7 Must-Have Smart Home Devices

While you may think all products are must-have smart home devices, there are some we would love to highlight. You have bought and installed the first smart home device in your home. Now, give the voice assistant a command and you can control the lights in your home. We know it’s very exciting Now, let’s decide what exactly is next…

Must-Have Smart Home Devices

1) Digital Assistant

Since strong-arming its way on the scene back in 2014, Amazon’s Echo continues to dominate the digital assistant vertical. This most recent iteration costs significantly less than the original and it’s lost a bit of size too. Although very slightly wider, Echo 2 is almost 4 inches shorter.

It’s worth dealing with sound quality straight off the bat. It’s average at best. As long as you’re not buying this as your primary listening device, the soundscape is serviceable, but don’t expect much more than that. You can also use the line out to connect to external speakers if you want to update the sound.

What makes Echo 2 a must-have smart home device is not sound quality but the presence of Alexa. This inimitable virtual assistant allows you to control connected devices in your home with voice commands.

From curating and playing your music through to organizing your day, imagination is your only limitation when it comes to what Alexa can help you with. Choose from thousands of skills for help with anything from ordering an Uber to calling for pizza.

You’ll be able to make hands-free calls to anyone with the Alexa app and an Echo device which is a nice extra.

Echo remains a fantastic starter device for anyone looking to dip their toes into the smart home waters without the cost and commitment of professional installation. With your entertainment and admin handled for you by Alexa, you’ll also be able to take charge of devices throughout your home using nothing but your voice.

While the Echo range keeps getting bigger and flashier, this improved version of a true classic is hard to fault.

Pros

  • Smaller footprint than the earlier iteration while costing less
  • Alexa can almost always hear you even from a distance in noisy rooms
  • Comprehensive third-party support making Echo ideal in any smart home
  • Mute button to disconnect the mics is a convenient touch
  • Outstanding price to performance ratio

Cons

  • Sound quality is underwhelming if you’re only interested in the speaker
  • You’ll have an always-on listening device in your home to make sure you’re comfortable with that

2) Smart Thermostat

Although Nest Learning is still perhaps the most popular smart thermostat, the 4th version of Ecobee is a strong contender for the crown.

You can take hands-free control of your thermostat using the integrated digital assistant, Alexa. You can also go far beyond temperature control and take advantage of the tens of thousands of skills in her toolbox.

If you use sensors, you can introduce occupancy detection and make sure you don’t end up heating or cooling empty rooms.

The app is responsive and very easy to navigate. By activating Smart Home/Away, you can automatically enable the right energy modes to save you money on your electricity bills as well as making your life easier. By building out up to 32 sensors, you can control the temperature throughout the house with no annoying hot or cold spots.

Since the Ecobee thermostat will be hardwired in, you won’t be dependent on battery power potentially letting you down.

With this most recent version, you’ll get a slick touchscreen display, a remote proximity and temperature sensor, a great app and seamless integration with SmartThings and HomeKit. The fourth version of Ecobee takes a tried-and-true recipe and makes it even better.

If you want noticeable savings on your utility bills and a return on investment in little more than a year, think seriously about a smart thermostat.

Pros

  • Regulate temperatures based on geofencing and scheduling for your complete convenience
  • Installation is reasonably straightforward
  • Both app and interface are intuitive and user-friendly
  • Alexa comes built in so you won’t need the extra expense of a digital assistant
  • Sleek, understated aesthetic but not a case of form over function

Cons

  • You’ll be stuck with the default Echo wake word
  • You can’t use voice control for your HVAC system
  • Expensive unless you intend to make full use of Alexa

3) Security Camera

The home security camera space is glutted but Netgear’s Arlo Pro kit stands out.

This premium bundle comes with professional installation thrown in along with the basic training you need to get you up and running confidently.

The wireless system allows you to place cameras just about anywhere you need to. Battery-powered cameras come with built-in networking and you’ll get up to 6 months of run-time before needing to replace the batteries. You get 2 cameras thrown in.

Once everything is operational, you assume control in-app on your smartphone for a fully flexible approach to home security. While this system is not cheap, you can’t put a price on being on vacation without needing to worry about the safety of your unattended house.

The weatherproofed nature of the cameras means you can pop them outside in the garden so you’ve got your whole property secured.

The siren kicks out a full 100 decibels and you can control this alarm remotely.

Working well with Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT, the Arlo Pro is a cut above other security systems and a must-have smart home device if you take your security seriously and don’t mind paying a premium price for a premium service.

Pros

  • Ultra-wide field of vision through 130 degrees adequate to cover most rooms
  • Battery power preserved as footage is only recorded when motion is detected
  • Free basic package and multiple price plans so you can personalize your security system completely
  • Video is crisp, high-definition so you’ll get detailed footage on demand
  • You’ll get professional installation and training thrown in so you’ll feel completely at home with all elements of your system

Cons

  • Wireless approach is convenient but means you’ll need a base station to upload footage to the cloud
  • Absolutely not the cheapest home security system but certainly among the very best

4) Smart Lights

While the regular white LEDs might not give you the flamboyance of changing colors, if you’re looking for a smart lighting set-up that’s user-friendly, easy to install and works with practically anything, this starter kit is the perfect place to dip in.

You’ll get a bridge included so you can build out your smart lighting to include up to 50 slights, switches, and accessories. This plugs into your router using an Ethernet cable you’ll find in the package.

Set-up couldn’t be easier. Once you’ve plugged everything in including your lights, just take charge of everything in-app.

Philips has been in this game some time and that experience shows in the slick app that allows you to take full remote control of your lighting using nothing but your smartphone.

Thanks to geofencing, the Leaving Home and Coming Home routines are triggered based on the location of your cell phone so you can streamline entering and exiting your home with this must-have smart home device.

Creating routines for morning and evening is super-simple while you can also take vacations into account and really inject your lighting with a dose of energy-efficient, security-conscious smarts.

One driving reason we chose this starter kit to showcase the best that smart lighting has to offer is the extensive compatibility with other devices and appliances. Working with Alexa, Google Home and HomeKit, you’ve got all bases covered.

And how about the lights themselves? With all the added functionality, it’s all too easy to forget the core purpose of this product and on that count Philips again hits a home run. Kicking out 800 lumens of brightness, these LEDs are roughly comparable to 60-watt incandescent bulbs while drawing down just 9 ½ watts of power.

Pros

  • Use Philips bridge to control your lights from your smartphone in-app
  • Capable of handling up to 50 lights and accessories through hub so ideal for building out your smart home
  • Makes one of the most affordable entry points to smart lighting from a hard-hitting brand
  • Get the benefit of smooth, controlled dimming from a lighting expert
  • No need for wiring or professional installation

Cons

  • Reasonably expensive but you’re buying into great brand heritage
  • You can’t connect directly to your home WiFi network so you’ll need the bridge provided

5) Smart Home Hub

We examined just a few of the things the Philips Hue bridge can do and Samsung’s SmartThings hub is a first-rate choice if you’re looking for a foundation from which to build out a comprehensive smart home.

Think of hubs as translators. With SmartThings, you’ll get no communication breakdown with all main protocols supported from Zigbee and Z-Wave through to all IP-connected devices.

Compatibility is class-leading. Aside from some blind spots with Nest, Blink, D-Link and Sonos, you can use pretty much any other brand with this adaptable and agile hub. Check here on Samsung’s site for a complete list of compatible devices and appliances.

Control your connected devices in-app or using your preferred virtual assistant. Both Alexa and Google Assistant are fully supported.

Samsung has tried to unify rather than polarize with this hub, and they’ve pretty much fully succeeded. Aside from a couple of omissions, compatibility extends across the field leaving you with an extremely malleable and capable nucleus from which you can create the smart home of your dreams.

Pros

  • Get the convenience of controlling a broad range of connected device in your smart home using the agile, intuitive SmartThings app
  • Around-the-clock alerts if there’s any unusual activity on any devices
  • Compatible with Z-Wave, Zigbee, and IP-connected devices allowing you maximum flexibility when it comes to building out your smart home
  • Use your favorite digital assistant to control your entire smart home using voice commands
  • Easy to modify routines for a completely personalized approach to home automation even if you’re not the biggest tech-lover

Cons

  • Not compatible with Nest devices so bear this in mind before committing to purchase if you’re already invested into Nest
  • Newest iteration has no battery back-up

6) Smart Lock

The entry system to your home is no place to cut corners. You should not be looking for the cheapest smart lock since any security breach could cost you a whole lot more than you’ll save by hunting down the least expensive locks on the market.

And make no mistake, the August Smart Lock Pro is not cheap but it will update the intelligence of your entry system and make things a whole lot more convenient while ramping up security at the same time.

At 3 ½ x 2 inches, the lock is relatively bulbous and juts out from the door. On the plus side, the sleek aluminum finish goes some way to offsetting the chubby build.

Installation of the lock and app is easy. If you’re reasonably proficient at DIY, you can slot this lock over the deadbolt already in place, and you’ll be ready to fire up the app and add your device in a matter of minutes.

As well as locking and unlocking in-app, you can also set up a degree of automation including ensuring your door locks as soon as you’re 200 feet from your property. This is a nice touch if you or your kids frequently forget to lock up as you leave.

If you want all the benefits of smart lock technology without sacrificing your key, treat yourself to the August Smart Lock Pro and you’ll never look back.

Pros

  • Control access to your front door from your smartphone even if you’re not at home
  • Attached over your existing deadbolt and you can keep your keys so a fuss-free installation in no more than 10 minutes using just a screwdriver
  • Works with pretty much any single-cylinder deadbolts
  • Get the convenience of doors locking as you leave your house
  • Use your digital butler to speak to your lock with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri all supported

Cons

  • A very bulky unit with aesthetics not to everyone’s liking
  • Certainly not the cheapest option on the smart lock market
  • You’ll need to buy the bridge separately to extract the very most from this smart lock

7) Smart Entry System

Ring continues to dominate the video entry system market and this newest iteration of the classic Video Doorbell works across Android and iOS devices as well as on Windows 10 and Mac.

By connecting to your home WiFi network, your video doorbell will alert you on your smartphone or tablet any time someone rings the bell. You can see a live video stream using the neat Ring app and use the two-way audio to take charge even if you’re out.

You can create your own motion detection zones, and the camera works day and night to record robust 1080p HD video. The camera has a generous 160-degree field of vision so you can see everything you need in high definition.

Despite packing such performance and firepower, the device itself is slimline and modernist without looking overly utilitarian.

If you’re looking to amplify your smart home security system, this premium video doorbell is a must-have from an industry titan.

Pros

  • Streamlined design with maximum functionality packed inside
  • Completely customizable motion alerts so make your entry system fit your needs
  • Crisp high-def 1080p video so get detailed, accurate footage in the event of any security breach
  • Infrared LEDs deliver night vision and keep your property secured around-the-clock
  • Check live video on demand to keep an eye on your house even if you’re away on business or vacation

Cons

  • Installation could certainly be simplified
  • You’ll need to install the Pro Power Kit included even if you’re replacing an existing doorbell