In a few years, without even trying, there’s a good chance you’ll end up living in a smart home/apartment/dwelling. That’s because just about everything today is getting smart, whether we want or need it to be. So if you’re looking to embrace your impending “smart” future and want to consciously add some gadgets to your place, here are five you won’t be mad about purchasing right now.
A Smart Assistant
It doesn’t really matter which smart assistant you choose, Amazon’s Echo series or Google’s Home lineup are the closest things to The Jetsons’ Rosie we’ll have for some time. Despite privacy worries you may have, smart assistants easily become an integral part of any smart home you’re building, so we think it’s best to just embrace it.
While choosing a smart assistant will largely depend on the ecosystem you’d prefer, both Amazon Echo and Google Home can jump through a majority of the same hoops. Technically speaking, the Echo has the upper hand in terms of functionality and integration with third-party services, but Google Home will run circles around Amazon’s speaker when it comes to speaking naturally and getting information from questions you ask, making it feel much smarter.
While smart lightbulbs can be expensive, they’re an investment well made. Not only will you use your lights daily, but they can also be automated and controlled in more ways than you could imagine, and it’s incredibly hard to go back after getting used to controlling lights from an app or your voice from the aforementioned smart assistant.
The biggest player in the smart bulb market is Philips and its Hue line, hands down. The White and Ambiance bulbs (which is just a fancy name for color-changing bulbs) can be pricey, but allow you to create unique mood lighting any time you want. If you’re completely uninterested in multi-colored lighting, Philips also offers plain white smart bulbs that cost significantly less.
LIFX is another great option if you’re looking for high-quality smart lighting. A single standard bulb more expensive than a standard colored Philips Hue bulb, but is actually much brighter in terms of lumen output and doesn’t require a “hub” that has to be connected to your wireless router like the Hue bulbs.
No matter which type of smart lighting you choose, it will make one of the most immediate impacts, so it’s a great item to purchase first.
Another simple but essential smart item that you didn’t know you needed are smart plugs. Turn ordinary electrical items into smart ones by plugging them into a “smart plug” and have the ability to turn on the plug whenever you want via your phone or your voice, because why the hell not?
There are several types and they all essentially work the same, but we’re partial to the Wemo Insight Smart Plug and the simpler Mini Smart Plug.
The Wemo Insight Smart plug has the added benefit of allowing you to monitor the energy being used from it. This can allow you to see how much a specific item is costing you to run it or which room in your home consumes the most energy, given that you have your entire apartment covered in these plugs. Being able to view these reports directly from your phone or tablet can show you where to cut back and eventually save you money.
If you’re not interested in the “Insight” aspect of a smart plug or just want something more simple, the Wemo Mini Smart Plug is what you’re looking for—and it’s cheaper than its Insightful brother.
A wildly popular smart item is the smart thermostat, and they’re becoming more and more common. Much like bulbs and plugs, most smart thermostats essentially do the same things, but some have standout features you won’t find anywhere else.
The two most popular smart thermostats are by Ecobee and Nest, both of which share a decent amount of similarities but also differentiate themselves in their own ways. Ecobee’s unique feature is Amazon’s Alexa built directly into the unit, though it can’t perform every single function one of the standalone speakers do. It also comes with an extra sensor that you can place in another room in your home, which is something you won’t find with Nest’s thermostat.
Speaking of Nest, the 3rd generation Learning Thermostat does exactly what its name implies and will eventually learn your schedule from your habits and automatically turn on and off without you having to do a thing—and that’s in addition to giving you the ability to create your own specific schedule.
If you’re looking for a smart lock, you really can’t go wrong with August’s options. From the standard to the “Pro” version, you’ll feel like you’re living in the future.
You’ll be able to monitor who comes and goes through your door by seeing the activity of the lock, and you can even control it via Amazon Alexa. Control who has keyless access to your door and since the lock installs on your existing deadbolt, you can continue to use your old keys if you so wish.
Even with all of the competition in the area, August continually comes out on top as favorite smart lock around, so look no further.