What if all devices in your life could connect to the internet? Not just computers and smart phones, but everything: clocks, speakers, lights, door bells, cameras, windows, window blinds, hot water heaters, appliances, cooking utensils, you name it. And what if those devices could all communicate, send you information, and take your commands? It's not science fiction; it's the internet of Things (IoT), it's a key component of home automation and smart homes. There are many smart home categories, so you can control everything from lights and temperature to locks and security in your home. Here's a rundown of some of the best products.
Amazon Echo and Echo Dot
The Echo is a Bluetooth speaker powered by Alexa, Amazon's handy voice assistant. Alexa works with a number of smart home devices directly, as well as with If This Then That (IFTTT) to control plenty of others via "recipes" you can create yourself. It'll take some work, but you can use Alexa to control most of the gadgets in your house by the sound of your voice. If you already have a favorite speaker, the inexpensive Echo Dot can connect to it and add Alexa functionality. And if you want a touch screen to see search results and make video calls, check out the Echo Show.
LG Smart Security Wireless Camera LHC5200WI
Indoor Wi-Fi security cameras offer a cost-effective way to keep tabs on your home while you're away, but unless they're paired a comprehensive security system, it's up to you to monitor activities and call the authorities in the event of a break-in. Enter the LG Smart Security Wireless Camera, an indoor Wi-Fi camera that offers 24/7 monitoring via ADT Canopy service. This camera is ideal for renters, apartment dwellers, and homeowners who want the benefit of a professional monitoring system without having to commit to a contract or pay for professional installation.
August Smart Lock Pro + ConnectThe Smart Lock Pro + Connect is the latest offering from August Home, and as with the original August Smart Lock and Home Kit Enabled models, it's a winner. This third generation smart lock offers all the bells and whistles you get with the Home Kit model, and adds a few new features, including August's Door Sensor technology, Z-Wave compatibility, and Wi-Fi connectivity. It's easy to install and can be controlled remotely or with Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri voice commands, and it retains the sleek aesthetics of it's siblings. It's pricey, but it's the best smart lock we've tested.
Nest Learning Thermostat
The Nest Learning Thermostat has a built-in Wi-Fi so you can remotely control the temperature from a phone, tablet or computer. This latest generation also has a larger display and a few more sensors than it predecessors, in addition to geofencing support and a furnace monitor.
Make sure you get high quality smart home systems by talking to neighbors about products they have used and asking the experts about the highest quality products they offer. You can also tell quality products by whether they come with a warranty. If you prefer to start slow, choose one or two smart changes to your house. You can experience the convenience and the monthly savings before making further upgrades to your home. Every upgrade will make a difference and save energy and money. The more smart products you invest in, the more you will enjoy the benefits!