In the science fiction worlds you read about or watch, every dwelling — whether it hurtles through space and time or sits on a remote planet — is outfitted with smart tech. The doors open automatically. The lights turn on and off on their own. People speak to a computer and the computer calculates, researches, or manifests the very thing the characters need. Slowly but surely, we're creeping toward a reality that was once the stuff of science fiction. And while there was a time when the idea of outfitting your home with AI would have seemed unimaginably expensive, the fact is — it's become incredibly affordable, thanks to cheap smart home devices.
In today's reality, you can voice command your light bulbs, schedule your coffee maker to have a pot brewed ready by the time you wake up, or set your phone to alert you any time you forget to close the garage door. In case it's not obvious, making these small changes makes life more convenient and safer, too. (Sorry to those of you who were hoping for a little more sci-fi drama.)
Here are 24 brilliant smart home products that will move you into your very own sci-fi future. And none of them costs more than $50.
1. A smaller, cheaper Echo speaker with the same Alexa home assistant
More compact than its big brother, the Echo Dot is great if you want a smart assistant but don't want to dedicate too much space or money to it. It does everything a regular Echo does, plus it has a visual display that shows the time, timers, or the outside temperature. Use it to stream music, set reminders, and of course — sync it to all your other smart products for an optimally streamlined home.
2. An even smaller Echo so you can put an Alexa anywhere & everywhere
With the Echo Flex, you can affordably put an Alexa in any room, even if that room is squeezed for space. The compact device plugs into any outlet and features a tiny speaker, so it works just like any other Alexa device. And if you get a couple of these, you people in other rooms of your home, i.e. "Where did you put my car keys?" Plus, it has a built-in USB port, so you can still charge your phone when it's plugged in.
3. These smart plugs that let you manage appliances from an app or home assistant
Smart plugs are the backbone of a smart home system. Plug them into an outlet, then plug any appliance into the smart plug, and you can use your smartphone or home assistant to control that thing. This is how you schedule your heretofore "dumb" coffee machine to start brewing before you roll out of bed in the morning. It’s also how you bypass the fussy switch on lamps and instead turn the light on by saying, “Alexa turn on the living room lamp.” The smart plugs in this four-pack are petite, so they won’t eat up all the space in your outlets.
4. A smart power strip that automates the whole rig
Got an office, home entertainment system, or a room full of lights you want to control with your voice? You can do it with this smart power strip. Just plug everything in and you can control all your gadgets and appliances from your phone, or you can sync it to your Alexa or Google Home to use voice commands. The power strip has four AC outlets, along with four USB ports, so you can keep your phone and tablet juiced up, too.
5. A plug that makes your outdoor lights smart, too
This smart outdoor plug is about to upgrade your holiday lighting game, since you don't have to worry about remembering to unplug right when you're all tucked into bed and drifting off to sleep. Now, instead of having to venture out into the cold to deal with this problem, you can just get your Alexa or your Google Assistant to do it just by shouting — from under the covers — “Turn off the outdoor lights!"
That made life easier, didn’t it? Use it for cafe lights or any other outdoor lighting you've got, too.
6. A ceiling light you can control with your voice
Streamline movie night with this smart ceiling light that lets you use voice command to turn it on and off — because you know you always forget to turn the overhead light off right when you've got the movie cued up and you're wrapped in a blanket, with popcorn on your lap. Just replace your light fixture with this smarter version and you are on your way to a better future.
7. The home security camera that streams to your phone
Find out exactly what's going on at home with this smart home security camera that you can pan, tilt, and zoom from an app on your phone. This brilliant little gadget is also equipped with night vision, plus it records and uploads all footage to cloud storage for later review. Of course, this is perfect for when you're wondering what your dog is up to during a boring work meeting.
8. An essential oil diffuser that works with your home assistant
Self-care goes sci-fi with this smart essential oil diffuser that can be controlled via an app or your smart home assistant. You can adjust the intensity of mist output, set the diffuser on a schedule, or even toggle between a few lighting options (because self-care and mood lighting go hand in hand). The diffuser runs for up to 12 hours — plenty of time to unwind.
9. A wall clock that displays your Alexa timers
With this Echo wall clock, you can see an analog display of all the timers you've set on your Alexa, which is way better than constantly asking Alexa how much time you have left in the countdown. It syncs to any Echo device, automatically adjusts for daylight saving time, and keeps track of multiple timers at once. And it’s also just a nice looking clock that tells the time.
10. A color-changing smart lamp you can set on a timer
Set this smart lamp on your side table or nightstand and connect it to your Echo or Google Home, and you can adjust it any way you want. Request a warm amber light if you're trying to wind down before bed, ask for bright daylight when you need a boost of energy, or choose from any of the other 16 million shades this thing is capable of. You can set timers, too, which means this makes for an excellent wake-up clock.
11. This led light strip that'll add atmosphere to your home
Dial up exactly the color of lighting you want with this smart light strip. The 16-foot light strip adheres to flat surfaces, and it's flexible, waterproof, and can be trimmed to size. String it to your ceiling, the bed frame, behind your TV, or wherever else your home needs a bit of funky accent lighting, then control it with your voice.
12. A smart light switch you can control with your voice
Replace your existing wall switch with this smart light switch and you can control the lighting in your kitchen, living room, front entryway, or hallway with your voice or through the accompanying app. It's surprisingly easy to install and is a great way to manage overhead light fixtures.
13. This thing that alerts you when you forget to close the garage door
Get real-time notifications any time you forget to close your garage door, or any time it opens when you're not home (yikes) with this smart garage door opener. Even better, you can just tap your phone to close it while you're on your commute. (Just wait until you're at a red light, of course.)
14. A coffee maker that works with smart plugs
Schedule your morning coffee brew with this coffee maker that's compatible with any smart plug. (Just remember to load the water and the grounds the night before). The 5-cup maker features a slim design that won't take up tons of counter space, and the automatic pause-and-serve function means you can pour a mug while it's still brewing. Just be sure to pick up some smart plugs to go with it.
15. These sensors that detect house flooding
Place this water leak sensor in any place that might be prone to flooding — next to the water heater, under the sink, near the washing machine — and it'll alert your phone any time it senses an excess of water. Trust me — this is perhaps the most foolproof way to avert disaster and astronomical repair bills. Each order comes with two.
16. A panic button for your ring alarm system
Add a panic button to your Ring alarm security system, and it'll ring an alarm any time you press and hold for three seconds. And if you're subscribed to Ring Protect Plus, it'll dial emergency services for you. Mount it to the wall, or take it with you as you move around the house for ultimate peace of mind.
17. This way to measure temperature and humidity from your phone
Install this temperature and humidity sensor in the greenhouse, garage, or wine cellar — it's a great way to keep track of conditions, so that nothing gets ruined (plants, collectibles, that really fancy bottle of Bordeaux). Then forget it. Because it will keep a constant eye on the temperature and humidity and alert you if anything starts to head outside the ranges you set.
18. These smart light bulbs with seemingly infinite color options
If you're the type of person who can't make up your mind, you're going to love these color-adjustable smart light bulbs that can be controlled with an app or smart home assistant. Want even more options? You can adjust brightness, put them on schedules, or even set them to sync to your music, which just might get you up off the couch to dance. Screw them into any light fixture.
19. This sensor that keeps you on top of your laundry
You know how clothes wrinkle if they lie around in a pile in your dryer for too long? You can prevent that with this laundry sensor alerts your phone or Alexa when clothes are less dry, dry, or very dry. (Hey — precision counts.) It also monitors the exact temperature of your dryer (perfect for delicates), and it helps you cut down your energy bill since the dryer won't run a whole cycle if it's not necessary.
20. A Smart light for recessed lighting
If you thought your recessed lighting couldn't get in on the game, well, you were (gladly) mistaken. This 6-inch smart recessed lighting fixture has warm and bright white settings, along with the rest of the color spectrum. And — like other smart bulbs — you can set these to bop along with your music.
21. This smart way to keep a plant alive
Fake a green thumb with this home plant monitor that will finally give you the superpower of being able to keep a plant alive. Stick the monitor in the soil, then connect it to an app on your phone and search for the type of plant now sitting on your windowsill. Then check the app regularly to track water, light, temperature, and fertilizer. You just might be ready to take care of a dog if you can ace this.
22. A smart lamp that keeps the kids on track
The Echo Glow is a lamp that lets you communicate with people in other rooms of the house by sending a coded message with light, which is, perhaps, the very definition of "sci-fi." Turn on a blue light to announce that dinner is ready, cycle through colors as a countdown timer for kids' reading time, or schedule it to get progressively brighter before the alarm goes off in the morning to avert the grumpiness of a child — or adult — dragged cruelly from a deep sleep.