Once, the very height of smart home applicances was having an ice and water dispenser attached to your fridge or having a router that gave you internet without screeching like a banshee every time you wanted to connect. Now, we’ve got voice-enabled speakers that can play our favourite films and smartphone apps that let us turn the lights, heating and other home appliances on and off. And more. Here are eight of the best smart home gadgets available now.
1. A Video Doorbell
Video doorbells allow you to see who’s at the door, talk to whoever’s outside and record footage. They’re a great way to deter burglars and avoid being locked into long conversations with unwanted visitors.
- Nest Hello - records via a 160-degree wide-angle camera and has a built-in mic so you can have two-way conversations with your visitors. If you sign up for the Nest Aware subscription service (£4 a month), you can even have facial recognition and 24/7 recording.
- RING Video Doorbell - monitor your home from your smartphone, tablet or PC. Every RING device comes with motion sensors and push notifications so you’ll always be the first to know when someone steps onto your property.
2. A Smart Thermostat
Smart thermostats allow you to control and monitor your house’s heating from the device of your choice. Some even have the option of controlling your heating remotely. They’re convenient and are excellent at helping you conserve energy and reduce your utility bills.
- Hive Active Heating System - created by British Gas, this thermostat allows you to control your heating remotely. Use the Hive app to adjust your heating and program it so it can turn on or off depending on various triggers, such as the front door opening or if it’s dark outside.
- Tado Smart Thermostat - not only can you control your heating via an app but with Tado, you can also turn on presence detection. Tado then tracks you (AKA your smartphone via GPS) and adjusts the heating according to that. For example, you can set it to turn up as you get nearer and vice versa.
3. A Robot Vac
We all know how vacuuming can be a bit of a chore. Actually, scratch that. It’s always a chore, right? Well, that’s because you’ve never owned a robot vacuum. Using infrared sensors, cameras and other AI-based technology, these innovations whip themselves around your home, tidying up your household. And you don’t need to lift a finger.
- iRobot Roomba 980 - this handy vacuum maps your house and sensors allow it to detect different flooring so it can move around without crashing into objects and clean just as well on carpet as it can on wooden floorboards and tiles. When the bin is full or the battery runs low (max two hours), it’ll return to its home dock.
- Dyson 360 Eye - a powerful suction combined with infrared sensors and tank tracks so it can navigate around objects, pets and humans means the 360 Eye can tidy your house as well as you. If you use the Dyson Link app, you can even schedule a vacuum while you’re out of the house.
4. Smart Light Bulbs
Light bulbs don’t need to just turn on and off. Nowadays, you can have smart light bulbs which can change colour or you can control them even when you’re not at home.
- Hive Active Light - packaged with colour-changing bulbs that can transition from cool to warm white, you can control your home lighting via the Hive Hub or a smartphone app. If you’ve already got a Hive system, like the thermostat, this is the bulb for you.
- Philips Hue - the original smart lighting range, Philips Hue lets you alter your home lighting at a touch of a button. Or by simply saying a few words as it’s Amazon Alexa-friendly.
5. A Smart Plug
Although they probably will be in a few years’ time, not all home appliances and electronics are currently smart. However, you can still integrate most of these non-smart items with the rest of your smart home setup. How? By using a smart plug. These handy things allow you to use your phone to turn your appliances and electronics on and off wherever you are or schedule them for set times.
- Belkin WeMo Insight Switch - you can control your appliances and electronics remotely via your smartphone, whether it’s to set up a schedule or you just want them on/off. The app also allows you to monitor how long your gadgets have been on and how much it costed you, plus monthly predictions.
- Aukey Wi-Fi Smart Plug - this compact plug allows you to monitor which sockets are turned on or off. You can then adjust that or set up a schedule so specific appliances can turn on at certain times - using an app or speaking to your digital assistant/smart speaker. For example, your bedside lamp and coffee machine to switch on in the morning.
6. A Smart Home Security System
Burglar alarms aren’t the only thing that can protect your home now. A smart home security system is the latest advancement that can deter property theft and home invasions.
- Yale Smart Living - the leaders in home security now have a smart home range that’s ideal for deterring intruders. Smart Living features sirens, motion detectors, camera, door and window sensors, panic buttons, a keypad and more - all of which can be monitored and controlled at your fingertips via an app.
- Samsung SmartThings - best for working alongside other smart home gadgets, SmartThings features a multitude of sensors (door/window, motion and presence) so you can always know when people arrive or leave your property. These can be adjusted based on your routine or the system can track your location via your smartphone’s GPS.
7. Smart Kitchen Appliances
Many of us have busy daily schedules so finding time to cook can be tricky. And yet we can’t all afford to have live-in personal chefs. Well, how about using smart kitchen appliances that can make cooking easier, quicker and more efficient?
- Crock Pot WeMo Enabled Smart Slow Cooker - slow cookers are handy because you can cook your meals while you’re out of the house. This smart slow cooker takes things to the next level because you can adjust the cooking settings via the WeMo app. So, you can check the temperature, track the cooking times, change the settings or even turn the slow cooker off - and you don’t have to be at home.
- Smarter Coffee - simple and essential for coffee-lovers or those who need a pick-me-up in the morning, Smarter Coffee lets you turn your machine on or off using the app. You can set up a schedule for your coffee to be brewed for whenever you want, at whatever temperature and size you need via various modes. It’s even compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
- SmartPlate TopView - with this smart plate, you no longer need to manually input your food intake into food tracking apps. SmartPlate comes with cameras and weight sensors to literally watch what you eat, track your calories and alert you if you’ve served too much. It connects to MyFitnessPal and Fitbit.
- LG Instaview Door-in-Door - this smart fridge freezer ups the ante. Gone are the days of having to open the door and rummage around inside to see if you’ve got some of that delicious Greek yoghurt left. Just knock twice on the front glass panel and it turns transparent so you can see what’s inside. There’s also advanced technology to help you maximise energy savings, lower noise levels and keep food fresher for longer. Plus other features including folding shelves and a premium wine rack.
8. A Digital Assistant
Voice enabled digital assistants are all the rage. They’re a great way to bring all of your smart home devices into one place - a central home hub, if you will. Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant are two of the most popular options and most smart home devices, if not all, are compatible with them. Once they’ve been set up, you can just speak out loud to command your digital assistant to turn your gadgets on, off, set up schedules and more.
Both Amazon’s Alexa (Amazon Echo) and Google Assistant (Google Home) are available in various different sizes so you can choose the option that suits you best. Or, invest in more than one and link them to each other to ensure you can activate your smart home devices whenever you are in your house.
Learn more about digital assistants by reading our Alexa vs Google comparison here.
Want to Make Your Home Even Smarter?
Better broadband is essential if you’re going to get the most out of your smart home gadgets. After all, they rely on WiFi so in order to control them, you’ll need a reliable, ultrafast connection. And if you want to enhance your smart home experience even more, you’ll also need a voice enabled digital assistant to act as your home hub - like Alexa.
Our ultimate guide to using Amazon Alexa will teach you 101 ways to use your Echo device. Commanding her to Google definitions and turning your lights on and off aren’t the only things she can do. Download our guide below to find out more.