These days you can automate a lot. Automation devices in your house are called smart home devices. Here are the 10 most useful smart home devices.
The most important device for your smart home setup is the hub. In this case, it is also the voice assistant. The Amazon Echo Dot has the voice-enabled Alexa assistant and app to control all of your devices.
This is the 3rd generation of the Echo Dot and we really like the new rounded design. It is also the smallest Alexa enabled device that Amazon offers which is why we decided to put this on our list. Even though it is very small the speaker is good enough for its use, but I wouldn’t use it to listen to music.
Considering this the Echo Dot is very cheap, being an exception in the smart home market. We can’t really find a negative to this smart home device considering its price and what it is able to do. The only thing that might need improvement is the Alexa app, but that is not something the Echo Dot needs to improve on.
The next device n our list isn’t really a device. It is a series of a lot of smart lights, so multiple devices. We are talking about Philips Hue, the expensive but very high-quality smart lights. There are a lot of different types of lights, from normal lightbulbs to RGB LED strips.
The major downside of these lights is that it is very expensive even if you only want a few lights. One cause of this is that you need a hub which increases the initial cost. The second reason is that all of the lights are just outright expensive. But if you can ignore all of that, they are great light, the best on the market if you ask us. They are great when it comes to automation and linking with other smart home devices.
All of this can be controlled through the Philips Hue app which is really easy to use. Lastly, Philips Hue lights are really good, the light can get very bright and the colors are very vivid.
The Sonos One can be used as an alternative to an Amazon Echo, while still using Alexa as your voice-assistant. Apart from that, the rest of the speaker is nothing short of what you would expect from a company like Sonos. It has an amazing sound for listening to music and its design is very modern.
You can hook up as many Sonos speakers you like and use them all at once. This is basically the Sonos Play:1, with Alexa built-in. If you wanted, you could completely ditch the Amazon Echo and rely solely on Sonos speakers. We like the Sonos One because of it’s fairly small form factor, compared to other Sonos speakers, and great sound.
Our main issue with this speaker is that it is pretty expensive. So we wouldn’t recommend you to completely replace your Amazon Echos with Sonos Ones as we said previously. Besides that connectivity is great, to the point where you can watch movies without a noticeable difference between the sound and footage. Which is important if you want to use this speaker while watching any kind of video.
The iClever Smart Plug is, like the name suggests, a smart plug. A smart plug acts like a normal power outlet that you can turn on or off using your smart home devices. To install these you need to plug them into a power outlet and that’s it. Then you use them as a normal power outlet, but you can control them via your smart home hub now.
It doesn’t really matter which smart plug you choose as they are all pretty similar. Just make sure they are compatible with the smart hub you are using, Google Home, Amazon Alexa or Apple Homekit. We like this one because of its small and minimal look since a lot of other smart plugs are very bulky.
The iClever Smart Plug is compatible with Google Home and Amazon Alexa, so Apple Homekit users will need to find an alternative. These are also fairly cheap, being under 10$.
Nest is a company that makes a lot of smart home devices that revolve around home security. The Nest Hello is a Smart doorbell that can make your life really easy.
This doorbell is connected to the same cables as your current doorbell, so no batteries. This enables its 24/7 video recording and means you never have to recharge your doorbell. It has a nice big button to trigger the doorbell, which also automatically sends a notification to your phone, and a camera to see who is at your door.
A few features we like about this device is that if you use Google Home, it announces who is at your door using facial recognition. To use facial recognition you need to go into the Nest app, and give each face that got recorded a name so the next time they ring the bell, your Google Home can announce it.
We don’t like the very steep price though. This will shy off a lot of people who are just getting into the smart home market, which is understandable.
The next item on our list might look familiar to people with a fairly new home. A lot of homes have these kinds of thermal hubs, if you can call them that, to control how warm or cool it is in the house.
The reason the Nest Learning Thermostat is different though is that you can control the temperature through your phone or voice-assistant. You can also let this thermostat learn what temperatures you like to have at what times and use that, so you will never have to adjust the temperature again. T
he Nest Learning Thermostat has a very nice screen that can give you a lot of information, including the temperature, time and even weather. To adjust the temperature using the device itself you need to turn the dial that surrounds the whole thing. We don’t like that the Learning Thermostat is so expensive since this is a perfect way for people to get started with smart home devices.
Next up on our list is another Nest product but this time they have teamed up with the lock maker company Yale. The product they made is a very minimal looking smart lock. The lock consists out of 2 parts. The actual lock and on the inside and a digital keypad on the outside, to unlock the door.
There are multiple ways you can lock/unlock your door. Using the keypad on the outside, using the lock on the inside, your phone or your voice-assistant. This lock integrates perfectly with other Nest devices such as the Nest Hello. Installation is also no problem with this device. It is basically a matter of screwing all of the parts to your door.
We don’t like that the lock only supports Google Home. This Amazon Alexa and Apple Homekit can only control the lock with their phone and directly at the lock. We suggest any person that doesn’t have Google Home to look for an alternative so they can use all of the features.
The Nest Protect is a smart home device you won’t actively use. It is a smoke and carbon monoxide detector that can link with a ton of other smart home devices. This helps you in the case of a fire or too much carbon monoxide, as you can configure those things to turn on stuff. For example, you can make the alarm turn on all of the light, unlock your front door and call emergency services.
It screws into your ceiling, like any other smoke detector and then connects to your Nest app, which allows you to configure everything. The Nest Protect has spoken alerts, which give you information about where the emergency is taking place. When the Nest Protect detects an emergency it tells you the nature of the emergency and even in what room it is taking place, this can be vital information during an emergency.
The only downside is that you need to pay 100$, which is pretty expensive for a smoke and carbon monoxide detector. But then again, can you put a price on safety?
Continuing with the safety category, and also the last Nest device on this list, is the Nest Cam IQ. This surveillance camera has an indoor and outdoor version which means you can control all of your cameras using the same app.
The camera has amazing image quality and a lot of nice features. The most important ones are facial recognition and activity zones. Facial recognition allows you to give people names, so the Nest app can announce the name of the person it sees. Activity Zones are things like doors and windows, these are places the camera will focus more on. The speaker has a speaker and microphone so you can speak with the person entering your house/room.
The only problem is that you need the Nest Aware subscription to use most of the features, which is not understandable considering cameras are relatively expensive. The subscription costs between 5$-30$ depending on how long you want the footage to be saved.
Last but not least is the iRobot Roomba i7+, which is a top of the line vacuum robot. This means you will never have to physically vacuum again. The robot is circular and the home base, which is also where the vacuum charges, is a rectangular plastic tube.
This is also where the robot disposes its trash, so you need to empty that out every once in a while. You can control the robot with your phone and then it starts cleaning. The first time it cleans, it maps out your whole house/apartment/room so it knows where to vacuum next time. Once the robot is done cleaning, it returns to the home base where it disposes the trash and starts charging.
The downside is that the vacuum is pretty loud when cleaning. We recommend you turning the robot on when you are not at home, so you don’t get annoyed by the sound. It is also fairly expensive, but there are also a lot of cheaper options on the market.