Communicates with other Nest detectors (if installed in the house), as well as Nest cameras. Also integrates with Logitech Harmony and Wink smart home systems. Tells owners verbally what it is detecting. Users love that low battery alert chirps are a thing of the past thanks to its battery life indicator.
Does not directly integrate with remote home security providers' systems. Not yet compatible with Alexa or Echo. Setup can be complex, and connecting to Wi-Fi routers can be problematic. Very pricey for a CO detector, even with a 10-year lifespan.
Straightforward installation. Controllable via smartphone from anywhere in the world, using an app that's very intuitive and lets users set light schedules quickly. Location-based automatic timer is a nice plus.
Wi-Fi range in-home isn't great. Some may have issues wiring the unit as it requires a neutral lead. Does not support 3-way switches. Firmware updates may be buggy.
Very compact and unobtrusive design. Pairs easily with Google Home standard. In addition to playing music on demand, can function as an intercom with other Home devices. Very responsive to voice commands and questions. Upward-facing speaker fills the room with sound. Compatible with most major music apps.
Fewer features than the Echo Dot. Not as friendly to pulling up music that's not part of a subscription service. No backup battery power onboard. Does not retain user settings after a power failure.
Works with most smart home hubs including Wink, Lenovo, SmartThings, and Alexa. Super-fast plug-in and pairing with any Z-Wave-compatible technology. Easy to set up and schedule using mobile app. Load monitoring feature is a nice plus.
Not compatible with Echo (except through an Alexa hub). May need to move hub closer to dimmer in order to pair (but usually can move it back in place once paired).
Rechargeable battery lasts weeks and even months before needing charging. Sun tracking option (which adjusts the tilt of the blinds) is a recent and welcome addition. Installation is straightforward and Bluetooth pairs quickly with smartphones.
Not yet compatible with any smart home hubs (although Alexa integration is in the works). Very pricey.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We haven’t quite achieved Jetsons-style houses in the sky, but the breadth of smart home devices on the market brings us closer every day. Using voice control, automation, and Internet of Things remote control, smart home devices allow you to optimize and control your appliances and electronics even from thousands of miles away. Gone are the days of leaving for work wondering if you left the door unlocked or arriving home from a two-week vacation to discover that the air conditioner has been running the whole time.
There’s a smart home device for almost every household need and nuisance. Almost one-third of homes currently use smart products, and it’s predicted that over half of homes will be equipped with smart products by 2022. But how do you know where to start when shopping for one of these complex products? And how do you make sure all your smart home devices work well together?
At BestReviews, we make even the toughest purchasing decisions easy with our thoroughly researched recommendations and in-depth shopping guides. For everything you need to know about smart home devices before you buy, just keep reading.
A smart home device runs on an automated system, enabling it to react to changes in its environment on its own. A smart product allows you to control and monitor your home remotely through an app. Some smart home devices are remote-controlled and some are voice-controlled – and some are both.
Smart home devices have the ability to learn your daily routines by detecting and memorizing your usage patterns and responding accordingly. For example, a smart home device can learn to adjust your home’s lighting at the same time every day. Smart home devices can also automatically adjust your home’s temperature, lock and unlock doors, and even change the tilt of your home’s blinds.
Smart home devices send you email and text alerts through an app, and many keep track of your house’s stats and produce power usage reports.
Sends alerts to your phone
The Nest Protect Smart Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm (2nd Generation) identifies smoke and carbon monoxide levels and tells you where the problem is and when it’s safe to reenter the space. Connected to WiFi, this smart smoke detector will send an alert to your smartphone or tablet. You can also silence the alarm from your phone if you’re in the habit of burning the popcorn on movie night.
Maybe you’re wondering why you would bother installing a bunch of high-tech equipment in your home. We get it. Manually-operated homes have worked fine up until this point, haven’t they?
But smart home devices are about making your house and life more efficient, helping you cut the amount of power you use or the time and effort you expend on daily tasks. You can access all of the world’s information with a voice command, and you can stop worrying about locks, lights, and thermostats with a smart home device.
Smart security systems allow you to feel safer in your home and can simplify dog-walking and house-sitting routines. Plus, using this fancy tech is actually better for the environment because it allows you to control your power usage.
A pint-size personal assistant
Think of the Google Home Mini as an automated calendar, speaker system, and remote control that fits in the palm of your hand. Powered by Google Assistant, this tiny tool can answer questions, tell you the news, play music, wake you up, and control compatible smart home devices. Curl up in bed with a good book, and then ask Google to turn off the lights when you’re sleepy.
Check with your power and insurance companies to see if they’ll issue you any rebates or credits for using smart home devices.
Before you buy a new smart home device, make sure its operating system is compatible with the smart devices you already use in your home.
A hub is a piece of hardware or software that connects your smart home devices to your network and other devices. When you’re shopping for smart home products, you’ll notice that some come with their own hubs, while others need to be paired with a central hub.
You can think of a smart home hub as a kind of digital house manager. You can set up your hub to allow your smart home devices to communicate with one another and respond together to stimuli, like a smart thermostat and smart light switches that adjust the temperature and lights in your home together according to input from sensors.
Hubs usually connect directly to your router or via WiFi, and you can access the hub through an app on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. That said, you can run some smart home devices without a hub, so it isn’t a necessary purchase if you aren’t ready to commit to having a fully smart home.
Easy lighting control
Like potato chips, you won’t be able to stop with just one of these smart light switches. With the WeMo In-Wall Smart Switch you can control your lights from anywhere using your smartphone, and schedule your lights to turn on and off at certain times to save energy. You can even program each switch with its own schedule, so the hallway light can go on at 6 p.m., while the bedroom light turns on at 7 a.m.
When planning where to install your smart home devices, you won’t get optimal results if you put a WiFi-enabled device in a room with a spotty internet connection.
There are about 29 million smart home devices in the United States. That’s a lot of products and opportunities for innovation, but all these different devices aren’t always compatible with one another.
Some smart home devices pair with Amazon Alexa, while others use Google Assistant. Some use Android, while others have iOS apps. If you have your eye on a smart home device that you’re only somewhat confident will be compatible with your other smart products, make sure to carefully review the seller’s return policy.
Solar-powered, remote-controlled window blinds
The MySmartBlinds Automation Kit uses solar power and built-in temperature sensors to open or close your blinds according to the light and temperature in your home. This smart home device also works with Alexa and Google Assistant, enabling you to use voice commands if you don’t have your smartphone or tablet handy.
The cost of smart home products varies depending on the device’s function, aesthetic, and level of technology. You can expect to pay anywhere from $30 to more than $1,000.
At $30 to $40, smart plugs and light switches are the least expensive smart home devices, and many people buy multiples of each. In the $40 to $80 range, you’ll find mini personal assistant devices, as well as smart light bulbs and small gadgets.
Between $100 and $250, you can find smart smoke detectors, automated blind systems, and some camera systems. Most smart locks, security systems, high-tech cameras, and full smart lighting systems cost between $250 and $450.
Complete, top-of-the-line home automation systems offering end-to-end solutions, including a smart hub, multi-room control panels, smart thermostats, cameras, and blinds, can cost $1,000 and up.
Q. Should I worry about the security and safety of using smart home devices?
A. Although it definitely isn’t a widespread issue, there has been research and discussion around the possibility of hackers breaking into smart locks. Your smart smoke detector or light switch is unlikely to interest a crook, but it’s still a good idea to practice common sense. Use different secure passwords for your products, and update the firmware on your smart home devices to make sure they’re running the latest security.
Q. Can I install my smart home devices myself?
A. Depending on the complexity of the system or product, many smart home devices can be easily installed, only requiring tasks like unscrewing bolts. For larger, more comprehensive smart home devices (or if you just don’t want to take on the hassle), hire a professional for installation.
Q. How do smart home devices affect a home’s value?
A. Many home buyers are willing to spend more for homes equipped with smart home devices. A recent survey found that almost 75% of millennial homeowners would spend $1,500 or more to make their homes smart. Updating your home’s tech with smart home devices can be just as important as renovating that outdated bathroom.
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