What is the difference between a smart plug and a smart outlet?

Lamp connected to smart plug

Both smart plugs and smart outlets offer similar functionality: they allow you to remotely turn home appliances ON and OFF, create timers, set schedules, create routines, and control devices using your favorite Voice Assistant. However, there are a few key differences between them in terms of installation and usage.

A smart plug is a “plug-and-play” solution, it can be plugged into any regular outlet, and provides smart functionality right away. It acts as intermediary between the regular electrical outlet and the device you want to control. The smart plug is a portable and easy-to-install solution.

A smart outlet is like any regular electrical outlet, but it incorporates smart features. It is installed in the wall and hardwired to the home’s electrical system. The device you want to control is directly plugged into the smart outlet.

What is a Smart Plug?

A smart plug is a device that you insert into a standard electrical outlet, essentially turning that outlet into a smart outlet. It typically has one or more outlets* on one end where you can plug in your devices or appliances, and it connects to your Wi-Fi network to enable remote control and automation of those devices through a smartphone app or voice commands via a smart assistant like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. Smart plugs are often used to control lamps, fans, heaters, and other small appliances. 

Check this post where I wrote about innovative ways of using smart plugs.

One of the most popular smart plugs these days is Kasa Smart Plug.

*Note: A smart plug with more than one outlet is also known as a smart power strip.

Xiaomi’s Smart Plug (EU version)

What is a Smart Outlet?

A smart outlet, on the other hand, refers to an entire electrical outlet unit that is smart-enabled. Instead of plugging a device into a smart plug, you replace your existing electrical outlet with a smart outlet.

Smart outlets offer the same features as smart plugs, allowing you to control connected devices remotely and automate their operation, but they are built directly into the wall and replace the traditional outlet.

There are plenty of choices, some are cheaper, and some more expensive. I found Eve Energy Outlet as pretty comprehensive model.

Smart Outlet looks like a regular outlet

Smart plug vs Smart outlet: which one is the right choice?

The choice between a smart plug and a smart outlet depends on your specific needs and preferences.

Both the smart plug and the smart outlet can be connected to your home WIFI network and controlled through an app, Voice Assistant, or a smart speaker. The key difference is that the smart plug can be inserted into any electrical outlet, it is portable and easy to install, while the smart outlet needs to be wired to your home’s electrical system like any regular outlet and requires knowledge in electrical wiring.

Ultimately, the right choice depends on whether you want to add smart functionality to individual devices or to an entire outlet. Both options offer convenience and energy saving, so it’s worth considering your specific needs before making a decision.

Decision points to buy a smart plug:

  • You need a portable and easy-to-install solution
  • You want to have an option to move the device wherever you need it.
  • You lack experience and knowledge in electrical wiring
  • You live in a rental and you’re not allowed to make any modifications

Check the latest offerings for smart plugs on Amazon.

Decision points for a smart outlet:

  • You know and understand how to do electrical wiring of an outlet.
  • You are the homeowner and you don’t need permission from anyone.
  • You want a permanent solution for an outlet with smart capabilities.
  • You want a sleek look that seamlessly integrates with the rest of your home.

Check the latest offerings for smart outlets on Amazon.

Milan Mihajlov

Milan is a seasoned professional with a diverse background in Software Testing, IT Support and System Engineering. With a keen interest in AI, Smart Home technology, and useful software utilities, Milan brings a unique perspective to the ever-evolving world of technology. Through his expertise and passion, he aims to share insights and help readers navigate the complexities of modern tech seamlessly. Follow me for the latest trends, tips, and innovations in the digital landscape.

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