We love playing around with smart home gadgets, but there are so many to choose from that it can be tough to pick out the best smart home stuff. Thankfully, our team of writers, editors, and product testers always keep a pulse on the latest and greatest in smart home tech.
This roundup is a collection of our top picks from every smart home device category we feature. As with all of our reviews, we evaluated the things that matter most when it comes to picking out the right smart home options for your house:
Ease of use
Read our full methodology for more about how we test and rank products. And check out our roundup in each smart home category (they’re all linked below in each review section).
Nest is a smart home leader, and its learning thermostat was one of the things that landed it on the map. This is our favorite smart thermostat because it comes with built-in ESP. It literally learns how to read your mind (or at least the room).
You only need to worry about manually fidgeting with the thermostat during the first week or so that you have it. After that, Nest does all the work. It adjusts the temperature based on your habits, the amount of sunlight in the room, or after getting a nudge from you in the Nest or Google Home app.
When it comes to keeping the bad things out and protecting the good things inside, you can’t beat this smart lock. The Schlage Encode has the highest security rating of all the smart locks we’ve tested—and it comes with a built-in alarm.
The Encode has a hefty price tag, but you don’t have to buy a separate smart home hub to use it. It works on your home Wi-Fi network. But connecting to Wi-Fi guzzles energy, so your batteries might need a refresh every couple months.
The American National Standards Institute/Builders Hardware Manufacturers (ANSI/BHMA)—that’s a mouthful—tests and grades door locks. They look at things like impact resistance, pull strength, and key torque cycles.
Ring kicked off the video doorbell revolution, so it’s no surprise it’s still our favorite. Plus, the second generation doorbell camera includes upgrades like better motion detection and sharper night vision images. And you get it all for around $100.
We also like that the Ring Video Doorbell comes with every power option imaginable—battery, wired, or solar. Because it doesn’t always need to be hardwired, it really opens up where you can place a Ring smart doorbell. But you still need to subscribe to a Ring Protect Plus plan if you want to record and store video footage.
Ring does a lot more than doorbells these days. You can pick up a Ring Alarm security system that works with your video doorbell and gives you the option to add professional monitoring. Read our full review to learn more.
The Arlo Pro 3 is cute as a button and smarter than your average security cam. Arlo packs a lot into this little camera—it works inside and outdoors, it has advanced pan- and- tilt capabilities, and picks up the smallest details thanks to 2K resolution.
But all of those perks come at a price. The Arlo Pro 3 is more expensive than a lot of other wireless security cameras. Arlo also introduced a cloud subscription ($3 per month) for video storage with the Arlo Pro 3, so that’s another expense to consider.
The Arlo Pro 3 uses a wireless connection (your home Wi-Fi network) to stream, record, and send video. It also uses batteries for power. When you’re not tied to a power outlet you have a lot more options about where to place your security camera.
Smart plugs turn anything you plug into them into a smart appliance. The WeMo Mini stands out because of its size. Many smart plugs cover both of your outlets, so you end up with one snappy smart outlet instead of two boring ones.
Plus, the WeMo Mini plays well with just about every smart hub or smart speaker out there. You can use voice commands with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri. But our favorite feature is the Away Mode. We love anything that helps us relax when our home is left empty.
This setting puts your WeMo plug to work creating the impression that you’re at home when you’re not. Your lights or TV will randomly turn on and off to throw potential intruders off the scent that you’re enjoying a night out on the town.
We’re suckers for a smart light bulb, and Philips Hue bulbs shine a bit brighter in terms of features and easy use. But don’t worry—you’re in charge when it comes to the actual brightness (and the color). All it takes to illuminate things is the mobile app or a voice command for Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
Best of all, this latest smart bulb from Philips doesn’t require the Philips Hue Hub. That means you can get your smart lighting game on for around $50 (for a 1-pack)—less than half of what it used to cost to get started.
We know. We thought it was excessive, too, the first time we learned about all the options you get with Philips Hue. But it’s so much fun. You can set the mood for a front room dance party, a romantic dinner, or a spooky movie night.
Lutron Caseta Smart Start Kit: Best smart light switch
Smart bulbs aren’t the only way to add home automation to your lights. This smart light switch is designed to deliver simple smart lighting control that’s easy to set up and use.
Unlike some other smart switches, it has manual buttons you can use, which makes it a great starter switch for newbies to smart home tech.
We also like that the Lutron Caseta works with Apple HomeKit as well as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. Not many smart devices are compatible with HomeKit, so this is a big advantage if you’re an Apple addict.
Compatible with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant
There’s so much to stream and so little time. Make your next bingeing marathon easy with the Chromecast Ultra. This little baby lets you use voice commands via Google Assistant to control your TV.
All you have to do is connect it to your Google Home device and you’re all set to ask Google to find your show, pause the action, or switch streaming platforms. No more struggle to learn another new remote control (or is that just me?).
It also supports 4K streaming, so you can watch all of your favorites in sharp, Ultra HD.
Google Nest Protect talks to you instead of chirping, sends notifications straight to your phone, and watches out for carbon monoxide, fire, and smoke. Why wouldn’t we love it? Nest Protect is also easy to install and doesn’t require any wiring.
The biggest drawback is the price. Even though it’s not the most expensive smart smoke detector out there, at around $120 each, it can get pricey if you need multiple smoke alarms.
If you’re going smart, you may as well extend that tech to the system you rely on for protection. The best thing about Vivint’s smart home security systems is that they can transform your house into a real smart home.
On top of cutting-edge home security equipment, Vivint also works as a command center for all of your smart devices. Our favorite is that you can control everything from the Vivint Smart Home app instead of toggling between apps for different smart home products.
Vivint is a top-end home security company. Its equipment is pricey, but it’s advanced. The good news is you don’t have to pay up front. Vivint contracts range from 42 to 60 months, and prices start just under $30 a month.
But the more features you want, the more you’ll pay. Learn everything about Vivint in our complete Vivint review.
Watch and learn about smart home devices
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Amazon: *Amazon.com list price as of 10/22/2020 at 10:02 a.m. (MT). Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. Safewise.com utilizes paid Amazon links.
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Written by Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past six. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month testing and evaluating security products and strategies. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her work and contributions in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, HGTV, MSN, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips. Learn more