The holiday season can be one of the most enjoyable times of the year, but it’s also easily one of the most stressful. That’s doubly true if you’re concerned about home security, which is a very important consideration if you’re traveling around this time, entertaining frequent guests, or simply ordering gifts online — but today’s smart home technology can ease those worries a bit.
Modern smart home devices like smart locks, video doorbells, and smart lighting are an easy way to bring your living space into the 21st century while offering convenience and peace of mind. If you’re looking to set up or add to your own smart home ecosystem (maybe you’ve already got a smart speaker and you want to unlock its full potential), then these four products are just what you need to put your home on autopilot before the holidays:
For many of us, the holidays mean frequent guests, but even if you’re not the one hosting get-togethers at your home, chances are good that you’re still receiving more deliveries than usual during this time of the year when big holiday sales and online gift buying reach their peak. The surest way to keep an eye on your packages and ward off porch pirates is with the Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus, one of the latest and greatest models (and our particular favorite) in the long-running Ring lineup.
The motion-activated Ring Video Doorbell 3 Plus provides a real-time, 160-degree view of your front doorstep, delivering a 1080p stream right to your connected mobile device via Wi-Fi. The Ring doorbell can also be used with Alexa-enabled devices like the Amazon Echo Show 5, which serves as the perfect hub to access the doorbell’s live video feed, communicate with visitors via the Ring’s two-way talk feature, and manage your wider smart home ecosystem.
Your home is a sanctuary and there’s no better place to relax and unload the stress that comes with holiday preparations. You’re also probably spending more time indoors during the colder seasons, and a smart lighting setup like the Sengled starter kit is the perfect way to create a relaxing home ambiance with custom lightning. Everything sets up in minutes, syncs to your local Wi-Fi, and is easily customized and controlled via your mobile device. Turn lights on and off with the included smart switch or voice command if you have Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or Apple HomeKit. The Sengled remote light switch also comes with a convenient wall plate that replaces your current light switch with no complicated re-wiring needed.
You can even create schedules for the Sengled lights to help you manage your day and enhance your productivity. For example, you can set the Sengled lights to gently wake you up in the morning with soft light, automatically dim or switch to a warmer white in the evening, and turn on when you’re home or when you’re away for added security, to name just a few uses. The energy-efficient LED bulbs also cover the entire color spectrum and offer a total of 16 million different color options and unique effects. That makes this smart lighting kit the perfect way to set a holiday mood with pre-set color effects like Soft White light or Christmas lights, whether you’re having a party at your place or just relaxing with some of your favorite holiday movies after a long day.
One of the more useful but less-appreciated applications for smart home technology is reducing your power consumption — which admittedly doesn’t sound like the most exciting thing. We realize that a smart plug like the Kasa from TP-Link might seem like a solution looking for a problem at first glance, but once you add it to your smart home setup, you might wonder why someone didn’t think of it sooner (and if you use it properly, you’ll almost certainly notice how much power you’ve been wasting once your energy bill comes due).
The TP-Link Kasa smart plug can be used with any regular AC outlet in your home. When electronics are plugged into the Kasa, you can turn them on and off remotely and set up daily schedules right from your iOS or Android mobile device via Wi-Fi — the perfect thing for scheduling your holiday lights (meaning you won’t have to crawl under your Christmas tree to manually plug in and unplug them every day). You can also use this to automatically turn lights on at certain times when you’re away to make it look like you’re home, and the Kasa can be integrated with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant for voice control as well. A worthy addition to any smart home setup, and a cheap one at just $TK.
Along with keeping an eye on your front door with the Ring Video Doorbell, it’s a good idea to keep tabs on who’s actually entering and leaving your home with a good smart lock and keypad. August and Yale are the two leading makers of smart locks and both are excellent additions to any smart home security system. The August Smart Lock has been one of our favorites for a while now, and this new fourth-generation model makes it easy to remotely lock and unlock your door, keep a record of who’s come and gone, get real-time alerts when your door is open, and grant access to select people with unique key codes.pairs the lock with the August Smart Keypad so you don’t even need a mobile device for access.
The Yale Assure Smart Lock SL offers the same real-time door monitoring and access log functions as the August Smart Lock but combines a smart deadbolt and touchscreen keypad in one bundle, making it a slightly more cost-effective option if you want both. It also features a keyway, giving you three ways to unlock your front door: Your mobile device, the keypad, or your physical key, just like the August Smart Lock bundle. The keypad also lets you create unique and disposable keys for friends, kids, family members, teenagers, caretakers, contractors, and other visitors, and it’s an easy way to secure your home when you want to go for a walk or bike ride without having to take your keys. The Yale Assure Smart Lock SL interfaces seamlessly with Alexa and Google Assistant ecosystems to give you even more control.
August Smart Lock + Keypad (4th Gen) — $310
Yale Assure Smart Lock SL — $280
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