What Is Smart Home Technology?
What if all the devices in your life could connect to the internet? Not just computers and smartphones, but everything: clocks, speakers, lights, doorbells, cameras, windows, window blinds, hot water heaters, appliances, cooking utensils, you name it. And what if those devices could all communicate, send you information, and take your commands? It’s not science fiction; it’s the Internet of Things (IoT), and it’s a key component of home automation and smart homes.
Home automation is exactly what it sounds like: automating the ability to control items around the house—from window shades to pet feeders—with a simple push of a button (or a voice command). Some activities, like setting up a lamp to turn on and off at your whim, are simple and relatively inexpensive. Others, like advanced surveillance cameras, may require a more serious investment of time and money.
There are many smart home product categories, so you can control everything from lights and temperature to locks and security in your home. They also happen to make fantastic gifts, whether you’re shopping for the holidays or buying a housewarming present. Here’s a rundown of the best products we’ve tested for every room of the house.
Smart Home Hubs and Controllers
Amazon Echo Family
The Echo is a Bluetooth speaker powered by Alexa, Amazon’s handy voice assistant. Alexa works with a number of smart home devices directly, as well as with If This Then That (IFTTT) to control plenty of others via “recipes” you can create yourself. It’ll take some work, but you can use Alexa to control most of the gadgets in your house by the sound of your voice. If you already have a favorite speaker, the inexpensive Echo Dot can connect to it and add Alexa functionality. And if you want a
Our current Editors’ Choice for home automation hubs, the Wink Hub 2 works with devices that use Z-Wave, Zigbee, Lutron Clear Connect, Kidde, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. It is also for the future. That includes just about everything in the smart home spectrum, from Philips Hue lighting and the Netgear Arlo camera, to Google Home. It’s the most reliable, widely supported hub we’ve tested.
The Brilliant Control is a unique wall switch that uses Wi-Fi to connect to and control various smart devices in your home. It has a 5-inch color
Don’t like talking and prefer controlling things the
For more, see What Is a Smart Home Hub (And Do You Need One)?
iHome iSP6X SmartPlug
While we’ve yet to find a smart switch that does absolutely everything, the $ 29.99 iHome iSP6X SmartPlug comes pretty close. It lets you easily
See The Best Smart Plugs for more.
Top-Rated Smart Home Hubs and Controllers
Smart Home Surveillance Cameras
iSmartAlarm iCamera Keep Pro
The iCamera Keep Pro from iSmartAlarm ($ 199.99) is a full-featured home security camera that not only works as a standalone
Founded by former Amazon employees, Wyze Labs has been around for less than two years, but in that time it’s managed to snag two Editors’ Choice awards for its first two product offerings, the original Wyze Cam and its successor, the Wyze Cam V2. The company’s latest offering, the Wyze Cam Pan, continues the trend. Priced at just $ 29.99, it offers all of the features of the earlier models, such as motion and sound detection, time-lapse recording, and free cloud storage, and it adds mechanical pan and tilt and support for IFTTT applets. That makes it our Editors’ Choice for affordable home security cameras.
Check out The Best Home Security Cameras for more.
A different take on the home security camera, the SkyBell HD is a video doorbell that lets you see and speak with whoever is outside. It may look like the original SkyBell Video Doorbell we reviewed back in 2015, but that’s where the similarities end. This version delivers highly detailed video at 1080p with color night
Head over to The Best Video Doorbells for more.
Top-Rated Smart Home Surveillance Cameras
Smart Locks and Home Security Systems
August Smart Lock Pro + Connect
The Smart Lock Pro + Connect is the latest offering from August Home, and as with the original August Smart Lock and HomeKit Enabled models, it’s a winner. This third-generation smart lock offers all the bells and whistles you get with the HomeKit
See The Best Smart Locks for more.
If you’re looking for a mature provider when it comes to smart home security, you’ve probably heard of ADT. While ADT Pulse is certainly much more expensive than a DIY system, it offers capabilities those systems simply can’t, including 24/7 monitoring and customer support. It’s the most complete, full-featured home security system we’ve tested, and doubles as an automation platform for your other smart home devices.
SimpliSafe Home Security System
If you prefer a DIY approach to smartening up your home security, check out the SimpliSafe Home Security System. SimpliSafe finds the sweet spot between a basic self-monitored DIY security system and a professionally installed and monitored solution. The system is easy to set up and
See The Best Smart Home Security Systems for more.
Top-Rated Smart Locks and Home Security Systems
Smart Heating and Cooling
When we reviewed the Ecobee3 in 2015 it earned our Editors’ Choice for its sleek design, numerous features, and ease of use. We also loved the inclusion of a remote sensor to help reduce hot or cold spots in different rooms. We’re happy to report that the new Ecobee4 boasts all the same features as
Check out The Best Smart Thermostats for more.
Nest Learning Thermostat
The Nest Learning Thermostat has Wi-Fi so you can remotely control the temperature from phone, tablet, or PC. This latest generation also has a larger display and a few more sensors than its predecessors, in addition to geofencing support and a furnace monitor. If you find it a bit too pricey, Nest also offers the Thermostat E, which has most of the same smart features for $ 80 less.
For more, see Nest Tips to Help You Take Control of Your Smart Home
Top-Rated Smart Heating and Cooling Devices
Philips Hue Family
Want complete wireless supremacy over the lights in your home? The Philips Hue line delivers with bulbs that let you control not only the intensity of the
Lighting is a fun, accessible entry point in building a smart home, but smart bulbs—especially color-changing ones—cost a lot more than you might expect. That makes the $ 34.99 Eufy Lumos Smart Bulb White and Color an intriguing option. It doesn’t offer nearly as much in the way of third-party integration as the Philips Hue bulbs, but it lets you select from over 16 million colors, it doesn’t require a hub, and it supports voice commands via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Ecobee is the first company to embed Amazon Alexa in a light switch with its $ 99 Ecobee Switch+. The Switch+ is more than just a smart wall switch that connects to your Wi-Fi and can be controlled using a mobile app: It can do everything an Amazon Echo does, such as tell you the current news, weather and sports scores, play music, and control other smart home devices. It also works with Apple’s HomeKit, Google Assistant, IFTTT applets, and the SmartThings Hub, and it will eventually double as a remote room sensor for an Ecobee thermostat.
Check out The Best Smart Light Bulbs for more connected lighting options.
Top-Rated Smart Lighting Products
Smart Kitchen Appliances
Anova Culinary Precision Cooker Wi-Fi
If you’re interested in sous vide cooking—where food sealed in plastic is immersed in a hot bath to cook to perfection—you need an immersion circulator to get started. The Anova Culinary Precision Cooker uses Wi-Fi connectivity so you control it from anywhere, even when you’re not home. A big dial lets you set the desired temperature to within a tenth of a degree,
The Perfect Bake Pro takes out the guesswork and risk when baking. It’s a baking scale connected to an app to help newbies (and seasoned bakers alike) get everything just right when it comes to kitchen chemistry. Just follow the app as the scale measures everything you add. As long as you can tell salt from sugar, you’re probably going to be just fine.
Amazon Basics Microwave
Smart kitchen appliances are usually “smart” because they work with an app in some way. You can control them with your phone or tablet, like the Tovala Steam Oven or the Smarter Coffee. That functionality also typically means they’re more expensive than their traditional equivalents. The AmazonBasics Microwave subverts both of those expectations. At $ 59.99, it costs about the same as any other small 700-watt microwave, and instead of direct app control, you can simply use Alexa voice commands to cook. It isn’t terribly powerful, and you need a separate Echo device in order to use the voice functionality, but it’s priced similarly to models that don’t do nearly as much, making it a great buy.
See The Best Smart Kitchen Appliances for more connected cooking gear
Top-Rated Smart Cooking Gadgets
Ecovacs Deebot N79S
Even if you hate cleaning, shelling out several hundred dollars for a robot vacuum can seem a little extravagant. But at $ 229, the Ecovacs Deebot N79S is relatively
iRobot Roomba i7+
Robot vacuums get smarter with each generation, and iRobot’s Roomba i7+ might just be the most advanced model we’ve tested to date. In addition to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control, multistory mapping, and adaptive camera-based navigation that cleans better as it learns your home’s layout, it’s the only vacuum we’ve tested that can empty its own dustbin. At $ 949.99 it’s one of the most expensive models we’ve seen, but it’s also the only robot vacuum out there that doesn’t require you to lift a finger. And isn’t that why you want one in the first place?
iRobot Braava Jet 240
A vacuuming robot isn’t enough these days. Don’t you want your floors mopped clean as well? iRobot’s relatively inexpensive Braava Jet 240 will do exactly that. It’s small, quiet, and perfect for apartment dwellers without a lot of floor space or time to clean it when they get home. It sprays a jet of water to clean deep, and can even do damp sweeping, like a Swiffer.
Read The Best Robot Vacuums for more.
Top-Rated Smart Cleaning Tools
Smart Health and Fitness Devices
Using technology at home to make you healthier just makes good sense. For tracking fat, BMI, water, muscle mass, bone composition, and even pregnancy, look no further than the QardioBase 2. It shares the info it reads with a smartphone app for your easy access. Plus, it just looks great.
See The Best Smart Bathroom Scales for more
There are many ways to track your sleep these days, from fitness trackers to smartwatches, but perhaps nothing is better suited for the job than your mattress itself. At least, that’s the idea behind Sleep Number’s 360 Smart Bed, which incorporates biometric sensors to help you snooze better. You use an app on your smartphone to view your sleep trends and health
Top-Rated Smart Health and Fitness Products
Smart Outdoor Gadgets
When we first tested robotic pool cleaners, the Polaris 9550 Sport took top honors thanks to its superb cleaning performance, easy-to-clean debris canister, and multiple programming options. The new Polaris 9650iQ Sport brings more of the same, only this time it offers Wi-Fi connectivity and a useful mobile app that lets you control the cleaner from your smartphone. It’s expensive at $ 1,499, but if you’d rather spend more time swimming in your pool than you do cleaning it, it’s worth every penny
The latest Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller gives you control over eight or 16 zones depending on the unit you get, with a master valve terminal for systems that have one. It won’t water the lawn if it’s raining, and you can turn it on and off remotely with your phone. Plus, it integrates with lots of other services and devices like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT, and Samsung SmartThings.
Husqvarna Automower 315X
No stranger to outdoor appliances, Sweden-based Husqvarna offers a variety of robot lawn mowers for yards of all shapes and sizes. We got our hands on the Automower 315X, a high-end, feature-packed model with a premium $ 1,999.95 price. The 315X works with a well-designed mobile app that lets you use your phone to start and stop the mower, monitor its progress, create schedules, and see where it’s been on a map of your property. Its user-friendly programming options, outstanding cutting performance, and quiet operation earn it our Editors’ Choice for robotic lawn mowers.
See The Best Robot Lawn Mowers for more.