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Published on August 31st, 2017 | by Technable


Home Is Where the Smart Is: Most Worthwhile Home Automation Gadgets of 2017

Home Is Where the Smart Is: Most Worthwhile Home Automation Gadgets of 2017

 Soon enough we’ll have automated cars, so it seems high time to start investing in home automation technology. However, the world of smart devices is expanding so rapidly that many homeowners aren’t sure where to start adding intelligence around their living spaces. This guide will help you determine the smartest smart gadgets for your home, so you can begin enjoying total environmental control without feeling overwhelmed.

home appliance

Smart-Home Hubs

A smart-home hub is a single unit through which you can control the rest of your smart gadgetry. Though there are a few complete smart systems — which are typically installed with the help of smart-home professionals — most consumer-ready smart products aren’t standardized, which means either you have to control each smart device separately or you need a hub to help you keep everything in sync.

If you do decide to eschew professional help and jerry-rig your own smart home, the best hub you can buy is the Amazon Echo. Though more than two years old, the Echo is continuously updated with new features and use cases, and Amazon is working diligently to expand its integrations. Voice-activated and sleek, the Echo is among the best smart devices on the market.

Smart Lights

Top among life’s little annoyances is getting into bed without first turning off the lights. With smart lights, you’ll never experience that bother again. In fact, with smart lights, you can more precisely control when your lights turn on and off, their brightness, and even their color. There are a few different classes of smart lights available, and here are our top picks:

  • Best white lights: Philips Hue White LED Starter Kit
  • Best color-changing bulbs: Lifx Color 1000
  • Best security lighting: BeOn Starter Pack

Smart Thermostats

Thermostats were among the first household items to become smart, and as a result, there is a surprisingly massive amount of diversity when it comes to your smart-home thermostat options. Here are some features to pay attention to:

  • Price. Given the competition in the market, it’s easy to find a cheap smart thermostat — but that probably isn’t the one you want. Likewise, you shouldn’t spend your entire smart-home budget on temperature control.
  • Energy use. Dumb thermostats usually require a C-wire, which is how they receive power. However, not all HVAC systems have C-wires. Most smart thermostats need C-wires, too, but if you don’t have one, you should find a long-lasting, battery-powered smart thermostat.
  • Motion detection. A relatively new feature, motion sensors in smart thermostats can alert the system to when you are home and cool or heat the home appropriately. Then, when you leave, it can relax settings for energy savings.

Smart Doorbells

These days, a knock on the door is rarely a welcome visit from an old friend. You can screen your visitors just like you screen your phone calls with a smart doorbell, which takes pictures or video of potential guests, so you can choose whether you want to answer. While Ring is a popular option, we prefer SkyBell, which provides HD video and connects with most smart-home systems.

iphone in hand

Smart Security

With the right smart gadgets, you won’t care whether you’re leaving for a regular work day or for a year-long vacation — you can always make sure your home is secure. Smart security cameras located around your home can store video online, and high-quality devices can capture and play sound, as well. The Kuna Toucan offers a socket for a smart light bulb and a 100-decibel siren for extra deterrence power.

Smart Plugs

You can turn any device into a smart device — almost — by plugging it into a smart plug. Smart plugs allow you full control over anything you plug in, granting or cutting power on a schedule or remotely at any time. The plugs may seem simple and pointless, but because they give intelligence to dumb appliances, they are worth the relatively small investment. We like Belkin’s WeMo Mini, which is more compact than other smart plugs on the market.

Smart Vacuums

While vacuums have only recently become smart enough to connect to the Internet of Things (and other home automation systems), robot vacuums have been around for a while. Fortunately, that means there are plenty of new, excellent, and affordable models to consider. For example:

  • Best sweeping/mopping combo: EcoVacs DEEBOT DM85
  • Best for pet hair and dander: PureClean PUCRC25
  • Best for thick carpets: ILIFE A4S

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