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Best smart home devices: What you need to bring smarts to your home

August 24th, 2021 at 11:33 AM
Best Smart Home Devices

The home is getting smarter. Gone are the days when you had to “get up” and walk over to a “light switch” to turn on the lights. These days, with the right gear, you can simply use your voice or your phone to control your lights, and all kinds of other smart home devices. But it can be hard to find the best smart home devices, given how many products there are out there.

There are a number of things to consider before you buy a smart home product. For starters, you’ll want to make sure that whatever device you buy will fit within your smart home ecosystem — whether that be Apple’s HomeKit, Google Assistant, or Amazon Alexa. These days many products integrate with all three of those ecosystems.

Other things to consider depend on the kind of product you’re buying. Some products, like smart doorbells, are available in wired or battery-powered models. Others, like smart light bulbs, come in white or color models. And so on.

We’ve tested hundreds of smart home devices, across all kinds of categories, so that you don’t have to. Here are the best smart home devices out there right now.

Best smart light bulbs: Philips Hue

Philips HueImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Pros: Works with huge range of ecosystems, responsive, easy to use

Cons: Higher upfront cost

Light bulbs are perhaps one of the most common smart products, and for good reason. They’re easy to install, and lighting is a big part of our day-to-day life. If you’re looking for the best smart lighting system, then you can’t beat Philips Hue.

When you first set up a Philips Hue system, you’ll need to get a Hue Bridge, which is a kind of hub that connects to all your Hue-compatible bulbs. This means there’s a slightly higher upfront cost, but that your lights will react to your instruction faster. Individual bulbs are often a little cheaper too.

Philips Hue lights work with HomeKit, Alexa, and Google Assistant, plus there’s a super well-designed standalone app. That app allows you to automate your smart lighting, change the colors of your lighting, and more. The app has gone through a few iterations over the years, but the current version is pretty well-built.

There are tons of light bulbs that work in the Philips Hue ecosystem. You’ll find basic white light bulbs, color bulbs, light strips, outdoor lights, and more. There are even some switches that work with Hue. Just getting started? We recommend checking out the Philips Hue WhiteSmart Bulb Starter Kit, which comes with four white bulbs and a Hue hub.

Philips Hue White Smart Bulb Starter Kit List Price:$99.99 Price:$84.95 ($21.24 / Count) You Save:$15.04 (15%) Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Best smart lock: August Wi-Fi Smart Lock

August Wi-Fi Smart LockImage source: August

Pros: Works with lots of smart home ecosystems, easy to use, works with old locks

Cons: A little bulky, expensive

Want to get a smart lock without having to replace all your keys? The August Wi-Fi Smart Lock is the lock for you. This lock basically replaces the interior part of your existing lock. That means that you can keep using the keys you already have. The device works with HomeKit, Alexa, and Google Assistant — plus there’s an app to make it super easy to lock and unlock.

The lock is a little chunky inside your home, but August has actually worked on that a lot. This model is 45% smaller than the previous generation one. And, it offers some great smart features as well, such as the ability to see a full history of locks and unlocks, create automations based on things like your location, and more. It’s available in Silver and Matte Black colors.

The August Wi-Fi Smart Lock is well-built, but there are some downsides to it. Besides the fact that it’s chunky, the lock’s compatible keypad is sold separately — though not everyone will want or need that keypad anyway. Also, the lock isn’t necessarily cheap, coming in at $250 when it’s not on sale. Still, for most, it’s worth that cash.

August Wi-Fi Smart Lock Price:$229.99 Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Best smart thermostat: Nest Learning Thermostat

Nest Learning ThermostatImage source: Nest

Pros: Great design, very easy to use

Cons: Doesn’t work with HomeKit, a bit expensive

The Nest is the original smart thermostat, and it’s still the best option for most. As a result, it’s easy to recommend as one of the best smart home devices. The device is now in its third generation and offers a sleek and stylish design, and the ability to learn your habits and automatically adjust accordingly.

One of the best things about the Nest Learning Thermostat is how simple it is to use. Its turn dial design basically allows you to control everything about the device, including the temperature in your home, and the thermostat’s settings. The device even works flawlessly in the Google Home app, and with Google Assistant. You can also integrate the device with Alexa, however there’s no HomeKit support. If you’re looking for a HomeKit-compatible thermostat, we recommend checking out something from Ecobee.

The Nest Learning Thermostat also looks pretty great, and thanks to the fact that it’s available in a range of colors, it should fit right at home. The device is a little expensive, at $200, but if you want the best smart thermostat out there, it’s the way to go. It’s also available in a range of different colors, so you can find something that fits with your interior design.

Google Nest Learning Thermostat Price: Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Best smart doorbell: Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2

Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2Image source: Ring

Pros: Well-designed, great image quality

Cons: No Google Assistant or HomeKit integration

Ring pioneered the concept of the smart doorbell, and Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 proves why. The device not only looks great, but it also offers an excellent image quality, and a range of awesome features that should make the overall experience of using the device better.

The Video Doorbell Pro 2 is relatively small and compact, meaning that it should fit on most door frames. On the front, there’s an obvious button, and a camera to keep an eye on what’s happening outside your door.

The Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2’s video-quality is slid. The camera offers a 1536p resolution, with a 150-degree field-of-view, and it should be able to see most of what you need it to with good detail. You will need a Ring Protect subscription to get the most out of the camera, but even if you don’t get a subscription you’ll be able to see live feeds and get notifications based on what’s happening at your door.

The device offers some awesome smart features too. There’s motion detection, the ability to set motion zones, and support for two-way audio. That’s not to mention the integration with Alexa. Unfortunately there’s no integration with Google Assistant or Apple’s HomeKit here — so if your home is built on those ecosystems, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Ring Video Doorbell Pro 2 Price:$249.99 Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Best smart security camera: Arlo Ultra 2

Arlo Ultra 2Image source: Arlo

Pros: Well-designed, versatile, excellent image quality

Cons: Expensive

Looking for a solid, reliable security camera that you can use in your home? The Arlo Ultra 2 is probably the way to go. This camera is expensive, but with its 4K resolution, it should be able to capture an incredibly detailed image.

One of the best things about the Arlo Ultra 2 is the fact that it works with a range of smart home ecosystems. That includes Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s HomeKit — though you won’t get support for HomeKit Secure Video, and HomeKit only supports footage up to 1,080p.

It’s important to note that to use the Arlo Ultra 2, you will need an Arlo Smart Hub — unlike some of Arlo’s other cameras. That raises the upfront cost, but you can connect multiple cameras to the Smart Hub for an all-in-one security system. Arlo also offers en excellent app, and a range of smart features to make the overall experience even better.

Of course, there are some downsides to the camera. The Arlo Ultra 2 can be pretty expensive, especially given the fact that you need that hub to properly use it. Still, once you have a hub you should be all set — so if you plan on placing many cameras around your home, it may well be worth it.

Arlo Ultra 2 Outdoor Video Camera Price:$580.19 Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Best smart switch: Belkin Wemo Smart Plug

Belkin WeMo Wi-Fi Smart PlugImage source: Belkin

Pros: Compact, easy to use, works with range of ecosystems

Cons: No energy monitoring

Belkin’s WeMo brand has been making great switches for a while now, and the newer Belkin Wemo Wi-Fi Smart Plug is a perfect example of why the WeMo range constantly makes lists of the best smart home devices. The plug is compact, well-designed, and works with all the major smart home ecosystems, including Alexa, Google Assistant, and HomeKit.

For the uninitiated, smart switches basically plug into a power outlet, and allow users to control the power sent through them with their phone. That means that you can make certain old, dumb device, smart. The Wemo Smart Plug plugs into your power outlet, but there are some smart outlets that can be permanently installed instead.

One of the best things about the Wemo Smart Plug is just how compact it is. The device is small enough to still allow you to use a second outlet in a two-gang array, and it easily blends into the background.

The Belkin WeMo Smart Plug is great, but like everything, it’s not perfect. The device doesn’t offer energy monitoring, unlike some of its more expensive competitors. Despite that, its low cost makes it an excellent option for those who want to smart-ify the appliances in their home.

Belkin WeMo Wi-Fi Smart Plug Price:$17.99 Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Best smart power outlet: iDevices Smart Wall Outlet

iDevices Smart Wall OutletImage source: iDevices

Pros: Well-designed, looks like any other power outlet, works with range of ecosystems

Cons: Expensive

A smart power outlet replaces your traditional outlet and gives it smarter control, making it blend in much better with its environment — just make sure to turn the power off when you install it, or better yet, get a professional to help you. The iDevices Smart Wall Outlet integrates with HomeKit, Alexa, and Google Assistant, plus it has buttons on its face to control the power manually, and it looks great.

iDevices has done a great job at refining its app. At this point, it allows you to monitor exactly how much energy your plugged-in devices are using. As mentioned, it also works with whatever smart home ecosystem you choose. That means that you can control it with your voice, and in your preferred apps.

The downside to the iDevices Smart Wall Outlet? It’s a little expensive. The device comes at a pricey $89.95 from iDevices’ website, or up to $100 from other retailers. That said, the outlet is really only for those committed to fully building out a seamless smart home. It’s not for renters, or those who plan on moving soon. In other words, for a long-term solution, it may well be worth the cost.

iDevices Smart Wall Outlet Price:$88.16 Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Best smart light switch: TP-Link Kasa Smart Dimmer Switch

TP-Link Kasa Smart Dimmer SwitchImage source: TP-Link

Pros: Easy to use, supports dimming, inexpensive

Cons: No HomeKit support

Smart light switches are a little more versatile than smart bulbs, and have long been included on lists of the best smart home devices. That’s because of the fact that with bulbs, if you or someone else turns them off at the switch, they’re rendered useless. That doesn’t happen with smart switches though. If you’re ready to replace your light switches, then we recommend the TP-Link Kasa Smart Dimmer Switch.

There are a few things that make this switch so versatile. For starters, it’s designed in a way that makes it easy to use. That’s to say, the face of it is a simple button, with smaller buttons at the top to control dimming. That simple design means that it should be relatively easy for guests to control the lights with the need to learn how to use new technology.

The TP-Link Kasa Smart Dimmer Switch integrates with both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, but it doesn’t support HomeKit. If you’re in Apple’s ecosystem, you’ll need to look elsewhere. The other thing to consider for this switch is that you’ll need to hard wire it into your home — so if you don’t know what you’re doing, we recommend getting an electrician to help you. But those issues aside, the TP-Link Kasa Smart Dimmer Switch is an excellent option.

TP-Link Kasa Smart Dimmer Switch List Price:$22.99 Price:$16.99 You Save:$6.00 (26%) Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Best smart smoke detector: Google Nest Protect

Google Nest ProtectImage source: Google

Pros: Great design, works well, easy to use

Cons: A bit expensive, still requires your input

A smart smoke detector will alert you when things like smoke and carbon monoxide levels start rising, ensuring that you have an idea of what’s happening as soon as possible — even when you’re on holiday. The Google Nest Protect is the best of these right now, integrating into the Google Home app, and offering a design that should look great in your home.

At its core, the Nest Protect works like a normal smoke detector. It will sound a loud alarm if it detects smoke or carbon monoxide. That means that it can work with or without an internet connection. But when it’s connected, it can also send notifications to your phone. And, in the app, you can see a history of events.

It’s important to note that the Nest Protect doesn’t alert the fire department of any smoke it detects. You’ll still have to call them yourself. But the extra few seconds that the Protect does buy you may make a huge difference.

Google Nest Protect Smoke Alarm Price:$119 Buy Now BGR may receive a commission



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