What if all the devices in your life were connected to WiFi?
Not just your computer and smartphones, but everything: security system, speakers, lights, doorbells, cameras, windows, vacuum, water heaters, appliances, you name it.
Now, what if those devices could all communicate, send you information, and take voice commands? It’s not science fiction; it’s a key element of smart home devices and home automation.
What is Smart Home Automation
Smart home automation is exactly what it sounds like: the ability to control items around your household, from lighting to thermostats with automation. This can be done using simple voice commands, your phone or with a push of a button on a panel.
Some activities, like setting up lights to dim or turn on and off at your pleasure, are simple and relatively inexpensive. Others, like cutting-edge surveillance cameras, may require a more serious investment of your time and money to get setup.
Smart home devices are about much more than just convenience.
They can help you save cash on heating and energy costs. They can even alert you if there’s someone at the door when you’re not home.
Most, if not all, work with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Nest, Samsung SmartThings, and Wink.
Let’s explore what smart home devices are out there. Here’s a rundown of a variety of products and categories we’ve tested for every room in your house.
10 Smart Home Devices Categories
Smart Home Hubs
There are hundreds, if not thousands of smart home devices. If you want to control them all from a single interface, then you’re going to need a smart home hub.
Based on our extensive testing, the Amazon Echo remains at the top of every list for its ease of use and price.
Our favorite budget smart home hub is the 4th generation Amazon Echo Dot. You can link lots of smart home devices in the Alexa app and then trigger them using the Echo Dot.
The most feature-rich smart home hub that you can get your hands on is the Samsung SmartThings Hub. You can use Google Assistant to set up routines with Google Home compatible smart home devices.
Check your choice of smart speakers, lights, locks, and other devices for compatibility. Some devices are only compatible with Alexa or Google Home, while others work with both.
You can read our complete Smart Home Hub review here.
Smart Lighting & Light switches
A common first step after purchasing a smart hub is getting smart lights and switches for the house. The Philips Hue ecosystem is your best bet when it comes to lighting.
It works with Alexa Google Home and Apple HomeKit. You can command by voice or app the intensity of lights in every part of the house and even the color and dimmer.
You can read our Smart Light Switches Review here.
Smart Home Surveillance Cameras
You want to protect the perimeter of your house as well as the interior. To do so without major installation hassles, get some Smart surveillance cameras.
The Wyze Cam Pan is an affordable security camera that captures live video feeds at 1080p resolution, with tilt, zoom, audio and night vision.
You can install it in inside or outside the house to get real-time motion notifications and offers free round-the-clock clip storage.
The Kasa Cam Outdoor by TP-Link is another smart surveillance camera that is specifically designed for outdoor home use. It offers crystal clear 1080p HD views day or night, two-way audio, and even features a built-in siren.
Wi-Fi Smart Video Doorbells
These doorbells have a built-in motion sensor and will alert you when it detects movement in front of the door.
With their wide-angle camera view, it will let you see visitors through your smartphone, tablet, or PC.
You can even see and hear visitors both day and night thanks to its night vision property. We have the Ring Video Doorbell 3 on our front door and it rocks! Another well-reviewed doorbell camera is the Remo Bell S by Remo+.
The latest smart lock devices offer things like keyless touchpads, voice activation, geofencing, forced entry alarms, and auto-locking features.
Geofencing is the use of GPS or other technology to create a virtual geographic boundary. It can trigger a response when a mobile device enters or leaves a particular area. You’ll never have to worry if you locked up before you left the house.
You can use a mobile app to set up a perimeter around your house. When you leave the perimeter an auto-lock feature will engage after a specific time. Our choice for smart locks is the August Smart Lock.
Smart Home Security Systems
Smart home security systems come in all shapes and sizes.
Some systems come with a touchscreen panel that serves as the brains of the system. You can control Wi-Fi and Bluetooth sensors with a push of a button.
Some systems use a hub device for system control.
Most are low-profile devices designed to complement your home decor and can be placed on a shelf or any available flat surface.
Another type of security system, the all-in-one, includes a security camera with motion and sound sensors. They can include a siren designed to scare off intruders and warn you of a disturbance.
Some all-in-ones are also equipped with environmental sensors that monitor things like room temperature, humidity, and air quality.
As with just about every smart home device out there, you can control most smart security systems using Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant voice commands.
When considering a smart thermostat, design, features, ease of use, and integrations with popular smart-home systems, are all factors to research. Most work with remote sensors, HomeKit, and Google Home. Some can include built-in Alexa with a speaker and microphone. The best smart thermostats adjust your home’s temperature with the least amount of programming and can learn your patterns. Our top two choices are ecobee 4 and the Nest Smart Thermostat.
Smart Appliances & Smart Vacuums
While most smart home appliances seem to be evolving too slow for some techies, they have come a long way in the last couple of years.
From fridges, microwave ovens, washing machines, and coffeemakers, the list is ever-growing and paving the way for a new era of home appliances.
The iRobot’s Roomba i7+ might just be the most advanced model and seems to be leading the pack. We own and use the Shark ION Robot Vacuum R85 WiFi at home and we’re very pleased with its performance.
Smart Home Intercom System
These smart home devices allow you to connect with your family members at home or while you are away. You can even make intercom calls to let your kids know that the dinner is ready.
Some systems come with Alexa and are easy to use even for older relatives.
Tile Key Finder Tracker or MYNT Smart Item Finder
Have you ever wasted valuable time because you couldn’t find your keys or phone? Well, with the Nutale Nut3 Key Finder Locator or Tile Key Finder tracker that won’t be a problem anymore.
These trackers are small enough to attach to your keys and then find them via your phone.
If it’s your phone that you can’t find, the Tile tracker will make it ring even when the phone is in silent mode.
Put one in your briefcase or your child’s backpack to locate them in case you misplace them.
There are many smart home devices on the market today. These products allow you to control everything from lights and temperature, to locks and security in your home.
They also happen to make life a bit more convenient and they are fun to experiment with if you love tech toys.