Smart switches are great in theory, but the bulk of them are a little chunky and some aren't versatile. And despite the idea that they're smart, let's be honest, all they really do is allow you to control things from your phone or smart home.
Kickstarter-funded Swidget thinks smart outlets should be a little more versatile and has created the Customizable Outlet ($39.99), which is a modular outlet that can be personalized with interchangeable inserts for features like Amazon Alexa support, Wi-Fi control, USB charging, a night light, and more. Prices for the inserts start at $10.99.
The concept is cool, but it is a pretty new idea, so does it work in practice? We've been using the Swidget for a few weeks now to find out.
Swidget is designed to look relatively familiar, and it achieves that pretty well. At first glance, it looks like a basic two-gang power outlet with a rectangular faceplate. That's pretty much what any other power outlet you're likely to find in your home looks like.
What sets the design — and functionality — apart from others is the center of Swidget outlet. There's a small space where you can take out and slot in different inserts, which add different functionalities depending on which insert you use. Currently, there are 11 inserts, four of which are on Amazon — Guide Light ($10.99), Wi-Fi + USB Charger ($29.99), Z-Wave Outlet Control ($39.99), and Wi-Fi + Power Out Light ($44.99)— and the rest are on Swidget's site. According to the brand, an Amazon Alex insert will be available later this year.
The rear of the outlet is a little deeper than a standard power outlet, and that's something that's worth considering as it comes into play during installation of the outlet, so you should double-check that your electrical boxes are big enough to house Swidget outlets before buying. Most modern homes will be fine, but some older homes may have much smaller electrical boxes.
The inserts are very easy to take out and slot in, which is a nice touch. Simply squeeze the latches at the top and bottom of the insert, pull out the old insert, and slot a new one in. You'll need to make sure the insert is lined up properly to put in an insert, but it's pretty intuitive.
The app is available 0n iOS and Android, and while it does the job, it will take some time to get used to it. It's not the prettiest app out there, nor is it the best when it comes to connectivity or presenting information about your switch, but these weren't deal breakers for us.
- Decora style design
- 15A outlet
- Can work with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung SmartThings, and IFTTT
- Supports Wi-Fi or Z-Wave with appropriate insert
- 1.8 inches wide, 4.19 inches long, and 1.62 inches deep
Setting up your Swidget should be relatively easy, but your experience will vary depending on the inserts you plan on using. And if you're at all concerned about it or have any hesitations at all, you should ask an electrician to do it for you.
If you decide to do it yourself, make sure you first turn off the power at the circuit breaker to avoid getting electrocuted. Then unscrew your old outlet and disconnect it from the wires. It's worth taking a photo of the wiring on the old switch in case you need to re-install it and aren't sure how to do it.
Depending on the inserts you're using, you'll have other installation to do too. For example, we used Swidget with the Wi-Fi control insert and that meant downloading the Swidget app, creating an account, and connecting the Swidget to the app. With that insert, you can control the outlet from your phone — but only the bottom one as the outlet is always on, like a standard power outlet. More on that later.
What makes it stand out
There are a few things that make Swidget a great device, but the most important is, of course, its versatility. There are a bunch of different inserts available, ranging from a USB charger outlet to a Wi-Fi connectivity insert to an Alexa speaker built right into the device. There are even some inserts that serve dual purposes — like one that adds Wi-Fi connectivity and USB charging.
Switching inserts out is relatively easy too — you just pinch the tabs and pull the insert out, then slot the new one in. Swidget recommends you turn the power off before changing inserts, but it's still an easy process.
If you opt for a Wi-Fi insert, you'll get access to some pretty smart features. For example, the system works with a range of smart home ecosystems, including Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT. With the Z-Wave insert, you can get Samsung SmartThings access instead.
There's also the fact that Swidget isn't overly expensive. To get a base Swidget, you'll pay just under $35 on Amazon, while inserts start at $5.99 and go up depending on their functionality. This can definitely add up if you're planning on several different bases and inserts, but because it's so versatile and inserts can be changed in and out easily, the price is justified for us.
Last but not least, Swidget offers some pretty smart energy monitoring through the app, which is a nice touch.
Cons to consider
Yes, Swidget is a pretty versatile device, but it's not perfect.
Namely, the accompanying Swidget app isn't all that well-designed. It's a little clunky and information isn't presented in an intuitive way, and there are connectivity issues sometimes — not deal breakers, but still frustrating. You will get used to the design quickly, but we think Swidget still could have done a little better in designing its app.
Another issue — and a slightly big one — is that regardless of the insert you choose, only bottom power outlet can be remotely controlled while the top outlet is always on like a traditional outlet. We think there are plenty of people who would like to have remote control for both outlets — at times, us included.
Last but not least, while we like the smart home integration currently offered and the automation options via IFTTT, we would've liked to get Apple HomeKit support to round out the big three smart home systems. Perhaps this could be added later in the form of an insert, but it's missing now.
The bottom line
Swidget is a great way to get a versatile smart outlet in your home while being able to change it up depending on your needs or if you change your mind later.
There are some small issues — but considering the versatility and relatively low price, we think Swidget is well worth buying. We liked the amount of smart home control currently offered, plus it's nice to be able to have features like a night-light or USB charger built right into an outlet — which aren't options with other smart outlets.
If you're looking for other options though, there are some that might be good fits for your smart home setup. If you just want standard smart control in a built-in outlet, it's worth checking out the TP-Link Kasa line of plugs, which works with Alexa and Assistant and allows control of both outlets. Or if you have HomeKit, you can also look into buying a few Belkin WeMo Minis to plug into your existing outlet.
Pros: Versatile, looks like a regular outlet, has energy monitoring, good smart home control, easy to install
Cons: App could use a design and functionality update, no HomeKit compatibility, only one outlet can be remotely controlled