We at Emporia Energy remain on the lookout for great products to match the needs of our customers and to save them money! And naturally, we test these devices ourselves prior to placing them on our store. Of course, this includes our work with respect to best power strips.
In order even to be considered for this evaluation, we felt each power strip candidate had to meet "table stakes." Specifically, each strip had to work as a surge protector. Each also had to have its own physical button for powering down or resetting the unit. And finally, in this modern connected world, we felt that each of these units had to offer flexible programming, Wi-Fi connection, and a working app. In other words, each strip had to be "smart" for consideration as one of our best power strips.
Our full evaluation tested how well we felt each of these smart power strips performed. In particular, we considered the app experience and ease of operation and flexibility with respect to programming.
Emporia's Choice for Best Power Strips
The Geeni Surge offers a low price point and six AC sockets, with one "oversized" socket able to accept large plugs without losing access to the others. Though the unit reviewed does not provide USB connections, the Geeni Surge can also be purchased with four AC sockets and two USB connections.
The (somewhat challenging) packaging provided simple set-up instructions printed on the box exterior. Geeni also provides an instruction booklet, which really wasn't necessary based on the strength of the app. Initial provisioning proved very easy, with the appropriate Wi-Fi listed immediately. The app also determined location coupled with local weather information and data to help set up "scenes" for quick programming. The user interface was highly intuitive, with flexible, easy programming and a timer. The app detected immediately when the power strip had been unplugged and further reconnected when the power strip had been reconnected. As a note, either individual outlets or the entire strip could easily be powered ON/OFF. So doing provides enhanced flexibility and convenience for helping control vampire load.
A Little More
As well as the Geeni Surge performed, there are nevertheless a few features that some customers might find lacking. Specifically, at 34 inches, the power cord may be a bit short and lacks a flat or angled plug to fit in tight areas behind furniture. Though not tested, it should be noted that the Geeni Surge offers voice control claiming to work with Google Assistant, Alexa, and Microsoft Cortana. Also not tested directly was the ability to expand to other devices, specifically smart plugs. However, the app clearly showed flexibility to add such devices as well as the ability to add multiple homes. Based upon this assessment as well as the near five-star app reviews, we feel confident in Geeni's ability in this regard.
The TP-Link Kasa occupies the high-price end for devices tested in this post. However, for the additional money, customers receive a substantial, aesthetically attractive unit with all six outlets "oversized." Additionally, the unit provides three USB connections and a flat/angled power connection. And finally, each outlet boasts its own physical switch.
For what it's worth, the TP-Link Kasa also arrives with substantial, user-friendly packaging. Further, the unit has a good heft that will thwart rolling with multiple items plugged in. The included quick-start card has very small print, but reading proved unnecessary since provisioning flowed easily through the app. The app determined location easily for sunrise and sunset. The app further provided default scene suggestions (Good Morning, Good Night, Movie Night) and the ability to customize and program through a highly intuitive, flexible, and attractive app. The user interface includes a timer and an away/randomized mode to help homes appear occupied. The app also disconnected and reconnected easily upon unplugging the power strip, though slightly delayed versus the Geeni.
A Little More
As a note, the entire Kasa power strip could not easily be powered ON/OFF easily except by using a scene (e.g., Good Night). Without using this scene, each socket had to be turned off individually, either through the app or using the appropriate physical button. Further, the USB chargers are always ON and non-programmable and the cord only 36 inches long. The Kasa provides an energy monitor by circuit, which is interesting but does not seem to deliver much further value. Naturally, we prefer monitoring whole-home energy in order to manage usage!
Though not tested, Kasa offers voice control for Google Assistant, Alexa, and Microsoft Cortana as well as the ability to expand to other devices, such as smart plugs. However, the app clearly showed flexibility to add such devices, though perhaps not the ability to add multiple homes. The Kasa app consistently receives near five-star app reviews.
WETON Smart Power Strip
The WETON Smart Power Strip sits at the mid-price range for the best power strips tested in this post. Though the WETON unit only offers four AC sockets, each is "oversized" and the unit also includes four USB connections.
WETON's packaging speaks to utility: simple, but effective. This same perception flows through to the device and app. The unit itself lightweight, but boasts a more square shape that makes it feel more substantial. Like the Kasa above, this unit likely will not roll with items plugged in. And we like the longer, 4.5-foot cord. The quick-start card proved helpful as initial provisioning required depressing a physical button for six seconds in order to initiate the Wi-Fi connection. Wi-Fi provisioning was fairly easy, though selecting the appropriate device was a bit trickier than with other units. Easily determined user location for sunrise, sunset, and custom scene programming.
The app receives a 4.5-star rating and is strikingly similar to the Geeni app, but not quite so smooth or intuitive. Still, the app is quite flexible and easy to program, though lacking a timer. And the USB chargers ARE programmable as a complete unit.
A Little More
As a critique, it should be noted that the app was not terribly responsive to registering OFFLINE after unplugging the power strip -- even after refreshing. However, it caught up within a couple of minutes and re-connected rapidly. Nevertheless, the WETON unit provided great flexibility for turning ON/OFF either the entire strip or individual plugs, with a physical button to turn the whole strip ON/OFF for convenience. Great for controlling vampire load. We did not test voice control with Google Assistant and Alexa and WETON provides no indication for the ability to expand to other devices.
WiOn also occupies the mid-range price point, with six AC sockets but no USB connections. Two of the sockets are CONSTANT ON and not controllable by Wi-Fi or programming. And of these two sockets, one is oversized to accommodate larger plugs. The unit also comes with child-safety covers for all six sockets.
In general, the WiOn unit provided a lower quality user experience than the other devices tested for best power strips in this post. Packaging was difficult and included no quick-start instructions. Further, the instruction booklet was confusing and ultimately not very necessary. The app provisioning process felt clunky and may speak to why the app only receives two-star reviews. Nevertheless, once provisioned, the app was easy and flexible for programming. Features include timer, vacation, and security modes. Detection of a disconnected strip is rapid, as is re-connection.
A Little More
As a note, the whole strip could not easily be powered on/off -- and all four AC plugs could only be programmed as a single unit. However, we liked the longer 4-ft cord and note that some users may appreciate having two CONSTANT ON plugs. The WION unit also boasts an interesting power meter that includes true voltage. Again, the value of this measurement for a single smart strip is not clear as we prefer whole-home monitoring. We did not test the Alexa voice control, but noted the ability to add expansion devices. That said, with the relatively poor app reviews and the more challenging user experience, WiOn may not prove the best bet for further purchases.
Bottom Line on Best Power Strips
Overall, we felt that all four of the devices worked as advertised and delivered value. Nevertheless, we clearly favored the Geeni Surge and the WETON in the mid-price range. Both of these devices offered good value and flexibility. However, each had different physical and app-driven differences that consumers will value differently. If app aesthetics and the ability to expand to other devices such as smart plugs are favored, then the Geeni Surge should be your choice. However, if the ability to control USB connections is important or if you prefer a more blocky shape that won't roll, WETON is likely a better choice.
That said, for those less sensitive to price, the TP-Link Kasa is a great unit. We very much liked its flat/angled cord, its roominess and heft, as well as the inclusion of USB ports, though not controllable. Further, we felt that the TP-Link offered the greatest app flexibility and best user experience -- all for a price!
As a final note, we began our work based upon a desire to help our customers avoid vampire load. However, while evaluating, we became impressed with the ability to use the best power strips for control of lighting and other devices. This ability should prove all the more powerful by adding further devices available for expansion, in particular from companies such as Geeni and WETON.