Set the alarm. Check the weather. Clean the floors. Turn off the lights in a different room - all at the command of your voice or the push of the button. Reality check...you’re not living in the future - it’s a present reality when you have smart devices in your home.
Smart home gadgets make great gifts for the tech-savvy members of the family, but they're also the modern way to boost efficiency. Before you know it, everyone in the house will be hooked on the convenience and undeniable cool factor of these advanced products:
There's a good chance you've already met Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. They're the ones you can ask for weather updates, news briefings and song changes. If you're new to the smart home device world, your first purchase should be one of these intelligent Bluetooth speakers. They'll serve as your central hub, integrating with the other smart devices you choose to install.
While Amazon and Google take the top positions, with most experts rating the Echo as their top choice, there is a third option when you plan to invest in several smart home products: The Wink Hub 2. This smart-home hub doesn't have any brand loyalties, which means you can integrate with virtually any other smart device, appliance or application. PCMag.com praised the Wink Hub 2 as the most reliable and widely supported smart hub their experts have tested to date.
Smart lights and switches
LED light bulbs consume 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than traditional ones, according to the Department of Energy. Add smart technology to those energy and money-saving bulbs and you can control light intensity and color on command. Get even fancier and sync the lights to music or set color-coordinated alarms to help you wake up in the morning. These bulbs are also typically compatible with lighting control systems, which can further increase energy efficiency, satisfy personal preferences, enhance convenience and improve safety.
The experts at Wirecutter agree that Philips Hue offers the best smart LED light bulbs. While they can be more expensive, they offer the features of a smart light bulb plus integration with a larger, already established app ecosystem, wide compatibility and reliable performance.
You can control most smart bulbs via digital apps, or you can install wireless light switches and dimmers. Wirecutter named the Lutron Caseta Wireless In-Wall Dimmer as the best choice for its adaptability, easy install and scheduling, plus several smart home integration options. The Belkin WeMo Light switch earned the runner-up position for homeowners who want an option that doesn't require a smart hub, and TP-Link earned the budget pick.
Wi-Fi connected electrical outlets allow you to control what's plugged in to them from an application on your phone. Of course, many of them integrate with other smart home devices and systems. According to PCMag's product reviews, the best smart plugs are:
- Belkin WeMo Insight
- iHome iSP6X or iSP100
- Aukey Wi-FI
- iDevices Switch
- TP Link Kasa Smart Wi-FI Mini
Master the most efficient and comfortable home climate control with a smart thermostat designed to pick up on your habits, schedule seasonal and daily temperature variations, automatically turn off when you leave and sense when you return to adapt the temperature accordingly. The research we’ve done shows many experts choose one of two top smart home thermostats: The Nest or the Ecobee 4.
Smart home security
It can give peace of mind knowing that your security system is looking out for your home when you're sleeping or traveling. You can choose from smart security cameras, locks, doorbells and other safety features. CNET provides these smart home security reviews:
- Best retrofit smart lock: August Smart Lock
- Best smart doorbell: Nest Hello
- Best outdoor security camera: Netgear Arlo Pro
- Best smoke detector: Nest Protect Second Generation
- Best smart flood sensor: D-Link Wi-Fi Water Sensor
Smart appliances and cleaning
If you're looking for a helping hand in the cooking, grilling or baking department, there are plenty of gadgets to choose from. Some of the smartest ones available today, according to PCMag, are:
- Char-Broil Digital Electric Smoker with SmartChef Technology
- Traeger Timberline 1300
- Perfect Bake Pro
- Behmor Brewer Connected Coffee Maker
Other appliances pair with apps or integrate with established smart home systems to further enhance convenience, safety and energy efficiency in the kitchen. When it comes to dodging the time-consuming chore of cleaning the floors, buy a robot vacuum to take care of it for you.
Your smart devices can do a lot for your home but they can't replace or repair a breakdown in your home (at least not yet.) That’s why having peace of mind by being prepared before issues arise is a good strategy. Plans from HomeServe can help with the costs of covered repairs. See what plans are available in your area.