The range and scope of smart home devices in 2019 have never been stronger. Maybe you’re already using the occasional smart light bulb and are looking for more in your connected home.
If you’re already fully invested in home automation and you’re looking to get even more from your smart home.
Either way, you’re in for a treat today.
Rather than exploring the components of an entire smart system, we’ve kept things simple. We have our favorite smart home devices you should know about. Investing in any of these automated appliances and smart devices will make your life easier at the same time making your home safer.
Smart Home Starter Kits
With great power comes great responsibility...
Having the new found "super-power" to control smart devices might seem difficult to comprehend. However, we can assure the ease of use and convenience in smart lighting will moe over uncertainty. While it sounds difficult, it's simple; yet rewarding.
Smarthome has prepared top smart home stater kits for new customers at a significant discount. A little over 50% off most kits. Please note, these smart home devices are meant for individuals who aren't comfortable wiring a switch. A majority of these devices are so simple a child can do it.
If you're looking for a more complex smart home device kit, check out our smart light switches.
Now, let's dissect what comes in the kits and which one is the best for your home. Think about control first and foremost.
How do you want to control your smart home devices? Would you like to do it through voice control? How about through a smartphone? Control your home through A mini remote and even a sensor when walking in and out of the room.
Typically, I will use Alexa and Google Home. There's nothing like laying in bed and commanding Alexa to dim the lights while reading. If you want voice control, be sure your package includes the hub.
Type of Lighting
Imagine there are a bunch of people in the backyard and you feel like dancing. Give Alexa the command to "Start the dance party." Your favorite 90's song blares through the smart speaker, the lights begin to change color, and your smart home devices do the rest of the work. If your vision home automation is this one, look into smart outdoor lighting with the outdoor plugin modules.
Now, there's also indoor lighting. You're sitting down watching the new Avengers movie. The significant other likes the lights on but you like the lights off. Why not have both? "Alexa, dim the lights to 50%."
Now you can identify what kit you would like to begin your journey to smart home devices with, so get started!
1) Digital Assistants
Digital assistants have come a long way since the first IBM PC could recognize a handful of spoken words and numbers back in 1981.
Siri was the first digital assistant to in a smartphone. If you remember the old iPhone 4s in 2011 they continue to enjoy a robust 34% market share. While Google Assistant accounts for 19%, both have substantial install bases on cell phones. Amazon’s Alexa makes up just 6% of digital assistants overall with a practical stranglehold on the smart speaker space.
Today, try controlling a smart home using voice commands from voice assistance of your choice.
So what's your favorite?
- Amazon Alexa: We’ll explore Alexa more fully when we outline the role of smart speakers. With 7000 third-party integrations and with Alexa now coming built into TVs (Fire TV) and thermostats (ecobee4). Alexa can communicate a broad spread of smart home devices and appliances. Communicating with all these smart devices means the simplest and most versatile way to start controlling your home with voice commands.
- Google Assistant: While you might get fewer third-party hook-ups with Google’s Assistant, reap the benefits from the full weight of dominance of search. Accuracy is generally better than you’ll find with either Alexa or Siri. From Philips and August to Nest and Belkin, most major smart home brands offer reasonable integration with Google Assistant.
- Siri: For Apple converts, there’s the slick Home app that allows you to control HomeKit accessories using Siri. Whether you want to fine-tune the temperature using your MacBook or turn off the lights from your iPhone, the world’s your oyster. Over 50 global brands offer full Siri compatibility so, as always, you’re in safe hands with Apple
Before we leave digital assistants and take a wander through other must-have smart home devices, we’ll take a quick glimpse at Alexa.
2) Smart Speakers
The smart speaker market is buoyant, and the undisputed leader is the mighty Amazon with its formidable range of Echo devices.
A smart speaker gives you the convenience of playing your favorite music playback while also offering you the full services of a digital assistant.
You’ll be able to fire up all your favorite streaming services using nothing but your voice, and the sound quality of smart speakers continues to improve.
It’s the integration of Alexa that really makes smart speakers sing. With most decent smart speakers, you’ll have no problem making yourself heard even across a crowded, noisy room.
Whether you choose to use your smart speaker and Alexa to communicate directly with other compatible devices or you use IFTTT, the best smart speaker is about far more than music. Add one of these Bluetooth beasts to your command center and you’ll start fully appreciating just how convenient home automation can be.
3) Smart Home Hubs
With a digital assistant in place to obey your every command, don’t get too excited just yet…
Depending on what ambitions you harbor for your smart home, there’s every chance you’ll need to invest in a hub. A smart hub can ensure smart devices can communicate properly with each other.
Think of a smart home hub as a gateway or translator ready to bridge the gap between devices and appliances that don’t speak the same language.
Obviously, if you only intend to slip in a smart bulb or possibly upgrade your thermostat, you won’t need to think about a hub.
If, on the other hand, you want a more thorough and interconnected smart home, think about Samsung’s mighty SmartThings Hub. All main communications protocols are supported including both Z-Wave and Zigbee as well as any IP-connected devices. Samsung has an inclusive attitude with the exception of Nest. All bases are covered with the SmartThings Hub.
You’ve got plenty of other options if SmartThings doesn’t work for you. Think not just about your smart home today but also of how you’d like things to develop. Compatibility is key so make sure any hub you’re considering offers all the support you need.
Smarthome is full of Insteon lovers. Not only because it's the world's most reliable technology but because of the cost-effectiveness and pending new app updates. The Insteon Hub doesn't slow down your Wi-Fi networks like other technology and you can control hundreds of smart home devices on your hub without latency,
4) Smart Lights
While it was possible to automate lighting as far back as the early days. Sadly the communication protocol X10 was based was relatively unreliable.
Today, smart lighting comes in many disguises from the simplicity of a plug-and-play smart bulb through to taking charge of all the lighting throughout your house using simple voice commands.
Why should you bother with smart lighting when it’s so easy to simply flick a switch?
Don’t underestimate just how handy it can be? Try to enter a hallway that illuminates as you enter rather than fumbling in the dark for a switch. You will notice less scrubbing the dirty wall plate. Kiss goodbye to feeling your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Watch out! Stop stubbing your toe as you get up in pitch blackness. Let cursing yourself for not investing in smart lighting end today!
Energy-efficiency is perhaps the driving reason more and more people are flocking to smart lighting. Did you know electricity accounts for 19% of all energy used worldwide? How about the average American electricity bill is $100 a month? Wouldn't you agree any savings in this area are great for your bank account?
From a basic device like the Insteon Remote Control Plug-In Lamp Dimmer Module that allows you to tweak brightness levels remotely to LIFX or Philips Hue bulbs, smart lighting is a vast field. You could also experiment with Insteon’s legendary on/off switches or go for a dimmer switch depending on what you want to achieve.
Take the time to think about what you require from automated lighting and it will be well worthwhile. Rush in without forethought and you’re likely to make an expensive mistake.
5) Smart Lock
While you might assume smart door locks make your house safer, it’s more about convenience. Let’s face it, with a smart lock you’re just replacing one form of a lock with another. The most favorable benefit of smart door locks is keyless entry. No need to find an open door or pull out your key, just enter the code...
Keyless convenience should not be underestimated, though. If your children often forget their keys or you like to go out jogging in the morning unencumbered, smart locks are the ideal solution. They also work well if you have a rental property and need to streamline access while keeping things secure.
Smart locks can make use of WiFi, Bluetooth or Z-Wave to communicate with other smart devices in your home. You can arrange for the lights to come on and the AC to ratchet up as you enter. As with all aspects of home automation, getting separate components and systems working in harmony is the key to success.
Some smart locks like those from the legendary August slot over your existing hardware. However, some others call for a deadbolt replacement. If the lock you choose does call for swapping out the deadbolt, you should get the job done within the hour. So there's no excuse to not have it.
Think about how you want to use your smart lock before committing to purchase. The Nest x Yale lock is extremely user-friendly but you’ll get limited integration. Therefore, if you already have the Nest ecosystem it might be a no-brainer. Roll with August locks and grab yourself a Connect hub, and get better compatibility.
6) Smart Thermostat
Just as automating the lighting in your home can save you a packet on your power bill, installing a smart thermostat can also help you maximize energy-efficiency and minimize the amount you waste on heating or cooling empty rooms.
You might also need to consider pets or plants that need things kept at a certain temperature even when you’re away on vacation or off on your next business trip. With a smart thermostat, you’ll simply be able to control the climate in your house remotely from your cell phone.
At the cheaper end of the market, Insteon serves up a remote control wall thermostat although you will need to invest in a hub if you want to use your phone rather than the keypad for the purposes of control.
The classic Nest Learning is now in its third generation and still going from strength to strength. If you see the Nest Leaf displayed under the temperature, you’ll know you’re operating at an energy-efficient temperature so you can relax knowing your next utility bill won’t be quite so eye-watering.
7) Robotic Vacuum
Convenience is perhaps the core purpose of home automation.
Start thinking creatively about how to make your life easier at home. How about getting some help with the vacuuming? Don't even think about the expense of a monthly maid service? Get yourself a robotic vacuum to keep your house spotless.
iRobot offers a superb range of robot vacuums including the legendary Roomba line. Both Roomba and also the neato botvac can be controlled through your smartphone. While Dyson has a stellar reputation when it comes to regular vacuums, it's expensive 360 Eye Robot doesn’t come particularly well reviewed so buyer, beware.
At the bottom end, you’ll get 60 minutes or less of battery life from a robotic vacuum. While the best robots on the block can clean for 90 minutes. However, they will return and charge before returning to the dust bunny battle.
While with many smart home devices you can rely on cheaper models to do the job. With robotic vacuums, you need to dig a little deeper if you want a really deep clean.
All that remains is to ask yourself what price you put on never needing to break out the Hoover again.
8) Smart Garage Door Opener
Are you tired of jumping out to open the garage door after a long day of work? Try smartening up your access at a cheap cost.
Garage door openers come with a range of mechanisms. These mechanisms range from cheap but noisy chain-drive models through to quieter but more expensive belt-drive and direct-drive openers.
The Chamberlain MyQ is a hub that works with all garage door openers made since 1993. It also enables you to take control in-app from your cell phone. This is a great entry point if you fancy enhancing an existing system with the option of adding Google Assistant or IFTTT for a modest monthly fee.
If you’ve got an older 2-wire garage door opener, Insteon has a superb full control kit so you can take control of your garage door from your smartphone and receive alerts in the event of any kind of security breach. You’ll need an Insteon hub but you’ll get plenty of mileage out of this gateway with other devices in your connected home.
9) Smart Security Camera
Security cameras have long been commonplace in homes and businesses the world over.
Your home is your most precious possessions. Being able to keep your eye on things even when you’re away on vacation gives peace. With peace of mind, you just can’t put a price tag on.
As technology progresses, smart security cameras can easily be customized to tune out false triggers. You’ll even be able to arrange for the authorities to be alerted in the event of a genuine breach of security.
Wireless security cameras are flexible and affordable although prone to interference and at higher risk of being hacked. Wired cameras are a costlier and much more permanent solution but they offer super-stable data transmission without any galling interference.
From the classic Nest Cam to Netgear’s Arlo Q, you can find a whole host of smart security cameras capable of working seamlessly with other devices in your connected home.
10) Smart Blinds
If you’re looking to add an inexpensive but high impact product to smarten up your home, automated blinds are a wise move. Imagine saying "Alexa close the blinds..."
You might think there’s little to be gained by saving yourself the trouble of a few seconds effort raising or lowering the blinds, but you’ll rapidly appreciate the convenience once you’re set up.
The ever-reliable Insteon has a tiny remote control module you simply install behind your existing switches. In combination with the Insteon hub, you’ll be able to turn your smartphone into your remote control and open smartphones or any other 110-volt appliance like a projector screen.
Even though convenience is a strong motivator, if you invest in smart blinds you’ll add an extra layer of security to your house as well. There’s nothing worse than trying to relax on vacation while you’re worrying about whether your home is fully secure. Simply raising and lowering the blinds several times a day remotely can give your house the impression of being occupied even if the whole family is away.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of smart home devices you should know about but with these bases covered, you’ll have the makings of effective and comprehensive home automation.
Start any hunt for smart home devices with a frank appraisal of what you want and expect while not forgetting about compatibility if you want independent devices to work harmoniously together.
With Christmas coming up, perhaps it’s time to start thinking about popping one or two of the above devices on your list so you can start the new year with your house a safer and more convenient place to be. Tune into our home automation blog to get the latest information on smart home deals, discounts, and devices.