Smart Outlet Options
When it comes to smart outlets, you have a few different choices. You could go for a cleaner look and get an in-wall outlet that replaces your traditional outlet. That requires some re-wiring and you need to make sure that your junction boxes are large enough to hold the smart outlet. This is a problem that I unfortunately ran into. The other option is to get a smart outlet that plugs into your standard outlet and allows you to plug your lamp, or whatever you want, back into it.
I chose the latter, but let’s look at both options.
Full Outlet Replacement
GE Z–Wave Outlets
GE’s Z-Wave outlets seem to work pretty well. They replace the whole outlet in your wall and provide a much cleaner look. The install is pretty straight forward. You simply kill the power, swap wires, and reinstall the new outlet.
These outlets require a hub, such as Samsung’s SmartThings. This hub is what will connect to Amazon Echo or Google Home.
Be careful when you purchase these. GE has a version that is Bluetooth only. That works well with phones, but might not work with your hub.
As I mentioned earlier, these do require a larger than normal junction box. Most houses are OK, but these didn’t work in my sunroom because the junction box was too small and I can’t install a larger one.
This is the Lowe’s brand smart outlets. I had a run with these and while the install was the same as the GE outlet, I had problems with my led lights. Setup was straight forward and it’s similar to the others in that it requires a hub. When it was off, though, my lights still flickered randomly. I ended up returning it for a Belkin WeMo smart outlet, which I’ll talk about in a minute.
Belkin WeMo Switch
So far, the Belkin WeMo Switch is my favorite smart outlet. It is extremely simple to set up, their app works well, they integrate directly with Alexa and they don’t require a hub. You really can’t go wrong here. By not requiring a hub, you are saving yourself $100 or so.
I currently have 2 versions of these in use. The other version is the Belkin WeMo Insight Switch. This operates just like the regular Belkin WeMo Switch, but it also reports back electricity usage.
That could come in pretty handy in the long run, but you do pay $10 more.
All of my other outlets are the regular Belkin WeMo Switch. They provide simple on-off functionality.
Something to consider with these is they take up more space than a regular in-wall outlet, so make sure you can accommodate that.
TPLink Smart Plug
The TPLink Smart Plug is another smart outlet that comes highly recommended. I have a friend who has these in his smart home intertwined with the WeMo outlets and he has no issues. They are similar to the WeMo outlets in that they don’t need a hub.
I mentioned in another article that I had outlets that just didn’t work. I’m not going to bother mentioning them here since I might’ve had one-off bad experiences. I will say that based off my experimentation, you get what you pay for. There’s a reason some are $20 and some are $40-$50. I’d suggest you experiment yourself to see what works for you.