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There's only one smart plug you need and here's how to set it up

Smart plugs are the fastest way to make your home smart -- follow these steps to set one up in minutes.

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Smart plugs are a smart home staple for automating lamps, desk fans (or pretty much any other small appliances) quickly and easily -- and without spending too much money. They add a ton of convenience, but they can also help prevent the spread of germs when you set an on-off schedule for your lights (or any device) to follow automatically, hands-free. In light of the coronavirus outbreak, having one less lamp or fan to touch probably isn't a bad thing. 

A lot of companies sell smart plugs, but they all have similar installation processes and they all do pretty much the same thing. 

For the purposes of this post, I'm going to use our current favorite smart plug -- the $30 TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug Mini -- to show you how to install a smart plug and how you can use it to make your dumb appliances smart(er). 

Chris Monroe/CNET

Step 1: Get the Kasa app 

You need TP-Link's Kasa app to install and manage your Kasa smart plug. Download the Kasa app on your Android or iOS device of choice and create an account, or simply log in if you already have one. 

Step 2: Add a new device

Open the Kasa app and click on the plus sign on the top right corner of the home screen. Then select "Device," "Smart Plug" and "Smart Plug Lite/Mini" so the app knows which TP-Link Kasa product you're trying to install. 

Step 3: Plug it into an outlet

Plug the Kasa plug into a wall outlet. LED status lights built into the plug will blink orange and blue; that means you're in pairing mode. Select "Orange and Blue" on the app screen when you see the pairing lights. 

Step 4: Connect it to Wi-Fi

Follow the prompts in the app to enter your Wi-Fi info. Keep in mind that the Kasa plug requires a 2.4GHz connection. Learn more about Wi-Fi routers here.

This might be the fastest tutorial ever, because -- that's it. You're done. The app will ask you to name your Kasa plug -- something like "desk fan" or "coffee maker" that's easy to distinguish from other connected devices. You can even take a picture of your fan, coffee maker or lamp and make a custom icon. 

For more tips and tricks of what to do with a smart plug once you've installed it, be sure to watch my video on CNET's YouTube channel, How To Do It All.

And, if you're curious about other how to articles centered around the smart home, check out this one all about installing a Ring video doorbell.