considering purchasing a smart plug, it’s important to consider how it will slot into your home network. Most smart plugs come with in-built wi-fi 4 (also known as 802.11n). And, first and foremost, you need to ensure any plug you install is within wi-fi range of your router.

Smart plugs typically use minimal bandwidth. However, it’s worthwhile weighing up the cumulative requirements of all the devices connected to your home network. It’s important to ensure that your broadband plan can cater for your household’s needs.

The following are some other smart plug features you should keep in mind:

  • Plug or powerboard – do you need a single power outlet, or will you be looking to power and connect multiple devices? Many powerboards also come with USB ports
  • App control – as noted above, most smart plugs are compatible with Android and iOS devices. However, it’s important to confirm your device is compatible prior to purchase
  • Voice control – do you want to go hands-free, through the use of voice control? Digital assistants, such as Google Assistant or Alexa, can be used to control your devices
  • Scheduling – allows you to schedule your devices to automatically turn on and off at preset times
  • Away from home control – allows you to check on and control your devices while away from home
  • Design – a compact adaptor design can help keep adjacent power outlets open, while powerboard cable length may be a consideration when catering for multiple devices

If your home network already consists of a number of smart devices, it’s also worthwhile considering how a smart plug will integrate with these devices.

For instance, you may be able to streamline operations by using a smart hub. These are designed to bring together a range of devices and provide a central point of control.

smart plugs

A selection of smart plugs

The following is a selection of smart plugs and powerboards, available at a range of price points. As advised above, as a starting point it’s important to confirm compatibility with your Android or iOS smartphone.

It’s also certainly worthwhile shopping around, reading customer reviews online, and prioritising the various features on offer in deciding what is best for your household.

TP-Link Smart plugs

TP-Link Tapo P100 Mini Smart Wi-fi Socket

TP-Link’s Tapo P100 Mini Smart Wi-fi Socket sports a compact form factor, and is designed for quick and easy set-up. Its Away Mode can also help with added security. It simulates someone being home by turning the plug-in device (such as a lamp) on and off.

  • App control – via the Tapo app (compatible with Android 4.4 or later and iOS 9.0 or later)
  • Voice control – via Google Assistant or Alexa
  • Scheduling – preset schedules to automatically manage devices, create weekly schedules and countdown plans
  • Away from home control – remotely manage devices
  • Connectivity – wi-fi 4, 2.4GHz; Bluetooth 4.2 (for onboarding only, assisting with set-up)
  • Design – white colour; measures 76.5 x 43.5 x 42mm; features a power button and status LED; small form factor is designed to avoid blocking adjacent sockets
  • Price – the Tapo P100 Mini Smart wi-fi Socket can be found online priced around $23.99*

Cygnett smart plugs

Cygnett Smart Wi-fi Plug with Power Monitoring

Cygnett’s Smart Wi-fi Plug with Power Monitoring features a compact design and can be used in combination with a range of devices. Its power monitor feature allows users to track the usage of any device or appliance it is connected to.

  • App control – via the Cygnett Smart app (compatible with Android and iOS devices); compatible with Apple HomeKit
  • Voice control – via Google Assistant, Alexa or Siri
  • Scheduling – create schedules for devices to turn on and off at set times
  • Away from home control – remotely manage devices
  • Connectivity – wi-fi 4, 2.4GHz
  • Design – white colour; compact design allows for access to an adjacent wall socket
  • Price – the Smart Wi-fi Plug with Power Monitoring can be found online priced at around $61*

SmartVU smart plugs

SmartVU Home Smart 4 Way Powerboard with 2 USB Ports

SmartVU Home’s Smart 4 Way Powerboard with 2 USB Ports comes with four power outlets and two USB ports. Users are able to individually control the outlets. Its Mobile Alerts feature provides for users to receive status updates via the SmartVU Home app.

  • App control – via the SmartVU Home app (compatible with Android and iOS devices)
  • Voice control – via Google Assistant or Alexa
  • Scheduling – set timers and schedule connected appliances/devices to turn on or off
  • Away from home control – remotely manage devices
  • Connectivity – wi-fi 4, 2.4GHz
  • Design – white and grey colour; measures 270 x 30 x 76mm; has a 1.5m cable; six anti-slip pads help it lie flat
  • Price – SmartVU Home’s website lists the Smart 4 Way Powerboard with 2 USB Ports as priced at $69*

brilliant smart plugs

Brilliant Smart Wi-fi Powerboard with USB Chargers

Brilliant’s Smart Wi-fi Powerboard with USB Chargers comes with four power outlets and four USB ports. Users are able to control each outlet separately. In addition to its wireless functions, the powerboard also incorporates a manual control, along with a thermal overload switch.

Its features include:

  • App control – via the BrilliantSmart app (compatible with Android 4.1 or later devices and iOS 8.0 or later devices)
  • Voice control – via Google Assistant, Alexa or Siri
  • Scheduling – select an on/off time, with all outlets capable of being set individually
  • Away from home control – remotely manage devices
  • Connectivity – wi-fi 4, 2.4GHz
  • Design – white colour; measures 206 x 100mm; has a 1.4m cable
  • Price – the Smart Wi-fi Powerboard with USB Chargers can be found online priced around $78.99*

*Further information on pricing can be found at individual retailer websites. This should be used as a guide and not considered an actual quote.


About the author of this page

 Martin KovacsThis report was written by Canstar author Martin Kovacs. Martin is a freelance writer with experience covering the business, consumer technology and utilities sectors. Martin has written about a wide range of topics across both print and digital publications, including the manner in which industry continues to adapt and evolve amid the rollout of new technologies


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