Top Home Tech Products You Need to Add
Homes are getting smarter all the time, thanks to great advances in technology. Check out our favorite home tech products and add a little brains to your abode!
Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Ecobee Smart Thermostat
Find out if a WiFi thermostat is right for you.
Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
Nest has got it right with the second-generation model of its Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detector. It integrates with Nest’s Learning Thermostat and Nest Cam. It will test for low batteries and communicate with other Nest devices in a home. It can tell you where the problem is and uses two wavelengths of light to look for both fast and slow burning fires.
Find out how to maintain smoke alarms in your home.
Lutron Serena Remote Controlled Shades
It can even compensate for battery voltage like if one shade has new batteries and the shade next to it has older batteries they will still move at the same speed.
Photo: Courtesy of Lutron
Sonos Wireless Speaker System
If you like the challenge of a DIY project like installing audio in every room, learn how to do it.
Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
Those in search of that modern house feel will want to upgrade to the Electrolux IQ Touch Electric Range. The front control design, Flex-2-Fit heating elements and Perfect Taste Dual Convection will make cooking everything from the weeknight meal to holiday dinners easier. The easy-to-clean cooktop surface and seven cooking modes will help even the most novice chefs prepare marvelous meals.
Give your oven a break and control your dinner from anywhere with the WeMo Crock-Pot slow cooker. Just use your smart device and the WeMo App (free) to adjust or schedule cooking time and temperature. Dinner will be ready when you are!
The HAPIfork is an electric fork that helps you monitor and track your eating habits. It alerts you with the help of indicator lights and gentle vibrations when you’re eating that grilled steak too fast. The information is then uploaded via USB or Bluetooth to your online dashboard on HAPILabs.com to track your progress.
You’ll make the perfect drink every time with the Perfect Drink Pro. Great for your home bar, tell the Perfect Drink Pro via the app what you have in your liquor cabinet. Choose a recipe and this bar-top appliance will help you measure out just the right proportions for your drink. Then shake or stir.
The Brazen Plus Coffee Maker features adjustable settings for water brewing temperature and pre-soak, and guarantees brewing temperature to within 1 degree of your setting. The oversize shower head and pulsed water flow ensures complete coffee bed saturation for the perfect cup every time. And use a permanent filter or paper filters, and don’t forget to use those leftover grounds for pest control.
Neato Botvac Vacuum
Photo: Courtesy of Neato Robotics
Faber Hood T-Light
Anova Sous Vide with Bluetooth
Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator
ION has solved that little problem with its Tough Sounds Hearing Protection Headphones with Bluetooth & Radio. Now, while mowing the lawn or running a chain saw, you can tap into your Bluetooth-equipped device and listen to your own tunes or a podcast. These headphones have a built-in rechargeable battery that lasts up to 20 hours per charge.
Surge Protection is Cheap Insurance
Power, Cubed: E-More Cube
The E-More Cube has four three-prong power outlets as well as two USB charging ports. The outlets are configured so there’s no competition for charging space. The Cube is power-surge protected and takes up less space than a strip on a workshop or countertop. Plus, it looks cool! You can get one for about $23 at many online retail sites—just search for “power cube.” — Marcia Roepke, Art Director
Best Night-Light in History: SnapRays Guidelight
- Everyone needs it: If the sun goes down where you live, you need a few night-lights, right?
- Anyone can install it: It takes all of 60 seconds. Remove the single screw on the old cover plate, snap in the Guidelight and reinstall the screw. That’s it.
- It’s inexpensive to operate: The three tiny LEDs come on only when it’s dark, thanks to the light sensor built into the cover.
- It’s not an ugly plug-in. It looks exactly like an ordinary cover plate. The LEDs at the bottom light up the floor right where you need it.
- The price is reasonable and they cost even less per light if you buy a bunch.
The Guidelight is powered by two little prongs that snap over the terminal screws on the receptacle. Brilliant! No batteries, no wiring, no nuthin! You have a choice of two outlet cover types in ivory, almond or white.
World’s Coolest Hose Reel: RoboReel Water Hose Reel
Here are the neatest features. One hundred feet of high-quality 5/8-in. hose (or 150 ft. of 1/2-in. hose) retracts with the push of a button either on the top of the cover or on the remote. So, no cranking?a big onboard rechargeable battery does the heavy lifting. The remote switch snaps onto the end of the hose (it features quick-disconnects on all the accessories), and that allows you to turn the water off or on from wherever you are. Attach it to a handheld sprinkler for hand watering, or use it separately to control the lawn sprinkler. No more running back and forth to the spigot.
The water shuts off automatically after one hour, so you never have to worry about it running all night if you forget to shut it off. The RoboReel system has lots more features that are worth checking out if you think this awesome hose reel might be for you. Believe it?if you’re a hard-core gardener with money to spend on your passion, you’ll absolutely love this thing. Learn more, find a dealer and watch the videos at the manufacturer’s website.
Soil Testing Made Easy: General 4-in-1 Soil Condition Meter
Prevent Port Damage to Your Smartphone or Laptop
My 3-year-old granddaughter thought the USB ports on my son’s laptop would be a great place to hide her hairclips. It was powered up at the time, and the clips shorted out the $800 main board (he had to remind himself how precious she is).
The service guy said port damage is common, and not just from little gremlins jamming hairclips in them. Dust, dirt and metal fragments can accumulate in the ports and cause damage when you jam the plug in. So my son sealed his smartphone and laptop ports with silicone anti-dust stoppers. It’s really cheap insurance against costly repairs.
Rick Muscoplat, Contributing Editor
See Inside your Walls with the General iBorescope
Several companies make borescopes, but the General iBorescope line is a little different in that it lets you use the display on your smartphone or tablet as a wireless video monitor. The borescope acts as a Wi-Fi hot spot, letting you connect your mobile device to it without a Wi-Fi router or Internet access. A free app lets you snap photos and record video, and the camera is waterproof so you can safely use it in areas that may be wet. Before removing a all, you need to know what’s inside.
More Than A Garage Door Opener
But what really sets this unit apart are the seven ports. Each port receives a module of your choosing, including a fan, a CO and temperature sensor, a Bluetooth speaker that broadcasts and receives music or phone calls from your smartphone, a retractable electrical cord, a battery backup, and even a laser system that tells you when your car is parked in exactly the right spot.
Gift Ideas for New Homeowners: Smarter Smart Bulbs: GE’s C Light Bulbs
You can start thinking about replacing lights in your new workshop area with LED lights.
Smartphone-friendly Garage Door Opener: Chamberlain HD950WF
Hide TV Wires: Power Jumper kit
LED Retrofit for Recessed Lighting: Halo RL560
The Halo RL560, for example, fits most existing 5-in. and 6-in. housings. Just screw the threaded adapter into the existing socket, connect the ground wire and snap in the module. The RL560 uses 10 watts and provides 600 lumens (65-watt equivalent). Estimated life is 50,000 hours. It’s rated for damp and wet locations and is dimmable. Find the module at home centers, lighting showrooms and online. It’s available in white or a satin nickel finish.
Save 10 Percent on Your AC Bill with QwikSEER+ WattSaver
You can install the unit yourself if you can follow an electrical schematic and feel comfortable cutting a small hole in the sheet metal plenum to mount a sensor on the evaporator coil. Don’t want to do it yourself? An HVAC pro can do it in less than an hour. The QwikSEER+ WattSaver pays for itself in about two years, depending on your AC usage and the electric rates in your area. For more information, visit the manufacturer’s site.
Reduce Cord Clutter with a PowerTap Grommet
WaterCop: Automatic Water Shutoff
Find you water main and gas shut off when you move in to a first home or new home.
Gift Ideas for New Homeowners: Vacuum Dustpan Saves Your Back
Answer or Open the Door From Any Phone with Viking Electronics
Install the C-250 controller between the landline demarcation box and your home phones or between your router and your VoIP box. Connect the controller to the Viking E-40-BN-EWP door box. Then program the controller to dial up to five family cell phone numbers. When a visitor presses the button, the controller rings your home phone with a double ring so you know it’s a visitor at the door and not a regular phone call. Answer the door and open the door from any home phone.
When you leave the house, simply program the controller to forward the door box calls to your cell phone. If you don’t have land or VoIP service, leave the controller in call forwarding mode and it’ll send all door box calls to a portable phone. The forwarded call will show up on your portable phone’s screen as your front door. Answer the call and enter a code to activate your door strike or Wi-Fi-enabled dead bolt. The Viking units are a bit pricey, but they’re commercial-grade products, so they’ll last much longer than cheaper consumer-grade versions.
Control Your Tools With Your Phone
Let’s say you’re installing metal vent using self-drilling screws. Just use the Milwaukee app to find the setting for the gauge and type of metal and the size of the screw. Then program the drill or impact driver using your phone’s Bluetooth. When you squeeze the trigger, the tool will start at a low rpm to prevent the tip from walking across the metal. The electronic torque monitoring senses when the screw bites in and boosts the speed to drive the screw in. Then it’ll slow down and cut off power when the screw reaches the programmed torque—all with a single trigger pull.
The ONE-KEY system also has an inventory management and tool reporting feature for pros to keep track of tools and monitor their workers’ productivity.
Find some handy apps for DIY work.
Super-Fast Wi-Fi Router
The Nighthawk router also uses six antennas and Beamforming software to locate and direct the signal toward each device. Together with a fast dual-core processor and a powerful amplifier, this Wi-Fi router gets you the strongest signal at almost every spot in your house.
Find out other ways to get faster internet for your wireless network.
Electrical Tools with Onboard Voltage Tester
Tool manufacturer Gardner Bender solves the problem of lost testers by incorporating a tester right into the handles of its wire stripper and screwdriver—tools you’re bound to have on hand whenever you’re doing electrical work. Simply press the button and move the tool handle near the wires to test before touching. Or, slide the tester off the tool handle to use it as a freestanding unit.
Find the GST-70M Circuit Alert Voltage sensing stripper and SDT-10 screwdriver at home centers and online.
We had a problem with strangers disposing of their garbage in our dumpster here at work. On a few mornings, it was completely full of construction debris! We could either start locking the dumpster at night or keep paying the $80 early pickup fees. I bought a Master Lock Bluetooth padlock because I didn’t want to carry any more keys in my pockets or try to remember a combination.
The app on my phone lets me open the lock remotely (within Bluetooth range). I can also use the app to set combinations that my coworkers can use. If I give out individual codes, I can track who opened it and when—not that I don’t trust my coworkers. I can give out single-use codes as well. I bought the heavy-duty outdoor model No. 4401DLH online. — Josh Risberg, Lead Carpenter
The Weber iGrill 3, which is compatible with the brand’s Genesis II and Genesis II LX gas grills, allows you to closely monitor your food so you get perfect results every time. The Bluetooth-enabled device supports up to four probes and sends information such as food temperature, cook time and even propane tank levels to your smartphone or tablet via the Weber iGrill app.
Smartphone with Thermal Imaging
The CAT S60 Android smartphone is far more rugged than a consumer-grade phone. It’s shatterproof up to a 6-ft. drop onto concrete, dustproof, shockproof and waterproof down to 5 meters for up to an hour. This phone works in temps from minus 13 to 131 degrees F, and the touch screen has glove-on and wet-finger tracking ability, so it operates in any weather.
The CAT S60 has a 13-megapixel camera as well as an infrared (FLIR) camera. Use the FLIR camera throughout your house to measure surface temperatures and find air leaks and temperature differences behind walls, electrical problems and even beehives. The S60 works with AT&T and T-Mobile and affiliated GSM networks using a nano sim card. It comes with 32GB internal memory and accepts a microSD card for extended storage up to 128GB.
Philips Hue Bulbs
Philips has finally provided an answer to whether the lights were left on at home with its Hue Bulbs. The Hue app connects to the lights, which you can turn on and off remotely. The app also allows users to set schedules for lights. Order these bulbs here.