One of the very best ways to introduce smart tech into your Google Home ecosystem is in the form of smart plugs. Fortunately, the TP-Link Kasa Smart Plug is a superb addition to your Google Home ecosystem.
If you have older technology in your home and non-smart devices that you want to add some extra functionality to, then something like the TP-Link HS100 Smart Plug is an ideal, inexpensive addition and a worthy Google Home Essential.
A smart plug is simply a conduit for Wi-Fi connectivity, but one that can increase much of the control you have over your home. Everything from turning on appliances when you need them or simply turning them off at preset times so you never need to worry makes power-switching a breeze.
Like any piece of smart home tech, you can easily get lost looking for reputable and safe Wi-Fi connected smart plugs on Amazon. Many listings claim that they work flawlessly with the Google Assistant but like cheap smart bulbs, you can run into connectivity and even safety issues.
Not requiring a centrally connected hub and the added compatibility with the Amazon Alexa system are yet another reason we love the TP-Link Kasa Smart Plugs. Also, they start at less than $20 each.
Design & Hardware
TP-Link Kasa plugs are nothing special, but they do have a clean aesthetic that means that while the plug is a little supersized, it does look pretty good when plugged in.
As I live in the UK the front of my Kasa smart plug may differ from what is sold Stateside. The core design remains identical across regions, with the plug simply adding thickness and surge protection alongside Google Home integration tech.
It is worth noting that there is a slightly smaller Kasa smart plug that is more cuboid in design and tailored to US wall outlets. This more compact, boxy shape might be better suited to some homes and offers all the same features and functions as the standard Kasa smart plugs.
The slightly larger HS100 Kasa plugs are a little bigger but would arguably be a little better for non-US wall outlets due to the size and shape.
There is no other color alternative to white if that is an issue. Whether you care or not is likely down to how and where you plan on fitting a smart plug. Like most smart plugs, this option comes in white and although I don’t find this an issue, I do get that some might.
There are two buttons on the plug, one being a reset button the other simply being a power on and off switch that doubles as a status indicator. Much like smart bulbs, the power is in the integration with your Google Home and the control application.
Naturally, these are just smart plugs. There is no need for there to be exceptional design. That’s not to say that these are bad looking, they are just well-built, durable plastic plugs that add Wi-Fi connectivity.
Installation & Set-up
To use your TP-Link smart plugs you’ll need to download the free Kasa app from the Google Play Store. Once you have done so, you will need to create an account to sign in, link your device to your Wi-Fi network and it’s plain sailing from here — the Wi-Fi LED will turn solid green once properly connected.
You can customize the name of your smart plug for easy identification, this is where integration with Google Home first becomes apparent. Naming your plug either via room or by the connected appliance is probably the most sensible way for easy voice control.
By giving each plug a solid name that associates it with your appliance you can cut out much of the confusion or frustration. This is especially important if you set these up for loved ones who aren’t all to tech-savvy. It also helps prevent obscenities being hurled at your Google Home!
To enable Google Assistant control, you will need to head to the Google Home application and add the association with your TP-Link account to add any devices you happen to have installed within your home. Like with any Google Home supported service, this process is quick and painless.
Control & Integration
One of the core reasons we recommend a smart plug as an extension of your Google Home accessory kit is the ability to turn your standard home appliances into smart home versions of themselves. My personal reason for getting hold of the TP-Link Kasa smart plugs was that I wanted a way to control my slow cooker from my smartphone when I left the house or was busy with something else.
This allows you to potentially integrate almost any appliance into your Google Home ecosystem. Have an old lamp that you want to turn on at specific times but like a standard bulb over a smart bulb? No problem, you can now set that lamp to react to your voice simply by adding a bridge to the wall outlet.
To access fine controls you will need to delve into the Kasa app, which is relatively user-friendly and easy to navigate. One aspect that really got me excited was the scheduling tools. The Kasa app allows you to create standard daily schedules for on and off but it also has a mode called Away Mode.
Away Mode is something I have been looking for on my home appliances for such a long time. This mode — when activated — randomly turns your appliances on and off to make it appear as though someone is at home. I can see this being a great tool for if you head off on vacation and don’t have anyone to check up on your home while you are enjoying yourself.
As someone who uses their slow cooker quite a fair bit, the timer option was one that I was also pleased to see. Essentially you can create a countdown to when an outlet stops receiving power. I can imagine this would also be great for parents with young children if tantrums become a problem.
Diagnostic information is a little lacking on this particular model, as there are other more expensive TP-Link smart plugs that can track power throughput and power consumption. The HS100 Kasa smart plug model is only currently able to give you runtime information, which might be useful but in all honesty, I don’t care too much about diagnostic information of my power outlets.
When linked to your Google Assistant it’s also worth noting that you can actually check the on or off status simply by asking. If you ask “is my smart plug on?”, you’ll get notified — it’s simple things like this that get me excited about smart home tech!
Then there is further integration tools in the form of IFTTT — which TP-Link Kasa products support. This can open up a huge wealth of controls and custom voice command creation should you wish to delve down that automation rabbit hole.
Power & Performance
As simply a bridge or gate between your power outlet and your appliance, the TP-Link Kasa smart plug simply controls the power to the appliance plugged into it. With the Wi-Fi connection and software control, it just opens or closes that power throughput to turn off or turn on.
There isn’t a great deal more to it than that but even though it’s a simple addition, it doesn’t necessarily need to be more complex than that. Although that is the simplified description of what these smart plugs are capable of.
I’ve found that during my testing period, the plug doesn’t seem to get hot or even warm — that could be down to the plastic build. Before set-up it still allows power to come through unhindered, making them absolutely fine for most.
I also haven’t noticed any increased power consumption or issues with power draw. As I mentioned in a section further up, there is no way on the HS100 model to track power throughput. So unless I track my energy accurately via my supplier website, it would be impossible for me to see anything other than spikes of power consumption.
A smart plug alongside smart bulbs are two of the first things I think you should be looking to invest in when deciding to go all-in on smart home tech. There are so many options to choose from, the question is, do you want to access a wealth of further automation options or simply be able to turn appliances on or off with your voice?
Since using the TP-Link Kasa smart plugs I’ve enjoyed having more control over my standard home appliances — specifically those in the kitchen. It’s great to be able to control normal everyday items remotely and without having to replace them.
The scheduling tools might not be much use to you but they are exceptionally well implemented, while the set-up experience is a breeze. The Away Mode is arguably one of the best features but being able to manage power on non-smart home appliances will be a blessing for people wanting to manage all aspects of their home (within reason) simply with voice commands.
Anyone who doesn’t want any of these powerful extra features might care to look at some of the cheaper options. For those in the United States, I would say that the Kasa Mini might make more sense based upon your power outlet configurations.
Either way, as smart plugs go, the TP-Link Kasa smart plugs are definitely a Google Home Essential.