The Best Devices to Create a True Smart Home
Automating the Home
As the Internet of Things continues to proliferate, more and more everyday objects are becoming ‘smart’. These smart devices harness internet connectivity to communicate among each other, send and receive information, and take your voice commands. One of the major areas seeing a continuous increase in smart objects is the household. Virtually all aspects of the home can now be fully automated including clocks, speakers, thermostats, doorbells, cameras, windows, appliances, cooking utensils, locks, and more. Whether you’re looking for simple convenience or even reducing your carbon footprint, there are smart home devices for every room in the house.
We’ve compiled a list of the best smart home devices of 2020 by category:
Smart Home Security
August Wi-Fi Smart Lock
The August Wi-Fi Smart Lock is the company’s smallest and most advanced lock yet. Controlled through an app on your smartphone or smart watch, the August Wi-Fi Smart Lock comes packed with an impressive set of features. Beyond providing a deadbolt for security, it has remote lock/unlock features, face and voice recognition, door status updates, the ability to grant virtual keys, and the option to watch a live video feed to monitor who is coming and going. It supports Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, and a number of other third-party platforms and devices. Using proximity settings, the door can be set up to automatically unlock on approach and automatically lock when shut, giving you peace of mind as you never have to worry about forgetting to lock the door behind you. Installation is a breeze as the lock attaches directly on top of your existing lock so you can continue using the same keys.
Arlo Ultra Security Camera
The Arlo Ultra is the gold standard of outdoor smart security cameras. It’s the first we’ve seen with actual 4K UHD video streaming and recording. It comes packed with all kinds of nifty features like motion tracking, automatic zooming, full-color night vision, integrated spotlight and siren, one-button 911 connectivity, 180-degree field of view, and more. It’s entirely wireless and installation is easy. A subscription is required to take advantage of all the features the Arlo Ultra has to offer, but its impressive array of features earns it the top spot for security cameras.
Vivint Smart Home Security System
Vivint’s Smart Home security system provides round-the-clock home monitoring with an immediate response when the alarm is tripped. It also offers a variety of (optional) home automation services all of which can be controlled via a smartphone app, PC, or a provided 7-inch touchscreen control panel. Vivint components and services aren’t exactly the cheapest, but once you settle on a plan they will handle everything. Vivint technicians will show up at your house, install everything, and give you a comprehensive walkthrough on how to operate the system.
Smart Heating, Cooling, and Lighting
EcoBee Smart Thermostat with Voice Control
The fifth generation of EcoBee smart thermostats continues to improve upon its predecessors. Enhanced multimedia and Alexa support, improved audio components, and dual-band Wi-Fi are just a few examples of what this advanced thermostat has to offer. Add in an easy to navigate control app, lots of third-party support, and an easy installation process and you’ve got one of the best smart thermostats available. EcoBee claims an average annual savings of 23% on energy costs, and the device automatically adapts to your daily routine to ensure your home is always perfectly comfortable.
GE Energy Star 115-Volt Electronic Room Air Conditioner (AHC08LY)
If you don’t have central air conditioning, this 8,000-BTU Wi-Fi enabled window mounted unit is your best option. It supports Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Siri voice commands. It can also integrate with other smart home devices via Apple’s HomeKit and IFTTT (if this, then that) apps. By tapping into your smart phone’s location services, the window mounted unit will turn on and begin cooling your home before you arrive. There are also a number of flexible scheduling options and it can even generate home energy usage reports. It’s a bit more pricey than its non-connected counterparts and you may need some help installing it, but the AHC08LY is easily the smartest window mounted air conditioner on the market.
Yeelight Smart LED Bulb
There are tons of great smart light bulbs on the market, but the Yeelight Smart LED Bulb packs in the most features without a ridiculous price tag. It’s dimmable, has over 16 million colors to choose from, and connects to your home’s Wi-Fi network without the need for a hub or bridge. Like most other devices on this list, the Yeelight supports Apple HomeKit, IFTTT, and Alexa, Google, and Siri voice commands. There’s even a user-friendly app that allows you to create lighting profiles, effects, and schedules. At less than $30 per bulb, it is one of the best deals available for smart home lighting.
Smart Kitchen Devices
The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in a house and it is packed full of various devices and utensils that are perfectly suited to IoT connectivity. There are hundreds of possible devices, both cheap and outrageously expensive, that can improve your cooking experience.
If you have ever thrown out something and forgot to add it to your shopping list, only to realize it too late, then the GeniCan Scanner is perfect for you. It attaches directly to your garbage can and scans barcodes and labels as you toss items out. It then adds those scanned items to a shopping list on your smartphone and can even order them to be delivered via Amazon Dash. Even items without labels or barcodes can be scanned by holding them in front of the GeniCan. It will prompt you to say the item out loud and with built-in voice recognition, it will add the item to your shopping list.
GE Profile Kitchen Hub Smart Range Hood
Range hoods are probably not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of potential smart kitchen devices, but GE is making us rethink what range hoods are capable of. Beyond the standard feature of pulling smoke, fumes, and heat out of the kitchen via fan, this range hood sports a 27-inch touchscreen display packed with over 5,000 step-by-step recipes. It can even teach you new cooking techniques and you can save your own family favorite recipes for easy access. If that’s not enough, the Kitchen Hub Smart Range Hood lets you manage your smart home devices thanks to U+Connect; brew your coffee, adjust your home lighting, and check and manage the family calendar all from one system. There is even Spotify and Netflix compatibility so you can jam out to your favorite playlists or catch up on the latest episode while you cook. The Kitchen Hub can even take video phone calls with a dual-camera setup. One forward facing camera for easy face-to-face video calling while you cook; the other camera looks down at the stovetop so you can livestream your cooking sessions.
Samsung 4-Door Refrigerator with Family Hub
This is the latest in the line of advanced Samsung smart refrigerators featuring the Family Hub and Bixby, Samsung’s own virtual assistant. The Family Hub is essentially a 21.5-inch tablet built into the fridge door that functions like a bulletin board for the family. Everyone can access the Family Hub via smartphone app; leaving notes, setting reminders, and uploading pictures for the family to see are just a few of the possibilities. Beyond that, the Family Hub allows you to search recipes and even grocery shop directly from the comfort of your own kitchen. It can play music from your favorite apps like Spotify and Pandora and even features the option to mirror your TV directly onto the Family Hub so you don’t miss out on movie night. The Family Hub also connects to other smart devices in your house, giving you notifications for the status of your dishwasher, laundry, and oven. There are even cameras inside the fridge, so if you’re ever out at the grocery store and wondering if there’s enough milk at home, you can quickly and easily take a peek from the smartphone app. All of these features come with a hefty price tag at $3,500, but the sheer functionality lands this fridge at the top spot of our smart fridge list.
At Lithios we value outside opinions. This blog was written by one of our guest bloggers, Jonathan Baker, with feedback from the Lithios team.