The Best Smart Thermostat, Switches, and Bulbs You Need to Buy
Here are some solid options for your budding smart home.
Thinking about building the perfect smart home or apartment? The thought has been crossing our minds — and is going to be crossing the minds of many, regardless of interest in the internet of things, as everyday object are getting smarter. So if you’re thinking about outfitting your home with smart appliances and devices, you may want to consider these: The best smart lights, scales, and switches to fill out your smart living space.
For many, smart lights are the gateway smart living item, and we can see why — they’re functional, beautiful, and relatively inexpensive.
Philips Hue seemingly has it all. It’s got the age to show it’s a mature platform, and integration with any worthwhile smart assistant like Google Assistant, Alexa, and Apple Homekit/ Siri. It also has a wide range of bulbs for indoors and outdoors, and even a portable “Go” light, because why not? You’ll also find a multitude of accessories to extend the usefulness of your bulbs, like motion sensors and more. Hue also plays nice with other third-party services, only furthering its stake as the go-to smart lighting system.
Technically better in terms of actual color boldness and brightness, LIFX bulbs bring the heat to the Hue system more than any other competitor. They also don’t need a hub like Hue, so opting for LIFX bulbs will free up one Ethernet port on your wireless router. If you can find them on sale, they can match or undercut Hue bulbs, but can also be found for up to $10 more at regular price.
While they’re rather simple in function, smart switches tend to need to stay in the same ecosystem, though they can sometimes cohabitate. For this reason, you’ll find two different switches to look out for.
Wemo’s light switches go hand-in-hand with its smart plugs, so if you have both, you can easily control a lamp, toaster, or whatever you want that’s plugged into one of Wemo’s switches—though you’ll most likely use them with lights. Once the plugs are switched on via app or WiFi switch, you can even add in a smart bulb like Hue or LIFX, but just don’t expect to control anything outside of on/off on the Wemo app. For $15 more, you can grab the Wemo Dimmer Switch to set the mood even further.
Unlike Wemo’s solution, you do not need a smart plug to make use of the Hue Smart Dimmer Switch. Of course, since this is Philips Hue we’re talking about, you will need to already have installed the Hue Hub for the bulbs to work and in turn for the switch to operate, probably making it a larger investment than the Wemo option.
Once you’ve passed all the hoops (Hue-ps?) to have the lighting system set up, the Smart Dimmer Switch basically needs no installation. Place it where you want it and fire up the Hue App to get it up and running. Once you do, it’s easy to see that it does significantly more than its Wemo counterpart. Its “on” button alone has five different functions you can assign it. You can turn on multiple rooms at once, set specifics or lights to turn on. It comes with a built-in dimmer switch as the name suggests, and it’s under $25 on sale.
If you’re looking for something a little more no-frills than the Hue Dimmer Switch, you can check out the Hue Tap. It’s more expensive and doesn’t allow for dimming, but you can assign up to 4 preset scenes on it. It’s a simple and straightforward puck-like switch that you can either install on a wall or take around with you. While it does require the Hue Hub as you’d expect any product of its kind to, it doesn’t require batteries at all. That’s right, the kinetic energy produced by pressing the buttons on the Hue Tap is enough to power the entire thing, which is pretty cool.
Whether you’re trying to get trim or maintain a healthy weight in a smarter, more connected way, you have plenty of options available to you, but we’ll just focus on a couple.
If this is the top end of the spectrum, offering the most features, you can start here and work your way down if you don’t need every bell and whistle in a scale, but the Body Cardio by Withings (Acquired by Nokia only to be bought back from the original owner, but that’s another story.) checks more boxes than you’d probably expect a scale to.
The Body Cardio not only measures your weight but your BMI, water percentage, bone and muscle mass. It also takes your heart rate directly from your feet. This feature may not be the best way to measure your heart, but it’s interesting nonetheless. All of your data is synced to the Nokia Health Mate app and the data can be used in Apple Health, Google Fit, My Fitness Pal and more. It also has multi-user support and is capable of recognizing who is on the scale by their weight range. If two people share the same weight range, it will display two names on either side of the LCD screen and ask you to lean towards your name to record the new weight. Genius!
Obvious Honorable Mention: [Fitbit Aria 2 Wi-Fi Smart Scale](https://www.amazon.com/Fitbit-Aria-Wi-Fi-Smart-Scale/dp/B0752M6T6K/)
It’s hard to get anywhere talking about smart fitness tracking without acknowledging Fitbit. It too has a smart scale that does the same as the rest, but in classic Fitbit style.