Smart Home

Consumer Reports picks for best smart plugs and bulbs to upgrade your home

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF/CONSUMER REPORTS) — Maybe you’ve seen those fancy-looking homes where everything is automated or powered by the touch of a button? It turns out that some inexpensive upgrades on everyday items can give you a lot of the smart home features you wish you had.

“When I leave home I can just check my app to know that, OK, all the lights are turned off and I’m not using any energy that I don’t need,” said Syed Abbas, who has been using smart bulbs and plugs for a few years.

Both smart bulbs and plugs can turn any lamp into a smart lamp that you can control from anywhere using an app or a smart speaker like Alexa or Google Assistant.

But how do you know if bulbs or plugs are best for your home?

“Smart bulbs are a better choice for lamps that have a lamp shade because the bulbs themselves are kind of ugly looking. Bulbs are also a great choice for fixtures that can’t be plugged in such as overhead light fixtures,” said Dan Wroclawski with Consumer Reports. “If you want lighting that can change color or even color temperature from warm to cool then you would also want a smart bulb.”

After evaluating nearly a dozen smart bulbs, Wroclawski says the models from TP-Link Kasa Smart and Cree are great budget options.

If you want to dip more than your toe into the smart home trend, smart plugs offer a lot of options.

“With smart plugs, you can automate way more than just lighting. You can use them to control any appliance in your home whether it’s a fan or even a coffee maker. They’re also really great for fire safety for devices like space heaters, hair straighteners or hair dryers. If you forget to turn them off, you can do it remotely from your phone even if you’re not home,” Wroclawski said.

Consumer Reports says the smart plug from GE was one of the easiest to set up and works with both Alexa and Google Assistant.

The TP-Link Kasa Smart plug is also easy to set up and use and it works with Amazon, Apple, Google, and Samsung assistants.

Some smart plugs even offer energy monitoring, so you can figure out which devices in your home use the most energy and then you can turn them off when you don’t need them or are using them.

Copyright 2023 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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