Which smart power strip is best?
You may not be aware of it, but all the devices you have plugged in around your home draw power so long as they’re connected to it — even if they’re turned off. This effect goes by a few names, such as “phantom draw” or “vampire power,” but the effect is the same — your energy bill is higher than it should be.
Smart power strips — such as the Kasa Smart Plug Power Strip — are able to detect when a device is off and cut its power so you only use the electricity you need.
What to know before you buy a smart power strip
Power monitoring method
Smart power strips use a variety of methods to control the flow of energy.
- Timer strips are programable to trigger at certain times. For example, triggering a lamp at a certain time of night.
- Mastered strips have a main outlet that triggers the other strips to match whether it’s off or on.
- Motion strips turn off and on based on motion in the room.
- Remote strips use apps on your phone to be switched off and on.
- Voice strips use compatible smart assistants such as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa to be controlled by, well, voice.
Power strip vs. surge protector
Smart surge protectors are almost identical to smart power strips except for one ability — they can protect your device from damaging changes in your power supply. Surge protectors are especially useful for protecting intricate devices such as computers and game consoles.
Surge protectors have two systems for relating how protective they are.
- Joule rating: The higher the joule rating, the better protected your devices are. Most have joule ratings between 600-4,000 joules.
- Clamping voltage: The clamping voltage is the point when your surge protector activates. The lower the clamping voltage the better — 300 volts is a good number to shoot for.
What to look for in a quality smart power strip
Quality smart power strips vary in the type, count and configuration of their outlets.
- Type: Most smart power strips use one or two types of outlets — the basic triple-pronged outlet found around your home and USB ports. The more types of outlet, the more options you have.
- Count: Smart power strips usually have 4-12 triple-pronged outlets and 2-6 USB outlets. Once again, more is better.
- Configuration: Configuration refers to how the outlets are built into the strip. For example, one strip may have four outlets an inch apart while another may have eight outlets half an inch apart. Typically, wider-spaced outlet configurations are best as they leave room for large, blocky plugs — otherwise, such plugs would overlap with empty plug spaces, bringing down your effective outlet count.
Longer cord lengths give you more flexibility as to where you can situate your strip, but if they’re too long they can coil up in an unsightly way. Most strips have cords 1-12 inches long.
How much you can expect to spend on a smart power strip
Smart power strips usually cost $20-$60, though some of the more basic ones can cost as low as $15. Better power strips typically cost at least $30.
Smart power strip FAQ
What can I connect to a smart power strip?
A. Anything that uses the outlet types on your smart power strip. Some of the most common items connected are:
- Streaming dongles and boxes
- Game consoles and other computers
- Sound systems
Can I use a smart power strip without connecting it to the internet?
A. You can, but this will eliminate all of the “smart” abilities of your power strip. If you’re concerned about functionality in the event of loss of service, don’t worry — it will still work. If you plan on not using the smart functions, look for a standard power strip instead — it’s a little more affordable.
Will smart power strips connect to any phone?
A. Most smart power strips use apps that can be downloaded to any phone or tablet for easy access to controls. However, a handful of apps are only usable on Android- or iOS-running phones. Double-check before buying.
What’s the best smart power strip to buy?
Top smart power strip
What you need to know: It’s an excellent all-around smart plug.
What you’ll love: Each of the main six outlets is triple-pronged and individually powered and controlled. It can be controlled from a free app or through a smart assistant such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. It also functions as a surge protector.
What you should consider: The USB ports can’t be individually powered — they’re either off or on. The outlets are close enough together that large plugs will block neighboring outlets.
Top smart power strip for the money
What you need to know: It offers a large number of outlets for a surprisingly low price.
What you’ll love: It has eight main triple-pronged outlets and four USB outlets. Its power cord is 6 feet long, making it easy to position, and its surge protection is certified to 2,000 joules of power. It’s also available with a 12-foot cord, but at only 600 joules surge protection.
What you should consider: It cannot be controlled by voice commands or with smart assistants. Some customers reported the power switch is easy to accidentally hit and switch off.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: It’s designed for use outdoors but can be used indoors just as easily.
What you’ll love: Each of its outlets is managed individually, either through the app or through voice commands from compatible smart assistants. The plug uses a splash-proof design and is made of fireproof materials. It also functions as a 1,080-joule surge protector.
What you should consider: Several purchasers said the Wi-Fi connection was unstable. Others reported the instructions to be confusing and misleading. It only has four outlets.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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