15 Smart Home Devices That Are Worth Every Penny
Tech experts dish on the genius products that might just change your life. They're easy to set up, too. If you can use a smart phone, you can have a smart home.
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If you’re new to smart home devices, the Wemo Mini Smart Plug is a great first option. “This is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to branch into smart home tech,” says tech consultant Stephanie Duchaine Montgomery. Plug it into an outlet, then plug any appliance into it — lamps, fans, curling irons — and you can control the appliance from your phone anytime, anywhere. It even responds to voice commands via Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant. The “Away Mode” turns lights on and off in your house randomly to make it seem like you’re home. Check out these other ways to make it look like you’re home and fool burglars.
Ring is one of the best smart home security devices on the market. Security is a leading area for smart home devices, according to tech expert Lance Ulanoff. With Ring Video Doorbell, just ask Alexa to see who’s at the door, and know right away when packages have been delivered or guests have arrived. With Ring Video Doorbell’s motion sensors, you can receive an alert to your phone if someone approaches your house, and communicate with any visitors who ring the bell. One advantage over similar video doorbells: It can be battery-powered, so it’s no problem if your doorbell isn’t hard-wired.
Smart Security Camera
The Nest Cam Indoor and Outdoor cameras offer continuous video recording, send you alerts when there’s motion or unusual sounds, and allow you to speak directly through their microphones to scare away intruders. All three also work with Amazon’s Alexa. Learn 15 unexpected ways to use Alexa.
Saving money is absolutely one of the things we hope to achieve with the best smart home devices. After all, who doesn’t want to lower their energy bill? The Nest Thermostat E saves households $131 to $145 a year, based on typical energy usage. Nest lets you set different temperatures for when you’re home and when you’re not, and make adjustments with your phone or through Alexa. It will even lower the temperature when it senses you’ve left the house — by tracking your phone.
Alexa-Enabled Smart Thermostat
The Ecobee4 SmartThermostat works much like the Nest thermostat but with one major difference: It has Alexa voice command ability built in. So even if you don’t have a separate Alexa device, you can tell the Ecobee to adjust temperatures or even give you the news or order groceries. Here are more things you didn’t know your Amazon Alexa could do.
Smart Devices for Your Pets
What’s Fido doing all day while you’re away? You’ll know for sure with the Furbo Dog Camera. Live streaming video lets you watch your pet’s every move on your phone and receive alerts when there’s barking. The Furbo will even dispense treats and allow you to say “Good dog!” through a two-way audio speaker. Our editors and our pups consider the Furbo one of this year’s best smart home devices. These are the 14 best puzzle toys for dogs.
The Samsung Family Hub refrigerator does way more than keep your food cold. It allows you to create shopping lists, order groceries, plus share schedules and send messages to family members, all from the large touchscreen on the fridge door. At the grocery store and not sure if you need milk? See what’s inside your fridge right from your phone. You can also stream music and sync with your Samsung TV to keep watching a show while you fix a snack. “This is a little bit more of an investment, but for busy families, it can make a huge difference,” says Montgomery.
The first popular robot vacuum is still the best. And the latest model, the Roomba e5, has overcome the drawbacks of previous versions: Its multi-surface rubber brushes are less prone to getting clogged with hair, and the super-powerful suction and high-efficiency filter trap dirt and allergens like never before. And of course, you can control the Roomba from an app on your phone when you’re out. Discover more robots that will clean your home.
Smart Laundry Machines
Want your clothes to come out clean in less time, then get an alert when your wash is ready to dry? The LG Smart WiFi Enabled Front Load Washer takes up to 30 minutes less to do a standard load, removes up to 95 percent of pet dander, and uses steam to get clothes clean and fresh. Pair it with the LG Smart WiFi Enabled Dryer, which you can also control with your phone. It senses the moisture level to determine the optimal drying time, removes wrinkles, freshens non-washable items and more. Both are compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
The Smartest Smart Assistant
Proving that good things come in small packages, the Alexa voice command-enabled Amazon Echo Plus can play your favorite songs, make phone calls, research information, order a pizza and control Alexa-compatible smart home devices. Always cold at night? Program a Routine to raise the temperature each night and never worry about getting up to adjust the thermostat. Take your Routine a step further and have Alexa turn off the lights at your ideal bedtime too. Alexa’s large ecosystem of compatible options beats other assistants like Google Assistant, according to tech and security expert Craig Peterson.
You use LED bulbs to save energy. Now take it a step further with the Phillips Hue Light Bulbs. Put the bulbs in your lamps, connect the Hue bridge to your WiFi router, download the Hue app on your phone, and you can control when and which lights go on and off and whether to dim them — all without getting out of bed, or off the couch, or even being home. For security, you can set it to turn lamps on randomly when you’re away. It will even let you use your bedside lamp to wake you by mimicking a sunrise.
This may not be what comes to mind first when you think “smart home gadgets,” but this is absolutely a must-have on our list of the best smart home devices. The Flo water detection system gives you peace of mind in case a pipe bursts, a tub leaks, or your basement floods during a storm. Sixty percent of users discover a leak they didn’t know they had when they install Flo. It monitors your water use, identifies leaks, sends alerts to your phone when there is a problem, and automatically shuts off the water for you. Check out these 16 home tech products that will keep you from worrying about appliances.
The Amazon Echo Show is everything you love about your Amazon Alexa, plus video capability. So you can ask Alexa to show you a recipe, watch live TV and sports, or see who’s at the front door. You can even make video calls. Simply say “Alexa, call Cousin Emily” to be connected with a family member who lives across the country. You can also enable “drop-in” for your closest friends and family. Just say, “Alexa, drop in on my daughter” to start an instant video call. Here’s more about the Amazon Echo Show.
Never get a dry patch of grass on your lawn again. The Rachio Smart Sprinkler lets you input plant type and sun exposure to give your yard the optimal water it needs. In addition, its Rachio Weather Intelligence feature automatically adjusts your watering schedule based on local weather conditions, so if rain is in the forecast, your Rachio will water less. Rachio is good for your wallet too, saving you up to 50 percent on your water bill. It works many smart home platforms, including Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
Why spend a perfectly nice summer day mowing your lawn when the Robomow RS612 can do it for you? Like the Roomba for your floors, the Robomow “reads” the perimeter of your lawn and automatically cuts grass to your desired height. It can handle slopes of up to 20 degrees and switches off when it’s done. It’s quiet, too. No need to worry about it when you’re out, as you can control the Robomow right from your phone. Use the time you’ve saved to start that beautiful garden you’ve been dreaming of. Next, don’t miss the 40 coolest tech gifts you’ll want to keep for yourself.
Now take a look at 10 really smart devices for the kitchen.