Want a smart home? Start with these best smart home devices

So, you want to turn your “dumb” house into a smarter one. You’re not alone. Analysts expect the smart home devices industry to reach $107.4 billion by 2023.

But the question is, where do you begin? The number of gadgets available to buy and the different brands can overwhelm smart-home beginners who are ready to enjoy better-equipped abodes. This straightforward list features six must-have devices to get you started. Soon, you’ll be asking your voice assistant to set an alarm for you just like a smart home pro!

1. A voice assistant
Smart home bundles

The first thing you’ll want to get is a voice assistant to help you control your smart devices with just your voice.

The Amazon Echo is a smart speaker that features Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant. One of the reasons this gadget should be on your smart home shopping list is that it could work with many of the other products you buy. Alexa responds to short commands that make life easier and more fun. You can set alarms, perform Google searches, and even order pizza — just by using your voice. Plus, compatible gadgets let you depend on Alexa to tweak aspects of your smart home by doing things like turning down the thermostat or turning on a light.

The Amazon Echo and its Alexa assistant are both excellent introductions to the potential of smart home devices, but you might want to try other smart speakers in the Echo family instead. If you’d prefer one that has a screen and lets you make video calls or see song lyrics, get the Echo Show or Echo Spot.

On the other hand, maybe you’d rather go with a smart speaker not associated with Amazon, but love the easy-to-move design of the Echo Dot. In that case, look no further than the streamlined Google Home Mini. Similar in size and shape to the Echo Dot, the Google Home Mini has the Google Assistant built into it. The gadget can add obligations to your schedule and remind you of them, create a shopping list, answer questions and much more. Plus, it connects to oodles of smart home devices for voice control.

Buy it from:


2. A lock
August Smart Lock Pro Review

When your home has a smart lock, there’s no need to worry about fumbling for your keys when it’s dark or having to leave a key under the mat for a pet sitter. Today’s options install in minutes and give you convenience combined with peace of mind.

The August Smart Lock has technology that senses whether you’re at home or how far away you are to determine whether to keep the door closed or start opening it.

For example, when you leave your neighborhood or are more than 200 meters away from your house, it ensures the door is locked. However, when you come back, the August Smart Lock lets you in.

Alternatively, there’s the Nest x Yale lock. The keyless touchscreen deadbolt allows users to lock and unlock a door from just about anywhere, and create pass codes to manage access for family members, friends, and guests.

Buy it from:


3. A security camera
smart home security nest cam iq lifestyle

Investing in a smart home camera lets you see who’s knocking at the door without getting up from the couch. Most models allow watching the happenings around your house from anywhere, all through an app on your phone. Many provide two-way audio and motion alerts.

Nest is one of the leading brands in the smart home market and offers cameras for both indoor and outdoor use. The Nest Cam Indoor, for example, comes with a magnetic stand and has a speaker so that you can talk to a person or pet even if you’re not nearby.

The Netgear Arlo Pro 2, while expensive, gives you a three-second look-back feature that shows what triggered an event. Because the model has a rechargeable battery, replacement power sources aren’t an extra expense. Video quality is excellent with this camera.

Buy it from:


4. A thermostat
mattamy homes ecobee partner ecobee3 the best of

Your heating and cooling system is probably a part of your home you don’t think about too often — until the temperature’s not quite right. A smart home thermostat could make the climate controls even more integrated into your life.

Consider the Nest Learning Thermostat. After you use it for a week, it picks up on your habits and seasonal specifics, so you don’t have to program it. When the house is empty, the device switches to an Eco mode to save energy.

Otherwise, think about getting an intelligent thermostat like the Ecobee4. Together with its room sensors and Follow Me feature, it detects where people are in the house and adapts accordingly for maximum comfort.

Buy it from:


5. Light bulbs
Philips Hue light bulbs
Philips Hue light bulbs

You may already use energy-efficient light bulbs in your home, and installing smart bulbs is the next logical step to take. Besides saving money, they let you customize the way your home looks and even turn lights on and off from another country, as long as you have internet access and the complementing app.

Philips Hue bulbs respond to voice commands and settings changes from your smartphone app. They work with the Apple Watch and Amazon Alexa, too. Alternatively, set up motion sensors that detect where you are and turn on lights to ensure you don’t trip over a child’s toy or a pile of clothes on your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Go with LIFX bulbs if you’re trying to keep costs down during your entry into the smart home market. Unlike some other brands that require starter kits with hubs and other non-bulb accessories, these versions need only a Wi-Fi connection and a compatible smartphone.

Buy it from:


6. Smart plugs
Wemo Mini Smart Plug Best smart outlet deals
Belkin Wemo Mini smart plugs

If the vast array of readily available smart home gadgets on the market aren’t meeting your needs, smart plugs can almost certainly help you reach your smart home goals.

Smart plugs are possibly one of the most versatile and useful smart home devices. These little gadgets plug right into your electrical outlets and instantly bring the power of the IoT to any room in your house. Any electrical device or appliance you plug into a smart plug can be controlled from your mobile device: your coffee pot, lamps and lights around the house, curling irons, nearly anything you want.

Belkin Wemo is a well-known smart plug brand with a good reputation. Belkin also has a Wemo Mini Smart Plug for anyone who wants their smart home tech to look a bit more discrete. Alternatively, TP-Link’s Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plugs are available in mini, slim and regular sizes.

Buy it from:


Once you own the devices on this list, you’ll have a well-equipped smart home that helps you save money, customize your spaces, keep the residence secure, and more. If you want to expand your assortment of smart gadgets later, it’s easy to do.

Smart Home

Best Buy offers a slew of Black Friday deals for smart home, security, and Wi-Fi

Building the excitement for Black Friday, Best Buy released its first round of deals for smart home, security, and Wi-Fi devices from Amazon, Ring, Lenovo, Philips Hue, Arlo, and Netgear. The deals in the first round expire November 11.

The best iRobot Roomba deals to make cleaning your home a breeze

Keep your home clean without lifting a finger using a robot vacuum cleaner. These nine iRobot Roomba deals not only help you keep your home tidy, but many also come with advanced features such as automatic scheduling and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Smart Home

Looking for smart home gadgets? Check out Lowe’s Black Friday deals

Lowe's is planning a whole bunch of significant price cuts on some popular internet-connected devices that can help you automate and connect your home. The deals will be available this Black Friday.
Home Theater

Comcast wants you to take control of your smart home through your TV

Comcast is looking to take on Google and Amazon as the center of your smart home. The company is reportedly testing a program that would allow broadband-only customers to turn their TVs into smart home hubs.
Smart Home

Amazon Alexa added a skill for Butterball’s annual Turkey Talk-Line

Just in time for Thanksgiving Day meal planning, now you can say "Alexa, ask Butterball" for access to Butterball's Turkey Talk-Line. Alexa will connect you to Butterball experts who can answer any cooking questions.
Smart Home

Google Home Hub vs. Amazon Echo Show

The Google Home Hub vs. Amazon Echo Show: which is better? Both are smart displays that control your smart home, but that's where the similarities end. We compare design, features, price and more to find out which is right for you.
Smart Home

Kitchen fires, viral turkeys, family knife fights, and more Thanksgiving fails

If you’re dreading small talk with nosy relatives or fearing you might burn down the house while cooking, we hate to say that your fears might not be unfounded. Here’s a roundup of some of the biggest Thanksgiving fails.
Product Review

Size matters, and Anova got it right with the Nano sous vide immersion circulator

Thinking about trying your hand at sous vide cooking? Anova recently came out with the smaller, more affordable Nano. The compact and easy-to-store precision sous vide immersion circulator is only $99. Here's our take on the device.
Smart Home

How to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner in an Instant Pot

We collected some of our favorite recipes and created an Instant Pot Thanksgiving dinner guide. Here’s how to ditch the oven and cook your entire Thanksgiving Dinner in an Instant Pot.

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Smart Home

Hosting Thanksgiving but not sure where to begin? Try a Thanksgiving meal kit

Need a Thanksgiving meal, but short on time or expertise? Here are the best Thanksgiving meal kits to help you out. They either give you all the ingredients and instructions, or provide a full Thanksgiving meal that you just have to heat.
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.
Product Review

Amazon's new Echo is smaller and cheaper; firmware upgrade improves sound

The all-new Echo is shorter, cuter, and comes with several different color and fabric choices. Our Amazon Echo review reveals that while the acoustics initially weren't great upon release, a firmware upgrade has improved the sound.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!