The best smart home devices

Smart Home

Some local electric companies may give you a small rebate or discount for installing energy-saving smart home devices.

Which smart home devices are best?

Smart home devices give you the ability to control a variety of items around your home through a smartphone app or with voice commands through a personal assistant device.

The smart home device replaces things like a standard household outlet or a light switch, allowing you to control items connected to it. Or it will learn your habits, automatically turning devices on and off to match your lifestyle.

Our favorite device is the Google Nest Protect Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Alarm, which provides smoke and carbon monoxide detection capabilities.

Considerations when choosing smart home devices

When searching for a smart home device, you need to consider a few items to be certain your device will give you the desired results.

Compatibility

Although smart home devices tend to have quite a bit of compatibility with other devices, no universal compatibility exists.

If you already have some smart home devices or a personal assistant installed, you will want to make certain that any new smart home device you pick will work with what you already have.

Wi-Fi connectivity

Smart home devices must be able to make a wireless connection to your Wi-Fi network.

If you plan to install a smart home device at your house, make sure the area where you’ll install it has a strong Wi-Fi signal. If the signal is weak or inconsistent in the area, your smart home device may not work properly.

Hub

With some smart home devices, you will need to purchase a hub. The hub connects to your Wi-Fi network, and then the devices connect to the hub. If your smart home device requires a hub, it may ship with one. With other smart devices, they will connect directly to the Wi-Fi network, meaning they do not need a hub.

Smart home device features

If you are wondering which components are available as smart home devices, here is a list of some of the items you could purchase.

  • Light bulbs: You can turn on and off smart light bulbs using a smartphone app or your voice assistant. They screw into a light socket just like any other light bulb.
  • Light switch: With the smart light switch, you can control it through an app, or you can press on it to deploy it. Some of these switches will give you dimmer capabilities.
  • Lock: The smart lock allows you to control the door locks on your exterior doors, which means you could let in a child who has forgotten the entry code or allow a delivery person to place a package inside the house instead of on the porch.
  • Plug: With a smart plug, you can turn on and off any items plugged into the outlet.
  • Smoke alarm: You can measure both smoke and carbon monoxide with it. The device will sound an alarm, but it also will alert your smartphone in case you aren’t home.
  • Thermostat: A smart thermostat allows you to control your home’s heating and cooling system through the app. Some thermostats include extra sensors that determine when someone is home, adjusting the settings automatically.

How much you can expect to spend on smart home devices

Smart home devices vary widely in cost, depending on the function of the device. You could pay as little as $30 for a light switch or smart plug. You could pay a few hundred dollars for a smart lock.

Smart home devices FAQ

Q. Are there hacking concerns with smart home devices?

A. Certainly, if you have a device connected to a network, a hacker potentially could gain control of it. The chances of this occurring with a smart home device are minimal.

Q. Do I need a professional to install a smart home device?

A. It depends on your level of comfort with high-tech units. Most of these devices are made as a DIY project, but some people have no desire to try it and would rather hand the job to a pro.

Smart home devices we recommend

Best of the best

Nest Protect Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Alarm, 2nd Generation

Nest Protect Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Alarm, 2nd Generation

Our take: Works with all of the smart devices in your home to communicate about smoke and carbon monoxide detection.

What we like: You’ll always know when the battery is running low without having to hear an annoying chirping sound.

What we dislike: Setup can be a serious challenge for those who have a bit of tech-phobia.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best bang for your buck

Amazon Echo Dot, 3rd Generation

Amazon Echo Dot, 3rd Generation

Our take: Gives you plenty of great features in an easy-to-use format that’s also affordable.

What we like: Speaker gives you surprisingly good sound quality. Four different color options, so you can match your decor.

What we dislike: Doesn’t have quite the quality or feature set of pricier Echo models.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Wemo In-Wall Indoor Smart Switch

Wemo In-Wall Indoor Smart Switch

Our take: Does not require a hub connection to work, so you may save a bit of money with this model over the long haul.

What we like: Includes an automatic timer. Installation should go smoothly, as should the connection to your network.

What we dislike: Will not support installs where you need three-way switches.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Kyle Schurman writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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