At their best, smart home devices give you the ability to control everything in your home from anywhere via your phone. You can automate and schedule mundane activities, control gadgets with your voice and even keep an eye on your home remotely. It’s liberating, and the technology is already here. And while there are a number of different ecosystems to build your smart home around (think Google Assistant or Samsung SmartThings), Amazon is filled to the brim with some of the best smart home products out there, from smart lights and security systems to smart speakers with built in digital assistants.
The sheer volume of smart devices on Amazon might seem overwhelming, but it’s really not that complicated or intimidating. Most smart devices are easy to set up and make automating your home as easy as talking to Alexa.
Thankfully, you don’t need any sort of grand plan when you start buying smart home devices. But it’s probably not a bad idea to start with a smart speaker or smart display like an Amazon Echo. They work on their own and don’t depend on anything else. And as you expand your smart home, most other smart gadgets — cameras, security systems, lights and more — can be controlled by your smart speakers, so as you add components, it’s like stacking Lego pieces, each building on and enhancing the one that came before.
In this list, you’ll find the best-in-class products in a broad range of smart home devices. Keep in mind, though, that there’s almost no limit to what kind of devices you can make “smart.” Many robot vacuums certainly qualify, for example, since you can control them via a smartphone or Alexa. And you can even find smartphone-controlled lawnmowers as well.
Read on for a look at some of the best overall smart home devices you can find on Amazon right now.
Smart lighting is one of the simplest and most useful additions to any smart home, and Philips Hue lights are among the most well-known and versatile. This starter kit includes the required hub (which plugs into your Wi-Fi router) and four A19 LED bulbs that fit in standard lamp and ceiling fixtures. Amazon customers like the ease of setup, such as one who wrote, “The bulbs are pre-programmed into the hub. This is dead simple to set up,” and another who remarked, “I was pleasantly surprised that I got all of this up and running under ten minutes.”
Once configured, you can control these Hue lights using the Philips’ mobile app, by voice from Alexa or Google smart speakers, or from stick-on wall switches. You can program lights to turn on and off based on time of day, whether you’re at home, and more. And the Hue bulb-verse is large — a single hub can control up to 50 lights and you can get Hue bulbs in a variety of sizes and styles, as well as in plain white light or colored lighting. And as one reviewer wrote, “The color temperature for these lights is pleasing and comfortable. The features are excellent.”
Amazon’s family of Echo smart speakers brings your home into the 21st century; you can listen to news or stream music, of course, but you can also ask questions that the Alexa AI can look up online, or use it to command any of the compatible smart devices in your home. There are tens of thousands of “skills” in the Alexa library, and Amazon adds new ones all the time. And the Echo Dot is an inexpensive, puck shaped, compact model that takes up almost no room on any tabletop or counter.
Amazon customer reviews are effusive. One reviewer writes, “They can control almost everything,” and another adds, “I really couldn’t ask for a more helpful device. It’s even more handy when I found that I could get a battery base for it.” (While not an official Amazon accessory, you can turn the Echo Dot into a portable smart speaker with any of a handful of batteries.) But a common theme among reviewers is summed up this way: “When it arrived, I was amazed at the things it can do. I’ll be adding one to every room.”
Smart displays like the Amazon Echo Show 8 add the ability to watch video and see visual feedback when you talk to Alexa. The Echo Show 8 — so named for its 8-inch high-definition display, not that it’s the eighth version — is generally considered the optimal size among the models Amazon offers. “Display is perfect size on the kitchen counter,” writes one Amazon reviewer, and numerous customers call out that among Echo Show devices, this one sits in the sweet spot between price and screen size.
Not only is the screen bright and sharp, but the Echo Show 8 lets you see video from your Ring doorbell, if you have one, as well as watch exclusive videos from the Food Network. You can even use it to make video calls. And the display is highly configurable. One reviewer got the Echo Show 8 in part to replace a digital photo frame: “Now I stream pictures from Amazon Photos and they look great on this screen.” Another reviewer found she could customize the display to show “just a picture and a small clock with the current temperature underneath it.”
Smart plugs let you take existing “dumb” devices and control them wirelessly. Kasa Smart Plugs enable you to control floor lamps, coffee makers and other kitchen appliances — even a small air conditioner. Not only are they inexpensive (you can often get a 2-pack like this one for $20 or less) but they give you multiple ways to control your devices. Says one Amazon reviewer, “This smart plug is a great option for anyone interested in scheduling, voice commands and remote access to everyday devices up to 1,500 watts.”
For even more options, you can use the app to automate whatever’s plugged in, so you can start your coffee automatically each morning or schedule lights to turn on and off while you’re away from home.
And unlike some smart plugs, these Kasa models don’t deprive you of nearby outlets. Says an Amazon reviewer, “They are small and unobtrusive, projecting about an inch and a half from the outlet. Because they are so compact, you can plug two of them in at the same receptacle, one above the other.”
Even if you don’t feel compelled to install a full smart home security system, you can probably see the benefits of a smart doorbell. The Ring Video doorbell — upgraded for 2020 — packs a 1080p high-definition video camera which you can use to see who’s at the door from the comfort of your phone. And if you pay a monthly subscription, every time someone approaches your porch and trips the motion sensor, you get a video stored in the cloud.
Amazon customers applaud the fast setup — “Works great and looks great. Took 10 minutes to update and 5 to install,” and reviewers also remark on the video quality. “Picture is very clear. Picks up motion and people in the area.”
This model connects to your home’s existing doorbell wires. If that’s not going to work for your setup, there are other versions of the Ring Doorbell that let you swap out rechargeable batteries.
These days, home alarm systems are much easier and less expensive. A DIY alarm system like the system from Ring can be installed literally in minutes and you can keep an eye on your home yourself using the mobile app, or subscribe to Ring’s 24/7 monitoring service. Said one reviewer, “I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a cost effective way to monitor their home. The ability to self monitor my home was a plus for me. But also the fact that professional monitoring is only $10 per month is awesome.”
This package is a 5-piece starter kit — base station, keypad control center, range extender and one contact sensor and motion detector. You can easily expand the system with additional contact sensors and other accessories depending on the size and layout of your home. Reviewers applaud the ease of setup — “If you’re somewhat tech savvy you won’t have a problem setting this up. The materials provided were sufficient enough to guide me to setting up and installing this security system without any prior experience.”
While many smart home products are pricey — few cost under $100, for example — the Wyze Cam Pan is astonishingly inexpensive, especially when you consider everything that it does. If you want any sort of security camera coverage inside your home, that makes this worthy of consideration.
For a fraction of the price of most smart security cameras, the Wyze Cam Pan captures 1080p full high definition video and stores clips when it senses sound or motion for 14 days in the cloud for free — something that generally costs extra. The camera can be tilted and panned in real time using the Wyze mobile app, and it even has extra features like night vision, voice control using Alexa and Google Assistant, and 2-way audio to speak to whomever is in the room with the camera.
As one Amazon reviewer wrote, “There aren’t many security cameras with all of the features that Wyze packs in — and none at this price-point.” Another agrees: “This camera does so much that the ten-times-more-expensive Nest Cam IQ at a fraction of the price.”
No smart home is complete without a smart thermostat, and the ecobee SmartThermostat is a favorite among Amazon reviewers. Not only is it a convenient modern way to control the climate in your home, but ecobee predicts you can save up to 23 percent on your annual heating and cooling costs compared to using traditional thermostat.
One of ecobee’s advantages compared to other smart thermostats is that it’s compatible with SmartSensors which you can place in various rooms throughout the house, and it’ll use those rooms to determine how to direct heat and cooling rather than relying on a single, arbitrarily placed sensor, probably in a hallway or back room.
In addition, the ecobee SmartThermostat has a gorgeous, simple interface. One reviewer said, “The screen is glass and has a beautiful vivid touch display that gives it a high end look.” Moreover, it’s programmable via your phone and can be commanded by voice with Alexa. It also integrates with other smart home devices, so you can configure it to change the temperature, for example, based on whether you’re home or not. As another Amazon reviewer said, “this smart thermostat has really impressed me with its rich set of features, options and ease of use.”
Of course it’s possible to listen to music on a smart speaker like the Amazon Echo, but if you’re something of an audiophile and music is important to you, you’ll want to round out your smart home with a whole-house smart sound system. Sonos leads the pack when it comes to this kind of sound system — you can put Sonos speakers in multiple rooms and combine them so they all play the same thing, or play different content in each room. The Sonos One is an excellent speaker to get started with; a pair of them can give you excellent results in even a fairly large room, yet they’re quite affordable. Or, as one Amazon reviewer summarized: “Sound great, look great, nice features, really nice small speakers. You can make a customized wireless sound system easily.”
Sonos shines when it comes to sound sources. You can play your music library from a PC on your home network or choose any of dozens of streaming services, internet radio and more. Amazon Alexa support means you can control it by your voice as well as via a mobile app. Says an Amazon reviewer: “I am using several Sonos One speakers and a couple of Sonos Fives in various rooms of my house. I have no problem controlling everything with either Alexa, Google Assistant, or my phone, and can play virtually anything including Pandora and other music services — even SiriusXM and music on someone’s cell phone.”
There are a lot of smart appliances you can add to your modern kitchen, including countertop ovens and Wi-Fi refrigerators with large LCD displays on the door. But your first smart appliance should almost certainly be a sous vide cooker like the Anova AN-500.
Sous video cooking — in which you immerse food in a sealed bag in hot water that’s maintained at a precise temperature — lets you make, for example, perfectly medium-rare steaks in an hour. At the end of the cook, just throw them on a pan or grill to sear the surface, and serve. Anova takes the simple principle of sous vide cooking and adds Wi-Fi, which means you can start the cook remotely with an app on your phone, or monitor the cook so you know exactly when it’s done. As an Amazon reviewer writes, “Very easy to use, you can set timers, adjust temp, right from your phone.” Of course, you don’t need to use the app, since you can set up the cook from the digital controls at the top of the stem.
And it is a reliable cooker, delivering consistent results. Says one Amazon reviewer, “This is well worth the price! This is the way to cook beef, chicken or salmon. Delicious results.” Another customer said, “I’ve made steaks, fish, pork chops, soft boiled eggs, and vegetables and I can’t describe how great it is to legitimately ‘set it and forget it.’ I only wish they were cheaper so I could have multiple running at the same time for different parts of the same meal.”
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