If you’ve got gadgets, up-to-the-minute appliances, and other intelligent fixtures in your home, it may be time to bring them together with the best smart-home device. These new essentials allow you to monitor and control the connected devices from virtually anywhere, adding a luxurious ease and functionality to everyday life.
The bonus? Complicated hookups are all in the past, since creating a futuristic feel in your smart home has never been simpler. Many of the best smart-home devices available now are a snap to set up and use—plus, some are remarkably affordable. Whether you’re a smart system aficionado or more of a newbie, read on for some factors to consider when setting up a connected home and explore some of the best smart-home devices on the market today.
- BEST OVERALL: Amazon Echo (4th Gen)
- RUNNER-UP: Blink Outdoor wireless HD security camera
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Kasa Smart Plug HS103P2
- BEST LIGHT BULB: Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance LED Smart Bulb
- BEST LIGHT SWITCH: Kasa Smart Dimmer Switch HS220
- BEST THERMOSTAT: Google Nest Learning Thermostat
- BEST DOORBELL: Arlo Essential Video Doorbell Wired
- BEST LOCK: August Wi-Fi Smart Lock (Newest Model 4th Gen)
- BEST VACUUM: iRobot Roomba 694 Robot Vacuum
- BEST SECURITY SYSTEM: SimpliSafe 9 Piece Wireless Home Security System
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Smart-Home Devices
Smart-home devices allow you to control a large spectrum of fixtures, gadgets, and appliances, from small items such as light bulbs and plugs to large essentials like fridges and ovens. Regardless of the purpose and size of your home devices, compatibility, installation, usability features, and design are important factors to keep in mind when shopping for a way to monitor and control them.
Every smart-home device will have different compatibility requirements. By pairing compatible devices together, you can create a truly interconnected home system. Make sure to consider compatibility with current devices and for devices you plan on adding in the future.
Device compatibility adds to convenience. For example, if all your devices are compatible with your voice assistant hub, you can use voice commands with each connected device. Fortunately, most devices will have compatibility between brands. Amazon Alexa, for instance, is compatible with a huge range of products from other brands, including Philips, Samsung, Nest, and many more.
Different device preferences or adding devices down the road might cause you to end up with noncompatible devices. The good news is, you can still take advantage of each device’s smart features individually. However, using compatible devices is the way to go for creating the ultimate connected home.
When shopping for a smart-home device, look for features that will truly enhance your lifestyle. For example, opt for a smart security system if you travel often, or smart locks if you have guests that come and go.
While some simpler smart devices only have remote on and off features, others have more flexible controls, such as monitoring systems, setting timers, changing climate controls, and changing detailed settings.
One useful feature is IFTTT (If This Then That) compatibility. IFTTT is a service that enables complex, reactionary smart-device controls. In IFTTT systems, one device can trigger reactions on one or more other devices; for example, turning the lights and air conditioning on when the door is unlocked. IFTTT functionality can make a smart home feel more connected, secure, and comfortable than ever.
Many simpler smart-home products, like smart plugs, bulbs, and security cameras, have easy, do-it-yourself installation. The corresponding app or user interface will often aid in setup to get the smart device working in a few steps.
Some permanent devices or appliances require professional installation. Smart thermostats or locks, for instance, may need extra wiring, which a professional should handle for safety. In some cases, it may also be worth the convenience to pay a pro to install large appliances, such as a smart dishwasher or a washing machine. Keep the cost of professional installation in mind if this is necessary for your chosen device.
Not just intelligent but good-looking too, most of today’s best smart-home devices feature sleek designs to match their modern concept. Their simple appearance and clean lines fit right into popular contemporary home styles. True, some smart devices may not jibe with traditional decor, but the convenience they provide is often well worth that trade-off.
User interface is another major piece of smart-device design. Most smart devices will have a corresponding smartphone app or web interface. A user-friendly interface design can help you take advantage of all the functions a device or appliance offers. Consider the control interface’s ease of use when shopping.
Our Top Picks
The best smart devices make it easy to upgrade your daily routine, giving you control over a range of devices from anywhere. Not only do these devices make life more convenient, they can also help monitor your home and offer valuable insights on your habits that could save you money and minimize waste. The products here are considered among the best smart-home devices available today for a variety of purposes.
Smart hubs, a ubiquitous item in many modern homes, can unify connected gadgets into one central control system. The Amazon Echo smart hub is one of the most functional options available, and it’s compatible with a wide range of smart devices.
Powered by Alexa (Amazon’s voice assistant), the hub allows users to control connected devices and interact with Alexa to answer questions or change settings using voice commands. Beyond connecting and controlling devices, the hub is also a high-quality smart speaker, so you can turn on clear-sounding music and podcasts with a single phrase or a tap of your phone.
Those hoping to improve home security and safety might wish to check out the Blink Outdoor Security Camera. This easy-to-install, weather-resistant camera boasts a battery-powered and wireless design that captures 1080p HD footage of front porches or backyards. Clips can be stored on the cloud with a Blink Subscription Plan (not included) or via local storage with a USB flash drive (not included).
Using the Blink Home Monitor app, users can view live video or browse through videos saved in cloud storage. A detailed set of motion detection settings, including custom motion zones and sensitivity settings, makes it simple to set up alerts and capture clips as necessary. The camera can pair with Alexa-enabled products, such as Amazon Echo, and is compatible with IFTTT for more flexible control options.
One of the simplest and most affordable device options for smart-home newbies, the Kasa Smart Plug can let you turn a “dumb” device into a smart one. It plugs into any home outlet and connects to Wi-Fi (using a 2.4GHz band) to offer smart control of the outlet.
By using the Kasa app or connecting to a compatible voice assistant (Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant), users can control the outlet and the plugged-in device. Possible actions include turning the device on and off, scheduling timers and countdown schedules, and triggering an “away” mode to make the home appear occupied. When paired with other Kasa products, the Kasa Smart Actions feature allows users to group outlets and devices to switch them all on or off with a click.
Set the mood in any room with the Philips Hue Smart bulb. Users can turn the bulb on and off and control the light temperature and color using voice controls or the app. With a menu of color options, mood lighting settings, and manual settings to choose from, options abound to customize ambience and illumination.
This set includes two A19 LED smart bulbs, compatible with Bluetooth, Zigbee (a common smart-home network standard), Alexa-enabled devices, and Google Assistant devices. Using a compatible device or the smartphone app, users can adjust current lighting modes or scheduled pre-set light “recipes.” Plus, installing these Energy Star–certified bulbs is a breeze; just replace your current light bulb with this smart version.
Never worry about leaving a light on again with the Kasa Smart Dimmer Switch. This smart switch enables users to adjust lighting from anywhere, whether you want to soften the mood for an intimate dinner or allow illumination to fade in a child’s room at bedtime.
This switch, which requires a neutral wire to install, connects via a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network to offer remote lighting control from the Kasa app or voice control via Amazon Alexa or Google Home. Users can switch lighting on and off, adjust brightness, and set schedules and timers.
With the Google Nest Learning Thermostat, users can control home temperature with an app or a voice command to Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa hubs. Easily adjust temperature, set schedules, or enable the “auto-schedule” mode which “learns” your habits and responds accordingly. A “home/away assist” feature automatically adjusts temperature when the house is empty to save energy. Plus, both the thermostat display and the app offer the option to view energy history should users wish to look at usage patterns.
Within about a week of use, the smart thermostat’s “auto-schedule” feature will come to comprehend your schedule and temperature preferences throughout the day and through the seasons. Any change in habits? Control, of course, is just a click or a voice command away.
Easily see who is at the door from anywhere with the Arlo Essential Video Doorbell, which works with existing wiring to replace a traditional doorbell. Each time a guest arrives, the Arlo captures the image from head to toe in crisp, detailed HD video. When the doorbell rings, it triggers a video call (with two-way audio) or a quick reply message. The video doorbell also captures video when the motion detector is triggered, so the unit essentially doubles as a front door camera for added security. All the features are accessible via the smartphone app.
The WiFi-enabled doorbell is weather resistant to withstand the elements on any front door or porch. It is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit, and Samsung SmartThings for those who prefer using voice controls.
With the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock, forgotten keys are a relic of the past. The smart-lock system is compatible with most single-cylinder deadbolts to work with the existing deadbolt lock for easy installation. Once connected to a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network, the lock enables users to check the door status and lock and unlock the door from anywhere. Plus, a secure key feature means approved friends and family can also control the lock.
Users can control the settings through a smartphone app or voice commands via Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant. To add even more convenience, an auto-unlock and auto-lock feature detects when you’re close by to trigger the appropriate action.
Clean smarter, not harder, with the iRobot Roomba 694 Robot Vacuum. In addition to cleaning debris off a variety of flooring surfaces, this Roomba takes it up a notch with added smart features. With the iRobot Home App or a voice assistant (Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant), users can control, schedule, or locate the vacuum. Over time, the app comes to comprehend cleaning habits to suggest customized schedules or extra cleanings as needed; for example, during pollen season.
The vacuum is suitable for use on hard floors and carpets, with a multisurface brush that cleans dust as well as large debris. An Edge-Sweeping brush ensures that corners and edges aren’t missed. Each cleaning session can last up to 90 minutes, after which the Roomba automatically docks and recharges.
Those who take home security seriously may wish to consider this SimpliSafe product. The nine-piece home security system includes a base station (a central hub with a siren), a keypad, four entry sensors, two motion sensors, and a SimpliCam security camera. Yet this wireless system is remarkably quick and easy to set up.
The SimpliSafe Home Security App lets users arm and disarm the system, set notifications, monitor the system, and watch and capture live video. The system is also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, to make it easy to arm the system with a voice command while heading out the door. For even more comprehensive security, users can opt in to a 24/7 professional monitoring service.
FAQs About Smart-Home Devices
Smart-home devices give you the opportunity to monitor, automate, and control your devices from afar to create a more connected and convenient home. If you still require more info about these products, consider the answers to the following common questions to help you choose and use your new smart device.
Q. What do I need to make my house a smart home?
Any smart device is a step toward creating a smart home, but to create a truly connected home, select compatible smart devices to control a range of devices and appliances.
Q. How should I secure smart-home devices?
Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and consider researching additional ways to keep your selected smart devices secure. These measures can include securing your Wi-Fi network, creating unique account passwords, and keeping firmware and software up to date.
Q. How do I integrate smart-home devices?
Make sure to choose compatible smart-home devices and follow manufacturers’ directions to integrate devices together.
Q. Can smart-home devices be hacked?
Yes, it is possible for smart-home devices to be hacked, but with the right security steps, you can reduce your risk.