The modern world is moving toward
all kinds of smart home automation
, and the longer you hold out, the more difficult it’s going to be when your day of conversion finally comes. What you’ll find is that
If These 4 Things Happen, Every Home Will Be a Smart Home
If These 4 Things Happen, Every Home Will Be a Smart Home In just a few years, smart homes have entered the mainstream consciousness. For the first time in ages, smart homes have a real, mass-market promise. But there's still a long way to go.
smart homes aren’t as bad as you think
I Lived in a Smart Home for 20 Years. Here's What You Should Know.
I Lived in a Smart Home for 20 Years. Here's What You Should Know. MakeUseOf spoke with one of our regular readers and commenters, Ben Stutt, of Rock Hill, South Carolina, USA, about his experiences living in a smart home.
For the most part, the benefits are
well worth your time and money
. Most people worry about the cost, but it’s surprising
Attention Homeowners: 5 Smart Home Features Worth the Extra Cost
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how affordable it really is
, not to mention the secondary advantages, such as the fact that certain smart products can
6 Types of Home Automation You Can Actually Afford
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increase your property value
Installing These Smart Devices Can Increase Your Home's Value
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So let’s look at the most trustworthy brands for getting started. Not “trustworthy” in the sense that they won’t spy on you —
that’s a different topic altogether
— but in the sense that these brands have been around long enough to know how to make products that work.
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Nest deserves a lot of credit for how it succeeded in getting the public to become more comfortable with smart home devices. Though it wasn’t the first to take a smart product to market, it was one of the first to shoot up in popularity. The industry owes a lot to Nest.
Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Generation, Stainless Steel, Works with Amazon Alexa
Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Generation, Stainless Steel, Works with Amazon Alexa Works with Amazon Alexa for voice control (Alexa device sold separately)
Buy Now At Amazon Too low to display
It’s most famous product, the
, still tops the charts with its user reviews. You’d be surprised at how well it can Nest Learning Thermostat cut your energy bill right in half
, and if that weren’t enough, there are so many
7 Nest Automation Tricks to Cut Your Heating Bill in Half
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other things you can do with it
13 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With a Nest Thermostat
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As of now, it has two other products: a security camera called the
(which was formerly known as Dropcam) and a smoke + carbon monoxide detector called the Nest Cam . Everything by Nest is an Amazon Best Seller, so you know they aren’t playing around. Nest Protect
If you’re looking for a smart way to monitor your home, then you can’t go wrong with
SmartThings (now owned by Samsung). You’ll need a , which is SmartThings Hub one of the best smart home hubs
available, but once you have it, the possibilities are endless.
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Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit
Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit Everything you need to start your smart home.
Buy Now At Amazon Too low to display
SmartThings has several useful tools: an
, a Outlet (detects motion), an Motion Sensor (detects presence in an area), a Arrival Sensor (detects water), and a Water Leak Sensor (detects vibrations, tilts, and temperature). Multipurpose Sensor
is the cheapest way to get started. It comes with a Hub, an Outlet, a Motion Sensor, and two Multipurpose Sensors, and a couple of accessories all at a discount. SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit
For smart home lighting, you can’t get much safer than
Philips Hue. Sure, you can find cheaper alternatives here and there
, but Hue products are great because they just work. They’re tested, reliable, and can be set up with minimal effort.
Philips Hue Alternatives That Are Actually Worth It
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Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance 2nd Generation Smart Bulb Starter Kit (Older Model, 3 A19 bulbs and 1 Bridge, Compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant)
Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance 2nd Generation Smart Bulb Starter Kit (Older Model, 3 A19 bulbs and 1 Bridge, Compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant) Choose between millions of colors and shades of white light to light your home, wirelessly control with your smartphone or tablet, and sync your light immersively to music, games, and movies.
Buy Now At Amazon
This reliability comes with a price. A
costs a whole lot more than a pack of regular light bulbs from Walmart, but Hue lights can be set to any color on demand, which allows them to do Philips Hue Starter Kit all sorts of amazing things using mobile apps
8 Fabulous Apps for Philips Hue Lights
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Combined with tools like IFTTT or with other smart home products, Hue can
push your home lighting setup to the next level
. It even works with Apple HomeKit, which means you can do some really cool things like
4 Ways Philips Hue Can Push Your Lighting to the Next Level
4 Ways Philips Hue Can Push Your Lighting to the Next Level Without Philips Hue, however, the smart home concept might never have gotten off the ground. Here are some cool ways to make use of them.
using Siri to set the bedroom mood for romance
How to Use Siri to Set the Scene for Romance
How to Use Siri to Set the Scene for Romance Yesterday we showed you how to create a Wi-Fi light; today we're going to build on that knowledge to make Siri to work with Sonos, then put it together in a romantic scene.
Ecobee is pretty similar to Nest in that its primary product is a smart thermostat
. Ecobee’s most popular item, the
Looking to Buy a Smart Thermostat? 5 Nest Alternatives
Looking to Buy a Smart Thermostat? 5 Nest Alternatives When it comes to controlling the temperature of your home, the Nest smart thermostat is king, but there are plenty of options out there. Here are 5 you should consider if you're looking to buy.
ecobee3 Smarter Thermostat , debuted a few years after the Nest Learning Thermostat — and many consider it to be superior, which makes sense as Ecobee had the opportunity to learn from Nest’s mistakes and shortcomings.
ecobee3 Thermostat with Sensor, Wi-Fi, 2nd Generation, Works with Amazon Alexa
ecobee3 Thermostat with Sensor, Wi-Fi, 2nd Generation, Works with Amazon Alexa Works with Amazon Alexa for voice control (Alexa device sold separately)
Buy Now At Amazon $198.00
The ecobee3 takes in all kinds of information from your environment and your home energy patterns, then uses that data to heat or cool your home for optimal comfort and bill savings. It mainly uses Wi-Fi, but can also integrate with Apple HomeKit.
What’s nice is that it comes with an
, which monitors the temperature in a room and whether or not people are in it. If empty, that room can be deprioritized. With a few extra sensors, your home can become ecobee3 Remote Sensor really smart about its energy. Belkin WeMo‘s main claim to fame is its smart plug product line
. The brand itself shares a lot in common with Philips Hue: backed by a big company, high-quality products, reliable and easy to set up, but a steep price tag to match.
3 Ways The Belkin WeMo Can "Smarten" Your Regular Household Lamps
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Wemo Insight WiFi Enabled Smart Plug, with Energy Monitoring, Works with Amazon Alexa (Discontinued by Manufacturer - Newer Version Available)
Wemo Insight WiFi Enabled Smart Plug, with Energy Monitoring, Works with Amazon Alexa (Discontinued by Manufacturer - Newer Version Available) Works with Alexa for voice control (Alexa device sold separately)
Buy Now At Amazon $34.95
For example, the
, which grants you the ability to plug in any device or appliance and turn it on or off remotely, is quite pricey for one. If you find it useful, you’ll want several of them around your house, and that can get expensive fast. Belkin WeMo Switch
There are two other notable products: the
, which is like the base switch but comes with an energy usage monitor, and the Belkin WeMo Insight Switch , which lets you remotely control your home’s light switches (and whatever outlets they’re connected to). Belkin WeMo Light Switch Sonos is a lesser-known brand compared to the ones covered above, but those who do know about it are often impressed by how useful and well-made its products are. Sonos specializes in smart speakers, which can really kick up the luxury level of your home.
Sonos Play:1 Compact Wireless Speaker for Streaming Music. Works with Alexa. (Black)
Sonos Play:1 Compact Wireless Speaker for Streaming Music. Works with Alexa. (Black) Play:1 is our compact, surprisingly powerful speaker. It's a perfect fit for bookshelves, counters, and other snug places. So now you can enjoy great-sounding music anywhere.
Buy Now At Amazon $149.00
is a compact wireless speaker that can play and control all of your music with a single app. We Sonos PLAY:1 reviewed this one
and really liked it, albeit found it a little pricey. If the price tag scares you, stop here because it only gets worse.
Sonos PLAY:1 Review and Giveaway
Sonos PLAY:1 Review and Giveaway
is a non-compact version that produces slightly better sound, but the Sonos PLAY:3 is the ultimate speaker for home audio fidelity. For home entertainment centers, the Sonos PLAY:5 would be the ideal purchase — but also the most expensive. Sonos PLAYBAR
For higher-end smart home products that are still at the consumer level,
Lutron is a brand that really stands out, mainly because it offers many product types that you can’t get elsewhere. If you don’t use the , you’ll need a Lutron-compatible hub like Wink. Lutron Caseta Smart Bridge
LUTRON L-BDG2-WH Caseta Wireless Smart Bridge, HomeKit-enabled, works with Alexa, White
LUTRON L-BDG2-WH Caseta Wireless Smart Bridge, HomeKit-enabled, works with Alexa, White Provides simple and personalized control of your lights, shades and temperature from anywhere using the FREE Lutron app iOS and Android
Buy Now At Amazon $65.15
is a good way to get started because it’s easy, straightforward, and practical, but you don’t have to. Other Lutron products include fan controls, timers, presence and daylight sensors, as well as remote-controlled window shades. Smart Lighting In-Wall Dimmer Kit
If you don’t recognize the
iRobot brand, maybe you’ll recognize its flagship product: the Roomba. What you probably didn’t know is that iRobot specializes in all kinds of smart products for home cleaning. Roombas are only the beginning.
iRobot Roomba 770 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
iRobot Roomba 770 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner iAdapt Navigation uses a full suite of sensors to navigate and adapt to your changing home
Buy Now At Amazon $799.00
It may not be the
most affordable robot vacuum
, but it’s certainly very good at what it does. The later models, such as the
6 Top Robot Vacuums You May Be Able To Afford
6 Top Robot Vacuums You May Be Able To Afford These days, you can find robot vacuums for less than $200, making them great for yourself or a good gift for a techie friend.
, are good enough to clean up after pets and clear away most allergens. If you don’t need one for yourself, iRobot Roomba 770 it also makes for a great gift
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Other cool robots include the
(floor scrubbing), the Scooba (floor mopping), the Braava (pool cleaning), and the Mirra (gutter cleaning). None are as good as the Roomba, but they aren’t bad either! Looj
The last one on this list,
OpenHAB, isn’t a hardware brand. Rather, it’s an open source software initiative that aims to integrate all the different standards and protocols that exist across smart home products. Ideally, with OpenHAB, you’ll be able to use anything with everything.
It’s nowhere close to being complete, but it’s certainly usable. We’ve shown how you can
install OpenHAB on a Raspberry Pi
and how to
Getting Started with OpenHAB Home Automation on Raspberry Pi
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start doing real things with it
. And because it’s open source, you can rest assured that nothing sneaky is going on behind the scenes.
OpenHAB Beginner's Guide Part 2: ZWave, MQTT, Rules and Charting
OpenHAB Beginner's Guide Part 2: ZWave, MQTT, Rules and Charting OpenHAB, the open source home automation software, far exceeds the capabilities of other home automation systems on the market – but it's not easy to get set up. In fact, it can be downright frustrating.
Get Started on a Smart Home Now
If you’re thinking of buying your first piece of smart home tech, then you really can’t go wrong with any of the above brands. Just make sure you check each individual product’s user ratings because no company is perfect 100% of the time. (
And learn to ignore fake reviews
The Scourge Of The Web: Fake Reviews & How To Spot Them
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If you’re worried about price,
smart home products are actually very cheap
when you compare them to other home improvement projects. And while
How Much Does a Smart Home Really Cost?
How Much Does a Smart Home Really Cost? A smart home could change your life – freeing up time in your day and regulating your routine so you don't have to remember what needs to be done. But how expensive is it, really?
privacy and security are real concerns
, you should be fine if you’re smart and careful.
5 Security Concerns to Consider When Creating Your Smart Home
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Which smart home brands do you trust the most? If you still hate the idea of a smart home, why? Is there anything that would change your mind? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!