In the last few years we have seen everything from fridges to doorbells connecting to the internet. A smart home is a house with all of your important devices connected to the internet, allowing you to communicate and interact with them.
Smart home devices are part of The Internet of Things, where everything is connected to the internet. The idea of the IoT has been around for a while but its only recently that we have started to see an explosion of internet connected home devices. Some of the most popular selling smart home devices include the Amazon Alexa and Belkins smart plug sockets.
Smart devices allow for home automation – automating control of devices around the home. Just by talking to a virtual assistant you can control lighting and music around the house.
Philips Hue Smart Lightbulbs
The Philips Hue range includes Smart colour changing lightbulbs that you can control via a mobile application. The Philips Hue range has a large variety to fit different budgets. The cheapest of the range are the white bulbs which only allow for dimming. After that you have the ambience bulbs which allow you to change the colour temperature of the light from warm orange to a cold white natural light. The best in the range is the colour changing ambience bulbs which allow for over 16 million colours which can be controlled via the app. As well as light bulbs you can now also purchase smart LED strips and light switches to take your smart home to the next level. The devices connect via the Hue Bridge which is required when you buy your first bulbs and supports up to 50 bulbs and 10 accessories. Amazon has a great range of Philips Hue starter kits that include the the Philips Hue Bridge, along with different sets of lightbulbs.
Amazon Echo (2nd Generation)
When you think of smart home, The Amazon echo is probably one of the first devices you think of. Well, the new 2nd generation device adds some welcome improvement over the already fantastic first generation device. The Amazon Echo is a smart speaker that can be controlled with your voice and uses the Alexa voice service to respond to you. You can ask Alexa “What’s on my calendar today” and even ask it to order products from Amazon. Where the Echo shine is if you use it in combination with other smart devices. for example if you use Phillips Hue, you can ask Alexa to “Turn on the lights”.
The Echo is also a powerful speaker that can fill the room with sound and works with Spotify. The 2nd generation device has Dolby tuned sound and added base for better quality audio. If you have more than one echo, you can also now do multi-room audio, by asking Alexa to play music across all of your echo devices. The new Echo also has a range of finishes to fit any house including an Oak, charcoal and Sandstone finish. Did we mention it is also cheaper than the original Echo at just £89?
Logitech Harmony Remote
Do you find you have a pile of remote controls for different devices ? The Logitech Harmony remote allows for the seamless control of up to 15 devices in the home. It goes a lot further than just the living room and can be used to control kitchen appliances and lights. The Harmony remote can control Netflix, Sonos, Philips Hue, Nest and much more. There are a number of different Harmony models at different prices, with our favourite being the Harmony Elite which boasts stylish looks and a solid range of features.
Nest cam Outdoor Security Camera
Security and IP cameras have seen a huge popularity surge in recent years, with many of us using them to check the house while we are out or keep an eye on cars parked outside. The Nest Cam Outdoor helps you look after your home 24/7 and is protected against the elements of the weather. The camera plugs into an outdoor socket so its never going to run out of charge and uses a mobile app to alert your phone of activity. This camera also comes with the option to purchase a NestAware subscription with enables cloud services which includes enhanced features and the option to make continuous backups of video to the cloud.
TP-Link Smart Plug
Smart plugs are a really cool bit of technology that allow you to control your plugs from anywhere. Want to turn a lamp on at night or check you’ve turned the plugs off ? smart plugs allow you to do just that. The TP-Link smart home plug is compatible with iOS, Android & Echo and allows you to control and automate plug sockets. The device is incredibly easy to set-up, allowing you to access your devices from your finger tips. You can also use scheduling to turn devices on as and when they are needed such as turning a light on for when you wake up. The Kasa app, which is used to control the smart plug is used to controll all TP-Link smart devices, one app for all keeps everything simple and easy to control. There is also an upgraded model available, which monitors energy consumption.
Nest learning Thermostat (3rd Generation)
Looking to save money the smart way ? The new Nest Learning Thermostat has a bigger, sharper display than before. The smart thermostat learns from you and what temperature you like when you are at home. When you are out it turns the temperature down to save you money on heating bills. You can control your hot water from anywhere with the Nest thermostat mobile application. The auto-away feature will automatically turn heating down when you are away. The Nest Learning Thermostat is compatible with most modern central heating systems and should be installed by a professional.
Amazon Echo Show
The Echo Show is a new generation of smart home assistants that include a screen for added functionality. Responses from Alexa are now enhanced with visual aids for better visibility from across the room. The Echo Show has eight separate microphones to hear you from the other side of the room. and includes all of the features of the standard Echo but with the addition of the screen. The drop in feature allows for video calling feature with friends and family. The Dolby tuned sound means you get great sounding audio when playing all of your favourite songs from Amazon music and Spotify.
Samsung SmartThings starter kit
SmartThings from Samsung makes it easy to turn your home into a smart home. This starter kit includes a hub, two multi-purpose sensors, one motion sensor and an outlet. The starter kit is a great choice to start kitting out your smart home. The hub is essential for connecting other smart gadgets to and allows you to get alerts from the sensors right on your phone. SmartThings works with Alexa and works with a variety of accessories including connected lights, door locks and video cameras.
Yale Conexis smart Door Lock
Yale is a leading provider of home security accessories and this smart door lock allows you to secure your home the smart way. Using the mobile application you can unlock your door via Bluetooth. The lock can also be opened using key tags that can be attached to your keyring and take up less space than a traditional key. Another cool feature is being able to see whois home by getting a mobile notification when someone unlocks the door. The smart lock is easy to fit and you can do it yourself with just a screwdriver and a smartphone.
TP-Link Smart LED WiFi light bulb
Like the idea of the Philips Hue but looking for something less expensive or only need one bulb ? This smart light bulb from TP-Link is inexpensive and does not require a hub where as other systems such as the Philips Hue do. The smart light bulb is as easy to install as a normal bulb and connects to your home Wi-Fi through the mobile application. There is a good choice of settings including the ability to set-up schedules for the bulb to come on and also adjust the brightness. Where this bulb is really good is if you are already using a smart home assistant as it can connect to Alexa to allow for voice control. There are a number of different options available which feature different colours and added features.
Tado Smart Radiator Thermostat
These smart radiator thermostats from Tado help save money on heating and make your home more comfortable. The application allows you to control your radiators from anywhere. Meaning you can turn them on before you leave work so you house is nice and warm when you get back. You can install the smart kit yourself and they are compatible with most radiators. They also feature a modern display on the thermostats themselves which displays the currently selected radiator temperature.
Google Home Mini
The Google Home products are an expanding eco-system of smart home assistant products from Google. The Home Mini is a small and compact device that is powered by Google Assistant. You can quickly get answers from Google and also use the device to control your other smart home devices. The device features 360-degree sound and also allows for hands-free calling. There are several colours available including Chalk and Coral.
BeON Home Protection system
BeON provides automated security and lighting for the home. There are lots of clever features built into the system including the ability learn your light patterns so it knows when to turn the light on when you are out. It does this by mimicking the natural patterns of when you use your lights, to appear believable and keep your home secure. If your power goes out or fire alarm is activated, the BeON system can protect your house by providing instant-on lighting. A clever feature of this system is that it can respond to your doorbell, making it appear that someone is in by switching on the lights. The cool mobile application allows you to control your lighting from your phone and uses Bluetooth with no additional hub required.
Amazon Echo Dot
The Echo Dot, from Amazon is a voice controlled smart device that uses the Alexa voice assistant. you can do things such as control smart devices, play music, set alarms and read the news. Unlike the standard Echo, the Dot requires connection to speakers via the 3.5mm aux port or Bluetooth. This allows you to use Alexa with your own powerful speakers or home audio system. The dot contains 7 far-field microphones to it can hear you from across the room, even in noisy environments. Alexa is always getting smarter and will continue to add new features and skills in the future. You can purchase the Dot in a three pack, allowing you to place them in separate rooms throughout your house.
Smart Wall Light Switch
There is a big range of smart light bulbs online, but you can also get smart light switches. This contemporary looking light switch allows you to control your lights using Alexa and also the smartphone application. The Tempered glass touch panel is water & moisture proof to protect against electric shocks. The light switch connects to your Wi-Fi and allows you to control the light switch from anywhere in the world on your phone.
Furbo Dog Camera
The Furbo dog camera is a fun way to dispense treats to your dog using your smart phone. The dispenser can hold up to 100 treats, and you can control the device from anywhere. There is a night vision, full HD camera which allows you see what your pet is up to. The wide angle lens allows you to see all of the room, day or night. You can also talk to your dog via the built in speaker and microphone. Furthermore, the intelligent sensors can send you a notification when you dog starts barking so that you can check in on them. The device features an easy set-up which involves connecting the dog camera to your Wi-Fi and smartphone via the free application.
The Netatmo Welcome is a smart home camera that features facial recognition. Unlike most motion detection systems, which just alert you to motion, this device sends you a notification to your phone, along with a picture of the intruder. The devices features a set-up using the mobile application and should be positioned facing the front door. The camera uses infrared technology to get clear footage, even in the dark.The alarm detection feature listens out for alarms and sends you a notification, along with video footage if it hears one go off. You can store the recorded footage using an SD card or in the cloud.
Orbi Whole Home Wi-Fi
One of the most important aspects of a smart home is the Wi-Fi network that is keeping it all together. In some houses you may find you Wi-Fi is lacking if you are using your ISP issued router. The Orbi whole home Wi-Fi system provides coverage all over your house at super fast speeds. The system uses various access points positioned around the house, but with one network, for seamless roaming all around the home. You can also set up a guest network, which is ideal for when friends and family come to visit. What I really like about this system, is that it integrates with Alexa voice control to allow you to control your home network.
Ring Video Doorbell
The video doorbell from Ring is a wireless doorbell that can be mounted in any position. You can view live recordings from the device on your smartphone or tablet via the app. You can view outside of your door from anywhere, the doorbell can sense if theres someone outside so you can see exactly whats going on. The night vision camera also allows for 24hr monitoring, providing a clear image, even in the dark. The two-way audio feature allows you to communicate with he person at the door, even who you are not. You can also get cloud storage from Ring, to keep a copy of the footage that you have recorded.
Bosch Smart Home Smoke detector
This smart smoke detector from Bosch alerts you to smoke in the home. The device is easy to set-up using your mobile and scanning a QR code to connect. Just like other smart home devices, this also requires a smart hub which is sold separately. There is also an intruder alarm to discourage unwanted guests.